La Escuelita: Start, End, and Future

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Hartford in the 1960s and 1970s had a large Puerto Rican migrant community, who predominantly spoke Spanish. Throughout the city there were little to no Spanish or bilingual business, or social welfare programs to help the Puerto Rican community. Maria Colon Sánchez, a Puerto Rican, through activism and politics fought for bilingual education for children. She established in 1972, along with her community, the Ann Street School better known as La Escuelita. La Escuelita throughout the decade after established continued to grow, yet eventually ended. Then in 1989, Sánchez passed away, leaving the fights for bilingual education to her community. Through the decrease of politics, activism, and lack secure funding lead eventually to the end of La Escuelita and decrease over all of bilingual education.

To understand why Puerto Ricans fought for justice, it’s important to understand the connection between Hartford and Puerto Rico. In the twentieth century, there was a growth of Puerto Rican migrants into Hartford due to demand of work in the tobacco fields. As time went on, more and more Puerto Ricans came into Hartford, and it’s important not to forget that this was a because Connecticut was bringing Puerto Ricans into the Hartford community. Hartford was known to bring Puerto Ricans from the island to the their tobacco farms in Connecticut. Maria Colon Sánchez was born and raised in Comerio, Puerto Rico, and moved to Hartford at the age of 28 in 1954 in search for a better life in the mainland. In fact, one of her first jobs before she opened up her own store was working in the tobacco fields.

In 1969 Sánchez seized the opportunity to mobilize when the riots broke out. This was a heightened time when there was more pressure from the community for ethnic awareness. There was racial discrimination throughout Hartford (José E. Cruz, 1997). The black and Puerto Rican community were left with little not option for social mobility. They were constantly being attacked by the police. Maria noticed that all over Hartford there was no representation that would allow Puerto Ricans to feel supported in their city. Puerto Ricans were marginalized in the city if Hartford. Sánchez was a known leader, that because an activist, and eventually politician to fight for bilingual education that Puerto Ricans deserved (Cruz, 1997). Bilingual education was important to her, because she knew that having a bilingual education would give children the tools to gain social mobility.

Sánchez along with University of Hartford professor Perry Alan Zirkel, worked on create the Teacher Corps in 1971. The way they were able to gain teachers was through the earlier program she establish, Teachers Corps. Teacher Cops helped search and hire teachers who “promoted improved education [and] who could better communicate with and assist students”. La Escuelita was strictly bilingual teachers, they were recruited from Puerto Rico.

In addition from searching for teachers, Sánchez helped develop how bilingual education will look in La Escuelita. La Escuelita opened in the 1972, “Harford received a Title VII grant to establish a bilingual program in the Ann Street Annex to the Barnard Brown School” (Perry A. Zirkel, p.8).  La Escuelita, was a schooled controlled by the people for the people. The plans for the school were made from the Spanish-speaking community, parents of students were also involved. Parents were not only involved in the planning, but also were a part of some night classes. Throughout this era of political development, there was a lot of mobilization and civic engagement from the community. La Escuelita was funded by three sources, the Federal department of Health, Education and welfare, the city board of education, and the model cities program. The school focused on individualism, since the school occupied about 200 students and many were at different levels and had different paces of learning (Elissa Papirno, 1973).

In order to continue to preserve La Escuelita, in 1973 Sanchez joined the board of Education, and was there for 16 years. According to Ruth Gasser in Aqui me Quedo, “While a 1968 Federal Law enabled schools to begin to establish bilingual education programs, local school system such as Hartford’s were resistant to such approach.”  The Board of Education “believed Puerto Ricans should just learn English like the other immigrants did” (Cruz, 1997). The Board of Education was not in favor of granting bilingual education. Once she joined the board of education she was able to preserve it. She was the representation the community needed. Even with this win, “there were no libraries, assembly hall, or places to play in (Papirno, 1973). So even with the school being bilingual, you can see that there’s still a lot of work to be done.

