19 Urban Questions: Teaching in the City

By Shirley R. Steinberg; Joe L. Kincheloe | Go to book overview

CHAPTER ONE
Why a Book on Urban Education?

Joe L. Kincheloe

Why a book on urban education? Because in the early twenty-first century one of the most compelling concerns involves the question of what to do about our neglected urban schools. Thirty-one percent of U.S. elementary and secondary students go to school in 226 large urban districts. There are nearly 16,000 school districts in the United States, and almost one-third of all students attend 1.5 percent of them (Fuhrman, 2002). As Philip Anderson and Judith Summerfield write in their chapter in this volume, another important reason for focusing attention on urban education involves the fact that in the urban context one finds “the emergent American culture.” Indeed, they conclude, the ways in which urban educators shape the urban pedagogy in the coming years are central to the way Americans reinvent the nation. With this in mind, the United States faces an uncertain future because in these 226 urban districts, observers have found a wide diversity of problems and successes. Because of the scale of this diversity, this book or this chapter could be entitled “Urban Education: A Dialectic of Challenges and Opportunities.” We'll keep the title 19 Urban Questions: Teaching in the City, but we know that within every chapter this interaction between challenge and opportunity will manifest itself.


The Perpetual Crisis of Urban Education

Urban education is always in crisis—yesterday, today, and certainly in the near future. Teacher shortages force many urban school administrators to scramble madly during the first weeks of school to fill classroom vacancies. Inadequate funds

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