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Urban Education

Veteran Actor Tony Danza Steps onto Classroom Stage
Years after studying to be a history teacher, actor Tony Danza decided to try his skills in the classroom as a high-school English teacher in Philadelphia. His experiences as a first-year teacher are featured in the A&E series, Teach: Tony Danza.

Executive Gives Arts a Boost Where He Got His Start
Now a successful businessman and philanthropist, Richard Fields still remembers his elementary school music teacher with appreciation. He now is funding an extensive arts program at his former school to give todays students the experiences he had.

Principals Tough Stand Turns School Around
Frustrated by what he considered low expectations and minimal structure at American Indian Public Charter School, Dr. Ben Chavis set out to reform the school instituting no-nonsense policies regarding attendance, appearance, and instruction. And it worked.

NYC Teacher Selected to Present Lessons from Antarctica
Middle-school science teacher Shakira Brown encourages her students to take part in hands-on learning. She will be following her own advice as part of an eight-week expedition to Antarctica. Brown plans to teach lessons for U.S. students live from the ice.

Believe, Achieve, Triumph!
Charter School Inspires Students to Reach Higher

In telling students to “Believe, Achieve, Triumph!” the faculty at César Chávez Academy Middle School hope to inspire students to see beyond immediate challenges and set high expectations for the future.

LACES Threads High Expectations Throughout School
High expectations, demanding courses, and dedicated faculty combine to give the Los Angeles Center for Enriched Studies (LACES) the feel and results of a pricey prep school rather than an urban magnet school.

New Chancellor Committed to Urban Students
Michelle Rhee only spent a few years as a classroom teacher, but during that time she developed a passion for helping underprivileged students. She plans to apply that drive and a commitment to high expectations as the new head of the DC Public Schools.

TFA Diarists Reflect on a Year in the Classroom
Blacksburg, Virginia, native Babak Mostaghimi is awed by his students concern for him following the Virginia Tech shootings; Will Hobart reflects on how his capacity for patience has grown, and Shani Jackson looks at the resiliency of middle schoolers.

Top Educator Finds Alternatives to Failure
Joris Ray, director of the Memphis City Schools alternative schools, believes that helping students achieve academic success leads to confidence and better behavior. That dedication helped earn him ASCDs 2007 Outstanding Young Educator Award.

Teach For America Diaries -- The Home Stretch
While Shani Jackson and Babak Mostaghimi cope with student fears and attitudes in the days leading up to state tests, Will Hobart gains an appreciation for inclusion practices.

Teach For America Diaries Its crunch time as the diarists prepare students for high-stakes tests and deal with students pre-test-weariness and anxiety. At the same time, they continue to learn more about their students challenges, fears, and resilience.

Teach For America Diaries
Mid-year brings the Teach For America Diarists more insights into their students troubles and dreams and an awareness of how much they can impact the youngsters in their charge.

A Look Back at the First Semester
The end of the first semester brought relief, reflection, and anticipation to the three Teach For America Diarists. While knowing they have a long way to go with their classes, they allowed themselves moments of satisfaction and celebrations of early successes.

Top Administrator Focuses on Standards, Achievement Gap
Under the leadership of Dr. Beverly L. Hall, the Atlanta, Georgia, Public Schools have seen achievement rise as the achievement gap shrinks. For these efforts and others, Dr. Hall earned the award for the nations top urban educator.

Students Make Connections With Small School
Through Connections Schools emphasis on peace issues and non-violent conflict resolution, teachers not only hope to create a safer school environment, but change agents to send into a troubled Chicago neighborhood and the larger community.

Teach for America Diaries: October Presents New Challenges for New Teachers
Will Hobart forgets about a bad week after connecting with a student, Shani Jackson bids farewell to the rocky month of October and makes some changes to her teaching strategies, and Babak Mostaghimi becomes a daddy, a godfather, a cousin, and a confidant.

Hooking Kids on Reading
Despite schools focus on reading, many students still are not reading independently or for pleasure. A program developed by a college professor stresses hooking students on reading by introducing them to challenging subject matter that interests them.

Board Chair Looks to Continue Urban Schools' Gains
Despite underfunding and the challenges of recruiting qualified teachers in key subject areas, urban schools continue to make gains, according to George H. Thompson III, this year's chairman of the Council of the Great City Schools' board of directors.

