CSPL 341: Choice – A Case Study in Education and Entrepreneurship
Spring 2015 seminar, begins Wednesday, January 28th, 2015 from 7-9:50pm
Room 004, Allbritton Center for the Study of Public Life, Wesleyan University
Visitor’s directions to our classroom & parking and to the Wesleyan campus
Instructor: Jack Dougherty
Harber Fellow in Education and Entrepreneurship, Wesleyan Univ., Spring 2015
and Associate Professor of Educational Studies at Trinity College
Personal website, email, and online appointment calendar
Teaching Assistant: Elaina Rollins, Trinity Class of ’16, email: email@example.com
Part-time long-distance support to help Wesleyan students coordinate their field visits to Hartford, and peer-editing support via Google Docs upon request.
Description: In this seminar, we will investigate an increasingly popular reform movement—choice—to better understand what happens when educators act more like entrepreneurs in competing for students, how families navigate both schooling and housing markets, and the outcomes of recent policy innovations. Drawing from the disciplines of history, sociology, and government, we will compare and contrast choice models that have been promoted by magnet schools, charter schools, and move-to-opportunity housing experiments. Enrollment limited to 19. See WesMaps course listing.
Acquire two books in any format:
Richard D. Kahlenberg and Halley Potter, A Smarter Charter: Finding What Works for Charter Schools and Public Education (Teachers College Press, 2014).
Douglas S. Massey et al., Climbing Mount Laurel: The Struggle for Affordable Housing and Social Mobility in an American Suburb (Princeton University Press, 2013).
Additional readings will be made available in our Moodle site and on the public web.
For each seminar, students must bring a laptop (Mac, Windows, Chromebook, or Linux) for in-class writing, peer review, and data analysis. Let me know if you need to borrow one.
Students are expected to arrange a one-time visit to Hartford to conduct site visits for one of our research projects. The instructor will assist students with scheduling and coordinating transportation.
As a community research seminar, we will conduct small-scale studies to answer questions about school and housing choice in Connecticut, discuss what we learn with local researchers and organizations, and share on the public web.
Project 1: How do school choice programs communicate with families at public events in the Hartford region? We will do basic qualitative research at choice school open house events and fairs, discuss what we are learning with Mira Debs (Yale doctoral candidate in sociology and Wesleyan instructor), and share our findings on the public web.
Project 2: What does public education data reveal—or obscure—about equity and outcomes among Connecticut school choice programs? We will do basic quantitative analysis of publicly-accessible magnet, charter, vo-tech, and Open Choice data. We will discuss what we are learning with Robert Cotto, Jr. (co-author of CT Voices Choice Watch report and Director of Urban Educational Initiatives at Trinity College), and share our findings on the public web.
Project 3: Did Connecticut urban residents who received housing choice counseling move into better neighborhoods, and how is this goal defined? We will do basic quantitative and spatial analysis of housing mobility client data, masked by census block group. We will discuss what we are learning with Erin Boggs (executive director of the Connecticut Open Communities Alliance and Wesleyan alumna), and share our findings on the public web.
Project 4: How do Connecticut urban residents interpret their housing and schooling choices before and after using a digital search tool, and also after receiving personalized guidance? We will modify an open-source digital search tool (http://jackdougherty.github.io/mobility-app and/or http://jackdougherty.github.io/school-search-tool/) and interview people as they use it to explore their options. We will discuss what we are learning with Erin Boggs and housing mobility counselors, and share our findings on the public web.
See exercises for each project and additional work in Assignments and assessment.
*Subject to change by instructor, with important revisions marked in red.*
Week 1: Jan 28th – An introduction to school choice
How do school choice programs market themselves? How do different parents navigate this process?
Introduction to seminar, the syllabus, and long-distance TA Elaina Rollins
Assign online annotators to raise issues and questions on next week’s readings
Assign Project 1 Exercise A: school choice event field notes, due Feb 24th
Sign up on my calendar to chat with me and classmates over lunch, dinner, or hot cocoa. (For example, if 3-4 wish to book a one-hour lunch, sign up for three 20-minute slots)
Week 2: Feb 4th – Competing perspectives on school choice
How do different educational researchers and advocates frame their arguments and evidence?
