Toxic Schools: High-poverty Education In New York And Amsterdam

Paperback | October 4, 2013

byBowen Paulle

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Violent urban schools loom large in our culture: for decades they have served as the centerpieces of political campaigns and as window dressing for brutal television shows and movies. Yet unequal access to quality schools remains the single greatest failing of our society—and one of the most hotly debated issues of our time. Of all the usual words used to describe non-selective city schools—segregated, unequal, violent—none comes close to characterizing their systemic dysfunction in high-poverty neighborhoods. The most accurate word is toxic.

When Bowen Paulle speaks of toxicity, he speaks of educational worlds dominated by intimidation and anxiety, by ambivalence, degradation, and shame. Based on six years of teaching and research in the South Bronx and in Southeast Amsterdam, Toxic Schools is the first fully participatory ethnographic study of its kind and a searing examination of daily life in two radically different settings. What these schools have in common, however, are not the predictable ideas about race and educational achievement but the tragically similar habituated stress responses of students forced to endure the experience of constant vulnerability. From both sides of the Atlantic Ocean, Paulle paints an intimate portrait of how students and teachers actually cope, in real time, with the chronic stress, peer group dynamics, and subtle power politics of urban educational spaces in the perpetual shadow of aggression.

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Violent urban schools loom large in our culture: for decades they have served as the centerpieces of political campaigns and as window dressing for brutal television shows and movies. Yet unequal access to quality schools remains the single greatest failing of our society—and one of the most hotly debated issues of our time. Of all the...

Bowen Paulle teaches at the University of Amsterdam. A native New Yorker, he lives in the Netherlands.
Format:PaperbackDimensions:328 pages, 9 × 6 × 1 inPublished:October 4, 2013Publisher:University Of Chicago PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:022606641X

ISBN - 13:9780226066417

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Table of Contents

Preface

Chapter 1: Introduction—Getting Situated
Chapter 2: Recognizing the Real, Restructuring the Game
Chapter 3: Episodic Violence, Perpetual Threats
Chapter 4: Exile and Commitment
Chapter 5: Survival of the Nurtured
Chapter 6: The Tipping of Classrooms, Teachers Left Behind
Chapter 7: Conclusion

Appendix: Research Methods and the Evolution of Ideas

Notes
Bibliography
Index

Editorial Reviews

“Paulle performs a considerable service just by reminding us that the first fact of life in the worst of these nearly abandoned schools is the atmosphere of chaos, threat, and intimidation. This takes us much closer to the lived reality of teachers, students, and parents and explains why both policy discourse and research discourse often seem perfectly irrelevant to those in such schools.”