Diversification of Workforce: New York City and Chicago

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Diversification of the Teaching Workforce: New York City and Chicago

The sixties and seventies are world renowned as a time period of national progressive social change in the United States. These two decades were responsible for shaping political and social conflicts that highlighted the absence of many opportunities for people of diverse backgrounds in the United States. As the era of social change came to an end, an increased number of opportunities for people of color became widely available. In fact, during the last four decades, schools have opened their doors to students and teachers of a widely varied range of ethnicities. Because public schools have become increasingly diverse during the last 40 years, a demand for multicultural teachers has also increased. According to statistical data collected from the U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, minority enrollment (students of Black and Hispanic background) made up roughly about 22% of the distribution of public school students. By 1999, minority enrollment was recorded at 38%. With these progressively increasing numbers, schools have started to question the reasoning behind the widening achievement gap that exists between students of color and white students. If multicultural teacher recruitment and retention is the key to closing the achievement gap, how much racial diversification has occurred in the teaching workforce since the 1960s? And how has it affected urban public schools and their students in large American cities such as New York and Chicago?

Although there are factors that may affect a student’s achievement, teachers are ultimately held liable for their student’s successes and failures. There is a large amount of data and research that ultimately prove that teachers have a great degree of influence on their students, especially if they are African American or Hispanic educators (for African American/ Hispanic students. Although the teaching workforce has not shown a tremendous increase in diversity (despite of the need for them), they have served as a changing force, ultimately having a positive effect on inner city students in New York City and Chicago.

Interpreting The Data

Diversification from a nationwide stance

Various scholars including Ana Maria Villegas, Tamara F. Lucas, Margaret Wilder, and Thomas S. Dee have argued that diversifying the teacher workforce has a positive effect on students of color that attend public inner-city schools. In his article, A Teacher Like Me: Does Race, Ethnicity, or Gender Matter? scholar Thomas S. Dee argues that there are teacher effects that ultimately help shape a student’s educational outcome. For instance, he states, “A related type of passive teacher effect is the phenomenon known as “stereotype threat”. Stereotype threat refers to the possibility that, in situations students perceive stereotypes might attach black students with white teachers they (students) experience an apprehension that retards their academic identification and subsequent achievement” (158). When white teachers are placed in school setting that serves predominantly students of color, academic performance may be inhibited in terms of test taking.  As the nation becomes increasingly diverse, it is important to take into account what school practices might help close the achievement gap.
In their study, Diversifying the Teacher Workforce: A Retrospective and Prospective Analysis, scholars Ana Maria Villegas and Tamara F. Lucas defend the reasoning behind enforcing the recruitment of diverse teachers, stating that there is a “growing disparity between minority student and minority teacher populations” (76). Contrary to popular assumption, data shows there was a great disparity between the percentage of student and teacher populations enrolled to teach and study at public high schools. According to Table 1 below, in 1971, the percentage of minority teachers in public elementary and secondary schools was 11.7%, while students were at 22.2%.

U.S. Department of Education, 2001; National Center for Education Statistics; Diversifying the Workforce: A Retrospective and Prospective Analysis

Data gathered from 1986 showed that there were only 9.4% of minority teachers enrolled at public elementary and secondary schools while the number of students increased to 30.9%. Surprisingly, the difference in percentage points nearly doubled in size- from 10.5 to 21.5 in about a 15-year span (1971-1986).

Similarly, data gathered by Villegas and Lucas showed that in 1987, 13.1% of elementary and secondary public school teachers considered racial/ethnic minority background. Unlike prior data collected, this table shows that there was some increase in the percentage of racial/ethnic minority teachers enrolled at public schools. In 1999 there was a reported 15.7% of racial minority educators teaching at elementary and secondary public schools. Although that is considered quantitative increase, it was certainly not enough to match the large percentage of students that were enrolled at the time.

Source from NCES, Diversification of the Workforce: A Retrospective and Prospective Analysis

How “diversified” is America in accordance to their regions?

            Analyzing the data provided by the National Center for Educational Statistics led to another quantitative search of the diversification of children enrolled in public schools within each region. Table 3-2 below demonstrates how data gathered by the NCES in October from 1972-99 shows that minority enrollment gradually rose from 18.6% to 31.8% in the 27-year span in the North East; while in the Midwest it nearly doubled from 12.5% to 24.0%. While these two regions account for different states and cities within them, it is important to remember that the need for diverse teachers was as equally important in big cities in the Midwest like Chicago, as those big cities in the Northeast like New York City.

National Center for Educational Statistics; Appendix Table 3-2

The Census School District Tabulation (STP2) provided a series of longitudinal datasets that shows even more specific data in regards to the ethnicities of children enrolled in public schools during the 1999-2000 school year. These datasets that were collected by the U.S. Census Bureau’s Population Division and sponsored by the National Center for Education Statistics, show that during the ‘99-‘00 school year, Chicago’s Public School District had a total of over 600,00 diverse students enrolled in the 299 public school district, which also happens to be the main district of the city. The New York 2000 Census recorded having about, 1,500,000 “non-white and ethnic students.”


