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Making a Difference in Urban Schools


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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

Promotional Information

'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

About the Author

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.


'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

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