Read in Moodle and learn how to write thoughtful annotations with Hypothes.is tool:
Frederick M Hess, The Same Thing Over and Over: How School Reformers Get Stuck in Yesterday’s Ideas (Harvard University Press, 2010), excerpt from preface and chapter 1.
See sample online annotations by the instructor.
Terry M. Moe and Paul T. Hill, “Moving to a Mixed Model: Without an Appropriate Role for the Market, the Education Sector Will Stagnate,” in The Futures of School Reform, ed. Jal Mehta, Robert B. Schwartz, and Frederick M. Hess (Cambridge, MA: Harvard Education Press, 2012), 65–93.
Online annotations due Feb 3rd at 10pm by CB, JC, AF
Janelle Scott and Amy Stuart Wells, “A More Perfect Union: Reconciling School Choice Policy with Equality of Opportunity Goals,” in Closing the Opportunity Gap: What America Must Do to Give Every Child an Even Chance, ed. Prudence L. Carter and Kevin G. Welner (Oxford ; New York: Oxford University Press, 2013), 123–40.
Online annotations due Feb 3rd at 10pm by IF, AG, SG, HH
Howard Fuller with Lisa Frazier Page, No Struggle No Progress: A Warrior’s Life from Black Power to Education Reform (Milwaukee, Wisconsin: Marquette Univ Pr, 2014), excerpts from chapters 12, 15, 17.
Online annotations due Feb 3rd at 10pm by EK, AL, AM, CM
Christopher Lubienski, “The Politics of Parental Choice: Theory and Evidence on Quality Information,” in School Choice Policies and Outcomes : Empirical and Philosophical Perspectives, ed. Walter Feinberg and Christopher Lubienski (Albany: SUNY Press, 2008), 99–119.
Online annotations due Feb 3rd at 10pm by SS, LS, NT, RU, EW
View ONE video documentary:
Davis Guggenheim, Waiting for “Superman,” Video documentary, 2010, http://waitingforsuperman.com, available in Moodle,
Madeleine Sackler, The Lottery, Video documentary, 2010, http://thelotteryfilm.com/, available on several paid movie streaming services.
In my Education Reform Past & Present course at Trinity, I assigned a video documentary analysis to help students think and write more clearly about this ed reform genre. Read ANY of the sample web essays by students in my previous classes:
- Veronica Armendariz, “Video Analysis: Waiting for Superman,” Educ 300 web essay, Trinity College, Spring 2013, http://commons.trincoll.edu/edreform/2013/02/waiting-for-superman/.
- George Phillips, “On Waiting for Superman,” Educ 300 web essay, Trinity College, Spring 2012, http://commons.trincoll.edu/edreform/2012/02/george-phillips-on-waiting-for-superman/.
- Grace Ryu, “The Lottery: Beyond the Argument Between Charter Schools and the Teachers Union,” Educ 300 web essay, Trinity College, Spring 2014, http://commons.trincoll.edu/edreform/2014/02/the-lottery-beyond-the-argument-between-charter-schools-and-the-teachers-union/
- XRS, “The Lottery: Parents Want and Deserve More for their Children’s Futures,” Educ 300 web essay, Trinity College, Spring 2014, http://commons.trincoll.edu/edreform/2014/02/the-lottery-parents-want-more/.
In class: Analyze competing arguments on school choice, both in print (with student annotations) and video. List different types of arguments in meta-questions.
In class: Updates on Project 1 Exercise A: scheduling, transportation, waiver forms
Prep for next week
Week 3: Feb 11th – Sheff v O’Neill and School Choice Advocacy in Connecticut
Updated – Read: Jack Dougherty et al., “School Information, Parental Decisions, and the Digital Divide: The SmartChoices Project in Hartford, Connecticut,” in Educational Delusions? Why Choice Can Deepen Inequality and How to Make Schools Fair, ed. Gary Orfield and Erica Frankenberg (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2013), 219–37. See PDF in Moodle, annotations are welcome but not required.
Robert Cotto, Jr. and Kenneth Feder, Choice Watch: Diversity and Access in Connecticut’s School Choice Programs (CT Voices for Children, 2014), http://www.ctvoices.org/publications/choice-watch-diversity-and-access-connecticuts-school-choice-programs.
