Educ 300 Syllabus – Spring 2019

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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 College.  Students are encouraged to bring laptops for in-class notes and writing exercises.

Jump to: Week 1: Jan 28 — Week 2: Feb 4 — Week 3: Feb 11 — Week 4: Feb 18 — Week 5: Feb 25 — Week 6: March 4 — Week 7: March 11 — Week 8: March 25 — Week 9: April 1 — Week 10: April 8 — Week 11: April 15 — Week 12: April 22 — Week 13: April 29

Learning Objectives: 
In this mid-level required course for Ed Studies majors, students will:

a) Interpret historical sources from different periods and perspectives to better understand how education has varied from their current-day experiences.

b) Compare and contrast different explanations about the causes and consequences of educational change and continuity over time.

c) Propose a research question, identify appropriate sources, and write a substantive essay that supports their thesis with persuasive evidence.

About the instructor: Jack Dougherty, 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 his personal website to book an appointment:

Teaching Assistant: Emily Schroeder ’20, Ed Studies and Neuroscience major.

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

If your last name is A-K: 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 L-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 28 in class – Overview & Introduction to Common School Reform

due Sun Feb 3rd 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.
  • All read primary sources below, and also follow instructions for Assignment: Annotating Sources if your name is listed below
  • 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 3 students: Jaymie, Eleanor, Bryan.
  • 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 3 students: Yeabsira, Manny, Renita.
  • 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 3 students: Elizabeth, Gisselle, Ayanna.
  • 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,
  • Guiding question: In some cases, how did Common School reformers accommodate non-English-speaking communities?
  • See excerpt from Sanders’ Pictorial Primer = Sanders’ Bilder Fibel (1846), https//
  • 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.
  • New post about our first class: Jack Dougherty, “Teaching Race in the Archives,” January 30, 2019,

Week 2: Mon Feb 4th in class – Interpreting Common-School Reform

due Sunday February 10th by 9pm

Week 3: Mon Feb 11th in class – Contrasting Black and White “Progressive” Reform

  • Announcements
    • Apply for Public Humanities Collaborative paid summer internships – read listings and contact professors well before Feb 19th application deadline
    • Thursday Feb. 14th, Coeducation in Context: 1969–1970, Common Hour at Cinestudio. This event is a panel discussion on the transition to coeducation, with Judy Dworin ’70, professor of theater and dance, emerita; Dori Katz, professor of modern languages and literature, emerita; Randy Lee ’66, associate professor of psychology and director of the Counseling and Wellness Center; and Ron Spencer ’64, former associate academic dean and lecturer in history, emeritus. This signature event is part of Women at the Summit: 50 Years of Coeducation at Trinity College.
  • Advice on Organizing Notes from TA Emily Schroeder ’20
  • Presentation: What Direction for African-American Education: Washington and DuBois?
  • 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? Works best for 2 people to pair up.
    • Open 1940 US Census in ( since National Archives site is not cooperating
    • In right side, see “Browse this collection”
    • Choose any area, or CT > Hartford > Hartford > any enumeration district
    • View free records with free account (insert any email)
    • Here’s a sample 1940 census manuscript page
    • Codes for Education column 14, Highest grade of school completed:
      • 0
      • grades 1-8
      • High School (H1-4)
      • College (C1-5)
    • For each team, open this Google Spreadsheet, insert codes for up to 40 residents on your page
    • Overall, how many residents on your 1940 page completed grade 8? How many completed high school?
    • How could you improve this study with better data collection and analysis?
  • Presentation: Contrasting Theories of “Progressive” Education Reform 
  • Annotators: What are key lines/connections/questions in primary sources?
  • 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, due online by Sat March 2nd

due Sun Feb 17th 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 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 for 2018-19

Week 4: Mon Feb 18th in class – Historiography of Progressive Era; Civil Rights Strategizing

due Sun Feb 24 by 9pm

  • Reminders:
  • 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-K, 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 L-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 Google Doc version annotated for 2017-19.

Week 5: Mon Feb 25th in class – Integration: From Idea to Implementation

due Sun March 3 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; use your time to prepare for exam 1
  • Complete your mid-semester course feedback anonymous form 2019

Week 6: Mon March 4th in class – Accountability in Recent Ed Reform

due Sun March 10th 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 11th in class – Theories of Poverty & Theories of Change

Mon March 18th – No Class (Spring break)

due by Mon March 25th at 4:30pm (extended from Sunday)

  • History Lab: 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 8:30am-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 25th in class: Student Experiences of Education Reform

due by Sunday March 31st at 9pm

  • 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 and chapters 1-3 (excerpted), on Moodle.
  • Read: Goldstein, Teacher Wars, chapters 9-10

