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Urban Education: Cultural Differences, Physical Location Make a Difference

The misperception that failing urban schools are solely in need of "good teachers" without consideration for cultural differences and physical locations of schools is compounding problems for urban students.

To dispel this myth, scholar Jackie Jordan Irvine will present recommendations on how urban schools can be reformed for student achievement in her lecture, Teaching in Urban Schools: The Difference Makes A Difference on Wednesday, Sept. 24, at 4:30 p.m. in the Pappert Lecture Hall of the Bayer Learning Center at Duquesne University. The lecture, sponsored by the University’s School of Education, is free and open to a broad audience of school district and University faculty, philanthropic and non-profit agencies, and other key stakeholders.

“Urban educators operate within complex, distinct and sometimes overlapping layers at many administrative levels—federal, state, city, district, school and classrooms," said Irvine, the Charles Howard Candler Professor Emerita of Urban Education at Emory University and visiting professor at University of Maryland, College Park. "Each layer involves changing cultural, political, and historical matters involving a variety of passionate stakeholders. Urban teachers, particularly novice teachers, must negotiate this thorny terrain and their success, sense of professionalism and confidence are at stake."

According to Irvine, urban schools are different from suburban and rural schools. Likewise, large schools and small schools have different climates and teacher-student relationships—and these distinctions matter.

"Context and culture are the operative words here," Irvine said. "Urban schools have difficulty attracting, selecting, recruiting, and retaining teachers in spite of the fact that researchers, teacher educators, think tanks, foundations, and policy makers have been working on this problem for decades."

In addition to Wednesday’s talk, Irvine will present a workshop on Thursday to students and teachers from the Pittsburgh Public Schools and representatives from its partner institutions, including Duquesne, the University of Pittsburgh and Point Park.

For more information, call 412.396.6102 or e-mail lebakken@duq.edu.

Duquesne University

Founded in 1878, Duquesne is consistently ranked among the nation's top Catholic universities for its award-winning faculty and tradition of academic excellence. Duquesne, a campus of nearly 9,500 graduate and undergraduate students, has been nationally recognized for its academic programs, community service and commitment to sustainability. Follow Duquesne University on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.