Online annotations due Feb 10th at 10pm on this public copy of PDF (not Moodle) by EW, RU, NT, LS
Recent school choice policy briefs in Connecticut:
ConnCAN, “A Crisis We Can Solve: Connecticut’s Failing Schools and Their Impact,” ConnCAN, November 2014, http://www.conncan.org/media-room/press-releases/2014-11-connecticut-education-in-crisis-40000-children-trapp.
Achieve Hartford, “Getting the Options and Opportunities Right: How Listening, Learning, and Revising Can Increase the Impact of Sheff,” December 17, 2014, http://achieve.s464.sureserver.com/sites/default/files/civicrm/persist/contribute/files/Getting%20the%20Options%20Right.pdf.
Sheff Movement, “Legislative and Advocacy Agenda 2015,” Sheff Movement, December 31, 2014, http://sheffmovement.org/publications/2015-advocacy-agenda/.
Mira Debs, “Pre-Kindergarten Availability and Access in Hartford Region Magnet and Open Choice Schools” (Sheff Movement, January 2015), http://sheffmovement.org/publications/pre-k-programs/.
Read policy briefs and ask: What do they seek to change? How do they rationalize their views? Where do different views overlap or conflict? Write online annotations by Feb 10th at 10pm on more than one of the seminar’s copies of these public PDFs: ConnCAN – Achieve Hartford – Sheff Movement – Mira Debs (not Moodle) by IF, AF, JC, CB
- see additional comments on GDocs by JC and IF and CB
In-class: Student updates on Project 1 school choice events and exercise A field notes; $20 incentive to collect field notes on up to 5 additional choice events
In class: Answer factual meta-questions in the re-organized GDoc about school choice in Connecticut using these resources; interpretive questions to continue during the semester
- General Statutes of Connecticut, 2013 and 2014 supplement.
- Charter schools, chapter 164, section 10-66aa; see also 2014 supplement
- Magnet schools, chapter 172, section 10-264h; see also 2014 supplement
- Sheff v O’Neill stipulation [phase 3 of school desegregation remedy], December 13, 2013, http://sheffmovement.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/sheff_12-13-13_stipulation.pdf.
- “Charter School Teacher Certification” (summary table), Education Commission of the States, 2013, http://mb2.ecs.org/reports/Report.aspx?id=93.
- “Choose Success: A Guide to Public School Choice for Students and their Families,” Connecticut State Department of Education, 2014 website, http://www.sde.ct.gov/sde/cwp/view.asp?a=2681&q=335070 (see Q&A sections on charters, magnets, Open Choice, agri-science, and vo-tech schools).
- Regional School Choice Office (RSCO) manages lottery applications for interdistrict magnet schools, technical schools, and Open Choice city-suburban transfers, http://www.choiceeducation.org/. See catalog.
- Hartford Public Schools (HPS) Choice office manages applications for district-wide (non-magnet) schools, http://www.hartfordschools.org/choice-page. See “Future Guide” catalog.
In-class: Student annotations on recent policy briefs on CT school choice (see links above), and compare with “The State of North End Schools,” video of public event by J. Stan McCauley, January 31, 2014, http://accesstv.org/archives/4178. (Focus on segment from 29:30 to 34:30 on school choice and neighborhood schools).
In-class: Identify proposed school choice legislation in the Bill Record Book, for review by the Education Committee, Connecticut General Assembly, http://www.cga.ct.gov/ed/. Recommended: attend a public hearing in March
In-class: Student annotations on Cotto and Feder Choice Watch report (see link above)
Assign Project 2, Exercise C: school choice data compilation and analysis, due on Wed Feb 18th at 4pm
Week 4: Feb 18th – School Choice Data and Equity in Connecticut
Read: Jack Dougherty et al., Who Chooses in Hartford? Report 1: Statistical Analysis of Regional School Choice Office Applicants and Non-Applicants among Hartford-Resident HPS Students in Grades 3-7, Spring 2012 (Hartford, CT: Cities Suburbs Schools Project at Trinity College, May 12, 2014), http://digitalrepository.trincoll.edu/cssp_papers/46.
and compare with presentation slides
Kevin Welner, “The Dirty Dozen: How Charter Schools Influence Student Enrollment,” Teachers College Record, April 22, 2013, http://www.tcrecord.org/Content.asp?ContentID=17104, and publicly available at http://nepc.colorado.edu/files/welner-charter-enrollment-teachers-college-record.pdf.
