Advocates of the ‘back-to-basics’ movement argue that a basic skills programme ensures that students are educated to a minimum level of literacy required to enter the labour force. Critics charge that these efforts only increase school bureaucracy and undermine teachers’ autonomy in the classroom.
First published in 1992, this book moves beyond the rhetoric surrounding the basic skills debate by providing a thorough yet critical examination of urban education, urban school reform, and teachers’ work culture. Beginning with a sparkling theoretical discussion of the problems and pitfalls of back-to-basics reform efforts, author Dennis Carlson argues persuasively that the movement’s exclusive emphasis on functional literacy skills rather than higher-order thinking assures that students will remain on the lower rungs of the socio-economic ladder. He then proceeds with an empirical study of two urban high school districts in which he documents the latent effects of back-to-basics on teachers’ work lives as well as staff-administration clashes over efforts to implement restructuring programmes.
This book offers a sensible and sophisticated treatment of some of the important issues facing urban education and will be of great interest to anyone working in Education.
Table of Contents
Acknowledgements; Introduction; 1. Crisis Tendencies in Urban Education 2. Teachers and Crisis: Teachers’ Work Culture in Sociohistorical Perspective 3. Teachers and Basic Skills Restructuring in Midstate 4. Teachers and Basic Skills Restructuring in Urbanville 5. Role Formalization and "Playing the Game" in Urbanville Schools 6. "Classroom Management" in the Basic Skills Era 7. Beyond the Crisis of Urban Schooling; Notes; Index