Longitudinal Data collected from School District Demographics System; National Center for Education Statistics

“To some the teacher is in the best strategic position to further movements for a new social order”- New York City teacher union leader Henry Linville

While there is not an exact set of quantitative data provided by each of these states regarding the race of elementary and secondary school teachers, there are various accounts which take into consideration the fact that diverse teachers were and still are indefinitely scarce and very much needed in public school systems. For example, in her book Uncivil Rights: Teachers, Unions, and Race in the Battle for School Equity, author Jonna Perrillo writes,  “throughout much of the 1950s, the Teacher’s Union publicly exposed the shockingly low percentage of black teachers in the city and petitioned to train and hire more” (Perrillo p.7). They did this in attempts to diversify and integrate newly desegregated schools, in order to establish communities in diverse neighborhoods. In an attempt to desegregate the school, Perrillo writes, “the UFT recruited black teachers from the South to teach in the city’s schools, and also presented plans to integrate the schools as well” (Perrillo p.8). These plans to recruit and retain teachers came after it was reported that alarmingly low numbers of black teachers were enrolled as teachers in New York City, despite the growing population.

In her historical claim of the trials and tribulations of New York City teachers, Perrillo sheds light on the inequality issues many teachers faced during the late 1950s, and 1960s. In chapter three she notes, “While blacks made up 10 percent of the city’s population, less than 2 percent of the city’s licensed teachers were black” (p. 90). She goes on to state that there were many reasons behind the shortage of black teachers in the workforce, the main reason being discrimination against aspiring African American educators.  Perrillo claimed that the Department of Education disputed many unions’ attempts to diversify the workforce in fear that their jobs would be taken away. In chapter 4, named “An Educator’s Commitment”, Perrillo explains a theory proposed by the Harlem Youth Opportunities Unlimited group  (HARYOU) which states that, “our community has been controlled by people other than us…Such control was in the hands of educators who have successfully failed to educate blacks and Puerto Ricans in the past- and are afraid that Blacks and Puerto Ricans will do a better job” (p. 128). She goes to on explain that HARYOU was dedicated to educate the masses on the importance of having black teachers in the classroom. Perrillo noted that in New York City schools, “black children lacked positive role models in school extended both to the everyday curriculum and to those who taught it…because they better understood black students, HARYOU found, black teachers were often better to control their classes, and ultimately better teachers” (p. 128).

Parents that were able to see the effects of having their children educated by African-American/ Hispanic teachers versus white teachers were able to testify and rally against having such low numbers of minority teachers in New York City. According to Perrillo, “the problem resided in the fact that while half of the city’s public school students were black and Puerto Rican, less than 10 percent of teachers were” (p. 154). She goes on to state that parents petitioned this, asking for more minority teachers and “for white teachers and supervisors to undergo massive re-training that would bring about a change in attitude and rethinking of some traditional practices.”

Economist Thomas S. Dee further elaborates on the importance of having a teacher of color placed in diverse schools in his article, A Teacher Like Me: Does Race, Ethnicity or Gender Matter? Although he introduces his argument and claims through the notion of stereotype, the more important results lie in data he collected from the NELS88 Longitudinal study. In the data he collected and analyzed, Dee was able to conclude that both “white and minority students are likely to be perceived as disruptive by a teacher who does not share their racial/ethnic designation” (Dee p. 162). His main argument focuses on the notion that “the racial, ethnic, and gender dynamics between students and teachers have consistently large effects on teacher perceptions of student performance…the effects with race and ethnicity appear to be concentrated among students of low socioeconomic status” (Dee p. 163). His interpretation of the data only serves to back up the larger claim made by Jonna Perrillo, which emphasizes the importance of having diverse teachers teach diverse students.


What are the students saying?

Although there have been quantitative claims made by historians like Jonna Perrillo, and economists like Thomas S. Dee, one of the most important pieces of evidence to take into account when looking into the effectiveness of hiring diverse teachers is the opinion of the students themselves. For many years, there have been informal interviews about the positive effects teachers have on their students that are categorized as minority students. In a journal article named, Increasing African American Teachers’ Presence in American Schools: Voice of Students Who Care, author Margaret Wilder notes that researchers Beady and Hansell were able to find that a “teacher’s race was strongly associated with his or her expectations for students’ success” (Wilder p. 209). More specifically through her research, Wilder was able to find that African American teachers expected more out of their students than white teachers did. Through her studies, Wilder was able to find the effects of exposing African American children to African American teachers.

Wilder noted that while her six interviews had substantial information, which fully supported the diversification of the workforce, “that her findings were not representative of an entire population of African American students” (Wilder p. 212). In one of her interviews with a young woman named Rose, the female spoke wonderfully about her prior educator Ms. Rhodes.

Rose: “I never really had too many people in grade school who were real positive. In Upward Bound, I remember Ms. Rhodes. She is an African teacher. She taught us so much about Africa and where we came from and what we had to do. I mean, I love this lady so much. When you look at her, it’s like a glow. She just stands out so much, and she is such a powerful lady. She gave me a view that nobody else really . . . gave me. She really taught me a lot about my history. I never really thought about it before . . . It was the way she talked. When she talks I know everything she says is true. I know she probably would not lie to me or whatever. I mean, you just meet her and you fall in love with her” (p. 213).

