City University of New York – Proposed Ph.D. Program in Urban Education

Policy Studies Concentration - Initial Research Priorities (3/23/99 draft)


I. Urban School Restructuring and Reform

1. Do urban school systems need to be fundamentally restructured?

2. What are the policy rationales, along with benefits and risks of:

a. market oriented initiatives

b. systemic reforms

3. What are the best criteria and methods for evaluating such proposed shifts in policy frameworks (basic goals, roles, relationships, governance, accountability)?

4. Do such shifts in policy framework call for different change strategies, in contrast to strategies required for reforms within the existing policy context?

5. What kinds of school, parent and community leadership, and leadership preparation and support, are needed for effective school restructuring and reform?

6. What forms of student assessments are needed:

a. to support various restructuring and reform efforts?

b. to support accountability to various stakeholders?

c. to support enhanced teaching and student learning?

7. Do urban school teachers need specialized preparation and support to effectively serve their students? How well do current teacher education programs meet these needs?

8. What recruitment methods are most effective in staffing urban schools with capable teachers? How do they compare with present methods?

9. What kinds of social, community and family supports are needed in urban areas to enable students to attain high standards?

10. How effective are New York City’s restructuring and reform efforts? What can be learned from efforts in other cities and states?

11. What can be learned from cities and countries around the world as they plan and implement programs of education restructuring and reform?

12. What are the implications of school finances and resource allocation models and techniques for school restructuring and reform ? What benefits and risks are associated with their use?


II. Educational Opportunity for All

1. How should educational opportunity for all be defined and implemented?

2. What are the relationships between student integration (race, class, religion, ethnicity, language, gender, special needs, etc.) and educational opportunity?

3. How can schools legitimately recognize and respond to individual differences among children without excusing low expectations for poor and minority students? How can high standards for all help raise low expectations, without discouraging less capable students, students with unequal opportunities to learn, and students with various handicapping conditions?

4. How can schools overcome the widespread assumption that social science correlations between poverty and low achievement mean that schools can do little to improve the achievement of poor children?

5. How can current legal challenges based on a right to "adequate" education bring a fair share of resources to city schools, without unintentionally legitimizing a lower standard of funding and achievement than the "excellent" education sought in wealthy communities?

6. How can technology help close, instead of widen, the educational gap between rich and poor? What responsibilities and opportunities do new technologies present for urban educators?


III. Public Involvement in Urban Education

1. What are the most effective roles of inspection and oversight of education by community, city, state, and federal bodies?

2. How can schools and reform efforts relate more effectively with the mass media, so that parents and all sectors of the urban public become better informed about and engaged in efforts to reshape public education and support student learning?

3. What are the most effective alternatives to the mass media for informing and communicating with parents and various publics about critical educational issues, policy alternatives, school activities, ways to support student learning?

4. How can internet-based techniques (e.g. email and asynchronous dialogue) be used to improve communication between schools and their constituents?

5. What are the educational priorities and values of the various stakeholder groups in urban education? What are the primary areas of agreement and conflict?

6. What are the possible mechanisms for forging consensus and the shared purpose needed for successful education and successful educational change?

7. How do schools successfully communicate and build trust and partnership with families of diverse cultures and languages?