Publication Date: April 5, 2010
In this insightful book, Kenneth Strike develops a new vision of school reform. Arguing that good schools are first and foremost strong communities, Strike maintains that the small schools movement is the best hope to create such schools. He shows how the core assumptions that characterize the “community paradigm” are preferable to those of standards-based reform and choice. Part I examines student disengagement as an issue largely unaddressed by current views of school reform; demonstrates that belonging is essential to authentic learning; and argues that good schools create a sense that “we are all in this together.” Good schools have a “shared educational project” and exhibit the four Cs of community: coherence, cohesion, care, and connectivity. Part II discusses the small schools movement. The author shows that small size is not sufficient to create strong communities or good schools—we cannot just downsize and hope that something good will happen. Strike looks at the educational practices and policies required to create successful small schools, and develops a view of accountability appropriate for building successful educational communities. He argues that if we expect small schools to be successful we cannot view them as simply a strategy for succeeding on standards-based reform, but rather we must see the creation of strong communities as a distinct paradigm for school reform.
Kenneth A. Strike is Professor of Cultural Foundations at Syracuse University and Professor Emeritus of Education at Cornell University. He is a member of the National Academy of Education and is a past president of the Philosophy of Education Society.
“This is a book that has profoundly shifted my approach to urban education.”
—Matthew C. Williams, Principal, Syracuse City School District
“Offers novel diagnoses as to what needs fixing in our schools and some unusual prescriptions for cures.”
—From the Foreword by Mary Anne Raywid, Professor Emerita, Hofstra University