Constructive discussions of real and sustainable possibilities for urban public high school reform rely on practical understandings of the fundamental facts of schooling. These facts, described and explicated below, pertain to:

• Classroom dynamics • School organizational cultures, structures, and moral orders • Principal leadership • Local community characteristics • Federal, state, and district educational directives • Multi-institutional partnerships

Classroom Dynamics

The bottom line and most important fact of schooling is classroom dynamics. The success of all reforms ultimately depends on teachers and students and the classroom regimens and relations they produce. To be eff ective in urban classrooms, teachers need relevant credentials, ongoing professional development, a command of pedagogical content knowledge, practical experience, and other qualifi cations that enable them to instruct, assess, and direct the conduct of racially, ethnically, and economically diverse students. The most qualifi ed teachers possess credentials from accredited teacher education programs that actually prepare them for the challenges of urban public schooling. They participate in suitable and contextualized professional development. And they have a command of pedagogical content knowledge where they not only have a strong mastery of subject matter content, but also a repertoire of pedagogical techniques for representing and formulating content in ways that make it

eff ectively teachable to urban youths (Shulman, 2000). The practice of assigning the least experienced teachers to the most challenging students should end. Students in urban public high schools deserve, and absolutely must have the most qualifi ed teachers.