CAN COMMUNITY AND EDUCATION ORGANIZING IMPROVE INNER-CITY SCHOOLS?

Authors


Direct Correspondence to: Norman J. Glickman, Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy, Center for Urban Policy Research, 33 Livingston Avenue, Suite 360, New Brunswick, NJ 08901. E-mail: glickman@rci.rutgers.edu.

Abstract

ABSTRACT: Traditional community organizing processes and tactics are being applied throughout American cities in order to transform inner-city public schools. This paper utilizes a theory of change to demonstrate how the growing “education organizing” movement seeks to improve both schools and communities by focusing on problem issues, cultivating social capital, developing indigenous leaders, building power, and demanding greater public accountability. We apply a series of indicators to highlight both community and school outcomes achieved by a variety of groups to date, with a case study of several local affiliates of the national Industrial Areas Foundation. Specifically, we find that education organizing has made a qualitative difference in the lives of students, parents, teachers, and school administrators; this process has turned former adversaries into allies for change. However, certain school outcomes, such as increased student achievement, and advancements in curriculum and instruction, are lagging behind expectations. Overall, education organizing achievements stand out significantly against the backdrop of urban disinvestment, poverty, and segregation. Importantly, while education organizing flows from overall community organizing, successes in schooling help overall community development efforts.

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