Epilogue: The Uncertain Future of Urban Education

  • John L. Rury


Jean Anyon is among the most thoughtful and astute observers of urban education in the United States today. In 1995 she published a searching examination of the issues facing educators who struggle with the day-to-day challenges of working in an inner-city school. She noted the frustrations these individuals faced, and the behavior they sometimes found themselves exhibiting in attempting to reach the children they were charged with educating. Most of them, she found, did not believe that educational reform would make much difference in the challenges they faced, or the possibilities of success for the children they taught. Anyon described the immense barriers that existed between the educators in this school and the children in their classes, a situation that occasionally resulted in abusive behavior on the part of both teachers and students.


Educational Reform Urban School Abusive Behavior United States Today Good School 
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  1. 1.
    Jean Anyon, “Race, Social Class, and Educational Reform in an Inner-City School” Teachers College Record Fall 1995 97(1): 69–94.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    For discussion of this historical legacy, see Michael B. Katz, ed., The “Underclass” Debate: Views from History (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1993) Introduction and ch. 3.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    David B. Tyack, The One Best System: A History of American Urban Education (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1974) Epilogue.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    This is a long-standing critique of urban public education; see, for instance, Ray C. Rist, The Urban School: A Factory for Failure: A Study of Education in American Society (Cambridge, MA: M.I.T. Press, 1973) ch. 1. (This book has been reissued in recent years.)Google Scholar
  5. On the history of school reform, see David Tyack and Larry Cuban, Tinkering Toward Utopia: A Century of Public School Reform (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1995) chs. 1 & 2.Google Scholar
  6. 5.
    Jean Anyon, Ghetto Schooling: A Political Economy of Urban Educational Reform. (New York: Teachers College Press, 1997) Part II.Google Scholar
  7. 6.
    The classic study of this is David Rogers, 110 Livingston Street: Politics and Bureaucracy in the New York City Schools (New York: Random House, 1968).Google Scholar
  8. For a discussion of reform efforts, see Joseph P. Viteritti, “Managing 110 Livingston Street: Problems, Prospects, and Purpose” Urban Education April 1980 15(1): 103–114,CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. and David Rogers and Norman H. Chung, 110 Livingston Street Revisited: Decentralization in Action (New York: New York University Press, 1983).Google Scholar
  10. 7.
    For an assessment of curricular changes in urban secondary schools, see David L. Angus and Jeffrey E. Mirel, The Failed Promise of the American High School, 1890–1995 (New York: Teachers College Press, 1999) ch. 5, and their article, “Equality, Curriculum, and the Decline of the Academic Ideal: Detroit, 1930–68” History of Education Quarterly Summer 1993 33(2): 177–207.Google Scholar
  11. Also see Jonathan Zimmerman, Whose America?: Culture Wars in the Public Schools (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2002) ch. 5,Google Scholar
  12. and Diane Ravitch, The Troubled Crusade: American Education, 1945–1980 (New York: Basic Books, 1983) ch. 7.Google Scholar
  13. 8.
    For a critical view of the impact of standards and testing on an urban district, see Pauline Lipman, High Stakes Education: Inequality, Globalization, and Urban School Reform (New York: Routledge Falmer, 2004) chs. 3 & 4,CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. and Linda M. McNeil, Contradictions of Reform: Educational Costs of Standardized Testing (New York: Routledge, 2000).Google Scholar
  15. For a more sanguine perspective regarding standards, see Diane Ravitch, National Standards in American Education: A Citizen’s Guide (Washington, DC: Brookings Institution, 1995) chs. 4, 5, & 6.Google Scholar
  16. For insight into why Daley and other urban political leaders have become so interested in schools, see G. Donald Jud, “Public Schools and Urban Development” Journal of the American Planning Association 1985 51(1): 74–83.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 10.
    For discussion of developments in Chicago and other cities, see “Chicago to Start Over with 100 Small Schools” Education Week July 14, 2004. This article also mentions reform initiatives in Philadelphia and New York, particularly the latter’s “New Century High Schools” initiative, which also focuses on small schools. Also see the various essays on contemporary urban reform in Diane Ravitch and Joseph P. Viteritti, eds., New Schools for a New Century: The Redesign of Urban Education (New Haven: Yale University, 1997).Google Scholar
  18. 11.
    John F. Witte, The Market Approach to Education: An Analysis of America’s First Voucher Program (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2000) chs. 2 & 8.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© John L. Rury 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • John L. Rury
    • 1
  1. 1.University of KansasUSA

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