Overview | Greene & Anyon (2010) Urban School Reform

Urban School Reform, Family Support and Student Achievement

As long as policymakers continue to conceptualize education reform as disconnected from the larger structural systems and institutions that perpetuate poverty, segregation, and huge economic gaps between rich and poor, differences in academic achievement will remain an irresolvable quandary, and they will most likely never choose the tools that could build an educational system in which all children achieve to the best of their ability.

Greene, K. & Jean Anyon (2010) Urban School Reform, Family Support, and Student Achievement, Reading & Writing Quarterly, 26:3, 223-236.

85% of low-income urban students at the eighth-grade level scored at or below the basic level in reading

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Research has shown that lower SES can detrimentally affect not only the general happiness of young children but also their cognitive development

In the post–World War II period

  • Tax reductions were offered to businesses that chose relocation outside of the city
  •  Developers and municipalities received federal and state subsidies and land grants to build highways, sewer and electric lines, homes and office buildings—in the suburbs, but not in the cities.
  • In urban areas, housing stock plummeted, buildings decayed, and businesses sought investment elsewhere.
  • Many middle-class families moved to the suburbs, and many remaining businesses—such as supermarkets, banks, doctor’s offices, department stores, hospitals, pharmacies, theaters, and movies—followed, leaving behind a trail of families living in poverty without enough resources to thrive.
  • The diminishing city tax base drastically affected education funding in most industrial cities

Graph depicting Education Spending and the Poverty Rate by State

Deficit Paradigm v. Asset Paradigm

Donnell, K. 2013. Beyond the Deficit Paradigm: An Ecological Orientation to Thriving Urban Schools. 

The deficit paradigm is an orientation in which children, their families and the larger communities in which they live are seen as deficient and therefore responsible for their lack of success. You’ve encountered the deficit paradigm when you hear children labeled as “underprepared” or when you hear complaints about certain groups of parents “just not caring” or when folks talk about “crime-ridden” neighborhoods.

[Alternatively] an asset-based approach focuses on strengths. It views diversity in thought, culture, and traits as positive assets. Teachers and students alike are valued for what they bring to the classroom rather than being characterized by what they may need to work on or lack.

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The Coalition for Community Schools |  A Community School is a public school – the hub of its neighborhood, uniting families, educators and community partners to provide all students with top-quality academics, enrichment, health and social services, and opportunities to succeed in school and in life.

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