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New Schools for a New Century

New Schools for a New Century: The Redesign of Urban Education

Diane Ravitch
Joseph P. Viteritti
Copyright Date: 1997
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 336
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  • Book Info
    New Schools for a New Century
    Book Description:

    As we cross the threshold of a new century, which approaches are likely to improve public education? In this book, distinguished scholars discuss recent innovations-charter schools, contracting arrangements, and choice-designed to liberate educators from burdensome bureaucratic controls and improve the level of opportunity for all children.Focusing on the problems in cities, where far too many children have been denied access to quality institutions, the authors examine the lessons to be learned from Catholic schools, site-based management, private entrepreneurs, and specific developments in three cities-New York, Milwaukee, and Chicago. The authors, though realistic about the political and institutional obstacles that stand in the way of meaningful change, foresee the demise of the "one size fits all" approach to schooling. They envision a system of schools that is dynamic, diverse, performance based, and accountable; one that is supportive of professionals, responsive to creativity, intolerant of failure, and committed to high educational standards for all children.Contributors:Louann BierleinAnthony BrykJohn ChubbChester FinnPaul HillValerie LeePaul PetersonDiane RavitchJoseph P. ViterittiPriscilla Wohlstetter

    eISBN: 978-0-300-14743-8
    Subjects: Education

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-xii)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-16)
    Diane Ravitch and Joseph P. Viteritti

    This is an exciting period in American education. For the first time in a century, reformers are beginning to think “outside the box” of the industrial-era factory model of schooling. There is growing recognition that one-size-fits-all education does not fit everyone, and that schooling must be adaptive to the changing needs of children and society. In the past, that very rhetoric—“the changing needs of children and society”—was enlisted in the creation of our current inflexible bureaucratic system. That hierarchical system served the nation fairly well for many years, but over time became more rigid, more inefficient, and less...

  5. 1 New York: The Obsolete Factory
    (pp. 17-36)
    Diane Ravitch and Joseph P. Viteritti

    It is difficult to imagine an organizational structure as hapless or incorrigible as the New York City public school system. By any reasonable measure of educational effectiveness, the system is not working well. Sprawling, rigid, machinelike, uncompromising, it is the premiere example of factory model schooling. Its centennial in 1996 passed uncelebrated and unremarked, possibly because its multitude of embarrassments made celebration unseemly. The school system has become a symbol of unresponsive bureaucracy that somehow rebuffs all efforts to change it. It is the creature of another era, designed as a machine in which orders flowed from the top and...

  6. 2 The Charter School Movement
    (pp. 37-60)
    Louann A. Bierlein

    These are among the many comments I hear as I visit charter schools across the country, work with policy makers implementing such laws, and speak with those opposed to the concept. Talk to those involved with creating charter schools or laws, and they are very committed to the concept. Talk with those who oppose the creation of such entities and they are equally committed. No other recent education reform initiative has sparked such interest and controversy, and none has grown so rapidly. What are charter schools and what is their appeal? Where did the idea come from? What has happened...

  7. 3 Contracting in Public Education
    (pp. 61-85)
    Paul T. Hill

    “Contracting out” has recently joined vouchers and outcomes-based programs among the true hot-button issues in public education. In the past few years, Minneapolis; Chelsea, Massachusetts; and Hartford, Connecticut, have hired contractors to act as de facto school superintendents. Miami; Baltimore; Wichita, Kansas; Sherman, Texas; and Wilkinsburg, Pennsylvania, have hired for-profit firms to operate whole schools, and twenty-five states have authorized charter schools, which are public schools operated by independent organizations under contract with public authorities. Dozens of other localities, including Nashville, Chicago, and Dallas have considered or are now debating contracting-out proposals.

    Contracting in public education is not a new...

  8. 4 Lessons in School Reform from the Edison Project
    (pp. 86-122)
    John E. Chubb

    The public first learned of the Edison Project in May 1991, following a Washington, D.C., press conference that was attended by most broadcast networks and national publications. It was a fitting beginning for an enterprise that would never be far from the watchful eyes of journalists, policy makers, and education leaders.

