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Urban Schools: Crisis and Revolution describes America's inner-city public schools and the failure of most to provide even a minimally adequate education for their students. With numerous examples, James Deneen and Carm Catanese argue that these failures are preventable. Early chapters document the two-tiered character of American public schools, the tragic consequences of failing schools for millions of students—mostly Black and Hispanic—and the financial costs to American society. In later chapters, Deneen and Catanese describe the special problems of inner-city schools and the changes in school organization and curriculum needed to overcome them. They also provide examples of schools in severely disadvantaged communities in which such changes have enabled students to succeed academically, graduate, and enter college. In the final chapters, the authors examine the public and non-public school options available to urban parents. They discuss school choice, a hotly debated issue in urban education. The book concludes with a plan, consisting of six recommendations, for reforming a failing urban school.
For more than a decade, school choice has been a flashpoint in debates about our nation's schooling. Perhaps the most commonly advanced argument for school choice is the notion that markets will force public schools to improve, particularly in those urban areas where improvement has proved so elusive. However, the question of how public schools respond to market conditions has received surprisingly little attention. Revolution at the Margins examines the impact of school vouchers and charter schooling on three urban school districts, explores the causes of the behavior observed, and explains how the structure of competition is likely to shape the way it affects the future of public education. The book draws on research conducted in three school districts at the center of the school choice debate during the 1990s: Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Cleveland, Ohio; and Edgewood, Texas. Case studies examine each of these three districts from the inception of their local school choice program through the conclusion of the 1999 school year. The three school districts studied did not respond to competition by emphasizing productivity or efficiency. Instead, under pressure to provide some evidence of response, administrators tended to expand public relations efforts and to chip holes in the rules, regulations, and procedures that regulate public sector organizations. Inefficient practices were not rooted out, but some rules and procedures that protect employees and vocal constituencies were relaxed. Public school systems are driven by political logic, according to Hess, and their incentives lead them to respond generally through symbolic and metaphorical gestures. Choice-induced changes in public school systems will be shaped by public governance, the market context in which they operate, and their organizational characteristics. Revolution at the Margins encourages scholars and policymakers to think more carefully about the costs and benefits of educational competition, to understand how competitive effects will be heavily shaped by the outcomes of more conventional efforts to reform schooling, and to reevaluate some of the facile promises of market-based education reform.
Charter schools have been promoted as an equitable and innovative solution to the problems plaguing urban schools. Advocates claim that charter schools benefit working-class students of color by offering them access to a "portfolio" of school choices. In Charter Schools, Race, and Urban Space, Kristen Buras presents a very different account. Her case study of New Orleans—where veteran teachers were fired en masse and the nation's first all-charter school district was developed—shows that such reform is less about the needs of racially oppressed communities and more about the production of an urban space economy in which white entrepreneurs capitalize on black children and neighborhoods. In this revealing book, Buras draws on critical theories of race, political economy, and space, as well as a decade of research on the ground to expose the criminal dispossession of black teachers and students who have contributed to New Orleans' culture and history. Mapping federal, state, and local policy networks, she shows how the city's landscape has been reshaped by a strategic venture to privatize public education. She likewise chronicles grassroots efforts to defend historic schools and neighborhoods against this assault, revealing a commitment to equity and place and articulating a vision of change that is sure to inspire heated debate among communities nationwide.
Based on two conferences, this volume explores trends during the 1960s and 1970s in inner city areas in the United Kingdom. It describes how the inner city is losing jobs and skilled workers and, as the population falls, the number of disadvantaged people and those claiming benefits is increasing. To what extent, the book asks, does the educational system contribute to or alleviate Britain’s urban crisis? In answering this question, the contributors examine the complex interrelationships between educational, economic and social problems, and point out that one of the major weaknesses of the present educational system in Britain is that it is in no way linked to the labour market. They suggest how schools could be better linked to local employment opportunities while at the same time offering more culturally varied educational opportunities. They also analyze Britain’s urban programme and show that it in no way matches up to what is required if poverty – which is seen as the root of the urban crisis – is to be eradicated.

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