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Ghetto Schooling: A Political Economy of Urban Educational Reform download epub

by Jean Anyon


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Jean Anyon is currently a Professor of Urban Education in the graduate program, City University of New York.

Jean Anyon is currently a Professor of Urban Education in the graduate program, City University of New York. She wrote Ghetto Schooling after participating in an unsuccessful four-year attempt to restructure eight schools in inner city Newark, NJ. She says, "To discover why inner city schools have not improved, it is not enough to only examine present reform or educational practice. We need, in addition, to understand how inner city schools have come to be what they are" (xv). Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase.

She argues that without fundamental change in government and business policies and the redirection of major resources back into the schools and the communities they serve, urban schools are consigned to failure, and no effort at raising standards, improving teaching, or boosting achievement can occur.

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Academic journal article The Journal of Negro Education. The book is divided into three main parts in addition to an introduction

Academic journal article The Journal of Negro Education. Ghetto Schooling: A Political Economy of Urban Education Reform. The book is divided into three main parts in addition to an introduction. Part two describes the plans for educational reform in Newark within the local historical context and the wider context of American cities generally.

Anyon, J. (1997) Conchas, G. & Vigil, J. D. (2012). Streetsmart schoolsmart: Urban poverty and the education of adolescent boys. New York: Teachers College Press, Columbia University.

Ghetto schooling: A political economy of urban educational reform. New York: Teachers College Press. August, . & Hakuta, K. (Ed. Conchas, G. Connolly, K. et al. (1996 ). From classrooms to cell blocks: How prison building affects higher education and African Amer- ican enrollment. San Francisco: Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice.

Ghetto Schooling A Political Economy of Urban Educational Reform.

In this personal account, originally published in 1997, Jean Anyon provides evidence that the economic and political devastation of America's inner cities has robbed schools and teachers of the capacity to successfully implement current strategies of educational reform. She argues that without fundamental change in government and business policies and the redirection of major resources back into the schools and the communities they serve, urban schools are consigned to failure, and no effort at raising standards, improving teaching, or boosting achievement can occur. Based on her participation in an intensive four-year school reform project in the Newark, New Jersey public schools, the author vividly captures the anguish and anger of students and teachers caught in the tangle of a failing school system. "Ghetto Schooling" offers a penetrating historical analysis of more than a century of government and business policies that have drained the economic, political and human resources of urban populations. This book reveals the historical roots of the current crisis in ghetto schools and what must be done to reverse the downward spiral.


Comments: (7)

Browelali
Jean Anyon is currently a Professor of Urban Education in the graduate program, City University of New York. She wrote Ghetto Schooling after participating in an unsuccessful four-year attempt to restructure eight schools in inner city Newark, NJ. She says, "To discover why inner city schools have not improved, it is not enough to only examine present reform or educational practice. We need, in addition, to understand how inner city schools have come to be what they are" (xv). The book traces the historical political economy of old industrial cities in the U.S., with Newark as the focus. She shows how the factors that mitigated against reform in the 1990's developed, and how they represent the "concentration effects of the gradual ghettoization and stigmatization over time of the city's minority poor" (xv).

The assertions Anyon makes are diligently researched and extensively documented. Unfortunately, the way the findings are reported makes it extremely difficult to follow the argument. Anyon herself contributes to this difficulty with a tangled and complex prose style. The demographic trends, comparisons of funding levels, changes in racial composition of students, faculty and administrators, trends in qualifications of teachers and in student/teacher ratio, number of substitute teachers, proportions of the budgets spent on classroom instruction vs. non-instructional personnel, and so on, should have been put into charts, graphs, maps and tables. Burying them in paragraph after paragraph of narrative studded with numbers, percentages, and in-text citations makes them nearly useless. For example, it is unclear to me whether Newark is considered a "large city" or not, and I couldn't figure out which county it is in. That made it impossible to evaluate some of the things she said about other cities and counties.

The book shows that the Newark public school system, which was once considered a model, never did a good job with working class, poor, and immigrant children. Their graduation rates were abysmal, their schools and teachers were always substandard, and they were always marginalized, despised and abused. As long as there were plenty of jobs in the city that did not require an education, the second class status of the poor children in the system was hidden from view. Anyon also shows how federal and state policies regarding mortgage lending, urban renewal, highway construction, and tax incentives for investment led to the destruction of inner city neighborhoods and isolation and impoverishment of the people. It shows how the political isolation of both the city government and the school board in Newark contributed to the ascendancy of organized crime and machine politics, which diverted enormous amounts of revenue intended for schools into the pockets of criminals and their accomplices. Then it shows how the schools went into a freefall caused by loss of tax base, unjust education funding policies, and grossly incompetent and unsuitable teachers and administrators. Anyon traces the history of attempts at reform, including numerous lawsuits aimed at enforcing the requirement of the New Jersey Constitution that all school children in the state be provided a "thorough and efficient" free public education. This social, political and economic analysis makes it clear that it was not primarily teachers' unions, or liberals, or starry-eyed idealists who "ruined" the system, but business interests, organized crime and wealthy conservatives.

