In the new issue of Kappan, Pedro Noguera describes the theory and practice behind a Broader, Bolder Approach (BBA) initiative in Newark which links community-based reform with the anti-poverty struggle. BBA has been working in seven schools in Newark's Central Ward (six kindergarten through 8th-grade schools and one large comprehensive high school).
According to Noguera, they have introduced school-based interventions in response to the issues and challenges presented in this high-poverty area. Through these interventions, social services, and a concerted effort to increase civic engagement, BBA is working to ensure that environmental hardships related to poverty don't undermine efforts to transform schools. With funding from the Ford, Victoria, and Prudential foundations, the BBA effort commenced two years before the $100-million donation from Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg came to Newark.
BBA's approach has critics and opponents, writes Noguera including an unusual combination of prominent public figures like former chancellor of New York City Schools Chancellor Joel Klein, former House Republican leader Newt Gingrich, and civil rights activist Rev. Al Sharpton. They argue in support of the principles of NCLB, such as standards-based reform and accountability through high-stakes testing. The also charge that shift the focus of school reform toward reducing poverty or improving the health and welfare of children is using poverty as "an excuse." Despite its critics, writes Noguera, the BBA strategy is moving forward and gaining momentum as an array of stakeholders across the country agree to support it.
While expecting a single school to counter the effects of poverty on its own is unrealistic, a small but growing number of American schools are finding ways to reduce some of the effects. Mitigation is not the same as solving a problem, but it’s nonetheless an important strategy for schools to employ.Read Noguera's entire Kappan article here: http://www.kappanmagazine.org/content/93/3/8.full.pdf+html