Poverty and inner city education, community economic development at the local school level
Poverty is a root problem in public education. When primary needs of children are not met due to root causes of poverty, children experience difficulty in school. This is most notable in inner city communities where poverty rates are highest. In the face of poverty, inner city schools appear unsuccessful with efforts to make the processes of schooling work as well for poor children as for those who are not poor. This study of poverty and inner city education asks what can an inner city school do to counter the negative effects of poverty on learning? Given that poverty is systemic, to what extent can education be an instrument for social and economic change? The first part of this study is a conceptual analysis of inner city education. political economy provides the theoretical framework for understanding the structural role of schools in sustaining unequal social and economic conditions. Stemming from this analysis, critical theory is applied to the notion that community economic development might occur atthe local school is considered. Community-based schooling is conceived as alternate educational practice to counter poverty effects through structural change at the local school and neighbourhood levels. Identified within this analysis is the role for critical educational leadership to meet the challenge of finding ways to make a difference in the lives of children. Through formal research and practical inquiry, evidence of this difference could then be shared so others might be more encouraged to join in transforming practice in inner city communities. The latter part of this study is an account of how this critical perspective was applied to practice efforts at William Whyte Community School located in Winnipeg's inner city. In this section, community-based schooling is described as alternative educational practice that recognize and supports both individual and capacities in order to create and sustain opportunities for individual growth and community development. The study concludes with consideration of the research and policy implications for inner city education if community economic development strategies are to be implemented at the local school level through the practice of community-based schooling.