    Although the Edison Project was to be a private business venture, it held a lot of significance—at least potentially—for public education. When it was announced, the project proposed to open a national system of private schools, beginning with one hundred schools in 1996 and growing to perhaps...

  9. 5 School Choice in Milwaukee
    (pp. 123-146)
    Paul E. Peterson and Chad Noyes

    The Wisconsin state legislature in 1995 enacted a large-scale voucher program that offered a choice among both religious and secular schools to thousands of Milwaukee children living in low-income families.¹ The program will not come into effect unless the state’s supreme court rejects a challenge to its constitutionality. Until such time, low-income families seeking alternatives to the city’s public schools must choose within the confines of a more limited plan set up in 1990.

    This 1990 plan was but a “modest proposal.”² It allowed approximately one thousand children a choice among several private secular schools in Milwaukee. Yet in concept...

  10. 6 Catholic Lessons for Public Schools
    (pp. 147-163)
    Valerie E. Lee

    There is much to be learned from the study of Catholic schools in the United States.¹ At least four factors motivating such study come to mind: their rich intellectual and social history; the predominant numerical position they have held among U.S. private schools; the spare structure that guides their internal operations; and the favorable outcomes that contemporary Catholic schools appear to engender among the students and families who choose them. The historical story of Catholic schools in the United States deserves to be told, in that it reflects one vehicle for social mobility for successive waves of immigrants. Americans are...

  11. 7 Chicago School Reform
    (pp. 164-200)
    Anthony S. Bryk, David Kerbow and Sharon Rollow

    A tragic story unfolded in a series of articles in theChicago Tribunethroughout the spring of 1988. The Chicago Public School system was failing the students and parents that it was intended to serve and was placing at risk the future economic and social vitality of the city. Students, parents, and local schools were portrayed as victims to the interests of career bureaucrats in the central office, politicians in the city council and state legislature (many of whom send their own children to private schools), and a teachers union that saw its role as protecting the jobs and benefits...

  12. 8 Successful School-Based Management: A Lesson for Restructuring Urban Schools
    (pp. 201-225)
    Priscilla Wohlstetter, Susan Albers Mohrman and Peter J. Robertson

    School systems, bureaucratically structured to emphasize productivity and efficiency, are failing to meet the educational needs of our youth. They have failed to adequately prepare large numbers of students, particularly those in the inner city, to become productive, gainfully employed members of society. The educational model using standardized approaches to teaching and learning has not dealt effectively with the diversity of students that our urban schools confront. Many students are not developing adequate basic skills let alone the complex cognitive reasoning capabilities increasingly required in today’s and tomorrow’s society.

    Answers to this challenge have not been forthcoming from the remote...

  13. 9 The Politics of Change
    (pp. 226-250)
    Chester E. Finn Jr.

    An article buried in the November 15, 1995,New York Timessupplies an apt metaphor for U.S. education: as the dawn of the twenty-first century approaches, more than a quarter of the public schools in the nation’s largest city are still heated by coal furnaces.¹

    Portrayed in this startling bit of journalism was coal-stoker Brunei Toussaint, whose job today, as for the past three decades, is shoveling anthracite into the twin boilers—installed in 1924—of Junior High School 99 on Manhattan’s East 100th Street. Although he is growing weary and a bit arthritic from the ceaseless heavy lifting, his...

  14. 10 Somebody’s Children: Educational Opportunity for All American Children
    (pp. 251-274)
    Diane Ravitch

    Certain values are paramount in any discussion of education in the United States: equality, excellence, and pluralism. As a nation we support the principle of equality of educational opportunity. We support the principle of educational excellence. Our pursuit of equality and excellence must be joined, because educational opportunity—if equal—should be equal in excellence, not equal in mediocrity. And finally, we support the liberal democratic ideas of diversity and pluralism, for we recognize that in a free society, healthy differences of opinion and practice not only promote progress but are required for it.

    In the United States today, we...

  15. Notes
    (pp. 275-306)
  16. List of Contributors
    (pp. 307-310)
  17. Index
    (pp. 311-320)