Week 9: Mon April 1st in class – Value-Added Assessment and Finding Sources

due Sun April 7th by 9pm

Week 10: Mon April 8th in class – School Integration and Innovation

due Sun April 14th by 9pm

Week 11: Mon April 15th in class –  Sex and Religion in School Reform

due Fri April 19th at 6pm

Working Thesis and Evidence drafts due on GDoc Organizer on Friday April 19th by 6pm (Avoid the late penalty!)

due Sunday April 21st by 9pm

Week 12: Mon April 22nd in class – Competing Reforms for Higher Education

  • Announcements:
  • Prof. Elise Castillo, Ann Plato Diversity Post-Doctoral Fellow 2019-20
  • The History and Memory of Slavery at Trinity College
    • AMST 406 student research projects
    • Wed April 24th at 4:30pm, Hallden Hall (next to McCook)
  • Presentation: Curricular Reform at Trinity Over Time
  • Vote with your feet and advocate for your preferred policy
  • 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.
  • Next steps on writing and revising your research essays
    • Create a To Do list of next paragraphs to write or rewrite, and next sources to read.
    • Choose how you prefer to finish writing your essay, and pros & cons:
      • a) Continue writing in your current GoogleDoc draft and resolve comments
      • b) File > Make a Copy and start a new version in Google Doc format
      • c) File > Download As… MS Word and start a new version in Word format
    • If you revise your research question to better match your sources, ask me to review it via email (or point me to your current GDoc).
    • Paste your research question on your computer screen, to ensure that you’re writing an essay that fully answers it. (Advice from Graciela Valencia ’20)
    • Turn off distractions: computer notifications, phone, and/or WiFi
    • Review my Structural and Stylistic Advice to organize your writing
    • Focus your energy on writing insightful arguments, persuasive evidence, and meaningful interpretation, as described in the research essay criteria
    • Use any tool (such as ZoteroBib or Zotero) to cite sources, in any acceptable format, such as Chicago-style endnotes or MLA/APA in-line citations.
    • Ask for feedback by scheduling an appointment with me, or The Writing Center, or a friend.
    • Do all of your writing and revising in your preferred word processor, then copy and paste into WordPress, and add links and images if desired. See my WordPress tutorial.
  • Assign: Final essay on WordPress (category = 2019-research-essay) due Fri May 3rd by 6pm, which will publicly display your work on the current Student Writing page. Plan ahead and avoid the late penalty.
  • Public writing and student privacy policy, and what past students have decided
  • Assign: Two-minute research presentation with Google Slides, and share the link on our GDoc Organizer. Be sure to include:
    • Engaging essay title
    • Thoughtful research question
    • Insightful working thesis (bullet points are acceptable for presentations)
    • Rich interpretation of at least one key source (which you may describe, quote, display as image, link, etc.)
    • Confirm that your Share settings allow anyone with the link to view
    • See examples of slides from last year’s students in 2018
  • In class next week, be prepared to listen and vote for bonus points:
    • Most insightful thesis (majority vote by students)
    • Richest source interpretation (majority vote by students)
    • Most improved since proposal (selected by instructor)

Week 13: Mon April 29th in class – Brief Research Presentations & Making Sense of Reform

  • Read before class: Stan Karp and Linda Christensen, “Why Is School Reform So Hard?,” Education Week, October 8, 2003, OR download 3-page PDF.
  • Two-minute presentations of research-in-progress on GDoc Organizer
    • Vote for bonus points: Most insightful thesis; Richest source interpretation
    • Bonus point for most improved since proposal (selected by instructor)
  • Reminder: post your final essay on WordPress on Friday May 4th by 6pm.
    • Focus your writing on the key research criteria: RQ — Thesis — Evidence
    • Use tools to help you cite sources and improve your grammar
    • Write and revise in your preferred word processor, then copy and paste into WordPress. (To paste cleanly, consider the hidden “paste as text” button, which will be demonstrated in class). Add supplemental links and images if desired. See WordPress tutorial.
    • Check the category (2019 research essay), which will publicly display your work on the Student Writing page.
  • Prepare for open-book interpretive exam #2 on Wednesday (not Monday) May 8th at 6:30pm in our classroom. Will be same number of questions and format as exam #1, but a longer time period (up to 3 hours if needed; most will finish sooner). The exam may address any topic on the syllabus, but items from the second half of the course are more likely to appear.
  • Presentation: What I Believe: Making Sense of Education Reform
  • Available for essay discussions by appointment

due Fri May 3rd by 6pm

Wed (not Mon) May 8th from 6:30pm to 9:30pm in our regular classroom

  • Exam #2, open-book, interpretive questions.
  • After you complete the exam, save in MS Word format, 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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