Citing “the birth of a new spirit in education,” the Ford Foundation last week awarded $1,000 grants to 110 inner-city public high schools.
In ceremonies here, the foundation honored urban schools from 36 cities that made dramatic educational gains over the last decade by placing strong emphasis on discipline and the basics of learning.
Each of the schools was judged by Ford Foundation officials to be “orderly and purposeful, operating in an environment in which teaching and learning can take place.”
The grants came after two years of study by the foundation. Ford inspectors roamed the corridors of 225 high schools in 40 cities. The project was limited to schools in which at least 30 percent of the students came from low-income families.
The foundation studied attendance, academic achievement, discipline, and job and college placement. It selected at random any year from the past 10 years and then judged each school’s performance in that year and in 1981.
In the end, schools were cited for improvement if they could show:
A highly visible principal who serves both as a positive leader and a strong authority figure.
A motivated teaching force that enjoys working with students.
Increased emphasis on academics.
Emphasis on order and discipline.
“For several years, urban high schools have been perceived as failing,” said Edward J. Meade, the Ford Foundation’s chief program officer in education. “But I can think of no other institution in the American city that is expected to do so much for so many, and to succeed at all of it.”
Many of the schools cited for improvement, he said, had experienced severe disruptions in the 1970’s, including student violence, racial tension, and disrespect for staff members. Many had gone through changes wrought by racial integration and had more recently been affected by reduced funding.
“But there is a new spirit in city high schools all over the country,” Mr. Meade said. “These high schools have started on a new road, and while they have a way to go, there is no turning back.”
Typical of those schools is Central High School in Detroit, where Ford Foundation officials came to announce the awards made under the nationwide program. A decade ago, students prowled Central High halls during class periods and drug transactions took place in the lavatories. Today, Ford evaluators noted, the 2,600-student school is clean, its atmosphere is calm, and students spend their class periods learning.
Chester Rogers, principal of Central High for the past six years, is given much of the credit for the improvement. Mr. Rogers requires his students to take courses far beyond the requirements of the school district. He has expelled trouble-makers and worked with students and their parents to create a family atmosphere at Central.
“Our students show us every day that the urban high school need not be a center for despair,” Mr. Rogers said at the awards ceremony, as 800 of the school’s students cheered loudly.
The $1,000 grants are to be used by each school as its student body sees fit. In addition, each honored high school becomes eligible for one of 50 grants of $20,000 the Foundation plans to award later this year.
Those grants are designed to be used to strengthen academic programs at the school or at the middle or junior-high school which feeds students into the high school.
Following is a list of the schools receiving Ford Foundation awards:
Albuquerque High School, Rio Grande High School, West Mesa High School, Valley High School
George Washington Carver Comprehensive High School, Frederick Douglass High School, Fulton High School, Henry Grady High School, Charles L. Harper
Edmondson High School, Northern High School, Northwestern Senior High School, Southern High School, Southwestern Senior High School, Walbrook Senior High School
Ensley High School, Glenn High School, Carol W. Hayes High School, Parker High School, John Herbert Phillips High School, Wenonah High School, Woodlawn High School
Garinger High School, Harry P. Harding Senior High School
Briggs High School, East High School, Linden McKinley High School, Marion-Franklin High School, Whetstone High School
Des Moines, Iowa
Des Moines Technical High School, North High School
Central High School, Murray-Wright High School, Northern High School, Southwestern High School, Western High School
Edison High School, Roosevelt High School
Jefferson Davis Senior High School, Booker T. Washington Senior High School
Arsenal Technical High School, Thomas Carr Howe High School, Broad Ripple High School, George Washington High School
Jim Hill High School, Lanier High School, William B. Murrah High School, Provine High School
Jersey City, N.J.
Lincoln High School
Kansas City, Mo.
East High School
Rule High School
Las Vegas, Nev.
Sunset High School
Carver High School, Hamilton Senior High School, Melrose Comprehensive High School, Mitchell High School, Booker T. Washington High School
Solomon Juneau Development City-Wide High School, North Division High School, Riverside High School, South Division High School
South High School
New Orleans, La.
George W. Carver Senior High School, Joseph S. Clark Senior High School, Alcee Fortier Senior High School, L.B. Landry Senior High School, Booker T. Washington Senior High School
Granby High School, Lake Taylor High School, Maury High School, Norview Senior High School
Castlemont High School, Fremont High School, McClymonds High School
Benson High School, North High School, Technical High School
Taylor Allderdice High School, John A. Brashear High School, Langley High School, Oliver High School, South High School
Jefferson High School
Central High School
Salt Lake City, Utah
South High School
San Antonio, Tex.
Luther Burbank High School, Thomas Edison High School, Louis W. Fox Academy and Technical High School, Highlands High School, Sam Houston High School, Thomas Jefferson High School, Sidney Lanier High School, Phillis Wheatley High School
Chief Sealth High School
John R. Rogers High School
Thomas J. Corcoran Senior High School, George W. Fowler High School, William Nottingham High School
Hillsborough High School, Thomas Jefferson High School
Pueblo High School, Tucson High School
Raymond S. McLain High School
Frank W. Ballou High School, Paul Laurence Dunbar Senior High School, Spingarn High School, Howard Dilworth Woodson Senior High School
Burncoat Senior High School, North High School, South High Community School
A version of this article appeared in the May 26, 1982 edition of Education Week as Foundation Rewards Gains in 110 Urban Schools