Additional background resources on CT charter schools
- Connecticut State Department of Education, Biennial Report on the Operation of Charter Schools in Connecticut (Hartford, CT, 2014), http://www.sde.ct.gov/sde/lib/sde/pdf/equity/charter/report_on_the_operation_of_charter_schools.pdf.
- Connecticut State Department of Education, “Charter School Questions and Answers,” 2014, http://www.sde.ct.gov/sde/lib/sde/pdf/equity/charter/faqs.pdf.
- Connecticut State Department of Education, “Charter School Annual Reports,” 2014, http://www.sde.ct.gov/sde/cwp/view.asp?a=2681&Q=320442.
- Northeast Charter Schools Network, “Focus on the Facts: Connecticut Charter Schools Fact Sheet 2014-15,” http://www.necharters.org/connecticut_fact_sheets_2014_15. (Since these are difficult to download, see also this scanned PDF of one fact sheet.)
- Northeast Charter Schools Network, Connecticut Public Charter Schools Guidebook, 2014-15, 2014, http://issuu.com/necharters/docs/necsn_ct_guidebook_2014-2015_v9-hir.
- Jumoke Academy, Hartford CT, http://jumokeacademy.org/.
- Achievement First, Connecticut schools, http://www.achievementfirst.org/schools/connecticut-schools/.
Assign Project 2, Exercise D: school choice data analysis and visualization, due before break (March 6)
In-class: Presentation on Who Chooses? magnet schools
In-class: Test Welner’s categories on charter and magnet schools
Student updates on Project 1 school choice events and exercise A field notes (due Feb 24)
Recommended: Thursday Feb 19th
Amanda Cox, “Data Visualization at The New York Times,” presentation at 4:15pm at the Russell House, http://dacki.blogs.wesleyan.edu/2015/02/10/amanda-cox-data-visualization-at-the-new-york-times/
Week 5: Feb 25th – Choice Marketing and Family Access in Connecticut
Due night before class (on Feb 24th): Project 1 Exercise A field notes
Read: Mira Debs, “Untouchable Carrots: Marketing School Choice and Realities in Hartford’s Inter-district Magnet Program,” draft article, February 2015. Online comments due Feb 24th at 10pm on Google Document (limited to Wesleyan) by SS, CM, AM, EK
Guest: Mira Debs (8:30-9:30pm) to discuss our field notes and preliminary findings
See also: Blog posts on school choice by Wesleyan students in the Soc399b seminar, including this exchange of ideas with Chase Knowles, “Perceptions of School Choice,” February 12, 2015, https://soc399b.wordpress.com/2015/02/12/perceptions-of-school-choice-chase-knowles/
See also: Jacqueline Rabe Thomas, “$20m Agreement Will Expand School Choice to Desegregate Hartford Schools,” The CT Mirror, February 23, 2015, http://ctmirror.org/2015/02/23/20m-agreement-will-expand-school-choice-to-desegregate-hartford-schools/.
Recommended (by last week’s seminar guest): Robert Cotto Jr., “Charter School Renewal in CT: The Accountability Is Flexible,” The Cities, Suburbs and Schools Project, February 21, 2015, http://commons.trincoll.edu/cssp/2015/02/21/charter-school-renewal-in-ct-the-accountability-is-flexible/.
Recommended: Saturday February 28th
The Power of Bilingual Education workshop, Central Connecticut State University, New Britain, http://bilingual.education.uconn.edu/2015/01/13/the-power-of-bilingual-education/
Recommended: Tuesday March 3rd
Public hearing begins 5pm on elementary and secondary education, Appropriations Committee, Connecticut General Assembly, Hartford, http://www.cga.ct.gov/app/
Week 6: March 4th – CT School Choice and Achievement Outcomes
Focus on the big questions: What are some of the methodological challenges in evaluating student achievement gains in school choice programs? What is selection bias, and how would you explain it to the general public? How do educational researchers attempt to make use of school choice lotteries to make stronger claims about program effectiveness?
