What American urban secondary schools could be: an international perspective

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Back in the spring of 2005, as a first-year doctoral student at the University of Minnesota, I participated in an enrichment program for foreign Fulbright scholars pursuing graduate degrees in US universities. The program was held in New Orleans just a few months before Hurricane Katrina struck Louisiana. More than the enrichment agenda, I enjoyed the mild spring weather of New Orleans and deep cultural flavors imbued in the city. On the last day of the program, the participants visited a local high school in New Orleans. I still remember the moment that I walked through the entrance gate of the high school, because I encountered a dark side of the urban schooling system in America: I saw a police officer with a gun and police car just in front of the main building. “Oh my goodness, a police officer with a gun in school!” I was thinking inside. One may dismiss my experience as just a cultural shock. But I think it is more than culture shock; it is evidence of a systemic problem persistently facing US urban schools. My intention is not to debate the pros and cons of law enforcement officers in US schools[1]. Rather what I wish to point out is that things have become worse since the first school resource officer was assigned to a school in the 1950s. School violence issues have escalated, and other major dysfunctions appear to be perpetuating across many secondary schools in the US. This is evidenced in this JEA special edition, titled “Understanding and improving urban secondary schools: new perspectives.” For example, Roozbeh Shirazi depicts the issue of segregation within a school through the eyes of school staff:
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)463-472
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Educational Administration
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 15 Oct 2018


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