Volume 12 Issue 1 (Spring 2015)

Editorial: Teacher Networks and the Drive for Equity

Gina Cappelletti, University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education

Cat McManus, University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education

As in the last issue, the Spring 2015 issue of Perspectives on Urban Education opens with what we refer to as the “Call for Response Piece.” The goal of the response piece is to catalyze responses from you, our readers, as well as to spark dialogue across the issues. The last issue’s response piece was entirely visual; this one is audio-only. We imagine--and indeed we hope--that your responses will take many forms and we encourage multi-modal representations of knowledge generated by education-watchers, practitioners, researchers, students, parents, and more. 

A Love Supreme: Reflections on Why We Continue to Teach

Brendon Jobs, Shamir Reese, Kenloy Henry, Christopher Rogers, Samuel Reed, and Raymond Roy-Pace

Teacher Networks in Philadelphia: Landscape, Engagement, and Value

Daniel Schiff, Philadelphia Education Fund

Dr. Liza Herzog, Philadelphia Education Fund

Dr. Elizabeth Farley-Ripple, University of Delaware

Lauren Thum Iannuccilli, School District of Philadelphia

The most effective teachers do not work in isolation. Instead, they foster collaboration and teamwork in order to continually improve their craft and deliver their expertise to ultimately impact the students they teach. Individual teachers working by themselves can result in a flattening of professional growth (Leana, 2011). In contrast, a growing body of research provides strong support for the importance of social capital—relationships among teachers—for improving public schools (Johnson, Lustick, & Kim, 2011; Leana & Pil, 2006; Leana & Pil, 2009).

Teacher Networks Companion Piece

Ami Patel Hopkins, Philadelphia Education Fund

Dr. Carolyn Rulli, Philadelphia Education Fund

Daniel Schiff, Philadelphia Education Fund

Marina Fradera, Philadelphia Education Fund

Network building vitally impacts career development, but in few professions does it impact daily practice more than in teaching. Teacher networks, known as professional learning communities, communities of practice, peer learning circles, virtual professional communities, as well as other names, play a unique and powerful role in education.

Reading for Change: Social Justice Unionism Book Groups as an Organizing Tool

Kathleen Riley, Ph.D., West Chester University

In my view the only meaningful option is to acknowledge that it is in our common interest to make equity and quality the cornerstones for educational reform. That can only happen if parents, students, and teachers band together to wrest control from the elites who are driving federal and state policy, and insist on schools they directly control. That in turn will require a social movement – Occupy Our Schools – which has as its goal the reinvention of schooling as engaging, demanding, responsive, accessible, timely, future-oriented.

Much More Than It’s Cooked-Up To Be: Reflections on Doing Math and Teachers’ Professional Learning

Joshua A. Taton, Ph.D. candidate, University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education

Introduction: Believe It or Not, I Do Math for Fun!

“Whaddaya do, go home on the weekends and just do math?”

The Medical Curiosity of Math Teachers

Reimagining Reading: Creating a Classroom Culture that Embraces Independent Choice Reading

Katie Dickerson, Olney Charter High School, Philadelphia, PA

Many of us are plagued by negative memories of sustained silent reading. In some of these memories, we are the students, attempting to read a book that didn’t hold our interest or trying to read over the din of our disengaged classmates. In other memories, we are the teachers, suffering through a ten-minute classroom management nightmare, deciding which pupil behaviors to ignore and which to address.

Saturday School: Implementing Project-Based Learning in an Urban School

Susan Catapano, Ed.D., University of  North Carolina in Wilmington

Jenny Gray, Ed.D., Griffith Elementary, Ferguson-Florissant School District 

“If there has ever been a time to improve schools, the time is now.”

 –Scherer, 2010 



Inequities of Intervention Among Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Students

Liz Cramer, Ph.D., Florida International University 

Since the 2004 reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Response to Intervention (RTI) models are being implemented nationwide with the intent to promote equity by ensuring that all students receive intensive, systematic, and evidence-based interventions prior to consideration for special education services.

Listening to Students from Refugee Backgrounds: Lessons for Education Professionals

Dr. Shirley Mthethwa-Sommers, Nazareth College

Dr. Otieno Kisiara, Nazareth College

In the past five years (2007-2011), the United States has admitted an average of 62,500 refugees annually, about one third of whom are school-age children (Martin & Yankay, 2012). Refugees are people who are forced to migrate to other countries due to sociopolitical instability, often caused by wars, in their home countries. Many refugee families are resettled in poor urban areas, which means school-age children from refugee backgrounds often attend urban schools.

Educational Ecosystems: A Trend in Urban Educational Innovation

Dr. Mustafa Abdul-Jabbar, Harvard Law School

Dr. Barbara Kurshan, University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education

A Diversification Trend in Education Service Providers

Philadelphia’s Renaissance Schools Initiative after Four Years

Kati Stratos, The School District of Philadelphia

Tonya Wolford, Ph.D., The School District of Philadelphia

Adrienne Reitano, The School District of Philadelphia

In 2010-2011, the School District of Philadelphia (the District) launched its Renaissance Schools Initiative, a program designed to dramatically improve student achievement in the District’s lowest performing schools. Some schools became Promise Academies, based on the federal turnaround model, and remained District-operated neighborhood schools. Other schools became Renaissance Charters, based on the federal restart model, and shifted management to external charter providers while remaining neighborhood schools.

This is Not A Test: A New Narrative on Race, Class, and Education. José Vilson. Chicago, IL: Haymarket Books, 2014. 220 pp.

Reviewed by Kirsten L. Hill, University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education

For apart from inquiry, apart from the praxis, individuals cannot be truly human. Knowledge emerges only through invention and re-invention, through the restless, impatient, continuing, hopeful inquiry human beings pursue in the world, with the world, and with each other. 

   —Paulo Freire, 1970, Pedagogy of the Oppressed

Marketing Schools, Marketing Cities: Who Wins and Who Loses When Schools Become Urban Amenities. Maia Bloomfield Cucchiara. University of Chicago Press, 2013. 304 pp.

Reviewed by Miyoung Park, University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education

For those who have had the opportunity to stroll through the various areas of the City of Philadelphia, it is not hard to see that it is a city marked by noticeable division: affluent and energetic areas with modern urban amenities in stark contrast to under-resourced areas with abandoned row homes and graffiti.