Improv Team Acts to Curb Violent Behavior
Imagine being able to freeze the action in a dispute, step out of the "scene," and get feedback on your next move. The Urban Improv troupe lets students do that, and helps them see the non-violent approaches to resolving conflict.

Author Frank McCourt Reflects on Teaching Career
Frank McCourt began his second career as a writer in a big way, winning the 1996 Pulitzer Prize for his memoir, Angela's Ashes. But before McCourt was a writer, he spent 30 years as a New York City English teacher, an experience detailed in his latest book, Teacher Man.

Preparing the Next Generation of Urban School Leaders
In an effort to deepen the pool of qualified urban principal candidates, the Institute for the Mentorship of Urban School Leaders at Lehigh University was established to give proven school leaders the training and support needed to be effective administrators.

Teacher of the Year Targets Education Inequities
Jason Kamras, the first National Teacher of the Year from Washington, D.C., wants people to know that urban children want to learn - they just need the resources and support.

Could I Pass the Haberman "Star Teacher" Test?
Martin Haberman's research reveals that not just anyone can or should teach in high-poverty schools. Brenda Dyck decided to see if she has what it takes! She took Haberman's "Star Teacher" test, and now she shares the results.

Uniting A School Around Improvement
A former U.S. Army officer, Samuel E. Harris set out to change the culture at Martin Luther King Jr. Junior High School when he became principal five years ago. Harris's efforts have helped transform the school.

Teaching Health With Vigor -- At Age 91
After 35 years in the classroom, health teacher Eleanor Bralver is thinking about retiring -- someday. But at age 91, she is in no rush. Bralver said her goal is to help her students' live the healthiest lives they possibly can.

Welcome to Bennet Middle School
Bennet, the Manchester, Connecticut, middle school that does "whatever it takes," readies for another school year of finding ways to help a diverse group of students succeed.

Helping Urban Students Succeed
Judy Farmer, the new chairwoman of the board of directors of the Council of the Great City Schools, thinks urban schools are doing a lot right, and more joint efforts by educators and communities can lead to greater gains.

Reporter Turned Teacher Recalls First Tough Years
After working as a reporter for 24 years -- including covering the state's child welfare system -- Leslie Baldacci was ready to take on the job of inner city teacher. But she had a lot to learn, as she recounts in her book about her early teaching experiences.

Who Are We Proud to Be? Amistad Academy
Using chants, rewards, consequences, and lots of hard work, staff members at Amistad Academy charter school in New Haven, Connecticut, are helping urban students set and meet goals.

Learning With Laptops: An Urban School Shows Gains
Not everyone thinks of Internet research as a third-grade skill. But it is at East Rock Magnet School in New Haven, Connecticut. Third and fourth graders are assigned laptops, and not only have test scores increased, but student motivation as well.

Paige Applauds School's Commitment to High Expectations
Secretary of Education Rod Paige praised efforts and accomplishments of teachers and students at Amistad Academy, a charter school in New Haven, Connecticut. Paige said the school exemplifies a key idea of the No Child Left Behind Act: every child can learn.

Focus, Higher Standards Can Bring Urban School Gains
As chairman of the Board of Directors of the Council of the Great City Schools, Carlos A. Garcia says part of his job is telling people what urban educators are doing right. Recent academic gains in some cities are reason for optimism.

A Day With Experience Corps Volunteers
They worked all over New York City, almost all of them in fields other than education. Now they are a team, helping first and second graders at P.S. 154 in Harlem learn to read. Included: Descriptions of an Experience Corps program.

Calling All Grandparents: Senior Volunteers Transform Schools
They are reliable and passionate, and they bring learning and love to urban classrooms. They are Experience Corps volunteers, retirees recruited and trained to tutor students and assist teachers. Volunteers and educators alike have nothing but praise for the program.

Students Map Neighborhoods With GIS
Geographic Information Systems (GIS), mapping and analysis software employed by the U.S. government, NASA, and other agencies, now is helping students locate and document hazards in their communities.

Hands-On Science, New Friends Are Magnet School's Draw
The hands-on science curriculum Two Rivers Magnet Middle School in East Hartford, Connecticut, brings together students from five communities to learn about research and one another.

Mexican Arts, Culture Frame Learning
Mexican arts and culture are woven through the curriculum at Chicago's Telpochcalli Elementary School. The school's mission is to help students appreciate their heritage and to use studies of the art and culture of Mexico teach other content areas.

