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Faculty Research Fellow
COMMUNITY TEACHER-COMMUNITY SCHOOLS: PRACTICE-BASED RESEARCH AND THE CREATION OF QUALITY URBAN SCHOOLS
Despite decades of educational reform initiatives, our nation’s public school systems are still failing miserably, especially in urban communities. This is reflected in the devastating achievement gap, where minority students continue to under-perform in high stakes standardized assessments. Currently, within educational leadership and teacher preparation programs, there are serious disconnects from the context of urban practice, such that policy is made independently of practice and the everyday experiences of learners, their teachers and their parents (Elmore, 1996). As a result, the critical collective sense-making about how new policy initiatives actually benefit children rarely take place (Hawley & Rollie, 2002; Rollie, 2003). Engestrom (1998) characterizes this failure as a gap between local, on-the-ground practice and the policy- and bureaucratic-structures designed to administer this practice.
A major component of this crisis in urban education is that most school-university partnerships still exclude the community constituencies that are essential for creating the social environments for high quality teaching and learning in under-resourced urban schools (Murrell, 1998). There simply has not been a consistent effort to synthesize these traditions into a grounded theory of effective school-university-community collaboration dedicated to enhancing teacher quality and student achievement. The consequence has been a general failure of schools of education to tap into the localized and contextualized knowledge of urban communities to produce effective urban teachers and sufficient numbers of minority teachers. The failure of teacher preparation programs to be responsive to urban communities has led too many young people of color, who might otherwise consider teaching as a profession, to view the profession as disconnected from their own experiences and steer away from the profession.
My project, the Community Teacher-Community Schools, articulates and evaluates a national model of evidence-based, practice-oriented inquiry in urban schools that is dedicated to the enterprise of simultaneously elevating the quality of teaching and learning and urban teacher preparation. The project consists of two distinct but integrated components:
Based on our community teacher framework (Murrell, 1998, 2001), the project will demonstrate efficacy of the model in two ways: