Ronald Edmonds Playground
Ronald R. Edmonds (1935-1983) was an African-American known in New York for his expertise in the field of education and his commitment to improving public schools. Edmonds was born on May 24, 1935 in Ypsilanti, Michigan. He received his bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Michigan in 1964 and a master’s degree from Eastern Michigan University. In 1973 he received a certificate from the Administrative Career Program at Harvard University.
From 1970 to 1972, Edmonds served as an assistant superintendent in the Michigan Department of Public Instruction. In 1973 he joined the education faculty of Harvard University and came to serve as director of its Center for Urban Studies. Edmonds was appointed senior assistant for instruction under New York City Schools Chancellor Frank J. Macchiarola in 1978 where he served for three years. Edmonds initiated the School Improvement Project, which focused on discipline and management. He believed that improving schools for the poorest children would raise the performance of all children.
Edmonds was interested in what makes a school a good school. At a time when many educators questioned the validity of testing, Edmonds felt that standardized reading and math tests gave students important information about their performance and gave educators and administrators useful data not only about individual students but also about the quality of the education being offered at the school.
In his last annual report, Chancellor Macchiarola wrote that New York City public schools had undertaken reforms based on Edmonds’ "seemingly obvious but actually revolutionary concept that all children can learn..." Edmonds returned to Michigan in 1981, where he served as professor of education at Michigan State University until his death on July 15, 1983. Edmonds wrote two books, The Negro in American History (1955) and Black Colleges in America (1978).
JHS 294 Playground, jointly operated by Parks and the Board of Education, was opened by the City in March 1959. It is bounded on three sides by Adelphi Street, Dekalb Avenue, and Carlton Avenue. The fourth side faces the Ronald Edmonds Learning Center; subsequently the school was renumbered as JHS 113. The playground was renamed for Edmonds by Commissioner Stern in 1986. As part of a 1997 Parks requirements contract, $104,792 was spent to refurbish its play equipment and safety surfacing.