Overcoming Adversities For Children And Youth At Risk Of Educational Failure

The primary goal of the present acim podcast study is to examine the impact of the changing macroecological characteristics of cities on school performance, and to draw from the research base and from innovative developments on what can be done to make a significant difference in reducing the achievement gap among urban students from minority backgrounds.

Greater numbers of children from increasingly diverse sociocultural and economic backgrounds have been included in our nation’s schools, and the kinds of educational programs offered in the classroom have been greatly diversified. These accomplishments, while significant, have fallen short of the educational vision of a universal school system that provides all children with equal access to schooling success.

To date, efforts during the past three decades to desegregate schools have produced very little change to enhance social and academic integration. Furthermore, the focus on the “setting” of schooling has become a barrier to the nation’s quest to improve schooling for the very students who are the intended beneficiaries of school desegregation. In particular, the difficulties of life in the inner city often overshadow the urban community’s rich resources for children and families.

By finding ways to magnify the positives in urban life, we can improve the capacity for education in the urban community and enhance the schooling success of those children and youth from economically disadvantaged backgrounds who live in some of the most adverse inner-city environments. There is increasing evidence that the achievement gap in this nation’s urban schools may be better understood in terms of the decentralization of cities, the resulting changes in the social ecology of neighborhoods, and the structure of the urban labor market.

The contention is that the changing makeup of the cities accounts for much of the failure of urban schools. The United States leads the industrialized world in numbers of children living in poverty. In addition, residential segregation by race and social class has also worsened despite efforts to desegregate the nation’s cities following the civil rights legislation of the 1960s. African-American and other minority students tend to be in schools where overall achievement is low.

And even in schools that have achieved racial integration, students from language and ethnic minority backgrounds are often resegregated by a variety of pullout remedial or compensatory education programs. These programs tend to underestimate what students can do, neglect fundamental content, provide inferior instruction, delay the introduction of more challenging work, and fail to provide students with a motivating context for learning.

These circumstances place children at risk of educational failure and place schools at the center of interconnected social problems. Countering these trends and reducing the achievement gap requires an inclusive approach to responding to student diversity and the provision of powerful instruction that can increase the capacity for achieving the educational success of all students.

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