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Urban education has been a victim of time-old clichés. A number of studies, legislation, and discussions have gone into the subject of teaching in the past. However, urban education is yet to find any tangible change in its functioning. The ills of this all-important field, which develops and nurtures the faculties, and powers of people are certainly matters of concern. There have been several suggestions in the past to remedy the malaise that has afflicted urban education. Unless the art of teaching undergoes a sea change, the situation will continue to tread the same old beaten track. This essay tries to probe the remedial measures, and how they can be implemented.

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4 policies in an urban setting on Critical Urban Pedagogy

Urban education needs pedagogies that are culturally, ideologically, and locally relevant. Unless education is unyoked from economic, social, and political injustice, the existing state of mediocrity will continue. Cultural superiority rules educational attainments today. Blacks and other Latin American children are considered inferior to whites, intellectually. The poor background of these children is attributed to be the reason for failure in education. Needless to say, money and political power should not play any role in deciding the performance of children. Education should be devoid of political and economic capital. There should not be any rigged competition, and everyone should enjoy level playing field. The same set of rules should apply to the privileged and the underprivileged. The situation of influential and wealthier persons getting better opportunities should be done away with. Today, the masses do not find a room at the top of the educational pyramid. Meritocracy has taken a back seat in the field of education. These pitfalls are to be sorted out to give the underprivileged an opportunity to come up in their lives. The nation’s poor and socially backward children have every right to quality education based on merits.

The authorities do allot increased resources to urban schools and these resources are being used in the right context of urban life. This is a welcome fact. The argument that lack of support and resources is the reason for the failure of urban schools does not hold good. Research has not shown any systematic relationship between resources and student failures. School reformers are faced with the challenge of developing suitable instructional practices. This is where the institutional support is found wanting. Support in this direction will go a long way in giving new vision to urban schools.

This is the similar vision espoused by the findings of Carnegie’s “School for a New Society”. This vision calls upon urban schools to devise a new dynamic vision and leadership strategies. This effort suggests collaboration with all stakeholders. Direct involvement of the community is a must for the success of the high school's mission. As stated earlier, all schools must be beneficiaries of equitable material resources. Development of teachers, suitable pedagogy and curricula, which suit the specific conditions of urban life must form part of the vision. Students bring lots of knowledge to schools that they acquire from family cultural traditions, the media, youth culture, and also from the streets. Apart from what they have in their curricula, schools must be prepared to draw this extra knowledge from the students. This is referred to as, “culturally relevant pedagogy”. Investigation of the day to day happenings of their students’ lives is an important factor of critical pedagogy that the teachers must carry out. This exercise gives a deeper understanding of the students’ lives and helps teachers to handle the curriculum and adjust their pedagogy reflectively. Deep insight into students’ lives while away from school equips teachers to deal with students’ problems effectively. This also helps teachers to understand their students better and influence them in all social contexts. On the students’ part, they will be in a better position to enjoy seamless experience while at school as well as while outside. This kind of an environment undoubtedly helps to contribute the urban youth in their studies. The availability of quality teachers is yet another important part of critical pedagogy. Urban teachers must have specific training suited to their special conditions of pedagogy. They must be supported and encouraged by reformers to develop their skills. Above all, recruitment and training of personnel with commitment to their profession is an important part of critical pedagogy. Therefore, recruitment, in-service support, pre-service training, and development of teachers are important aspects for successful pedagogy (Jeffre M.R, 2008).

Science teaching throws several challenges to educators in terms of social privileges and resources. Capital controls in inner city, as well as inner-city school settings, play vast inequalities. There have been progressive research efforts to learn cultural, political and ethical impacts in schools vis-à-vis critical pedagogy. One set of researchers feel that the approach to critical science education must consider whether the practice of science, or the education is organized. Further, studies conclude that the discussion on science needs to be critically addressed from the cultural, historical and social dimensions. Although science education is only a small section of education, capitalism plays its endemic role, in this too. The education reformers are seized of the question whether reforms in science education is aligned to the capitalist imperatives or to the democratic needs. Finally, it has been concluded that capitalism has had its impact on our scientific and education structures. It is a discouraging fact that learning has been sidelined by the pressure of capitalist accumulation. Unfortunately, capitalism and scientific research are intertwined. This affects the economically and politically downtrodden communities more than anyone else (C.B, 2001).

Freire, the noted urban teacher, who inspired the world population, argued that students must be given political education along with their academic pursuits. He believed that political education enables them to critically reflect on the causes of their oppression. Freire also had devised a system to teach adults (Potential of E-learning as a way of respecting a way of doing critical pedagogy).

In her book, Responding to the Needs of At-Risk Students in Poverty, Susanne E. McKinney of Old Dominion University says that urban teachers must respond to the needs of their students. It is now generally accepted that urban teachers must understand the environment that has a bearing on the urban students’ success. Culture-oriented practices are recommended by one and all for the benefit of the children. All factors, whether in the school or outside, impacts urban students. Teachers, who respond to the needs of the students must be identified and encouraged to perform well. Teachers with cultural sensitivity and awareness only can handle children hailing from poverty-stricken and instability ridden families of urban neighborhood. Research on the subject has concluded that failure rates were high on American children, who were victims of poverty when compared to the rates of Asian American or white students (Sueanne E. M).

Louise C. Wilkinson and others in their book, “Improving literacy achievement in urban schools,” wrote that, if the national goals for reading have to be met, priority must be given to prepare urban teachers to teach reading. While the literacy requirements as a whole have increased, the progress of this requirement in schools has not kept pace. The education reformers may do well, if they define the ways to prepare quality teachers, who can set examples in handling urban students successfully. At best, in the current inconsistent scenario, the reformers may concentrate on preparing teachers, who can take care of issues, such as social class, poverty, and language development. (Louise C.W, 2008)

Research highlights that critical pedagogy can make use of service-learning theory methods. Critical pedagogy can compensate the deficiencies faced by urban children in the domestic environments. The only requirement is that the urban children have to come forward and share their external experiences in their classrooms. This procedure calls for equal role for children as that of pedagogues to sort out problems that they face outside their classrooms. Reformers have to understand that research must influence curriculum, pedagogy, and students. Unless the .effect of research reaches all stakeholders, the very purpose of research is defeated (Nicole W, 2011).

Jeffrey Michael Reyes has lectured around the world that classroom practices and school cultures foster self-confidence in students. His experience of working with teachers, officials, and school site leaders has shown that classroom practices provide added self-esteem to students apart from academic success. The best way for reformers to understand the ground realities in urban schools is to join the stakeholders and feel their pulse. Nothing works like hands-on experience (RPgroup, 2009)

Expert in pedagogy, Ernest Morrell, who has wide experience in research and teaching in the fields of cultural studies, literacy, urban education, ethnic studies, and critical pedagogy confirms that urban children positively respond to interpersonal relations, testing, classrooms, and school organizations. They have reduced bias in the curriculum. Community engagement in education has been found as one of the best ways of teaching methods. What the teachers, policymakers, and schools need to do in the given context is to focus on the achievement gap between the low-achieving students of color and immigrants, and their higher-achieving whites or Asian American counterparts (N.A)

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