La Escuelita eventually ended, though the answered seems unclear. The school seemed strong, it was a school built for and by the community. So why did the school end? There were many things that lead to the end of La Escuelita.

In 1977 Hartford Courant explained, that the personnel form the Hartford Public Schools were preparing for the Title XII bilingual education grant proposal for continued federal support. Then, in 1982, La Escuelita gained momentum. The school was still dealing with financial issues, but La Escuelita started serving 336 and was expected to serve 487 Spanish speaking students. The school director at the time, Edna Soler, was weary because the Reagan administration at the had a “commitment to cut federal aid to education and to dismantle the U.S Department of Education, which funds the [bilingual] program” (C.L Smith Muñiz). There were other rumors of the school moving into another school, due to financial cuts. Potentially the school had no more money, and adapted the bilingual program into other schools to save money.

At this time, there was found little information of the involvement of Sánchez in the request of fund.

Bilingual education is meant to help students appreciate and value two languages at the same level. While “dual-langue” was not the terminology used back then, essentially that was what La Escuelita was. Yet, when La Escuelita started parents insisted that gym teachers learn American games “so they can better get along with their American playmates” (Papirno 1973). In addition, the head teacher Edna Soler at the time said, “the community knows children have to learn English to integrate themselves into American society” (Papirno 1973). Bilingual education was built for the people by the people, in order to achieve social mobility, and in general gain a better education to have a better life. In the United States, socially, one must learn English to “succeed”, so there was emphasis from parents and the community to learn English. To learn English one must first be taught academic Spanish, in order to smoothly transition to learning academic English. This was the purpose of La Escuelita, to teach students to hold on to their “culture while still functioning in the United States (Glasser, 1997). La Escuelita, obviously, taught students to value their culture and language, but also promoted that the obtainment of English would maximize opportunity to “fit in” and create social mobility.

In addition, to the mission being lost, according to the Connecticut History website Sanchez won a lawsuit “mandating Hartford Public schools adopt bilingual education.” Sánchez was crucial part for Hartford to establish bilingual education, and while she helped establish La Escuelita, her vision of education equality did not stop there. She fought for all public school in Hartford to adopt some form of bilingual education. This left La Escuelita in a vulnerable position, because now it was not about preserving bilingual education in one school but all public schools.  Sánchez was a political leader, and at the time she might have been more focused on politics and bigger things. In 1988 she was the first Latina to win a seat in the Connecticut general assembly (Connecticut History,). Maria Colon Sánchez passed away on 1989, leaving bilingual education in Hartford to be protected by the people.

In conclusion, the Maria Colon Sánchez helped establish La Escuelita, and bilingual education in Hartford. Puerto Ricans in Hartford were angry for the constant inequalities they faced in the city. In 1969, Hartford residents were at a breaking point, so the riots began.  Different groups came together and raised hell in Hartford, and for good reasons. After the riots, people saw a the opportunity to organize and mobilize towards creating a more inclusive space. There was leadership development, in which Sánchez had such an important role, because she represented the Puerto Rican community. She was known as “La Madrina”, she was someone who put up a fight to defend Puerto Ricans. With the rise of her leadership, and the help of her community she was able to establish La Escuelita. Not only did Sánchez start La Escuelita, but she helped establish bilingual education in Hartford. There is not a clear answer of why La Escuelita ended, or why bilingual schools have decreased. There is information that points towards multiple reason. It can be explained by financial issues. La Escuelita is no exception for potential decrease of funds, while there is an increase of students attending the school. It might have been due to the fact that many Puerto Ricans are learning English, and embracing English in order to partake in social mobility.  Lastly, Sánchez in later years got more political recognition, and while she was heavily involved in establishing La Escuelita, not much information is shown in how present she was throughout the years, since she was busy fighting for bilingual education for all public schools.

