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ERIC Number: EJ850372
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009
Pages: 2
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-1938-5978
Urban Interventions: When a University Tries to Help a City School
Cronin, Joseph M.
New England Journal of Higher Education, v23 n5 p20-21 Spr 2009
Once upon a time, the relationship of Boston universities to the city's school system was simply to accept worthy candidates into the freshman class and produce a few dozen new teachers each year to fill staff vacancies. For many decades, universities stayed away from Boston schools. Boston trained its elementary teachers at its own normal school, which became Boston State College and eventually was taken over by the University of Massachusetts Boston. In prior centuries, Harvard College produced the largest number of high school "masters" but beginning in the 1930s, Boston College, Tufts and others sent graduates to teach in Boston. What lured area universities into Boston was the new commitment to cities in the 1960s, first by the Ford Foundation and then by Lyndon Johnson's War on Poverty and Congressional approval of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, precursor to No Child Left Behind. Universities were asked to help revise the curriculum, design new models, advise on racial integration and improve specialized services to city children. In Massachusetts and elsewhere, universities are often seen as vendors of expertise. The hope, especially in New York City, East Palo Alto and other cities, is that universities can become "turnaround agents" and rescue underperforming public schools. This is a genuine challenge, since universities are stocked with very independent faculty members with a mix of teaching, student advising and research responsibilities. Many faculty, until recent years, lacked school experience dealing with the challenges of urban diversity. Some schools of education and management will be able to respond, but universities are usually better at taking on specific tasks rather than total school reinventions. Universities contributed thousands of hours to trying to help Boston schools improve. With what effect? The author contends that university partnerships must include a clear statement of objectives, mutual respect among university and city partners, a major commitment to stay many years, and a willingness to evaluate and revise ineffective strategies.
New England Board of Higher Education. 45 Temple Place, Boston, MA 02111. Tel: 617-357-9620; Fax: 617-338-1577; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education; Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Massachusetts
Identifiers - Laws, Policies, & Programs: Elementary and Secondary Education Act; No Child Left Behind Act 2001