Big-city school districts play a critical role in educating America’s children. Although there are almost 17,000 public school districts in the United States, just 100 of them serve 23 percent of all students, 30 percent of economically disadvantaged students, and 40 percent of students from racial minorities.
Elementary schools that educate children at risk of academic failure have traditionally responded by offering remedial instruction that slows the pace of learning. Research suggests, however, that remediation makes it harder for students to catch up and join the educational mainstream.
Public housing developments are among the most economically challenged neighborhoods in the United States. In fact, many public housing residents face obstacles to employment even beyond those normally experienced by other low-income people.
The welfare system has been transformed over the past two decades, notably through the introduction of stricter work requirements and time limits on cash assistance in the 1990s. At the same time, government at both the federal and the state level invested in offering financial work supports of unprecedented scope to low-income parents.
The federal welfare overhaul of 1996 ushered in myriad policy changes aimed at getting low-income parents off public assistance and into employment.
Community colleges, which tend to be accessible and affordable, serve as a critical resource for low-income individuals striving to improve their prospects in the labor market and life. However, a variety of factors, ranging from a lack of financial aid to inadequate student services and poor developmental classes, can impede students’ progress.
Career Academies were first developed some 35 years ago with the aim of restructuring large high schools into small learning communities and creating better pathways from high school to further education and the workplace. Since then, the Career Academy approach has taken root in an estimated 8,000 high schools across the country.