Date of Degree

2-2019

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

M.A.

Program

Liberal Studies

Advisor

Domna Stanton

Subject Categories

American Art and Architecture | American Studies | Educational Sociology | Inequality and Stratification | Other Arts and Humanities | Other Education | Place and Environment | Politics and Social Change | Race, Ethnicity and Post-Colonial Studies | Secondary Education | United States History

Keywords

urban education, history of education, public school, New York City, public high school, the Bronx

Abstract

Morris High School was conceived and built in the Bronx with a lofty mission: to provide a comprehensive, world-class secondary education to the children of immigrant and working-class families, and in so doing to elevate the American public education system and America itself. Such a weighty mission for an institution would result, one could expect, in painstaking record keeping, the lionization of great leaders, consistent investment in the building, and attention given to problems encountered or created over the years. And yet, the life of Morris High School remains elusive. Key figures in its story are lost to obscurity like so many ghosts. Well-worn quantitative measures of success and failure miss the mark in trying to understand the events, mundane and momentous, occurring inside the building. They are only a partial and ambiguous picture of the life of the school. While this study cannot possibly fill the many gaps, I grapple with partial sources, and attempt to give voice to the ghosts of Morris High School. I study the building, demographics, disinvestment and school reform. Exploring these facets makes clear that the narrative shape is not a teleological rise and fall, but rather a straight line, showing Morris’s unchanged mission.

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