As the Center’s first Director, I would like to invite you as a new visitor to our website, and hope that you will return as material is added. In this message, let me share my thoughts about why this Center is important to helping shape our understanding of urban education, while disseminating pragmatic, research-based solutions to the historical problems that continue to define the state of urban education.
The challenges we face in urban education are difficult and complex. No silver bullet exists. Because of this reality, interdisciplinary research and partnerships stand as a key unifying thread to building and sustaining any idea or effort that will prove to be successful in addressing such longstanding concerns. Any person familiar with urban education knows that urban schools are disadvantaged in many respects. Among the usual list of alarming statistics, urban schools are well-known to have a disproportionate amount of students from families of modest means, and educators are asked to teach students in the context of anemic local tax bases, with limited state and federal resources. The research base of what we know about the relationships among urban school reform, the preparation of urban school professionals, and the academic success of urban students is growing, yet there remains many unanswered questions, including an ongoing need for dialogue to take place and mature on issues that can oftentimes be divisive in nature. Given both the challenges and the opportunities for advancing knowledge about “what works” in urban education, the Center leverages our understanding of the needs of students, families, teachers, administrators, and school professionals so that the improvements we ultimately make will develop from secure empirical footings, sound frameworks of practice, and critical reflection that invites space for new ideas to emerge.
According to a recent policy report published by the Coalition of Urban Serving Communities, a core purpose of an urban university should be to serve as an anchor for generating prosperity within large cities. As an urban institution, Cleveland State University is an engine of innovative leadership and civic capacity building. Because the urban education pipeline is so critical for a region’s economic renewal, the Center for Urban Education will endeavor to play a key role in making Cleveland a blueprint for how to transform a large urban city, faced with serious challenges, into a place of robust long-term growth. I look forward to diving straight into these timely and important endeavors. I invite you to come and join me.