Educ 300 Syllabus – Spring 2016

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Course description: To what aims have education reformers aspired over time? When and how did schools become tools for divergent goals, such as reducing inequality, advancing capitalism, creating cultural uniformity, and liberating oppressed peoples?  Why have educational policies succeeded or failed to achieve these ends, and what were some of the unintended consequences? In this mid-level undergraduate course, we compare and contrast selected movements, both past and present, to reform elementary, secondary, and higher education in the United States from the nineteenth-century Common School era to contemporary debates over school choice, cultural differences, governance structures, and digital technology. Students will develop skills in reading and researching primary and secondary sources, interpreting divergent perspectives, and expository writing on the web.
Cross-listed with American Studies and Public Policy & Law. Pre-requisite: Ed 200, or AMST or PBPL major, or permission of instructor.

Time & location: Mondays 6:30-9:10pm in Seabury S205 at Trinity
Students are encouraged to bring laptops for in-class notes and writing exercises.

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

About the instructor: Jack Dougherty, an associate professor of educational studies at Trinity College, specializes in the history and policy of education in the metropolitan United States. He received his Ph.D. in educational policy studies, with a minor in U.S. history, from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. See faculty profile with contact info, and appointments & advising page to book an appointment.

Required books:
Dana Goldstein, The Teacher Wars: A History of America’s Most Embattled Profession (New York: Anchor, 2015). ISBN 978-0-345-80362-7

Paul Tough, Whatever It Takes: Geoffrey Canada’s Quest to Change Harlem and America (Boston: Mariner Books, 2009). ISBN 978-0-547-24796-0

Richard D. Kahlenberg and Halley Potter, A Smarter Charter: Finding What Works for Charter Schools and Public Education (Teachers College Press, 2014),

If your last name is A-L: David S. Cecelski, Along Freedom Road: Hyde County, North Carolina, and the Fate of Black Schools in the South (The University of North Carolina Press, 1994). ISBN 978-0-8078-4437-3

OR if last name is M-Z: Constance Curry, Silver Rights: The story of the Carter family’s brave decision to send their children to an all-white school and claim their civil rights. (Harvest Books, 1996; or reissued edition by Algonquin Books, 2014). ISBN 978-1-61620-559-1

Additional digital readings are linked below, and I will discuss options for print copies.


(always check for instructor’s updates; important changes will appear in red)

Week 1: Mon Jan 27 in class – Overview & Introduction to Common School Reform

due Sun Jan 31 by 9pm

  • Use “Guiding questions” below to help organize your notes and to prepare for the Interpretive reading quiz 2 on Moodle (due Sunday 9pm) and mid-term exam
  • Guiding question on Goldstein: How did the goals of early common school activists change from Catharine Beecher to Horace Mann to Susan Anthony?
  • Read: Dana Goldstein, Teacher Wars, introduction and chapters 1-2.
  • Guiding question: How did common-school advocate Horace Mann justify why citizens should financially support government-sponsored schooling?
  • Read: Horace Mann, “Intellectual Education as a Means of Removing Poverty, and Securing Abundance,” excerpt from “Annual Report to the Board of Education of Massachusetts for 1848,” in Life and Works of Horace Mann, ed. Mary Tyler Peabody Mann, vol. 3 (Boston: Walker, Fuller and co., 1865), 663–670, Read our annotated Google Doc version, with questions/comments by me and Doug, Cristina.
  • Guiding question: Although prevailing norms dictated that white Protestant women should remain in the “private sphere” as mothers and homemakers during the nineteenth century, common-school advocate Catherine Beecher bent this rule to persuade women to enter the “public sphere” as school teachers. How did she craft this argument?
  • Read: Catherine Beecher, The Evils Suffered by American Women and American Children: The Causes and the Remedy (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1846), excerpt. Read our annotated Google Doc version, with questions/comments by me and Stefania, Giselle.
  • Guiding question: On what grounds did John Hughes, the Catholic archbishop of New York, criticize the common school movement, and what was his rhetorical strategy for communicating these views to the Protestant majority?
  • Read: John Hughes and New York. Committee of Catholics, Address of the Roman Catholics to their fellow citizens, of the City and State of New York (New-York : H. Cassidy. 1840), Read our annotated GDoc version, with questions/comments by me and Jenn, Michelle.
  • Guiding question: How did Thomas Nast and other members of the Protestant majority portray Catholic opponents of common schools?
  • See cartoon and explanation: Robert C. Kennedy, “On This Day: May 8, 1875 [about Thomas Nast’s Political Cartoon, ‘The American River Ganges’],” The New York Times Learning Network, May 7, 2001,
  • Read: Rosio Baez and Ashley Ardinger, “Are McGuffey Readers still used to educate children today?,” Educ 300: Education Reform, Past and Present, January 31, 2012.