This particular interview was a reflection of the interviews that Wilder had transcribed onto her article about the effects of African American teachers. All of the students that were interviewed spoke highly of their teachers, many recalling them as motivating forces in their life. Her interviews gave an insight as to the real effects of placing a teacher of a diverse background (which a student can relate to) in a classroom. Each student’s description of their relationships with their ethnic teachers were rich, and it seemed as if each student was actually invested in and empowered by what they were learning. All of the students always spoke fondly of their teachers and all of them were able to recall many meaningful moments and experiences with all of their racially diverse teachers during their elementary and secondary school careers.



            There has been a major underrepresentation of African American, Hispanic, Asian and other ethnic groups in the teaching workforce across the United States. Since the 1960s, many educational reformers have fought to diversify the teaching workforce through establishing guilds and teacher unions. However, their attempts to diversify the workforce has been shot down various times by those who head each state’s department of education (DOE). The United States has undergone a vast amount of social change in the last four decades, but that is still not reflected in our educational system. Each year, the achievement gap between African American/Hispanic students versus white students seems to increase. For many years, parents, educational reformers, and other social activists have fought to diversify the teaching workforce due to their belief that it is the key to closing the everlasting gap.

Because there has not been much quantitative evidence regarding the number of racially diverse teachers in New York and Chicago during the last thirty years, it is evident that there is indeed a shortage of African American/Hispanic teachers. Data collected from the National Center for Educational Statistics portray a small increase of racially diverse teachers within the workforce. The small numbers of ethnic teachers that dedicate their lives to educating children from inner city schools are known to make a difference despite the disparities that exists within each group. Studies such as those conducted by Margaret Wilder indeed show that despite the small amount in increase of the diversity of the workforce, teachers have made significant strides in terms of helping their students and even connecting with their students. Most, if not all of her interviewed youth praised all of their past educators, which is a clear statement on the importance of having students of color also educated by teachers of color.






Dee, Thomas S. “A Teacher like Me: Does Race, Ethnicity, or Gender Matter?” The American Economic Review 95.2 (2005): 158-65. Web.

NCES (National Center for Education Statistics). (1997). Selected characteristics of public school teachers: Spring 1961 to spring 1996. In Digest of Education Statistics, 1997.

NCES (National Center for Education Statistics). (1999). Table 3-1 Percentage Distribution of public school students enrolled in grades K-12 who were minorities: October 1972-99. In The Condition of Education, 2001.

NCES (National Center for Education Statistics). (1999). Table 3-2 Percentage distribution of public school students enrolled in grades k-12 who were minorities, by region: October 1972-99. In The Condition of Education, 2001.

Perrillo, Jonna. Uncivil Rights: Teachers, Unions, and Race in the Battle for School Equity. Chicago: University of Chicago, 2012. Print.


School District Demographics System. 2000 Census: Chicago District 299, New York City DOE. Accessed April 30th, 2013
Villegas, Ana María, and Tamara F. Lucas. “Diversifying the Teacher Workforce: A Retrospective and Prospective Analysis.” Yearbook of the National Society for the Study of Education 103.1 (2004): 70-104. Web.


Wilder, M. “Increasing African American Teachers’ Presence in American Schools: Voices of Students Who Care.” Urban Education 35.2 (2000): 205-20. Print.


Sheff Movement Lecture: Educational Equity

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For Final Essay on Sheff case and Educational Equity, please read project finalized in EDUC 308: Cities Suburbs and Schools: The Struggle for Educational Equity During the 1970s: Lumpkin v. Dempsey, here

Listening to Professor Paris from the CUNY College of Staten Island’s lecture on the Sheff v. O’Neil case after having sat through and written a journalism piece of the case. Paris was very particular about telling the story of school desegregation from differing points of views while reminding everyone in the room that the topic of conversation was as relevant as it was in the 80s. The Sheff vs. O’Neil case was centered around school desegregation and fought the fact that many Hartford residents were not able to receive an equal opportunity for education because of what many consider “racial isolation.” For many years now, people have questioned whether race or poverty is to blame for creating instances of unequal opportunities in the school setting. Paris reiterated that Sheff reformers argue that a combination of poverty AND race both contribute to this phenomenon which ultimately affects many students in Hartford and across the nation.

I did not understand the seriousness of the Sheff V. O’Neill movement after having attended the meeting that one cold saturday morning. Seeing that this case has inspired many lecturers and other parents who have experienced a similar case is inspiring to me as well. I enjoyed Michael Paris’ thorough lecture on the Sheff v. O’Neil case and as inspiring as I felt his passion and expertise on it was, I feel as if the only way to actually achieve equal education opportunities is to gather those who are strong advocates for the movement and have them go out into different cities to educate parents that may be misinformed.

Click here for Data Visualization Essay.


Diversification of the Teaching Workforce

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Research Question: How has diversifying the teaching workforce in the past 13 years (2000-2013) changed and affected inner-city public schools and its students?

