Getting What We Ask For: The Ambiguity of Success and Failure in Urban Education

Getting What We Ask For: The Ambiguity of Success and Failure in Urban Education

Getting What We Ask For: The Ambiguity of Success and Failure in Urban Education

Getting What We Ask For: The Ambiguity of Success and Failure in Urban Education

Synopsis

"This text offers a scholarly, in-depth analysis of urban education that provides insights into its current failures while suggesting policies and practices to make it more effective in the future. Payne . . . questions conventional attitudes and approaches to urban education. . . . This well-written text contains extensive footnotes, references, and an index. It compares favorably with quality studies concerned with the problems confronting urban education. Highly recommended for the general public and students at the community college and lower- and upper-division undergraduate levels." Choice "Payne's review of the literature is thoroughly documented, his research painstakingly carried out, and his theories are stated lucidly. An important book for those involved with the struggle for educational equality." Library Journal

Excerpt

Having grown up in a small town, I was a college sophomore before I had my first experience in an inner-city school. I was a volunteer crisis teacher in an elementary school. I was given a long, narrow room with a single exit. Each morning teachers brought the least manageable of their male students to that room. My job was to guard that one exit. Not long after, I found myself teaching Afro-American history to sixth graders two or three times a week. This was at a time when many, myself included, believed that teaching relevant material like Afro-American history would have an instant and magical effect on ghetto children. I know I began with perfect confidence that I could handle the students better than the regular teachers could. Beyond that, my memories of that first class are hazy now, a blurred vision of objects whizzing through the air and a relay race going on in the back of the room. I do not recall whether I ever got to distribute the handouts I had prepared. I do remember very distinctly, though, that it was a Friday, that I went home and went to bed around three in the afternoon with a pitcher of Koolaid and a bowl of cheese popcorn, and that I stayed there until late the next day.

That was some years ago. I have since observed or participated in schooling for the disadvantaged and their children at several different levels of the educational system and in several different capacities. This book is an attempt at making sense of my experience. It is, more particularly, an attempt at suggesting a more hopeful vision of the prospects for urban education than the visions to which most of us have grown accustomed.

There are essentially three sections to this work. The discussion of educational inequality has been but one aspect of a larger debate over questions of race and class and social equity. The first chapter examines . . .

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