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Segregation or "Thinking Black"?: Community Activism and the Development Of Black-Focused Schools in Toronto and London, 1968–2008

by Lauri Johnson
On January 29, 2008 the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) approved the development of an Africentric school under their Alternative School policy. Calls for Black-focused schools also arose in 2008 in London in response to the rise in gang violence and the disengagement of African Caribbean youth. This comparative paper analyzes the historical development of Black-focused education in Toronto and London from 1968 - 2008 as a response by Black parents and community activists to the historic underachievement of African Caribbean students (particularly males) in the public schools of both cities. I situate the development of Black-focused education in each city within the larger social, political, and national policy contexts, trace critical incidents that fueled the development of race-based school district policy, and explore how the “politics of place” has influenced the trajectory of Black-focused education in each city. The historiography of Black education has largely focused on the US educational system. Research on educational reform efforts such as Afrocentric schooling has also reflected this US-centric focus. This comparative study reconceptualizes Black-focused schooling within the context of the African Diaspora by examining how advocacy for an African-centered curriculum and ideology was adapted to local conditions in Canada and Britain.
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School Diversity, School District Fragmentation and Metropolitan Policy

by Jennifer Jellison Holme & Kara S. Finnigan
This article explores the dilemmas created by between-district segregation and school district fragmentation in terms of efforts to diversify schools. We first review existing research to examine what is known empirically about between-district segregation, and the role of school district fragmentation as a contributing factor. We then examine policy efforts to address problems caused by fragmentation in other (non-educational) domains, and we consider whether such efforts could serve as a potential solution to school district fragmentation. We conclude with educational policy lessons based upon our examination of these prior efforts both within and outside of education to inform the current policy debate around school segregation.
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Book Reviews

Understanding Peace Cultures

by Rebecca L. Oxford (Ed.)
reviewed by Hongyu Wang


Engaging the ''Race Question'': Accountability and Equity in U.S. Higher Education

by Alicia C. Dowd & Estela Mara Bensimon
reviewed by Elsa Gonzalez & Stephen Luis


Cultural Competence in America's Schools: Leadership, Engagement and Understanding

by Bruce A. Jones & Edwin J. Nichols
reviewed by Joe Orovecz & Gaëtane Jean-Marie


The Teaching Brain: An Evolutionary Trait at the Heart of Education

by Vanessa Rodriguez & Michelle Fitzpatrick
reviewed by Carmina Makar


Sustaining Literacy in Africa: Developing a Literate Environment

by Peter Easton
reviewed by Nicola McClung & Nasa Lesley Cole

Education researcher Eran Tamir discusses his article, What Keeps Teachers In and What Drives Them Out: How Urban Public, Urban Catholic, and Jewish Day Schools Affect Beginning Teachers’ Careers. Watch and discuss this episode of The Voice on Vialogues.


“Truths” Devoid of Empirical Proof: Underlying Assumptions Surrounding Value-Added Models in Teacher Evaluation

by Jessica Holloway-Libell & Audrey Amrein-Beardsley
Despite the overwhelming and research-based concerns regarding value-added models (VAMs), VAM advocates, policymakers, and supporters continue to hold strong to VAMs’ purported, yet still largely theoretical strengths and potentials. Those advancing VAMs have, more or less, adopted and promoted a set of agreed-upon, albeit “heroic” set of assumptions, without independent, peer-reviewed research in support. These “heroic” assumptions transcend promotional, policy, media, and research-based pieces, but they have never been fully investigated, explicated, or made explicit as a set or whole. These assumptions, though often violated, are often ignored in order to promote VAM adoption and use, and also to sell for-profits’ and sometimes non-profits’ VAM-based systems to states and districts. The purpose of this study was to make obvious the assumptions that have been made within the VAM narrative and that, accordingly, have often been accepted without challenge. Ultimately, sources for this study included 470 distinctly different written pieces, from both traditional and non-traditional sources. The results of this analysis suggest that the preponderance of sources propagating unfounded assertions are fostering a sort of VAM echo chamber that seems impenetrable by even the most rigorous and trustworthy empirical evidence.

Annual Yearbooks for 2015

by Gary Natriello
The editors of the Teachers College Record are pleased to announce the Annual Yearbooks for 2015.

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