Read: Robert Bifulco, Casey D. Cobb, and Courtney Bell, “Can Interdistrict Choice Boost Student Achievement? The Case of Connecticut’s Interdistrict Magnet School Program,” Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis 31, no. 4 (2009): 323–45, http://epa.sagepub.com/cgi/reprint/31/4/323 (OR download from our Moodle site). Post comments and questions on this public Google Doc (OR Hypothes.is annotations on the Moodle PDF; Chrome browser recommended) due March 4th at 12 noon by AL, HH, SG, AG. Focus on the broad concepts and don’t worry about details in the equations and results tables.
In class: Examining school choice program advocates’ claims about effectiveness
In class: Support for data visualizations for Exercise D (due before break on March 6th)
Break: March 11th and 18th
Week 7: March 25th – Schooling and housing boundaries and choice in CT
Read: Jack Dougherty and contributors, On the Line: How Schooling, Housing, and Civil Rights Shaped Hartford and Its Suburbs (Hartford, CT: Trinity College, open-access book-in-progress, 2015), http://OnTheLine.trincoll.edu.
Online comments and annotations welcome by all.
Read: Michael S. Rosenwald, “Why Digital Natives Prefer Reading in Print. Yes, You Read That Right,” The Washington Post, February 22, 2015, http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/why-digital-natives-prefer-reading-in-print-yes-you-read-that-right/2015/02/22/8596ca86-b871-11e4-9423-f3d0a1ec335c_story.html.
Guest facilitator: Elaina Rollins, long-distance TA
Week 8: April 1st – Housing choice and moving to opportunity
Read: Douglas S. Massey et al., Climbing Mount Laurel: The Struggle for Affordable Housing and Social Mobility in an American Suburb (Princeton University Press, 2013).
Short response essay due March 30th at 10pm by ___
Presentation on housing mobility outreach and research (DeLuca, HousingMobility.org)
Recommended: Monday April 7th
Jack Dougherty, Harber Fellow presentation, “On The Line: How Schooling, Housing, and Civil Rights Shaped Hartford and its Suburbs,” 4:30pm, Allbritton 311.
Week 9: April 8th – Housing choice and moving-to-opportunity in CT
Read: Connecticut Fair Housing Center, Housing Mobility: What Do Housing Voucher Recipients Want? (Hartford, CT, April 2013), http://ctfairhousing.org/wp-content/uploads/pdf/CFHC-HousMobilDiscGrp.pdf.
HousingMobility.org website, http://www.housingmobility.org/
Connecticut Open Communities Alliance website, http://www.ctoca.org/
Guest: Erin Boggs (7-8:30pm) to provide background and help us plan Projects 3 & 4
Assign Projects 3 and 4 and Exercises E, F, G, H due dates (all by April 21st)
Week 10: April 15th – Rethinking Charter and Magnet Schools
Read: Richard D. Kahlenberg and Halley Potter, A Smarter Charter: Finding What Works for Charter Schools and Public Education (Teachers College Press, 2014).
Short response essay due April 14th at 10pm by ___
Video conference via Google+ with Richard Kahlenberg and Halley Potter, 7:30-8pm
Assign web essay proposals due April 22nd at 4pm
Week 11: April 22nd – Interview data analysis
Thematic analysis of interview data in class
Week 12: April 29th – Teachers and Choice
Panel discussion (7-8pm via video conference or in-person) with Wesleyan alumni working as educators, on how they entered the teaching profession and their personal experiences across different types of public choice schools:
- Greg Baldwin ’91, co-founder and principal of New Haven Academy, an interdistrict magnet secondary school in the New Haven (CT) Public Schools of Choice
- Banele Booi ’12, teacher at Achievement First Amistad High School, a charter school in New Haven CT
- Cara Colker-Eybel ’13, math teacher at Collinwood High School, one of the school choice options in the Cleveland Metropolitan School District
- Taylor DeLoach ’14, a First Grade Lead Teacher at Alma del Mar Charter School in New Bedford, MA.
- Pathways to Teaching advising website, Trinity College
- Pathways to Teaching discussion with Trinity alumni, Fall 2013
Assign web essay drafts due Sunday May 3rd (for guest evaluators to review)
Web essay workshop
Week 13: May 6th
Web essay draft presentations and discussion with guest evaluators
Friday May 8th
Due: Revised web essay