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Organizing for Educational Justice

The Campaign for Public School Reform in the South Bronx

2010
Author:

Michael B. Fabricant

Organizing for Educational Justice

An in-depth account of community-based school reform that offers a powerful model for parents searching for ways to change public education

Organizing for Educational Justice tells the story of CC9 from its origins in 1995 as a small group of concerned parents to the citywide application of its reform agenda ten years later. As urban parents search for ways to hold public schools accountable for their failures, this book shows how the success of the CC9 experience can be replicated elsewhere around the country.

Everyone who is interested in authentic, deep school reform—the type of school change that will make a difference in the lives of children—should read this book. Michael Fabricant’s rendition of the important story of CC9 is both compelling and informative. He also illuminates a new style of community organizing that builds capacity in the community to support and enhance public institutions. This stands in stark contrast to those who would destabilize the community through efforts to privatize essential services.

Randi Weingarten, President, American Federation of Teachers

Since the 1980s, strategies for improving public education in America have focused on either competition through voucher programs and charter schools or standardization as enacted into federal law through No Child Left Behind. These reforms, however, have failed to narrow the performance gap between poor urban students and other children. In response, parents have begun to organize local campaigns to strengthen the public schools in their communities. One of the most original, successful, and influential of these parent-led campaigns has been the Community Collaborative to Improve District 9 (CC9), a consortium of six neighborhood-based groups in the Bronx.

In Organizing for Educational Justice, Michael B. Fabricant tells the story of CC9 from its origins in 1995 as a small group of concerned parents to the citywide application of its reform agenda—concentrating on targeted investment in the development of teacher capacity—ten years later. Drawing on in-depth interviews with participants, analysis of qualitative data, and access to meetings and archives, Fabricant evaluates CC9’s innovative approach to organizing and collaboration with other stakeholders, including the United Federation of Teachers, the NYC Department of Education, neighborhood nonprofits, and city colleges and universities.

Situating this case within a wider exploration of parent participation in educational reform, Fabricant explains why CC9 succeeded and other parent-led movements did not. He also examines the ways in which the movement effectively empowered parents by rigorously ensuring a democratic process in making decisions and, more broadly, an inclusive organizational culture. As urban parents across America search for ways to hold public schools accountable for their failures, this book shows how the success of the CC9 experience can be replicated elsewhere around the country.

Organizing for Educational Justice

Michael B. Fabricant is professor in the School of Social Work and executive officer of the Ph.D. program in social welfare at Hunter College, City University of New York.

Organizing for Educational Justice

Everyone who is interested in authentic, deep school reform—the type of school change that will make a difference in the lives of children—should read this book. Michael Fabricant’s rendition of the important story of CC9 is both compelling and informative. He also illuminates a new style of community organizing that builds capacity in the community to support and enhance public institutions. This stands in stark contrast to those who would destabilize the community through efforts to privatize essential services.

Randi Weingarten, President, American Federation of Teachers

There is growing interest in what community organizations and parents can do to influence the quality and character of public schools. This is occurring at the same time as corporate control of public education is increasing. Since New York has been held up by many as a model for urban reform, Organizing for Educational Justice will serve as a resource to academics and organizers alike.

Pedro A. Noguera, New York University

Organizing for Educational Justice is a rich, honest biography of democratic mobilization for public education, an intimate look at a moment in time when educators, community members, parents, politicians, union leaders, and youth, linked arms to organize in the Bronx, for a different tomorrow. It should be required reading for educators, activists, and policy makers committed to resurrecting public education as a public good.

Michelle Fine, City University of New York

Fabricant has produced a street manual for policy wonks, a policy guide for organizers and a down-to-earth read for everyone in between.

In These Times

What makes this more than a feel-good story of struggle and achievement is Fabricant’s determination to explore the how along with the what. That’s why Organizing for Educational Justice is instructive to anyone interested in making change, not just pronouncing it.

Louis Nayman, Union Organizer

A useful supplement regarding educational reform.

Choice

Read the book for incredible insight into what real democracy takes and a wealth of opportunities for critical thought.

James Boutin, An Urban Teacher’s Education

Fabricant’s book serves as a sort of ‘how-to’ manual for mobilizing grassroots political activism in communities that are not often given a voice in their own governance.

Dissent Magazine

It is impossible to read this book without having tremendous admiration for all those who participated in the [CC9] Campaign—their intelligence, their caring, their perseverance, their commitment to public education.

Journal of Sociology & Social Welfare

Outstanding. . . a major contribution to the field of social change.

Working USA

Organizing for Educational Justice

UMP blog: Disturbing trends in public education and why charter schools aren't the answer.

11/11/2010
The present public education policy conversation is focused on exit and blame. Very rarely do we hear about how an unequal investment in our students influences academic performance. We’re talking about an inequality in the investment in, for example, suburban schools relative to their inner city school counterparts and about the U.S. having the one of the most unequal student per-capita investment records in the world.
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