Relevance: Today, in an attempt to diversify the workforce and close the achievement gap, schools have hired teachers of diverse backgrounds to teach their “inner-city” students. Despite the large amounts of people who participate as advocators for educational equality, there seems to be little nationwide progress. As a former public school student, I noticed that many teachers who attempted to connect with their students failed despite of their ability and passion to teach. School administrators have chimed in and realized that hiring teachers of diverse backgrounds allows for better communication and ultimately success in the classroom. Given the little, but increasing size of the multicultural teacher workforce, it is important to understand the reasoning why there are such low numbers of diverse females and males that are interested in the educational field. It is also important to recognize whether placing a teacher of color in an urban school would be beneficial to the students. Through my research I hope to demonstrate how teachers of color can be helpful or hiding to inner-city schools and it’s students. Ultimately, I would like to learn how the presence of a teacher of color ultimately shapes an inner-city student’s schooling experience and education.

Finding Resources: The first step I took in order to find resources on this topic was to visit Professor Dougherty’s Educ 300: Education Reform, Past and Present blog, in a section that is categorized under: Search strategies for sources in Ed Reform: Past & Present. Under this post, I found a variety of search engines and links to databases where I gathered most, if not all of the pieces I will be using in my research. I used Google Scholar and typed in the words “diversification of higher education and the academic profession” and “recruitment of diverse teachers.” Through these searches, I was able to find several journals including, The Collaborative Recruitment of Diverse Teachers for the Long Haul, The Recruitment and Retention of Minority Teachers in Gifted Education, and Teach for America: The Latinization of U.S. schools and the critical shortage of Latina/o Teachers. I also was able to use ERIC, and through ERIC I was linked to the journal published through Brown University- Minority Teacher Recruitment, Development, and Retention. By looking through articles on ERIC, I stumbled upon Sage Journals, a journal database that also helped me identify some key research articles. Although I have collected a fair share of resources, I would like to meet with a librarian sometime next week in order to make sure I am collecting articles specific to my topic.



Achinstein, B., R. T. Ogawa, D. Sexton, and C. Freitas. “Retaining Teachers of Color: A Pressing Problem and a Potential Strategy for “Hard-to-Staff” Schools.” Review of Educational Research 80.1 (2010): 71-107. Sage Journals. Web. 4 Apr. 2013. <http://rer.sagepub.com/content/80/1/71.full.pdf>.

  • This article emphasizes the important of diversifying the teaching workforce and why this task has not been easy. It studies the factors that influence teacher of color retention rates and practices teachers of color execute in the classroom.

Fernandez, Mary R., and Marci Nunez. “Collaborative Recruitment of Diverse Teachers for the Long Haul–TEAMS: Teacher Education for the Advancement of a Multicultural Society.” Multicultural Education 14.2 (2006): 50-56. <Http://www.eric.ed.gov/PDFS/EJ759652.pdf>. Web. 4. Apr. 2013

  • This journal article discusses why Urban schools hire teachers that are not adequate/well trained to teach poor urban students. They shed light on the TEAMS program which recruits and prepares teachers to teach in urban school settings.

Ford, Donna Y., Tarek C. Grantham, and J. John Harris. “The Recruitment and Retention of Minority Teachers in Gifted Education.” Roeper Review 19.4 (1997): 213-20. Tandfond Online. Routledge. Web. 4 Apr. 2013. <http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/02783199709553832>.

  • This article demonstrates how minority teachers in gifted education are recruited and trained to teach this specific group of students.

Furman, Jim S. “Tensions in Multicultural Teacher Education Research: Demographics and the Need to Demonstrate Effectiveness.” Education and Urban Society 41.1 (2008): 55-79. Sage Journals. Web. 4 Apr. 2013. <http://eus.sagepub.com/content/41/1/55.full.pdf+html>.

  • This article discusses data-based research on studies that have been conducted about diverse teacher education. It brings to light the issues of multiculturalism in the classroom and how the hidden curriculum affects it.

Gordon, June A. Why Did You Select Teaching as a Career?: Teachers of Color Tell Their Stories. Rep. N.p.: n.p., 1993. ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED383653. ERIC. Web. 4 Apr. 2013. <http://www.eric.ed.gov/PDFS/ED383653.pdf>.

  • This paper reflects on three interviews that were conducted in urban school districts. It reflects on reoccurring themes that were noticed throughout the research regarding minority teachers in urban school settings: What served as their motivation to teach?

Izarry, Jason, and Morgaen L. Donaldson. “Teach For America: The Latinization of U.S. Schools and the Critical Shortage of Latina/o Teachers.” American Educational Research Journal 49.1 (2013): 155-94. Sage Journals. Web. 4 Apr. 2013. <http://aer.sagepub.com/content/49/1/155.full.pdf+html>.

  • This article argues that the teaching profession must be diversified in order to accommodate the increasing multicultural student population and describe factors that influence the amount of minority teachers that are recruited per year.

Sleeter, C. E. “Preparing Teachers for Culturally Diverse Schools: Research and the Overwhelming Presence of Whiteness.” Journal of Teacher Education 52.2 (2001): 94-106. Web. 4 Apr. 2013 <http://jte.sagepub.com/content/52/2/94.full.pdf+html>.

  • This article focuses on “addressing the attitudes and lack of knowledge of White preservice students.” The article addresses how to address the problem of the abundance of white teachers, and why that has become a problem in multicultural schools.

