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Citation:Shirley, D. (1997). Community organizing for urban school reform. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press. ED421605.

The purpose of this case study is to examine a family and community engagement model of school reform implemented in various school districts in Texas through the work of the Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF) and the Alliance Schools network. The reform strategies are based on principles of community organizing, including constituent mobilization, grassroots leadership development, and utilization of both collaborative and confrontational methods. The study describes the factors that led to successful school reform, as well as a critique of the model. Key features of IAFÕs theory and political practice, its strategies for building social capital (Coleman, 1982), and its emphasis on student test scores are highlighted. Each of these factors contributed to the success of the school reform initiatives. The researcher also identifies several factors that created resistance to change in school culture, including barriers created by school staff, parents, and community organizers; severe social problems in the community; and the way schools are organized. A critique of the IAF approach is also presented. Information was gathered through in-depth interviews, census records, newspaper articles, school district reports, research reports, and test scores. Both schools and community-based organizations in several Texas cities were studied as part of this research study. This book provides thorough documentation of a frequently cited approach to community-based school reform.

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