Seminar Syllabus for Spring 2016

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Educ 308: Cities, Suburbs and Schools
Spring 2016 seminar, Mondays 1:15-3:55pm from Jan 29-May 2, 2016
MECC Nutt Center 293, Trinity College, Hartford, CT
Map to our classroom* — visitor’s map of Trinity campus

Instructor: Jack Dougherty, Associate Prof. of Educational Studies
Personal website,  email, and online appointment calendar

Jump to: Week 1: Jan 25 — Week 2: Feb 1 — Week 3: Feb 8 — Week 4: Feb 15 — Week 5: Feb 29 — Week 6: March 7 — Week 7: March 21 — Week 8: March 28 — Week 9: April 4 — Week 10: April 11 — Week 11: April 18 — Week 12: April 25 — Week 13: May 2 — Assessment

Our upper-level undergraduate seminar operates as a team research workshop on cities, suburbs, and schooling. To develop our skills with qualitative, quantitative, and historical methods, we closely read other studies and conduct our own small-scale research in metropolitan Hartford. As a community-learning seminar, we partner with local groups and share our findings and stories on the public web.  Prerequisite: Ed 200 or the Cities Program or permission of instructor. (Cross-listed with American Studies and Public Policy & Law.) Enrollment limited to 20.

This semester our theme is School Choice and Civil Rights. We begin with present-day debates over public school choice as a reform strategy in the Hartford region, and go back in time to understand its historical roots in civil rights activism over discriminatory housing and schooling. Our seminar will work on three research projects:

  1. How do school choice programs communicate with families in the Hartford area?
  2. What does public school enrollment data reveal about choice in Connecticut?
  3. How have discriminatory barriers and civil rights activism evolved in the Hartford area, and how do we share meaningful histories and teaching ideas on the public web?

This semester we will share our research drafts for feedback with our “Sister Seminar” at Yale University: Cities, Suburbs, and School Choice, taught by Professor Mira Debs. See our Trinity-Yale GDoc Organizer http://bit.ly/TrinityYale2016

Also, guest evaluators for our historical web essays are: Jasmin Agosto (Trinity ’10 and NYU Gallatin MA ’15), an artist/activist/historical researcher in Hartford; and Glenn Mitoma, a professor of human rights and education, and director of the Dodd Research Center at UConn.

For each session, students must bring a laptop for in-class writing, peer editing, and data analysis. Contact me if you need to borrow my spare Chromebook. Most readings will be made available in digital and paper formats.


(Subject to change; asterisk* = more to come; revisions marked in red.)

Week 1: Jan 25
How do Hartford parents experience the public school choice application process? 

Week 2: Mon Feb 1
Why are there so many public school choice options in the Hartford area? How do choice programs market to different parents? 

Week 3: Mon Feb 8

How do different parents navigate school choice markets? How have other researchers investigated this process? How can we analyze our collective qualitative field note data?

  • Read the Moodle versions with Hypothes.is annotations
  • Allison Roda and Amy Stuart Wells, “School Choice Policies and Racial Segregation: Where White Parents’ Good Intentions, Anxiety, and Privilege Collide,” American Journal of Education 119, no. 2 (February 1, 2013): 261–93, http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/668753; see Moodle version annotated by  Michelle and Vianna
  • Mary Pattillo, “Everyday Politics of School Choice in the Black Community,” Du Bois Review: Social Science Research on Race 12, no. 01 (March 2015): 41–71, http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S1742058X15000016; see Moodle version annotated by Courtney and Jessica
  • Maia Cucchiara, “Re‐branding Urban Schools: Urban Revitalization, Social Status, and Marketing Public Schools to the Upper Middle Class,” Journal of Education Policy 23, no. 2 (March 1, 2008): 165–79, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/02680930701853088; see Moodle version annotated by Cara
  • 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, http://books.google.com/books?isbn=0520274741; see Moodle version annotated by Lilly
  • In class: Thematic analysis of collected field notes
  • Assign: Essay 1 due on GDoc Organizer by end of Thursday Feb 11 for internal peer editing by end of Fri Feb 12th
  • Sample essays by last year’s students *
  • Assign: Revise Essay 1, due on Trinity-Yale GDoc Organizer by end of Mon Feb 15th, for Yale seminar peer editing by deadline ____*

Week 4: Mon Feb 15

Who chooses? Who enrolls? Who leaves? Who benefits from school choice?

Mon Feb 22: No Class (Trinity Days)

  • Recommended: Attend the courtroom trial on Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding (CCJEF) vs Rell. Learn more at http://ccjef.org

Week 5: Mon Feb 29

What are the goals of Sheff and public school choice, and how do we measure progress?

Week 6: Mon March 7

How have Sheff and school choice evolved from idea to implementation in the Hartford region?

