Urban Schools

What Is an Urban School?

When thinking of high need schools, the first thing that comes to mind for many people is the image of an inner city school, crowded and poorly funded. The truth is, while this is a stereotype and many urban schools perform exceptionally well, there are still urban schools across the country that are in high need of teachers and resources.

At the most technical level, urban schools are classified as city schools by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). The NCES categorizes all schools into four locales by their size, population density and location in relation to a city. This is an “urban-centric” classification system. The four locale categories used by the NCES’ urban centric classification system are city, suburb, town and rural. Urban schools are then broken down into three subcategories based on the Census Bureau’s definitions of urbanicity:


Inside an urbanized area and principal city with a population of 250,000 or more.


Inside an urbanized area and principal city with a population of 250,000 or less.


Inside an urbanized area and principal city with a population of less than 100,000.

Teaching in Urban Schools

Urban schools are always in need of talented, passionate teachers who want to make a difference in the lives of their students. However, some schools are located in designated high need areas due to their difficulty in attracting and retaining teachers. As of 2008, almost one hundred percent of urban schools had job vacancies for teaching positions ranging from special education to vocational education that they could not fill.

Sadly, the schools that need teachers the most are the ones that have the most difficulty finding teachers. Urban schools need dedicated educators who will remain committed to their students. The jobs exist, but many teachers are intimidated by the idea of working with limited resources, teaching in impoverished areas or leading overcrowded classes. The general conception of urban schools is that their lagging performance has to do with teachers who are not dedicated, as well as students facing a range of issues including truancy, inattentiveness, undiagnosed learning disabilities, language barriers and ill preparedness.

But a great teacher has a passion for teaching that can transcend these difficulties. Great teachers want to make a difference and are satisfied more by the impact they have on peoples’ lives than the tangible rewards.

Besides, there are tangible benefits to teaching in urban schools. The average salary for teachers in urban public schools is $51,200 for an educator with their bachelor’s degree and as high as $58,400 for a teacher with a doctorate. Furthermore, living in a city offers other great advantages as well. From cultural experiences like museums and plays, to active social scenes like nightclubs and restaurants, living in a city is never boring. Some of the most beautiful cities in the United States New York, Chicago, San Francisco have urban schools in high need of teachers. For young teachers just beginning their careers, the city can offer some amazing opportunities.