Torres, Judith, Janet Santos, Nancy L. Peck, and Lydia Cortes. “Minority Teacher Recruitment, Development, and Retention.” Ed. Kristin Latina and Jessica Swedlow. The Educational Alliance (2004): n. pag. Alliance At Brown University. Web. 4 Apr. 2013. <http://www.alliance.brown.edu/pubs/minority_teacher/minteachrcrt.pdf>.

  • This article provides statistical evidence on how placing multicultural teachers in Urban School settings can possibly help low income students to succeed.

Villegas, Ana María, and Tamara F. Lucas. “Diversifying the Teacher Workforce: A Retrospective and Prospective Analysis.” Yearbook of the National Society for the Study of Education 103.1 (2004): 70-104. ERIC. Web. 4 Apr. 2013.

  • This chapter that is part of a book argues that the educational workforce should be diversified. Authors explain that schools need to train their teachers and reflect on the statistical factors that show the small amount of Diversity in the workforce.




Why Should We Wait For Superman?

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One of the saddest days of my life was when my mother told me Superman did not exist. I was like what do you mean he’s not real. And she thought I was crying because it’s like Santa Claus is not real and I was crying because there was no one coming with enough power to save us.

-American social activist and educator, Geoffrey Canada



In Waiting For Superman (2010), director Davis Guggenheim explores the problems that exist within our educational system. Through a series of interviews with educational reformers such as Geoffrey Canada, and Michelle Rhee, and various families that portray the different faces of educational struggles, Guggenheim exposes the struggles many children face. Guggenheim centralizes the theme of “the lottery” in his film to describe what many families fear as their only and last chance. He focuses on charter schools and the promises that these schools have on their children, and how hopefully all of the children he interviewed receive the chance they deserve.


Waiting For Superman sheds light on the variety of problem parents, educators, administrators, and children face with education today. About four minutes into the film, the director Davis Guggenheim explains that the problem with the American Educational system is that we have a variety of schools that are considered as “bad,” and very few that are considered “good” or even “great” schools. Those great schools in turn, are extremely selective and most times, families earn a seat in the school by what Guggenheim describes as luck. He mentions that great schools are now offering seats to inner-city students through what he describes as a lottery. A lottery involves parents filling out an application and being given a number that would either be handpicked, computer generated, or chosen by a plastic ball. Guggenheim follows the stories of three families, the Esparza family, the Hill family, and the Jones family. All of the children’s parents show discontent in some form or shape towards the situation their children face, and test their luck within the lottery system.



Geoffrey Davis on What Makes a Good School , Waiting For Superman (10:53)

Guggenheim introduces this perpetuating problem with our educational system by describing what “good schools” are. At 10:53, American social activist and educator, Geoffrey Canada notes that he would not had been as successful as he is if he attended his zone high school- Morris High School, in the South Bronx, NY. He questions what was the driving force behind the deterioration of our educational system. Through his interview with Guggenheim, Canada implies that the reasoning behind our failure lies in the fact that no one wants to take responsibility for our failing system, including all of our Presidents who were the first ones to promise change.


Maria Esparza, Waiting For Superman 13:26

Guggenheim accentuates the problems that exist in our educational system through a series of interviews he holds with the families he followed throughout Waiting for Superman. In an interview with Francisco Esparza’s mother, he asks her to describe the school that her son attends (13:26) and she tells him that she does not know, because the moment one walks into the building, one is confronted by a security guard who will not let anyone in. Mrs. Maria Esparza is seen throughout the entire film trying to get into contact with her son’s teacher through various phone calls and letters in order to track her son’s progress, and receives no responses. In fact, her son’s teacher tells him that she does not need her sons work. That one scene explains one of the main reasons why our educational system is considered one of the worst. Within inner-city schools there is very little parent-teacher interaction. During her interview, Maria goes on and explains that her son is enrolled in one of the third largest school that is overcrowded in the Bronx. For most of the families interviewed public education was the only option that they had.


Visual Map provided by Guggenheim on Failure by State, Waiting for Superman (16:30)

One particular scene that stands out in the entire documentary film, is at 16:30, where Guggenheim explains what some thought to be the savior of Education reform- the No Child Left Behind Act. Guggenheim strategically chose one of former President’s George W. Bushes’ speeches on the No Child Left Behind Act. In one scene, G.W.B states “I understand that taking tests aren’t fun…too bad.” Guggenheim had introduced NCLB as the remedy to our educational system, but portrayed George W. Bush as cold, and ultimately uncaring through his words. Through the NCLB act, the United States is to meet 100% proficiency in mathematics and reading by 2014. Guggenheim stated that in many states, eighth graders were below 20% in mathematics proficiency, and that in most states, when tested for reading proficiency, eighth graders scored between 20% and 35% of reading on grade level. Through these numbers, Guggenheim is portraying how much of a failure the No Child Left Behind Act was. Although most of the children, under this law are required to be tested on their proficiency, many are not passing or even reading and writing at grade level.


Roosevelt High School in Los Angeles, Waiting for Superman (21:03)

Guggenheim introduces Daisy, a young girl from Los Angeles who aspires to be a veterinarian and a surgeon, because she feels the need to help those in need. Guggenheim follows her path to Medical School by bringing forth Daisy’s chances of getting into Medical School based on the education she would be receiving in her zone-schools. At 21:03, the director introduces Roosevelt High School, one of Los Angeles’ zone-schools and an institution that is considered a “drop-out factory.” He notes the fact that only 3 out of every 100 students at Roosevelt graduate with the classes necessary in order to be considered for a four-year institution. He also mentions the fact that only 57% of its’ students graduate.