  • Read: New chapters on Sheff idea and implementation in On The Line, led by ____ *
  • In class: Embedding your data visualization inside essay 2; internal peer editing
  • Assign: comment on 2 Yale Choice essays due before departing for spring break on Friday March 11th *

Mon March 14: No Class (Spring break)

  • Read: Susan Eaton, The Children in Room E4: American Education on Trial (Chapel Hill NC: Algonquin Books, 2007), in paper or digital format.
  • Watch: T. J. Noel-Sullivan, Separate But Unequal: Sheff v O’Neill, Streaming video (Hartford, CT, 2014), https://vimeo.com/92868548.

Week 7: Mon March 21

How do we tell meaningful stories about civil rights, past and present, in the Hartford region?

  • Discuss Eaton’s book, led by ____
  • Introduce Essay 3: historical web essay and teaching ideas, with topics/sources*
  • Invited guests: Emily Meehan ’16 and Elaina Rollins ’16 at 2:45pm
  • Read: Essays by Meehan and Rollins in On The Line *
  • Collect student preferences and assign specific topics (after class)

Week 8: Mon March 28

How have housing discrimination and civil rights activism evolved in the Hartford region?

  • Read: chapters on housing barriers in On The Line, led by __________ *
  • Invited guest: Jasmin Agosto ’10
  • Jasmin Agosto, “Fighting Segregation, Teaching Multiculturalism: The Beginning of the Education/Instruccion Narrative of the 1970s Hartford Civil Rights Movement” (Educational Studies Senior Research Project, Trinity College, 2010), http://digitalrepository.trincoll.edu/cssp_papers/10, led by ______ *

Week 9: Mon April 4

How have public schooling and private housing influenced each other over time?

  • Shopping for Schools part in On The Line, led by _________ *
  • Jennifer Jellison Holme, “Buying Homes, Buying Schools: School Choice in the Social Construction of School Quality,” Harvard Educational Review 72 (2002): 177–205, led by ________ *

Week 10: Mon April 11

What is inquiry-oriented learning, and how can we strengthen this in the teaching of civil rights history?

  • Selections from http://teachitct.org/ *
  • Skim: Connecticut Elementary and Secondary Social Studies Frameworks, 2015, http://www.sde.ct.gov/sde/lib/sde/pdf/board/ssframeworks.pdf
  • Invited guest: Glenn Mitoma, professor of education and human rights, director of Dodd Research Center, University of Connecticut
  • Introduction to CT Digital Archives and WordPress
  • Assign: Essay 3 due on GDoc Organizer by end of Fri April 15, for internal peer editing before seminar on Mon April 18

Week 11: Mon April 18

  • Workshop: responding to internal peer editing and revising
  • Assign: Revise Essay 3 due on GDoc Organizer AND WordPress by end of Monday April 18, for Yale peer editing by end of Friday April 22nd and Guest Evaluators
  • Assign: Comments on 2 Yale final essay draft due before seminar Mon April 25

Week 12: Mon April 25

  • Invited: Guest evaluators Jasmin Agosto and Glenn Mitoma to discuss their written feedback
  • Discuss feedback from Yale sister seminar

Week 13: Mon May 2

  • Read and comment on latest chapters in On The Line
  • Seminar wrap-up


Students may access their individual scores on the password-protected Moodle site. Your work will be evaluated based on:

  • Research Project 1: Qualitative analysis of school choice and parent information
    • Team field notes = 5
    • Individual field notes = 5
    • Essay 1 draft and internal peer editing = 5
    • Essay 1 revision for Yale peer commentary = 15
  • Research Project 2: Quantitative analysis of public school choice data
    • Data visualization = 5
    • Essay 2 draft and internal peer editing = 15
  • Research Project 3: Historical essay with teaching ideas
    • Essay 3 draft and internal peer editing = 5
    • Essay 3 revision for Yale and guest evaluators = 15
  • Peer editing of 2 Yale school choice essays = 2 x 5 = 10
  • Peer editing of 2 Yale final prospectus essays = 2 x 5 = 10
  • Seminar peer evaluation of overall contribution to learning = 10

Total = 100 points

Late assignments will receive a 10 percent penalty for every 12 hours overdue, with exceptions granted only for verified medical or family emergencies.

In this course, unsatisfactory work (below 70%) falls in the D or F range, adequate work (70-79%) in the C range, good work (80-89%) in the B range, and outstanding work (90 to 100%) in the A range. Each range is divided into equal thirds for minus (-), regular, and plus (+) letter grades. For example, 80 to 83.33% = B-, 83.34 to 86.67 = B, and 86.68 to 89.99 = B+.

Students are expected to engage in academic honesty in all forms of work for this course. You are responsible for understanding and following the Intellectual Honesty policy (around page 20) of the Trinity Student Handbook.

Students with Academic Accommodations: Trinity College complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. If you have a documented disability and require academic accommodations, please schedule a meeting with me during the first two weeks of the semester and bring a copy of your accommodations letter. If you do not have a letter, but have questions about applying for academic accommodations, please contact Lori Clapis, Coordinator of Accommodation Resources, at 860-297-4025 or Lori.Clapis@trincoll.edu.

Please notify me during the first week of the course if you require any scheduling accommodations for religious observances.

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