We propose that The Graduate School and University Center of The City University of New York establish a new program of study leading to the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in the field of Urban Education. The primary intent of this program will be to prepare leaders in educational research and policy analysis who have a broad understanding of the complex issues facing urban education in America. We believe that the intellectual challenges of investigating the processes and practices of urban education as a social and cultural institution require a partnership among many disciplines and a unique doctoral program supported by the research of the faculty. Research conducted by students and faculty associated with this program can contribute to the knowledge base needed to improve urban education in New York and throughout the United States.
Research in education is not solely concerned with the accumulation of knowledge for its own sake, and researchers in education broadly agree that research guided by an assessment of practical needs and priorities produces more interesting as well as more useful knowledge. The goal of educational research, like that of medical or legal research, or of much research today in economics, engineering, political science, or psychology, is, ultimately: better policy, better practice, better results. The need for Ph.D. programs to prepare researchers and policy analysts and to support the study of competing curricula for literacy education, the role and impact of new educational technologies, the development and implementation of new academic standards and methods of assessment, or the design and policy implications of proposed new curricula and teaching methods, is ultimately the need to know more to do better.
In order to help insure continuing connections with urban schools and the on-going relevance to practice of research work in the proposed program, we intend to establish regular means of communication and collaboration between the program and representatives of schools and other significant educational institutions in New York City. Specific plans for these initiatives will be described in a document accompanying this proposal.
The unique focus of this program will be at the intersection of two principal research agendas: (1) research on issues of curriculum and instruction in urban schools, and (2) policy analysis research on broader social, political, and economic issues that shape the context for curricular and instructional practices.
Researchers and policy analysts require the broad intellectual base and diverse critical perspectives that only an integrated and coherent program of studies across a wide range of specialist disciplines can provide. The intellectual resources of the CUNY Graduate Center will enable students in this program to draw on elective courses and research faculty in many relevant partner disciplines, including History, Philosophy, Developmental and Social Psychology, Sociology, Anthropology, Economics, and Political Science, as well as more broadly on expertise in the humanities, mathematics and computer science, and the natural sciences. Doctoral faculty in all these fields have been consulted in the development of this proposal, and many have expressed their desire to participate in the program (see Section 12).
This program will also provide its students with a unique access to and understanding of the nation's largest system of urban public schools, as developed over many years by the teacher education and educational outreach programs of CUNY's many colleges. Through consortial arrangements with faculty and programs at the colleges, the Ph.D. program will seek to connect the conceptual perspectives of education programs and other disciplines with the realities of urban schools and school systems.
Graduates of this program will take on a wide variety of important roles in urban education: research and teaching in universities, including essential teacher education programs; research positions in urban school districts, and in state and federal government agencies; policy analysis positions for private foundations; and as staff to legislators and legislative committees. There is a growing national consensus that educational policies and practices must be grounded in the same research-based approach that has been so successfully adopted in other key areas of our national life (National Research Council, 1999). This proposed program will significantly help to meet the human resources needs of a careful and thoughtful, research-based approach to meeting the challenges of urban education. The City University of New York can and should serve the people of New York City and New York State by playing a uniquely valuable role in preparing researchers and policy analysts in urban education.