The end of La Escuelita and the decrease of bilingual education, can be happening due to the fact that there is a need of someone like Maria Colon Sánchez to organize and mobilize. Currently, there is a new wave on Puerto Rican migrants coming into Hartford after Hurricane Maria in 2017. Now, similarly to the past, there are not enough bilingual program, and those in place lack the programing to help the new wave of youth. Instead of riots, we might see more protest and demonstrations to demand better bilingual program made by the community for the community lead by someone similar to Maria Sánchez Colon.


Cruz, José E. “A Decade of Change: Puerto Rican Politics in Hartford.” Journal of American Ethnic History (1997).

C L SMITH MUNIZ Courant, Staff Writer. 1982. Ann street school to ask U.S. for funds for bilingual program. The Hartford Courant (1923-1993), Jan 15, 1982. (accessed May 4, 2019).

Display ad 163 — no title. 1977. The Hartford Courant (1923-1993), Oct 21, 1977. (accessed May 2, 2019).

Zirkel, Perry A. “Bilingual Education and School Desegregation: A Case of Uncoordinated Remedies.” (1976).

Ubinas, Helen. “The Life and Times of Maria Clemencia Colon Sanchez: Hartford’s Puerto Rican Community’s Matriarch, 1926-1989.” (2001).

“Maria Sánchez, State Representative and Community Advocate.” Connecticut History | a CTHumanities Project. Accessed May 01, 2019.

Glasser, Ruth. Aquí Me Quedo: Puerto Ricans in Connecticut. Middletown, CT: Connecticut Humanities Council, 1997.

PAPIRNO, ELISSA. 1973. Puerto rican children getting bilingual education at la escuelita. The Hartford Courant (1923-1993), May 28, 1973. (accessed April 29, 2019).

Ross, Jackie. 1975. Board backs plea for school funds. The Hartford Courant (1923-1993), Feb 19, 1975. (accessed May 3, 2019).



An Uncommon Critique: How A Charter Networks Success Safeguards Student Experiences

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The fight for an effective and equitable educational experience has been decades in the making and continues to go on today. School choice advocates have been in search of alternatives to the traditional neighborhood public school, which has long been the only option for poor black and brown students. Within the last few decades, charter schools have emerged as a new and exciting way of experiencing school, particularly for those students who have historically been left out of school choice initiatives. The Uncommon Schools charter school network, an emerging school network that opened in 2005, is one of the new, alternative school networks promising students a high quality education and a sure entrance to college. First opening in Newark and now expanding across New England, Uncommon Schools boast about providing a high quality education to underprivileged students in urban areas. Their mission statement states that Uncommon schoolsare joyful and rigorous” and “full of love and learning”, rhetoric used to lure students into the program. However, students who have been through these schools do not always share these feelings (Homepage). As an alumni myself, I empathize with those who have not experienced the network’s stated mission in the terms they describe. Their impressive 99% success rate of getting students to college is attractive and well-earned, but student sentiment often makes me question whether these results are worth the costs to students. How did advocates of the Uncommon Schools charter school network envision their mission when they began in 2005, and how have different students experienced this reform since this time?

The Uncommon Schools network is genuine in their efforts to provide an alternative and successful schooling experience for marginalized students, and this can be seen both in their mission statement and as reflected in their results. However, it would be wrong to not acknowledge the negative views and experiences many students hold of the network. Like various other charter schools, Uncommon maintains a hard-line, zero-tolerance policy as a framework for discipline, though they would not describe themselves in that way. These types of policies force students to conform and perform in restrictive ways that often lead to students feeling resentful of their school, regardless of its success or amenities. While the Uncommon Schools network’s website states that its intent is to provide a high-quality, college-bound education that fosters a love of learning among students, in practice, it can often do the exact opposite, as students have reported to feel demeaned, ashamed, and resentful of their Uncommon institution. Although the success of Uncommon Schools is impressive and should be acknowledged, it is negligent to give praise to the network without also voicing at what costs to the students these results derive from.