Davis Guggenheim explores what exactly drives the problem to increase within the schools that are considered as “bad” schools. He mentions the fact that certain teachers are given tenure, and that because of tenure; they are protected by contracts and allowed to have their job, regardless of their performance. Many educational reformers, teachers, principals, parents, and even the media recognize this, yet many schools fail to fight the system and fire teachers for their poor work.


Throughout the entire film, Guggenheim suggests that Private Schools may be one of the solutions for parents who seek to give their children a better education. Through Nakia and Bianca Jones’ interviews, Guggenheim portrays the struggles and successes of a family whose child is enrolled in a private parochial institution. Bianca Jones’ mother- Nakia, a single parent has her child enrolled in a parochial school, and struggles every month to make payments for her daughter’s tuition. Nakia chooses to keep her child enrolled despite the monetary problems. He suggests that private schools are a better solution during the beginning of the film, when he himself mentions that he drives past public schools on a daily basis to drive his own children to private schools.


Guggenheim explicitly states that “our schools haven’t changed, but the world around them has” (01:07:22), and because of this in order for our school systems to better, they have to be reformed to fit every child’s standards. Guggenheim models Summit High School, in Redwood, CA- a high school in where it’s students are not tracked as a model school. The director mentions how a middle class suburban family chose to send their child there because they had that option. The director also pays much attention to many charter schools throughout the country, that are much smaller in size and that have focuses, such as the arts. The only problem that exists with these particular schools is the fact that many of them are very small in size and run through the unfair lottery system.  Guggenheim repeatedly states towards the end of the movie that the only thing that works in education reform is “applying the right accountability standards.” Although Guggenheim does not interview all different kinds of families, including those success stories- he does an excellent job at giving face to those families who are left behind because of the lottery system and a run down educational system.


On the Waiting For Superman website, Director Davis Guggenheim suggests the viewer take action by signing a petition that advocates for World-Class educational standards for all U.S. students.

Waiting for Superman. Dir. Davis Guggenheim. Paramount Vantage, 2010. Web.

Sheff Movement Discusses Plans for the Future

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HARTFORD, CT- On Saturday, February 16, representatives from the Sheff Movement: Quality Integrated Education for All Children, held a monthly meeting at Capital Prep High School in Hartford. Gathering in the library, the guest list included several citizens from surrounding Hartford towns such as Avon and West Hartford, administrators from local magnet schools, and even two students from a local magnet school along with their parents doing a history project on the Sheff v. O’Neill court case.

Ambar Paulino and Alex Conaway At the Sheff Meeting (Photographed by Jack Dougherty)

Starting off the meeting at 9am, Elizabeth Sheff, a parent who was principally involved in the 1989 case, began to speak on the agenda of planning a legislative forum in April hosted by the black and Hispanic caucus to highlight the academic achievement for those students who attend “Sheff schools”.  Currently, the issue is that there aren’t enough schools in the Greater-Hartford area that please the motives of the Sheff movement; which are to be high-performing and support school integration. Staff coordinator and attorney Phil Tegler, mentioned that a bill signed last May agreed that the failing schools are to be provided with special funding and support, as well as advisory groups made up of the parents to help guide to a turnaround process. With $25 million for capital investments in high quality school models and $16 million aimed for low-performing schools, still there is little support for required diversity.

Sheff raised the question, “Why open new schools? Just build upon those who are already successful.” To answer this, statistics  were brought into the picture: many of the magnet schools get nearly 2,000 applicants a year, and out of that vast number only a mere 20 students get accepted. These parents of Hartford and surrounding suburbs are interested in their kids going to a school with a diverse education, however there is not enough space, therefore opportunities are limited.

This past year the Breakthrough II School located in the Blue Hills neighborhood of Hartford  was asked to be a magnet school, in which a lottery was supposed to be held for May but was switched to September. Out of 800 applicants there were only 85 spots to be filled. Principal Tammy Cassile mentioned that a lot of frustration was shown from the parents because many applications were rejected, and due to the changing of the lottery some kids had to remain at their district schools.

As the Hartford area anticipates the possibility of opening new magnets schools for the 2014-2015 school year, the winter edition of the Integrated Voice Newsletter informs the readers that just, “a simple beam of sunlight through huge classroom windows can shed light on the possibilities of the students and the town”.

Robert Cotto of the Sheff Movement, began to discuss the possibility of the implementation of a dual-language immersion program. Cotto, a representative of the Hartford Board of Education began to explain that there were many different types of Dual-language immersion programs, but that they would want to replicate the 2-way language programs which were offered in some states like Utah and North Carolina. He mentioned that the program would host native English speaking children and native Spanish speaking children in the same school, learning from a curriculum that would be taught half a week in Spanish and the other half in English. He stated, “Best research suggests that a two-way language immersion program benefit kids in all subjects, including African Americans.”

Susan Eaton, author of The Children in Room E4: American Education on Trial, also noted that this program has been sold successfully as an economic development model. She went on and suggested that the Hartford Board of Education does not need to look at other state models to start a dual-language program. The crowd at the meeting agreed, and Cotto backed up Eaton’s claim by stating that there are successful schools within the reach of our very own state.

