The following is the first of a multi-point field report from a LYS Principal.

The difficulties attributed to urban schools are largely a myth.  I find the little difference between the students in poor urban settings, poor suburban settings and poor rural settings. For the record, I have worked in all three setting.  What I have observed is that the obstacles to success in all districts are largely created by adults.  Urban districts get the spotlight because thousands of students are affected at once.  Adults use the “tough urban school” legend to explain why the kids fail, when in reality the problem is that leadership has failed.

SC Response In general, I do not disagree with you on this point.  A critical difference that I have observed between the large, poor school and the small, poor school is based on (not surprisingly) scale.  In the smaller schools, the staff know their students better so they are less afraid and/or intimidated by them.  In the larger school, where staff / student relationships are more diffused, the staff allow themselves to be fooled by the 1/8 inch thick shell of hardness that some students attempt to cultivate.  The longer this is allowed to fester, the more it becomes a reality.  The answer is to engage with every student, everyday. This of course requires on-going training (rare), on-going support (rarer), on-going monitoring (rarest) and meaningful intervention (nearly mythical).  But you are correct, the critical factor remains… Leadership. 
Think. Work. Achieve. Your turn…

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