Focus: What is “urban” education?
The word “urban” gets used frequently in education, but what does it mean when referring to schools that do not reside in densely populated inner-cities?
In an editorial for the journal Urban Education, Vanderbilt University’s H. Richard Milner IV tackles the issue of defining terms in his piece “But what is urban education?”
He suggests three categories for thinking about the types of “urban education” we may encounter: (1) “Urban intensive,” (2) “Urban emergent,” and (3) “Urban characteristic.”
Urban intensive refers to schools “concentrated in large, metropolitan cities across the United States, such as New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Atlanta.”
Urban emergent refers to schools “that are typically located in large cities but not as large as the major cities. They typically have some of the same characteristics and sometimes challenges as urban intensive schools and districts in terms of resources, qualification of teachers, and academic development of students.”
Urban characteristic refers to schools “that are not located in big cities but may be beginning to experience increases in challenges that are sometimes associated with urban contexts.”
What are those challenges we may typically associate with urban contexts? According to the John Hopkins School of Education, the following traits characterize urban schools:
- larger enrollment
- higher concentration of low income students
- under-achievement on standardized test scores
- challenges with regard to student behavior
- fewer resources and less control over curriculum
- increase in population of English language learners
- more teachers working outside content area
Urban characteristic schools face challenges traditionally encountered by urban districts. We help to solve these challenges.