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A Match on Dry Grass: Community Organizing for School Reformby Mark R. Warren
Synopses & Reviews
The persistent failure of public schools in low-income neighborhoods, where fully half of the black and Latino students fail to graduate with their peers, has vexed educators for decades. Many people now see these problems as structural and tied to a lack of power held by impoverished communities, but few school reformers know what to do about it. Their strategies for improvement remain largely focused within the four walls of the school.
To forge better connections between schools and communities, A Match on Dry Grass argues that community organizing represents a fresh approach to address educational failure. Based on a comprehensive national study, the book presents richly detailed case studies of six prominent efforts in Chicago, New York City, Los Angeles, Denver, San Jose and the Mississippi Delta to illustrate how organizing groups work to build the participation and leadership of parents and students so they can hold school systems accountable for real improvements. Organizing groups do not just demand change, however, they also collaborate with educators, parents, students, and other residents to take part in the change efforts. Out of the case studies, Warren, Mapp, and their collaborators identify the central processes common to all organizing efforts for school reform to show scholars and educators how community organizing really works and what it means to build meaningful collaborations. Hundreds of such organizing efforts have emerged in recent decades and A Match on Dry Grass explains the principles of this important new movement for educational justice and the steps that make it work.
Faith-based community organizers have spent decades working for greater equality in American society, and more recently have become significant players in shaping health care, finance, and immigration reform at the highest levels of government.
In A Shared Future, Richard L. Wood and Brad R. Fulton draw on a new national study of community organizing coalitions and in-depth interviews of key leaders in this field to show how faith-based organizing is creatively navigating the competing aspirations of Americaandrsquo;s universalist and multiculturalist democratic ideals, even as it confronts three demons bedeviling American politics: economic inequality, federal policy paralysis, and racial inequity. With a broad view of the entire field and a distinct empirical focus on the PICO National Network, Wood and Fultonandrsquo;s analysis illuminates the tensions, struggles, and deep rewards that come with pursuing racial equity within a social change organization and in society. Ultimately, A Shared Future offers a vision for how we might build a future that embodies the ethical democracy of the best American dreams.
The persistent failure of public schooling in low-income communities constitutes one of our nation's most pressing civil rights and social justice issues. Many school reformers recognize that poverty, racism, and a lack of power held by these communities undermine children's education and development, but few know what to do about it.
A Match on Dry Grass argues that community organizing represents a fresh and promising approach to school reform as part of a broader agenda to build power for low-income communities and address the profound social inequalities that affect the education of children. Based on a comprehensive national study, the book presents rich and compelling case studies of prominent organizing efforts in Chicago, New York City, Los Angeles, Denver, San Jose, and the Mississippi Delta. The authors show how organizing groups build the participation and leadership of parents and students so they can become powerful actors in school improvement efforts. They also identify promising ways to overcome divisions and create the collaborations between educators and community residents required for deep and sustainable school reform.
Identifying the key processes that create strong connections between schools and communities, Warren, Mapp, and their collaborators show how community organizing builds powerful relationships that lead to the transformational change necessary to advance educational equity and a robust democracy.
About the Author
Mark R. Warren is Associate Professor at Harvard University, and author of Fire in the Heart and Dry Bones Rattling.
Karen L. Mapp is Lecturer in Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and author of Beyond the Bake Sale.
The Community Organizing and School Reform Project at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, led by Mark R. Warren and Karen L. Mapp, consists of Keith Catone, Roy Cervantes, Connie K. Chung, Cynthia Gordon, Soo Hong, Ann Ishimaru, Paul Kuttner, Meredith Mira, Thomas Nikundiwe, Soojin Oh, Kenneth Russell, Amanda Taylor, Mara Tieken, Anita Wadhwa, and Helen Westmoreland.
Table of Contents
Introduction: A New Movement for Equity and Justice in Education
Chapter 1. How Community Organizing Works
Chapter 2. "A Match on Dry Grass": Organizing for Great Schools in San Jose
Chapter 3. "An Appetite for Change": Building Relational Cultures for Educational Reform and Civic Engagement in Los Angeles
Chapter 4. "Our Strength is the Power of Our Community": Political Education and the Continuation of the Struggle in Denver
Chapter 5. "Weaving a Tapestry that won't Unravel": The Transformation of Education in the Mississippi Delta
Chapter 6. "Acts of Leadership": Building Powerful Forms of Parent Participation in Chicago
Chapter 7. "Cement between the Bricks": Building Schools and Communities in New York City
Chapter 8. Building Relationships and Power to Transform Communities and Schools
Conclusion: Lessons for School Reform and Democracy-Building
Appendix A: Collaborative Research Process
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