From 5th to 12th grade, I attended Uncommon Schools and experienced first-hand what it is like to attend their charter schools. While they were helpful in a myriad of ways and did ultimately help lead me down a path to college,  I cannot help but feel spiteful by the way me and my fellow students were treated sometimes. In many ways, families and students alike were convinced that the tactics used by the network were what made the students successful, and that they were a “necessary evil” in order to best be prepared for college and beyond. But now, as a junior in college, and after reflecting on my own schooling experiences and those of my peers, I am realizing how hurtful, arguably traumatic, the rules and regulations of the Uncommon schools actually were. Even when intentions are well, the experiences of students are a true reflection of the outcome of such policies. As much as this is a personal narrative of my time navigating through the Uncommon school system, it is also a scholarly work examining the underlying tactics used by no excuse charter schools such as Uncommon.

Uncommon Schools was first realized with the creation of North Star Academy Charter School In 1997, located in Newark, New Jersey. As it quickly became a successful school for neighborhood students, Uncommon Schools officially became a charter management organization focused on helping low-income students of color in 2005. Since then, they have expanded to own and operate 52 schools in New England, with most schools located in New York (About Us). Overtime, while their stated mission has sounded pragmatic and beneficial to students, the student experience has not lived up to its ideals.

As mentioned, Uncommon Schools is a non-profit organization that intentionally operates schools in urban, low-income areas. Joan Goodman, author, researcher and professor at UPenn, in her essay Charter Management Organizations and the Regulated Environment: Is It Worth the Price? describes these schools as charter management organizations (CMOs). CMOs like Uncommon are characterized by a highly rule-ordered and regulated environment, which is part of what begins to foster negative sentiment among students (89). During my time in the school, students had to follow a demerit and merit based system, a strict system aimed at controlling student behavior. Students received infractions for low-level incidents, such as picking up their pencil, for having an untucked uniform or for being in the bathroom for more than 5 minutes. Students were demanded to walk in straight, silent, single-file lines with their hands clasped to their sides, and  learned to merely accept the rules rather than understand them, and to always be cognizant of adult expectations. Goodman describes these policies as following the broken windows theory, which claims that in order to avoid escalated sanctions or misdemeanors, schools must police the very small, harmless infractions (92). Many of the behaviors stated above, while not necessarily wrong or damaging to the student themselves or their peers, still require policing in so that students can avoid larger issues. (93). In doing so, students rightfully felt confined to a small and specific set of actions they could engage in. Sometimes, they would intentionally “test the waters”, or engage in activities unknown to their teachers, in hopes of expanding their limited set of acceptable actions. This still happens today and will continue to because high school students are young adults just beginning to navigate the world on their own. As restrictions grow, so will students attempt to challenge them.

To reiterate, the Uncommon Schools mission statement is very positive and hopeful in its outlook on the student experience. Under the Student Experience section on their website, It states that they “set high standards for character and academics, while creating joyful classrooms where students can discover new interests and develop their identities”. This idealistic description of the school network simply does not transfer over to the classroom. Students, who as discussed, often have to resist their instinctual emotions in the classroom or be faced with harsh consequences, often take to social media to express their frustrations. At Uncommon Charter High School, the high school I attended, a “Class of 2016” Facebook group page was created for students of the class to communicate and speak directly to each other about anything. Started in 2013, it was a space where we vented to each other privately to express mutual frustration about our schooling experience.

One student writes, “my dad asked me y I got a demerit I said b/c I was chewing gum. He said it seems like I don’t care. Then I thought to myself, I really don’t care”. Here, it is clear that this student has grown so tired of the rules at Uncommon that he has stopped trying to follow them. Another student shares similar sentiment when he writes “I get suspended every week”. In another post a few weeks later, the same student wrote “off punishment, feel like I’ve been living In a cave”. Posts like these shed some light on how students going through an Uncommon school described their experience, and from what I remember, this sentiment was shared by most students. During times when we were truly fed up, we organized. At one point, it is evident that students had had enough with the rules of the schools and were planning to make demands. One student wrote, and others shared and reposted:


“Given the recent changes made in UCHS this year we the movement of Student Voice ask you guys to join in helping to bring back remastery, better school lunches, improve the student teacher respect more by understanding students before handing out consequences, lengthen lunch periods to be used as more socializing time and for longer office hours or even more office hours in one lunch period. We Ask for each and everyone of you show your support by on Tuesday wearing a shirt that says “#studentvoice”, spread the word, tell your friends tell your parents let everyone know that we students of UCHS want better for our school because if we don’t stand up and demand these changes nothing will be done. So please show support this Tuesday.”


