U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Addressing the problems of urban education: An ecological systems perspective

NCJ Number
Journal of Urban Affairs Dated: 2020
Date Published

This article explains how housing and criminal justice systems are interrelated with urban education, examining these dynamics in Nashville, Tennessee, followed by descriptions of several multi-sectoral change efforts to improve urban education in Nashville, including their effects and limitations.



Many urban school districts have been beset by a variety of problems, including low achievement, high dropout, and disciplinary referral rates. Frequently, efforts to improve urban education have focused on interventions at the student, school, or district level; however, urban scholars recognize that many of these problems are embedded in urban poverty and related issues, including residential racial segregation, housing and food insecurity, and high levels of residential mobility and criminal justice system involvement. Ecological systems theory can help to explicate some of the mechanisms through which poverty and related problems adversely affect educational outcomes, and to identify systemic changes likely to lead to improved educational outcomes. (publisher abstract modified)

Date Published: January 1, 2020