Improving urban schools is a part of a larger systematic reform that requires conscious leadership approaches in K-12 schools. This article defines the urban context, provides a historical framing of urbanicity in the United States while also presenting the unique challenges required of school leaders in urban spaces, such as: dense student populations, considerable student diversity, scarcity of available resources, and lack of access to a quality teaching pool. The frameworks and theories presented highlight the ways in which urban educational leadership has been operationalized to respond to the various contexts of urban schools while addressing these pressing challenges.