Anyon concludes that it will not be possible to fix urban education without addressing poverty and racism. Urban school systems comprise parents, administrators, teachers and students who are, themselves, products of a socially, culturally, linguistically, and economically isolated, marginalized and powerless society that has no viable connection with the centers of power, money and influence in the city of Newark, the state of New Jersey or the federal government. The low expectations, dysfunctional organization, and culture of resignation, abuse, incompetence and failure that Anyon observed in the schools, and that have been rightly cited as contributory factors in school failure, are symptoms, not causes. Although Anyon goes acknowledges that many individuals and groups work diligently to make things better in the Newark schools, the book shows that no program, no restructuring, no analysis of the education system that fails to address the cultural, political, and economic structures of the inner city itself can succeed. Unless the ghettos are transformed into economically viable, functional communities, it will be impossible to make any meaningful improvement in ghetto schooling.

I agree wholeheartedly with that conclusion, but the book is short on policy prescriptions. One of the most useful suggestions is that all grassroots efforts to transform inner city environments include programs to improve education. That is about as specific as Anyon's proposed solutions get. She says, for example, that it ought to be possible to raise the money to fix the system, pointing out that the U.S. has one of the lowest tax rates in the world. Yes, but fiscal policy in this country is controlled by people who are determined to keep it that way, and who are getting more and more successful at doing just that.

The book predates "gentrification," but that, of course, is not the kind of transformation that Anyon had in mind. Razing slums to build gated upper class communities, and demolishing old schools to create charter schools that rich people want for their kids, further displacing and marginalizing the poor, is merely a new chapter in the old story of "urban renewal" as disaster capitalism. The most striking thing about "new urbanism" and the shiny new "mixed use" communities that are being built is their whiteness. Except for servants, you won't see any people of color in these theme parks, where the social classes of the residents and customers run the gamut from A to B.

We need a different paradigm for thinking about education itself, one that liberates the victims of oppression instead of blaming them. At first I was frustrated by Anyon's failure to propose a different paradigm in this book, but then I realized that she didn't promise that. She succeeded in her goal of showing what must be done. She did not undertake to describe how to do it.
Aurizar
Best urban education book I've ever read.
Iseared
Gets no better in telling the story of ghetto schools and how miseducation of students of color has been a part of the BIG plan since the beginning! Loved it.
Humin
An insight to a sad truth
Steelraven
Excellent book on Urban School Reform. Highly recommended for Graduate Students in Education and Practitioners in the field of Education.
Mightdragon
Anyon has used ethnographic and historical material to make a case that's been made before, though I don't think it's been made this well: Schooling is a contextually determined institution. If the context -- in this case the urban U.S. -- is declining economically and socially, schooling will decline as well. If the cities in which schools are located are impoverished, crime-ridden, and devoid of opportunity, schools and their students will be faced with the same vastly diminished prospects. Anyone who has read Bowles and Gintis' Schooling in Capitalist America, Willis' Learning got Labor, or Devine's Maximum Security already knows that schools can't be fixed from the inside out.

It's convenient to blame teachers and administrators for the damaging conditions which prevail in places like Newark's Marcy school, but what are teachers to do? Imagine a teacher who has just spent four or five years in a college or university acquiring the behavioral repertoires and theoretical perspectives which qualify them to be called education professionals. They get their first job at Marcy school. None of what they learned seems applicable -- the students are too poor and routinely brutalized, their colleagues are too demoralized, the principal is too cynical, parents are victimized by an unforgiving set of circumstances which constitutes their daily lives. Putative experts who bring the most recent reforms presented in the guise of staff development are clueless. It's easy to see that teachers would become alienated from and hostile to an environment that prevents them from doing the professional job that they were trained to do.

Anyon's claim that there's nothing special about Newark, that the same destructive processes are destroying education throughout the urban U.S., is indisputable. Furthermore, much the same applies to schooling in rural America. I've seen it in the West Virginia Coal Fields and in the poorest, most rural parts of central Kentucky.

It's a cruel oddity that in all these places, whether urban and poor or rural and poor, the same sort of educational reforms were being sold to the same sort of disaffected teachers and administrators by state officials who haven't set foot in a classroom for 30 years.

Until the context of education is massively reformed, bad educational jokes like No Child Left Behind will continue to be an intrusive nuisance for teachers and an embarrassment for the rest of us.
Ghetto Schooling: A Political Economy of Urban Educational Reform download epub
Americas
Author: Jean Anyon
ISBN: 0807736635
Category: History
Subcategory: Americas
Language: English
Publisher: Teachers College Press (September 19, 1997)
Pages: 240 pages