Week 2: Mon Feb 1st in class – Interpreting Common-School Reform

due Sunday February 7th by 9pm

Week 3: Mon Feb 8th in class – Contrasting Black and White “Progressive” Reform

  • Presentation: What Direction for African-American Education?
  • Annotators: What are key lines/connections/questions in primary sources?
  • History Lab: For residents of any town/street in 1940 US census manuscript, what are typical highest levels of education completed?
    • See column 14 codes: 0, grades 1-8, High School (H1-4), College (C1-5)
  • Presentation: Contrasting Theories of “Progressive” Education Reform 
  • Annotators: What are key lines/connections/questions in primary sources?
  • Your thoughts about testing, past and present; Fixed my poorly-worded Moodle quiz
  • Assign: Education policy journalism event to attend, report on a newsworthy story, at least 500 words and photo of you at or outside event; due 24 hours after event, no later than Wed March 30th; informal signup*
  • Read Public writing and student privacy policy, and “How searchable are you?”
  • WordPress reminder: If you co-author an ed policy journalism post, use “custom byline” below the editor window to list both of your names
  • Prep for next week’s readings and annotators

Tues February 9th

  • Recommended: Join me and others at Cinestudio at 7:30pm for historical movie, Suffragette, on movement for women’s vote in UK; see trailer

due Sun Feb 14th by 9pm

  • Guiding questions for Goldstein, Teacher Wars, ch 5-6: How did anti-communism, school desegregation, and the Great Society programs influence teachers from the 1930s to 1960s?
  • Interpretive reading quiz 4 on Moodle on Teacher Wars, ch 5-6
  • Guiding question: Historiography is the study of how interpretations of the past have changed over time. How have four historians (Cremin, Tyack, Bowles & Gintis, and Ravitch) described the goals and outcomes of Progressive-era reform in different ways? What parts do they emphasize or de-emphasize? Why do their accounts differ?
    • 1) Read: Lawrence A Cremin, The Transformation of the School: Progressivism in American Education, 1876-1957 (New York: Vintage, 1961), excerpt pp. vii-ix, 135-142.
    • 2) Read: David Tyack, The One Best System: A History of American Urban Education (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1974), excerpt pp. 126-129, 182-191.
    • 3) Read: Samuel Bowles and Herbert Gintis, Schooling in Capitalist America: Educational Reform and the Contradictions of Economic Life (New York: Basic Books, 1976), excerpt pp. 180-181, 191-195.
    • 4) Read: Diane Ravitch, The Troubled Crusade: American Education, 1945-1980 (New York: Basic Books, 1983), excerpt pp. 43-48.
  • Guiding question: We all know (or should know) that the US Supreme Court ruled against legally segregated schooling in Southern and border states in 1954. But on what grounds did the court base its ruling? What do the words reveal about this decision?
  • Read: Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, 347 U.S. 483 (Supreme Court 1954),, read our GoogleDoc version, with annotations by Devan

Week 4: Mon Feb 15th in class – Historiography of Progressive Era; Civil Rights Strategizing

Mon Feb 22 – No class (Trinity Days)

due Sun Feb 28 by 9pm

  • This week’s reading quiz will be held during class on Monday
  • Guiding question: According to Goldstein, why did the early 1960s alliance between city teachers and civil rights activists break apart in the late 1960s?Read: Goldstein, Teacher Wars, ch 7
  • See Curry/Cecelski comparative reading guide
  • If your last name is A-L, read: David S. Cecelski, Along Freedom Road: Hyde County, North Carolina, and the Fate of Black Schools in the South (The University of North Carolina Press, 1994).
  • OR if last name is M-Z: Constance Curry, Silver Rights: The story of the Carter family’s brave decision to send their children to an all-white school and claim their civil rights. (Harvest Books, 1996; or reissued edition by Algonquin Books, 2014).
  • Read: Jack Dougherty, “Conclusion: Rethinking History and Policy in the Post-Brown Era” in More Than One Struggle: The Evolution of Black School Reform in Milwaukee. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2004. Read and comment on the GDoc version.