Harvard's Teacher Program Moves to Urban Focus
Students at the Harvard Graduate School of Education now step in front of a classroom before they sit down in one. By teaching in inner-city schools as soon as they enter the program, the Harvard students learn first-hand about problems faced by urban schools. --9/20/2001

Financial Support Key to Urban Schools' Meeting Standards
Urban schools are showing improvement, but if students are going to continue to keep up with increasingly rigorous standards, city schools need more financial resources, according to the Council of the Great City Schools executive director, Michael D. Casserly. --9/18/2001

Old School Buildings: Prehistoric or Worth Preserving?
A recent report from the National Trust for Historic Preservation (NTHP) makes a case for renovating old school buildings instead of razing them. Although demolition might be the wisest choice in some instances, the NTHP offers resources for helping school boards decide whether to raze or renovate. Education World writer Ryan Francis recently spoke with members of three communities that have faced that dilemma. --05/25/2001

More Than Reading Scores and Stereotypes: The Voices of City Teachers and Students
Education World recently visited three New York City schools whose students are predominantly poor children who belong to minority groups. Students, administrators, and teachers were eager to share their stories -- anecdotes never included in statistical assessments of their schools. The children offered insights about their lives in and out of school, and the adults talked about their struggle and dedication to help these children overcome challenges. --04/18/2001

Common Elements of Effective Schools
Education World editors Diane Weaver Dunne and Ellen R. Delisio explore the strategies educators at KIPP Academy Charter School, Mother Hale Academy, and Crossroads School are using to break the cycle of failure for students living in some of New York City's most disadvantaged. --04/16/2001

'Ordinary Resurrections': An e-Interview With Jonathan Kozol
For more than three decades, Jonathan Kozol has been a passionate voice and champion for the cause of quality public education for America's poorest children. In his latest book, "Ordinary Resurrections: Children in the Year's of Hope," Kozol offers a moving glimpse into the everyday lives of young children growing up in the South Bronx area of New York City. In a recent interview with Education World editor Lois Lewis, Kozol shared some thoughts about his latest book and about life in the urban United States. --03/26/2001

Iowa Teacher Spends 56 Years in Kindergarten
For 56 years, Drucilla Straub has been hugging and encouraging Des Moines (Iowa) kindergarten students. Many still keep in touch with her, and two told Education World how much they had enjoyed her class. The Des Moines Board of Education recently honored Straub. --01/16/2001

A Pickle in the Middle Grades: Report Documents Importance of Teacher Training for Grades Five Through Eight
If their academic preparation in middle school is weak, students are unlikely to succeed in high school. And if their education isn't tailored to meet their developmental needs, the students may become alienated and disengaged and mark time until they are old enough to drop out of high school. The problems are especially acute in urban schools. Those are the conclusions offered in a report from the Philadelphia Fund. Included: Basic requirements for middle school educators! --10/10/2000

Kids at Risk -- Can Educators Help?
"Our anticipated gains in the number of foreign-born students alone will require us to build one elementary school a month just to keep up," Roger C. Cuevas, Miami-Dade County school superintendent, told Education World. But a Florida grand jury recently found that the state's formula that funds new school construction doesn't recognize the county's unique needs created by its large immigrant population. Legislators counter the grand jury's finding, questioning whether Miami-Dade has been wisely spending the money it gets from the state. --7/26/2000

Florida Fails Children of Miami-Dade County
"Our anticipated gains in the number of foreign-born students alone will require us to build one elementary school a month just to keep up," Roger C. Cuevas, Miami-Dade County school superintendent, told Education World. But a Florida grand jury recently found that the state's formula that funds new school construction doesn't recognize the county's unique needs created by its large immigrant population. Legislators counter the grand jury's finding, questioning whether Miami-Dade has been wisely spending the money it gets from the state. --7/19/2000

Poor School Conditions Prompt Lawsuit on Behalf of Students: How Does Your School Compare?
Led by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), a coalition of private- and public-interest groups filed suit yesterday in California, alleging that students in 18 schools throughout the state receive a substandard education. "If these schools were housing, they would be treated as slums," said Mark Rosenbaum, legal director of the ACLU in southern California. --5/18/2000

The Social Context of Education -- 1997
A wide range of social conditions can affect the way kids learn. A report, The Social Context of Education, examines those conditions and how they've changed over the last few decades. --11/10/1997

Community Learning Centers: Keeping School Open After School Lets Out
A new guidebook, available on the Internet, can help school leaders in establishing programs that keep kids off the street and benefit all members of a community. --09/29/1997