Rison, Alton Douglas, 1930-
Manuscripts, Archives and Rare Books Division
Use of this collection requires advance notice.
Student discipline reports, grievances and "Principal's Opinions of Teacher's Performance" restricted.
The collection documents Alton Rison's administration at Junior High School 117 and the methods he used to improve teaching methods and increase accountability of student achievement levels in this inner city school in Brooklyn, New York in the 1970's-1980's.
The papers contain faculty memoranda, curricula, school board policies and those designed by Rison, statistics on achievement and percentage of pass/fail students, and documents pertaining to the effectiveness of different teaching systems. Rison kept voluminous records to document the progress of his management methods. His annual "Daily Events" files contain memoranda, schedules, reports for each day of the school year and summer sessions.
Rison also required teachers to prepare monthly progressreports and deposit copies of all examinations with him. Each department was required to produce a "Materials of Management" binder for display in the administrative offices, to allow other teachers at J.H.S. 117 to study their methods and results. Additional material includes daily "Cabinet Meeting" minutes (1982-1984), and yearbooks(1971-1986). The collection also documents the teacher/union/administration clashes that occurred as Rison implemented his plan.
Also in this collection are Rison's writings which include his unpublished autobiography, "From School Chaos to Achievement (A True Story)," and scripts for his unpublished plays such as "In the Principal's Office," "Inthe Teacher's Lounge," and "Oh Brooklyn, You're My Home!" Photocopies of reviews of his work as a principal and as aplaywright and posters from one of his plays complete the collection.
Alton Rison was principal of Junior High School 117 in Brooklyn, New York from 1971 to 1985 where he implemented a series of modern corporate management methods with the goal of changing "school chaos to achievement." Rison wasborn in Brooklyn and received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology in 1953 from Huston-Tillotson College in Austin, Texas, and his Master of Arts degree in sociology from the University of Texas in 1958. He served in the United States Army as a psychiatric social worker and neuropsychiatric technician.
Rison's changes in the school system included requiring teacher accountability through a variety of methods such as classroom inspections and statistics on projected and actual student pass/fail rate and the use of television coverage. He also established a think tank of teachers tocreate projects for all departments as well as the entire school, a "report card for staff accountability," classroom ratings, and encouraged parents to speak with teachers. Approximately forty schools in inner city areasadopted his method of teaching and administration. Although Rison's methods were controversial, during his tenure, the school rose markedly in academic achievement and student involvement.
Controlled Access Terms
- Rison, Alton Douglas, 1930-
- Junior High School 117 (Brooklyn, N.Y.)
- Educators -- New York (State) -- New York.
- Teachers -- Training of -- New York (State) -- New York.
- African American school principals -- New York (State) -- New York.
- African Americans -- Education -- New York (State) -- New York.
Additional Creator Name
- Schomburg NEH Automated Access to Special Collections Project.