Challenges of Urban Education and Efficacy of School Reform: Volume 6


Table of contents

(22 chapters)

As the primary target of the school reform movement, urban education remains the most difficult to assess and repair. Indeed, the crisis evident in urban school systems mirrors many of the problems found in big cities themselves — poor economic conditions for schools and families, personnel shortages and high turnover rates, improper facilities and materials, and political struggles over issues of structure and control. This book analyzes the problems effecting urban schools and their students and some of the efforts that have been developed to make these schools more accountable and effective.

A vision of school reform is to achieve a high-quality education for every child. However, there is a growing recognition today that a variety of factors including the current demographic changes in schools play a role and influence the notion that the process of education involves every segment of society and requires educators, parents and the greater community to come together in new roles and partnerships. This chapter discusses some of the ways diversity issues influence modern school reform efforts.

Many see the United States as a country of immigrants, but an examination of the past 150 years of education and language policies regarding immigrant children shows a tendency toward the disservice and underservice of many immigrant children. In this study, the authors conduct a historical analysis of how immigration, education, and language-related legal issues have affected the schooling of Asian Americans. The authors hope that this case study will improve educational policies and practices making them equitable educational opportunities for all immigrant children

Since the late 1970s, the Supreme Court has shown little interest in hearing and resolving school desegregation issues. In recent years, this pattern has also trickled down to the lower courts limiting judicial action in educational equity and opportunity issues. This chapter provides an update on litigation pertaining to school desegregation. It pays particular attention to cases since 1990

In spite of the intent and promise of Brown v. Board of Education, most poor and minority children continue to receive an unequal education from the nation's public schools. Furthermore, the political pressure to reform schools has helped to erode Brown by turning judicial attention away from desegregation issues giving new and greater support to the idea of community schools. This chapter discusses changes in school desegregation policy that brought about by recent rulings made by the U.S. Supreme Court that are fostering a return to neighborhood schools.

This chapter will examine how tracking, gifted education, special education, and compensatory education programs have limited the educational opportunities of many poor and minority students. Despite the stated intentions of these educational programs, the situation in the nation's urban schools indicates that these structures are having a detrimental impact on the lives of some students. Statistical information regarding the disproportionate participation of poor and minority students in these programs is included

This chapter focuses on urban economies and demographics and how changes in these areas have influenced the roles of local, state, and federal governments in funding schools. Emphasis is placed on the evolution of urban America in the Post World War II era, the role of immigration, and the accumulation of human, social, and cultural capital. Demonstrated shortfalls in both the quality of educational inputs and results have led to court challenges to education funding systems and responses by state legislatures, resulting in systemic reforms affecting both educational institutions and their regulatory environment. A future of greater funding equity but more diverse educational arrangements is anticipated.

A study of tracking literature reveals incomplete and contradictory findings. This chapter will provide a theoretical synthesis of tracking and attempts to explain the conclusions of early research by focusing on the various social, political, legal and cultural forces that influence tracking. In so doing, the chapter will develop broad-based assumptions, supported by research, which may provide the basis for new educational policy as well as a sociological assessment of this educational practice. The intention of this chapter is to determine if tracking undermines the notion of education as the “great equalizer” and ultimately, supports the existing structures of dominance.

Through a national debate inaugurated by A Nation at Risk, a United States government-sponsored report, there has developed at least tacit accord that a digital divide exists in public schools and there are stark differences in technology training and availability of computers in communities based on race, other demographics, and disability status of students. Access to the instruments of the information and computer world are only part of the problem. Availability of broadband and other high speed Internet services and speciality servicing are also issues to be addressed. In addition, teacher training and teacher attitudes are variables that contribute to the divide, especially where students of color or students with special needs make up a large percentage of the school population. The divide increases exponentially each year, thereby widening the gap between the “haves” and “have nots” within the information enterprise. This chapter outlines these concerns, providing areas of liability that could be faced by school district personnel who fail to render an equal educational opportunity to students in the 21st century.

