What makes any school an urban school?

The way we name places reflects what we think of them


  • Cosmopolitan Schools
    • Worldly sophistication; fashionable (social/cultural perspective)
  • Metropolitan Schools
    • Large city and center of population and culture (cultural perspective)


  • City Schools
    • Center of population, finance, commerce (geographic perspective)
  • Community Schools
    • A group of people forming a smaller social unit within a larger one, and sharing common experiences
  • Neighborhood Schools
    • People living near one another
  • Urban Schools
    • A city with at least 50,000 people (U.S. Census)


  • Inner City Schools
    • Sections of a large city especially when crowded or blighted
  • Ghetto Schools
    • Section of a city in which many members of some minority group live or to which they are restricted as by economic pressure or social discrimination.
  • Slum Schools
    • Heavily populated area of a city characterized by poverty, poor, dilapidated or dirty


  • Wider range of acceptable thinking and acting
  • More progressive ideas
  • Global awareness
  • Higher concentration of universities
  • Context has served as scaffolding for:
    • Multicultural education
    • Culturally relevant teaching
    • Teaching for social justice
    • Education for people with disabilities
    • Several civil rights initiatives


  • The school has a student population above 5,000,
  • The school has more than 60% students of color,
  • The school is more than 65% economically disadvantaged ,
  • The school has more than 11% of English Language Learners,
  • The school has more than 15% students with disabilities,
  • The school has graduation rates of less than 65%,
  • The school has been designated as “Focus or Priority” by NYSED.


  • High administrative mobility
  • Less access to science and math resources
  • Inadequate funding
  • Factionalized infighting
  • High teacher shortages
  • High level of student health problems
  • Old school buildings