Sheff suggested that the focus of the two-way language immersion program be on the state in comparison to just the Hartford School district.

“People need to learn a different language, it calls for success,” Sheff said. Many members agreed to the fact that learning a second or even third language would be a successful tool, especially one that can and should be used in the workforce.

Jack Dougherty, Associate Professor of Educational Studies at Trinity College in Hartford, CT proposed an event at Trinity, which would aim to bring awareness about this dual-language immersion program. He stated that by hosting this event at Trinity, the Sheff Movement would ultimately increase awareness on and off campus.

Sheff happily agreed and suggested that by inviting professors, other interested advocators and even people from the legislative branch of Education, the Sheff Movement would be bringing this idea to the surface, and ultimately starting a revolution. She concluded the meeting by mentioning that engaging the youth in such events would also be beneficial because the Sheff Movement wants to create leaders and advocates for educational equality.



Learning to Avoid Plagiarism

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Original Text: No measure is perfect, but the estimates of value-added and other “growth models,” which attempt to isolate the “true effect” of an individual teacher through his or her students’ test scores, are alarmingly error-prone in any given year.

Original source: Ravitch, Diane. The Death and Life of the Great American School System. New York: Basic Books. Print.


Example 1: Plagiarize the original text by copying portions of it word-for-word:

No measure is perfect, but the estimates of value-added and other “growth models,” which attempt to isolate the “true effect” of an individual teacher through his or her students’ test scores, are alarmingly error-prone in any given year.


Example 2: Plagiarize the original text by paraphrasing its structure too closely, without copying it word-for-word:

An alarmingly error-prone measure, estimates the value-added and other “growth” models.” These measures attempt to isolate the “true effect” of an individual teacher through his or her students’ test scores.


Example 3: Plagiarize the original text by paraphrasing its structure too closely, and include a citation. Even though you cited it, paraphrasing too closely is still plagiarism.

An alarmingly error-prone measure, estimates the value-added and other “growth” models.” These measures attempt to isolate the “true effect” of an individual teacher through his or her students’ test scores (Ravitch 270).


Example 4: Properly paraphrase from the original text by restating the author’s ideas in different words and phrases, and include a citation to the original source.

Ravitch notes that, although some of the measures taken to identify a teacher’s success within her student’s test scores are considered to be effective, there are other measures that may have a margin of error (Ravitch 270).


Example 5: Properly paraphrase from the original text by restating the author’s ideas in different words and phrases, add a direct quote, and include a citation to the original source.

Ravitch notes that, even though some of the measures taken to identify a teacher’s success within her student’s test scores are considered to be effective, there are other measures that “are alarmingly error-prone in any given year” (Ravitch 270).


Works Cited

Diane Ravitch, The Death and Life of the Great American School System. New York: Basic Books, 2011, pp. 270-71.

How did book reviewers assess Ravitch’s reversal?

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Question: How did book reviewers assess Ravitch’s reversal? Next week’s book, The Death and Life of the Great American School System, became a best-seller in part because of the dramatic shift in thinking by its author, historian and policy advocate Diane Ravitch. How do you locate in-depth reviews of this book in both scholarly and popular media? Describe your search strategy, and quote some representative reviews, including both favorable and critical comments.


 In The Death and Life of the Great American School System, Diane Ravitch, also known as one of America’s education experts, desperately claims that America’s educational system must be immediately reformed in order to protect and improve the quality of education. This book caused a major uproar within the Educational reform community, because of Ravitch’s change of heart. As a former assistant secretary of education, Ravitch worked closely with the Bush administration in order to implement the No Child Left Behind Act nationwide. Critics have flooded the Internet with extensive book reviews on The Death and Life of the Great American School System, favoring and objecting her views. It was fairly difficult to determine whether reviews on Ravitch’s works were considered scholarly reviews, or ones posted in popular media. Scholarly reviews are those written by scholars, whether they are published on blogs such as Word Press or whether they are published onto scholarly journals/databases.


Option One: Looking inside the book

This source detective work assignment asked me to locate in-depth reviews on Diane Ravitch’s The Death and Life of the Great American School System. The first thing I did was to look inside the actual book itself to locate some of the blurbs/excerpts regarding her book, since many authors tend to give a few lines. In this case, the book’s very first page read: Praise for The Death and Life of the Great American School System. I immediately realized that although I would be able to find entire book reviews through the lines provided, the chances of me reading a critical book review were slim to none, so my next action was to actually Google some of the lines provided by the author. This gave me a better insight to some of the book reviews, and whether the author had taken specific lines from a critical book review. Some of the praises that were selected to appear in her book that were published onto popular media websites such as NYTimes.com, were actually written by scholars- in this case Alan Wolfe, a political scientist, and sociologist/Professor at Boston College.

Other favorable book reviews on her book, such as that written for the Denver Post were written by guest writers, which are not considered scholars. The most important thing to keep in mind while searching for scholarly book reviews is to acknowledge the fact that there is a distinction between scholarly and popular media. The easiest way to determine what is scholarly and what is not, requires you to Google the author and make the connection based on the information given regarding who wrote the article.