This chapter views the leadership function of instructional supervision through three lenses: organizational improvement, teacher development, and student growth and achievement. This chapter argues that quality supervision is a product of the principal developing and maintaining a trifocal view of (a) improving the school as an organization by (b) developing teacher capacity to (c) address the growth and achievement needs of students. Failure to adequately address any of these three areas leads to inadequate and unproductive supervisory behavior. Conversely, principals who develop this trifocal approach facilitate a synergistic system that enables the school, its faculty, and its students to grow.

Because schools have historically failed to educate satisfactorily students of color, dynamic leadership is required to focus on pedagogy (teaching & learning), thoroughly knowing student population served, expanding beyond learning to serve community needs and building a support network and partnerships. In short, innovative leadership that will design and bring about new educational curricula and organization will be proposed. New paradigms from educational leaders are necessary.

This chapter will survey events in financing urban school districts in the United States from the period of major urban stress in the late 1970s to the present. It will consider the political, economic, and social environment surrounding urban schools and will consider whether we are making progress in both urban school finance equity and urban school finance adequacy. Major public policy initiatives will be considered.

Despite years of education reform, America's public schools continue to provide an unequal education to many low-income and minority students. Although urban schools receive millions of dollars to correct disparities, the standardized test scores for African-American and Latino students remain much lower than those of white students. This chapter discusses the influence race and discrimination have on the achievement gap in public education. It includes a description of the gap's emergence during the 1970s, the social and political changes the caused it to widen during the 1980s and strategies for closing the gap.

The controversy over tracking in American public schools has been more often marked by ostensibly emotional expressions than by clearly presented conclusions. This chapter examines the fundamental issues surrounding the debate over detracking. While tracking supporters contend that it provides an efficient way of organizing students for instruction, opponents contend that it perpetuates educational inequality by denying low-income and minority students access to quality schooling. This chapter considers both perspectives and their underlying assumptions and scrutinizes the reasoning and commentary drawn from both sides in an effort to broaden understanding of the controversy.

The high school reform literature shows that high school teachers work best in a structural context that promotes teamwork, values collegiality, and increases interaction. Yet, the large high school structure constrains collegiality, de-emphasizes teamwork, and is embedded with routines that increase isolation among administrators, teachers, and students. Research studies of work teams in business show an increase in employee morale and in productivity and a reduction in isolation between and among workers. The inward look at a business successfully initiating work teams provide insights into redefining the classical paradigm that supports working in isolation in high schools.

Formal public education of African Americans became a reality after the Civil War in the 1870s. Although some integrated schools did exist, many schools were racially segregated and remained that way until after the Brown decision in 1954. The white backlash to equal, integrated schooling for African Americans yielded a brief period of modest equality in the 1970s followed by greater inequality during the past two decades. This article addresses some of the schemes used to educate African Americans focusing on the future of education in neighborhood schools.

Under increasing pressure to reform low performing schools and improve the test scores of all students, many states have turned to school takeovers as way of bringing about radical reform. Although it has been more than a decade since the first state sponsored school takeover occurred, this reform strategy has yet to be proven effective. This article begins with a brief description of school takeovers. This is followed by a critical analysis of how school takeovers were constructed by, carried out in and the lasting impact on school districts in Logan County, West Virginia; Newark, New Jersey and Compton, California.

Much has been written about the importance of parental involvement and its relationship to the social, emotional, and academic achievement of students. Research on parental involvement indicates that parental involvement enhances school climate and is a necessary component of effective schooling. This chapter will explore the role of the school site administrator in facilitating parental involvement of African American parents in the context of urban school reform.

This chapter addresses three reform strategies that have been employed in American schools to effect improved teaching and learning, particularly better student performance on standardized tests. These three reform initiatives are school-based management, small school initiatives, and reconstitution of failing schools. All of these strategies seek to change the way schools are structured, governed and operated. This chapter provides an overview of these reform initiatives and discusses how each of these has been implemented in America's public schools. Some examples of states or school districts where these initiatives have been broadly implemented are presented and discussed.

Publication date
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Advances in Educational Administration
Series copyright holder
Emerald Publishing Limited
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