Why Urban Education?

We are not satisfied having our students leave our programs with a limited view of communities and schools. At SUNY Oswego, we have a 160 year history of preparing teachers to travel all over the world, learning more, and sharing the knowledge they have developed. With this legacy in mind, we want to prepare our students as completely as possible by arranging for them experience many different schools and school communities, including urban schools.

Most of our students have not visited urban communities, like Syracuse, Rochester, or New York City. We expect that after traveling to the cities, working in them closely with teachers and students, our students will have a greater willingness to travel to urban areas, learn from them, and make a contribution. 


1. It will broaden your personal and professional horizons.

2. It will enhance your understanding of schooling and your role as a teacher.

3. It will make a contribution to urban schools, teachers, and children.

4. It will help you to understand why our School of Education has made a commitment to teaching for social justice.


The limited urban experiences of our students also results in limited views of the relationships between: specialists and classroom teachers, schools and communities, schools and parents, children and their communities, community resources and schools, different cultural groups within a school community, schools and teachers unions, and schools and community agencies. Our students visiting urban schools have been surprised to find very different assumptions about teachers' planning times, before and after school student events, communicating with parents, professional development opportunities, and  other issues.

Working in an urban school allows you to develop a deeper understanding of how these relationships can or should operate, and how teachers' roles change with the community within which the school is located. Once our pre-teachers gain the awareness of how different schools can be, they are more likely to quickly adjust to the roles they will be expected to play, and to take advantage of community resources where they find themselves teaching.


It may be hard to understand why our School of Education has made such a strong commitment to teaching for social justice. In the isolation of rural communities, differences in wealth, gender, or physical ability may be hidden or minimized. Urban communities are tremendously dynamic and diverse. The limited resources can not address the needs that arise from such settings. As a result, issues and inequities of race, class, gender, (dis)ability, religion, and sexuality are often much more apparent to the casual observer. The gaps between wealth and poverty, ability and disability, and people of different cultures confront us at every turn. In schools these social equity gaps usually directly result in achievement equity gaps.

When our pre-teachers enter urban schools, the need to address social gaps in equity, and  achievement is quite apparent. Thus, the need to teach for social justice comes immediately to the forefront of their consciousness. Whether our pre-teachers choose to stay and teach in an urban school, or return to rural or suburban communities, their understanding of and attention to teaching for social justice will be enhanced by their urban experiences.


Students who enter our programs from urban schools bring a wealth of information about life in urban communities. Yet, classroom discussions, textbook materials, curriculum plans, and pedagogical strategies tend to reflect rural or suburban school life. Often the voices of urban pre-teachers are unconsciously silenced in class discussions. However, when students return to their Education classrooms from urban field placements the discussions that follow are more likely to include all students. All members of the classroom benefit from the insider information and insight that urban classmates can provide.

Urban students, often come to Education classes with many of the same misconceptions about urban schools. While they attended urban schools, they have not thought about the pedagogical practices that reflect our goals of teaching for social justice and authentic learning. Urban students may have limited perspectives on the roles of teachers, based on the teachers they experienced as youngsters. When our urban students return to urban classrooms during their field placements, they bring with them a deep understanding of urban life combined with some new ways of seeing the community, the schools, and the roles of teachers.