Making a Difference in Urban Schools: Ideas, Politics, and Pedagogy

By Jane Gaskell and Ben Levin

© 2012

What can be done to improve the educational experiences of students who live in cities with increasingly high levels of diversity and inequality? Making a Difference in Urban Schools evaluates how school and community leaders have worked to change urban education in Canada for the better over the past fifty years.

This analytic and comparative study traces the evolution of urban education in Toronto and Winnipeg from the 1960s onward. Jane Gaskell and Ben Levin identify important contrasts between the experiences in each city as a result of their different demographics, institutional structures, cultures, and politics. They also highlight the common issues and dilemmas faced by reformers in these two cities, across Canada, and globally – including many that persist and remain controversial to this day.

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  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 232 pages
  • Dimensions: 6.2in x 0.8in x 9.3in
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Quick Overview

Making a Difference in Urban Schools evaluates how school and community leaders have worked to change urban education in Canada for the better over the past fifty years.

Making a Difference in Urban Schools: Ideas, Politics, and Pedagogy

By Jane Gaskell and Ben Levin

© 2012

What can be done to improve the educational experiences of students who live in cities with increasingly high levels of diversity and inequality? Making a Difference in Urban Schools evaluates how school and community leaders have worked to change urban education in Canada for the better over the past fifty years.

This analytic and comparative study traces the evolution of urban education in Toronto and Winnipeg from the 1960s onward. Jane Gaskell and Ben Levin identify important contrasts between the experiences in each city as a result of their different demographics, institutional structures, cultures, and politics. They also highlight the common issues and dilemmas faced by reformers in these two cities, across Canada, and globally – including many that persist and remain controversial to this day.

Continue Reading Read Less

Product Details

  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 232 pages
  • Dimensions: 6.2in x 0.8in x 9.3in
  • Reviews

    ‘I would recommend the use of this text in its entirety for graduate level seminars… The authors have provided a valuable study for students interested in exploring the background of urban reform movements in two important Canadian cities.’


    Casey Jakubowski
    Alberta Journal of Educational Research, vol 60:03:2014

    Making a Difference in Urban Schools provides a very informative account of efforts to address problems of equity in urban school districts, along with practical insights and recommendations on designing and supporting change initiatives. Engaging and accessible, it will be a useful reference for school-based leaders, school trustees, and policy makers at both the district and ministerial levels. It will also appeal to students and researchers interested in governance, policy, poverty, and educational reform.’
    Lynn Bosetti, Dean of Education, University of British Columbia Okanagan

    Making a Difference in Urban Schools is a must-read book for graduate students, ministry personnel, trustees, school board employees, community workers, and activists interested in understanding the possibilities of educational change and school reform through a school board politics lens. Providing valuable insight into how school boards have taken up agendas around poverty and diversity, it is a significant contribution to the field of Canadian school reform.’

    Katina Pollock, Faculty of Education, University of Western Ontario
  • Author Information

    Jane Gaskell is a professor in the Department of Theory and Policy Studies in Education and former dean of the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto.



    Ben Levin is Canada Research Chair in Education Leadership and Policy and a professor in the Department of Theory and Policy Studies in Education at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto.

  • Table of contents

    Introduction

    Chapter 1- Setting the stage: Poverty, diversity and urban education

    • Demographic challenge and change
      • Poverty
      • Diversity
    • The changing meaning of equity
    • The literature on urban educational systems
    • Conclusions

    Chapter Two – Change in the Winnipeg School Board

    Chapter Three - Reform at the Toronto Board of Education

    • The Toronto Board of Education
    • The 1970's: setting an agenda for reform
      • Some of the Toronto reform trustees
    • The 1980s: institutionalizing change
    • Conclusions

    Chapter Four – Ideas Matter: The Impact of Evidence and Belief

    • How do ideas matter?
    • Social movements and evidence informed policy
    • Frameworks for thinking about education and equity
    • Educational analysis in the Toronto and Winnipeg boards
      • Ideas as a resource for change in Toronto
      • Ideas as a resource for change in Winnipeg
    • Conclusions

    Chapter five - Politics, conflict and civic capacity

    • Central and local: Relationships between districts and provincial governments
    • Trustees and boards
    • Community involvement
    • Relations with board administrators
    • Conclusions

    Chapter 6 - Teaching and Learning in Urban Schools

    • Creating a welcoming classroom environment
    • Changing the curriculum
    • Rethinking literacy
    • Streaming and secondary school change
    • Testing and assessment
    • Relationships with teachers and their unions
    • Conclusions

    Chapter 7 - Lessons from Canadian urban school reform

    • Have things improved over the last forty years?
    • Policy proposals and their limits Ideas and research
    • Politics
    • Teaching and learning
    • What should be done?
      • School districts need thoughtful strategic plans
      • Stronger links are needed between urban districts and provincial governments
      • More public debate based on good data around the political controversies inherent in urban public education.
      • Urban schools must be good places to work and learn so as to attract and retain good people
      • A central and sustained focus on improved teaching and learning
      • Strong, consistent community engagement
      • Better use of research and evidence
      • The necessary infrastructure to support all of the above

    Appendix on methodology

    • The study

    Index of Names and Organizations

    References

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