Politics, Language, and Culture: A Critical Look at Urban School Reform

By Joseph W. Check | Go to book overview
Save to active project

Chapter 1

What Do We Mean by Urban? What Counts as Reform?

DEFINING ASPECTS OF THE URBAN CONTEXT

A subject like urban school reform tempts one to leap immediately into cases and strategies, problems and solutions. It is fortifying to recall James Joyce's counsel that “The longest way around is the shortest way home.” In any critical discussion it is dangerous to leave unexamined the bedrock terms, the words so common we barely know they are there. The danger is that we may proceed as if we all understand the same thing when we hear or read such terms when, in fact, our understandings may be quite different. Urban is such a word.

To clarify the concept, I will explore four defining aspects of urban-ness in public education: definitions, images and perceptions, statistical and demographic profiles, and beliefs, including the belief that urban schools are connected to the larger, mainstream story of American education.


Definitions

The dictionary on my desk, almost thirty years old, provides some idea of how much our conceptions of urban have changed from the 1970s to the present. Two definitions of urban it gives are: “characteristic of the city as distinguished from the country” and “in U. S. census use, designating or of an incorporated or unincorporated place with at least 2,500 inhabitants.” 1

Most people today would consider a community with 2,500 inhabitants a small town. More importantly, city versus country is an opposition that grows less useful as traditional rural life in the United States becomes more and more threatened. The urban/rural dichotomy that characterized the first half of the twentieth century increasingly gave way, in the post-war decades,

-9-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Politics, Language, and Culture: A Critical Look at Urban School Reform
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 229

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?