Messages like these prove that not only were students not experiencing the Uncommon mission as stated, but they were actively trying to change the tactics used to get there. In moments of deeply held and mutual vexation, students were adamant about changing the status quo. The quote “improve the teacher respect more by understanding students before handing out consequences” continues to be a constant theme among students and demonstrates the disconnect between the networks mission and the student experience.

While there are few documented sources of the negative views that students who attended an uncommon school held, the network has found themselves at the center of controversy in the news. A 2013 PIX 11 News article entitled “Students Treated like Prisoners? Parents Complain Charter School Goes Too Far with New Disciplinary Program” exposes some of the hard-line disciplinary actions that are commonplace at these charter schools. It discusses Excellence Boys Charter School, a Kindergarten through 8th grade all boys Uncommon charter school and a new policy they implemented at the school. In a memo to parents about these new changes, the school explained that they, “would allow students to earn—or lose—achievement points, based on their behavior. Starting each school week with 50 points, any student left with 0 or less points by week’s end would be subject to five days of detention–and designated ‘Out of the Brotherhood’.  This means they would be placed in a separate room for breakfast and lunch—and ordered to wear a light green Polo shirt, instead of the blue Oxford shirt boys in the Middle Academy typically wear as part of their uniform. Other scholars, as the school refers to students, would not be able to interact with the disciplined boys.”This form of designation, a sort of a playbook out of The Scarlet Letter, demonstrates a growing rift between what the network’s mission states and what the students are experiencing. To be deemed “Out of the Brotherhood” at an all boys, majority black school is disrespectful at the least and is clearly damaging to the student. One parent who was asked what they thought about the new policy says “It doesn’t promote excellence. What it promotes are feelings of inferiority….feelings of shame. What about the focus on academic points in Math and Science?” Another parent added, “If the end result is making a child feel like an outcast, that I don’t agree with. Making that child an outcast could make that boy withdraw from the other students.”

Even with the concerns, the school vehemently defended its policies. Samantha Tweedy, head of the school said that, “The lion’s share  of those adjustments have been incredibly well received by the school community,” she continued. “What we’re doing here is about getting our kids to college.”

The college argument is by far what frustrated students the most. Since none of us had experienced college before, we entrusted our teachers with showing us how college was like, and often dealt with these policies assuming they would be reminiscent of college life. But as we navigate college now, we are left to wonder: where is the no gum policy? Where is the bathroom rule? While obviously rhetorical, the idea that restrictive and harsh policies are what prepare students for college is counter intuitive. At college, students are generally free to do what they want. Their is a newfound freedom that comes with being able to choose your courses, what clubs you get involved in, and however else one decides to include in their college career. Micromanaging students is such a way is not only not reflective of the realities of college, but it can detrimental to students who are used to be told what to do all the time.

The Uncommon Schools charter school network officially began in 2005 with the goal of getting low-income, students of color to and through college. The networks mission, while admirable, is not what students are actually experiencing in the classroom. During their time in the network, students are required to perform in restrictive ways in order to succeed and avoid getting into trouble. This is on account of zero-tolerance policies and as noted by Goodman, the theory of broken windows. Between these two methods of discipline and many other arbitrary tactics, Uncommon’s success is marred by the reality of the true student experience. As an alumni, I wanted to be able to recount my time at the network and relay the experiences of my peers as honest and sincere as possible. While I will forever be appreciative of my education and of the opportunities that were afforded to me at Uncommon, I will never be able to forget the unnecessary hard-line rules that I had no choice but to endure. 

