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‘Now Everybody Want to Dance:’ Making Change in an Urban Charter

This chapter examines the Inquiry charter (school within a school) program at a comprehensive high school in Philadelphia. The author finds that the Inquiry Charter has created an environment where students are deeply engaged in the process of their own learning, where an air of collaboration, conflict, and open discussion of differences prevails. Three stories from observations at the charter reveal how people, events, and conditions influence change. This research raises the question of how hierarchies challenged by newly empowered voices such as the students can remain stable. The author concludes by noting that a charter as a locus of reform must balance attending to the needs of its developing identity with engaging broader educational communities.