Option Two: Google is Indeed Your Friend!

My search to locate critical book reviews, led me once again to Google- only this time to locate the actual author’ website, where the author provides hyperlinks to her book reviews found throughout the Internet.

  1. Using your laptop or a desktop at the Trinity College Raether Library, use Google and search “Diane Ravitch Reviews.
  2. The very first link provided by Google should lead you directly to Diane Ravitch’s website- specifically the section where the reviews are found.
  3. You will note that there are two sections to the webpage- Book Reviews, and Commentary About the Book or Author, we must keep in mind that we are looking for book reviews and not commentaries regarding the book itself.
  4. Only some of the links provided under Book Reviews lead to in-depth reviews, always remember to Google the author if the link provided leads to a Word Press Blog, or an article published on a website. Also remember that although Amazon may list some lengthy and critical reviews- those may not necessary count as scholarly or even popular media because of the nature in which the comment is being made.


Option Three: Using Resources Provided by Trinity College (My Personal Favorite)

Ask a Research Librarian

Make great use of the Trinity College Librarians, they truly do know how to give you the answer to all questions that are research related.

 I was fortunate enough to be able to walk into the library and receive immediate help upon asking for it at the front desk. Usually the best way to go about meeting with a research librarian is to make an appointment through the Library Scheduler website.

I was able to meet with Outreach Library Kelly Dagan and explained to her that I needed assistance in locating scholarly databases such as WorldCat.org where I could find Scholarly reviews on The Death and Life of the Great American School System. Kelly asked me what the book was about and explained to me that it was fairly easy to find databases that were geared toward my specific area of study.


  1. I was told to go to the Trinity College Library Website, and under Articles, to search up the Educational Studies database. This lead me to a webpage that lists databases specifically geared towards literature on Educational Studies.

    Screen Shot of the Trinity College Library Website
  2. Kelly pointed out to me that JStor, and the Education Full Text databases were the best ones suited for my search.

For the two databases, I realized that I would be able to refine my search to Reviews, specifically to Scholarly (Peer Reviewed) entries on both of the websites.

Both the JStor search, and the Education Full Text databases produced dozens of findings (scholarly reviews) on The Death and Life of the Great American School System. (Click on the links above to see for yourself!)


I found it easier to locate book reviews that favored Ravitch’s radical work, than to locate those critiquing it. Some of the more favorable comments included:

“The first thing to say about Diane Ravitch’s new book, The Death and Life of the Great American School System (Basic Books, 2010), is that it is the bravest book on education in years, perhaps ever. Why brave? Because it’s a book about being wrong, a book that rejects reforms Ravitch once espoused, and that, like most mea culpas, will probably lose her many old friends without gaining her nearly as many new ones.” – Richard Barbieri, Independent School

“Ravitch writes early in The Death and Life of the Great American School System, “When we are too certain of our opinions, we run the risk of ignoring any evidence that conflicts with our views.” Her ability to change her mind is what makes this book so valuable. In it, Ravitch explains clearly why she first believed in NCLB, why she changed her mind, and where she believes current school reform efforts are wrong. This is an important book. Ravitch has done us a great service. Policy makers ignore her at everyone’s peril.” – Dudley Barlow, Education Digest


Below are some of the comments I found critiquing Diane Ravitch’s works:

“While I applaud Ravitch- after all it takes a good deal of courage to do what she is doing- I am also tempted to ask a somewhat impolite question. Given the immense evidence against the positions she had originally so strenuously supported, what took her so long?” – Michael W. Apple, Educational Policy

 “While Ravitch covers the landscape of issues thoroughly, she offers few solutions to the problems she has posed, some are not only worth considering, but have been shouted from the rooftops in the field of education, other hearken back to Ravitch’s conservative roots with frightening results.” –Scott Cody, InterActions: UCLA Journal of Education and Information Studies



Works Cited

1. Apple, Michael W. “Challenging One’s Own Orthodoxy: Diane Ravitch and the Fate of American Schools.” Educational Policy 24.4 (2010): 687-98. JSTOR. Web. 31 Jan. 2013.

2. Barlow, Dudley. “The Death and Life of the Great American School System.” Education Digest 76.2 (2010): 69-72. Education Full Text. Web. 31 Jan. 2013.

3. Barbieri, Richard. “The Death And Life of The Great American School System.” Independent School 71.1 (2011): 118-20. Education Full Text. Web. 31 Jan. 2013.

4. Cody, Scott M. “Review: The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education by Diane Ravitch.” InterActions: UCLA Journal of Education and Information Studies 6 (2011): 1-4. EScholarship. Web. 1 Feb. 2013.


What do I wish to take from EDUC 300?

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I recently became acquainted with the Educational Studies program at Trinity, and immediately fell in love with the courses that were offered. As a student who has been through many different types of educational institutions, including public and now private, I have noticed that there is a major problem that exists in the way schools teach our children. As an Educational Studies major, I hope to learn what causes these imperfections in the system, and particularly what have policy-makers in the past done to relieve many of the problems. As mentioned, this class will not only teach me the aims that educational reformers had in the past, but it will also teach me what we can do in the future. I also hope to polish my writing skills in order to properly execute my ideas about Education reform.