Educ 300 Syllabus – Spring 2017

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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 23 — Week 2: Jan 30 — Week 3: Feb 6 — Week 4: Feb 13 — Week 5: Feb 27 — Week 6: March 6 — Week 7: March 20 — Week 8: March 27 — Week 9: April 3 — Week 10: April 10 — Week 11: April 17 — Week 12: April 24 — Week 13: May 1

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 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-Ei: 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 Er-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 23 in class – Overview & Introduction to Common School Reform

due Sun Jan 29 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 read 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 Rachel and Sarah.
  • 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 Max and Courtney and John.
  • 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 Lilly G and Zoe and Lily J.
  • 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.

Week 2: Mon Jan 30th in class – Interpreting Common-School Reform

  • Presentation: Thinking like a Historian about the Common School Movement
  • Annotators point out and interpret key passages
  • Role-play debate over common schools
  • Discuss: What can we learn from America’s past anti-immigration history to plan action on present-day events? What steps — big or small — will you take?
  • Prep for next week’s readings, decide digital or paper, and assign annotators

due Sunday February 5th by 9pm

Week 3: Mon Feb 6th in class – Contrasting Black and White “Progressive” Reform

due Sun Feb 12th 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 2017, with annotations to be added in class

Week 4: Mon Feb 13th in class – Historiography of Progressive Era; Civil Rights Strategizing

Mon Feb 20 – No class (Trinity Days)

  • Remember your assignments from above are due on Sun Feb 19th at 9pm
  • Do your Ed Policy Journalism assignment and read for next week

due Sun Feb 26 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-Ei, 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 Er-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.

Week 5: Mon Feb 27th in class – Integration: From Idea to Implementation

due Sun March 5 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?
  • Doug Reed, “Chapter 2: The Judicial Impact on School Finance Reform,” On Equal Terms: The Constitutional Politics of Educational Opportunity (Princeton University Press, 2001), in Moodle.
  • No Moodle quiz this weekend

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

Mon March 13th – No Class (Spring break)

due Sun March 19th 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 20th in class – Theories of Poverty & Theories of Change

due by Sun March 26th 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 27th in class: Student Experiences of Education Reform

due by Monday April 3rd (not Sunday) 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 and chapters 1-3 (excerpted), on Moodle.
  • Read: Goldstein, Teacher Wars, chapters 9-10

Week 9: Mon April 3rd in class – Value-Added Assessment and Teacher Preparation

due Sun April 9th by 9pm

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

due Sun April 16th by 9pm

Week 11: Mon April 17th in class –  Sex and Religion in School Reform

due Fri April 21st at 6pm

Working Thesis and Evidence drafts due on GDoc Organizer on Friday April 21st by 6pm

due Sunday April 23rd by 9pm

  • Comment on assigned peer drafts on GDoc Organizer with these criteria:
    • 1) Does the essay pose a thought-provoking research question that addresses change and/or continuity over time in education?
    • 2) Does the essay present a clear and insightful thesis that addresses the research question?
    • 3) Does the essay identify the most appropriate source materials and methods for researching this question?
    • 4) Is the essay’s thesis persuasive? Is it supported with convincing evidence and analysis?
    • 5) Is the essay organized, clearly written, and does it include sufficient background for audiences unfamiliar with the topic?
  • Guiding questions: What is a “flipped classroom,” and what are the challenges of implementing it in the K-12 and higher education sectors?
  • Read online: Dan Berrett, “How ‘Flipping’ the Classroom Can Improve the Traditional Lecture,” The Chronicle of Higher Education, February 19, 2012, (requires password) OR on Moodle
  • Read online: Sarah D. Sparks, “Lectures Are Homework in Schools Following Khan Academy Lead,” Education Week, September 28, 2011, (requires password) OR on Moodle

Week 12: Mon April 24th 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 = 2017-research-essay) due Fri May 5 by 6pm, which will publicly display your work on the Student Writing 2017 page. Plan ahead and avoid the late penalty.
  • About WordPress spam: the filter broke last week, and IT is updating it
  • 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
  • Be prepared to vote for bonus points:
    • Most insightful thesis
    • Richest source interpretation
    • Most improved since proposal (selected by instructor)
  • Return: the long-lost Avoiding Plagiarism assignment

Week 13: Mon May 1st in class – Panel Presentations & Making Sense of Reform

  • Read before class: Stan Karp and Linda Christensen, “Why Is School Reform So Hard?,” Education Week, October 8, 2003,
  • 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)
    • Feedback from instructor to improve your final essays
  • Reminder: post your final essay on WordPress on Friday May 5th 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, and add links and images if desired. See WordPress tutorial.
    • Check the category (2017 research essay), which will publicly display your work on the Student Writing 2017 page.
  • Prepare for open-book interpretive exam #2 on 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 5th by 6pm

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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