Week 5: Mon Feb 29th in class – Integration: From Idea to Implementation

due Sun March 6 by 9pm

  • Guiding questions on Goldstein, Teacher Wars, chapter 8: How does Goldstein explain the rise of the school accountability movement in the 1980s, and how is it similar or different to prior reform movements?
  • No Moodle quiz this weekend

Week 6: Mon March 7th in class – Accountability in Recent Ed Reform

Mon March 14th – No Class (Spring break)

due Sun March 20th by 9pm

  • Read all of Paul Tough, Whatever It Takes: Geoffrey Canada’s Quest to Change Harlem and America. Boston: Mariner Books, 2009.
  • Guiding questions on Whatever It Takes: What is the theory of change behind the Harlem Children’s Zone? According to Geoffrey Canada, what is the underlying cause of poverty, and how does it compare with other theories of poverty? Does the Harlem Children’s Zone strategy for reducing poverty lean more toward system-building or decentralization? Why do political leaders from sharply divided parties both praise his reform efforts?
  • Interpretive reading quiz 6 on Moodle on Paul Tough, Whatever It Takes

Week 7: Mon March 21st in class – Theories of Poverty & Theories of Change

due by Sun March 27th at 9pm

  • Assign: Compare Trinity archival sources on 1960s-70s social change, and complete your assigned paragraph on the Google Doc. Plan ahead: the Watkinson Library is open from Monday-Friday from 10am-4:30pm.
  • No reading quiz this week, but be prepared to discuss & analyze in class:
  • Guiding Question: How did students featured in the readings below experience schooling and social change, in similar or different ways?
  • Read: David Adams, Education for Extinction: American Indians and the Boarding School Experience, 1875-1928. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1995, chapter 4, on Moodle
  • Read: Leonard Covello. The Heart Is the Teacher. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1958, pp. 28-31, on Moodle.
  • Read: Esmeralda Santiago, When I Was Puerto Rican. New York: Vintage Books, 1994, excerpt on Moodle

Week 8: Mon March 28th in class: Student Experiences of Education Reform

due by Monday April 4th at 6pm

  • Interpretive reading quiz 7 on Moodle on Goldstein, Teacher Wars, ch 9-10 and Harris, Value-Added Measures
  • Guiding questions: How does researcher Doug Harris explain the benefits and limits of measuring student growth and value-added assessment? How does Goldstein explain criticisms of this approach?
  • Read: Harris, Douglas N. Value-Added Measures in Education: What Every Educator Needs to Know. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Education Press, 2011, introduction & chapters 1 & 3, on Moodle.
  • Read: Goldstein, Teacher Wars, chapters 9-10

Week 9: Mon April 4th in class – Value-Added Assessment and Teacher Preparation

due Sun April 10th by 9pm

week 10: Mon April 11th in class – School Innovation and Integration

due Sun April 17th by 9pm

Week 11: Mon April 18th in class –  Sex and Religion in School Reform

due Fri April 22nd at 6pm

Working Thesis and Evidence drafts due on GDoc Organizer on Friday April 22nd by 6pm

due Sunday April 24th by 9pm

Week 12: Mon April 25th in class – Competing Reforms for Higher Education

  • Presentation: Competing Reforms for Higher Education
  • Vote with your feet and defend your reform analysis
  • In your assigned groups on the GDoc Organizer, discuss peer comments on working thesis & evidence drafts. Draw on the research essay evaluation criteria to review what works and what needs to improve.
  • Discuss common issues and next steps to improve your essays
  • Assign: Final essay on WordPress (category = 2016 research essay) due Fri May 6 by 6pm, which will publicly display your work on the Student Writing 2016 page. Plan ahead and avoid the late penalty.
  • Friendly advice:
  • Prep for next week: Design a meaningful two-minute research presentation with Google Slides, and share the public link on our GDoc Organizer. Be sure to include:
    • engaging essay title
    • research question
    • working thesis (bullet points acceptable for presentations)
    • interpretation of at least one key source (which you can describe, quote, scan, or include as an image)
  • Be prepared to vote on 1-point bonus categories: a) most insightful thesis; b) richest source interpretation; c) most improved since the proposal (selected by instructor).

Week 13: Mon May 2nd in class – Panel Presentations & Making Sense of Reform

due Fri May 6th by 6pm

Mon May 9th from 6:30pm to 9:30pm in our regular classroom

  • Exam #2, open-book, interpretive questions.
  • Insert your TrinityID number into the filename (example: 1234567exam.docx) and upload your responses for blind review. Do NOT include your name anywhere in the file, so that I may evaluate your work anonymously.

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