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Addressing the problems of urban education: An ecological systems perspective

NCJ Number
Journal of Urban Affairs Dated: 2020
Date Published

After describing how housing and criminal justice systems are interrelated with urban education, these dynamics are examined in Nashville, Tennessee, followed by a description of several multi-sectoral change efforts to improve urban education in Nashville, as well as their effects and limitations.


Many urban school districts have been beset by a variety of problems, including low achievement, high dropout, and disciplinary referral rates. Frequently, efforts to improve urban education have focused on interventions at the student, school, or district level; however, urban scholars recognize that many of these problems are embedded in urban poverty and related issues, including residential racial segregation, housing and food insecurity, and high levels of residential mobility and criminal justice system involvement. Ecological systems theory can help to explicate some of the mechanisms through which poverty and related problems adversely affect educational outcomes, as well as to identify systemic changes likely to improve educational outcomes. (publisher abstract modified)

Date Published: January 1, 2020