                                                           Works Cited

Goodman, J. F. (2013). Charter Management Organizations and the Regulated Environment: Is It Worth the Price? Educational Researcher, 42(2), 89–96.

“Homepage.” Uncommon Schools,

“Students Treated like Prisoners? Parents Complain Charter School Goes Too Far with New Disciplinary Program.” WPIX 11 New York, 30 Jan. 2013,

“The Student Experience.” Uncommon Schools,

“UCHS Class of 2016.” Facebook,

“Uncommon Schools.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 19 June 2018,

Word Blindness to Dyslexia

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Dyslexia is a common learning disability amongst people in the United States as well as throughout the world. Initially called word-blindness, “those with dyslexia struggle to break words down into their smallest constituent parts, making language learning an arduous process.”[1]Dyslexia is has been discovered to be immensely common among children in America; dyslexia is estimated to affect 7-12% of children in the U.S.[2]The relatively high frequency of this learning disability, as well as the somewhat paradoxical nature of its symptoms, has made the understanding of dyslexia an important and challenging area of research. The long history of dyslexia shows us that it was first recognized 150 years ago, and the medical community has continued to debate this condition over time. To better understand this process, this essay asks:When did experts first define dyslexia, and how have their definitions and diagnostic tests for dyslexia evolved over time?

I argue that, since its discovery less than 150 years ago, the definition of dyslexia has taken a deeper and more nuanced understanding. Early experts found themselves struggling to distinguish the problem at hand as they could not find anything wrong with many of their patient’s vision abilities. Additionally, early researchers grappled with separating their patient’s difficulties from other medical conditions such as brain trauma or brain lesions. Dyslexia was first discovered in 1877 by German neurologist Adolf Kussmaul who observed the phenomenon of word-blindness amongst people who struggled with deciphering text and reading words in the correct order effectively[3]. Nearly a decade later an ophthalmologist named Rudolf Berlin coined the term “dyslexia”. The word dyslexia is derived from the Greek word that stands for “difficulty with words.”[4]Berlin used the term as an explanation for the case of a young boy who had severe impairments in reading and writing despite exhibiting normal intellectual abilities. Concurrently, James Hinshelwood, James Kerr, and William Pringle Morgan examined word blindness beyond the isolated symptom but specifically studied cases involving children. This work involving children was an essential step in the study of dyslexia because it removed other potential explanatory variables, such as brain trauma or neglect.[5]

Rudolf Berlin’s study of dyslexia involved many different case studies, investigating the reading abilities of several different patients. “Herr B.”, 66 years old, was Berlin’s first patient and complained of struggling to read which caused him to have difficulty with being efficient at is job as a civil servant.[6]In the text “Bulletin of the Orton Society,” author R.F. Wagner summarizes Berlin’s observations, “’Herr B.’ was able to read the first few words, then stopped and complained that he could not go on with reading. Physical examination revealed that vision was quite normal…he simply could not go on reading.”[7]This first study was puzzling to Berlin as he could not find any issues with the vision of “Herr B.” but it was evident that there was something that was hindering his ability to complete his reading of the text. Following Berlin’s initial study, he continued to collect data from several other case studies of the course of 23 years. Throughout his studies, Berlin observed a similar trend amongst his patients “their reading halted abruptly after three to five words, read aloud or silently.”[8]Berlin is described to believe that his patients were suffering from brain lesions which resulted in their inability to read. Although Berlin’s claim has been disproved, his initial studies caused interest for other scientists to look deeper into this disability.

Since Berlin’s initial findings, defining dyslexia has become far more specific and not all dyslexic individuals necessarily have the same diagnosis. Experts have broken dyslexia into several different branches, each one focused upon a specific issue associated with ability to read and analyze text. The most common type of dyslexia is phonological. People with this learning disability exhibit a disconnect between sounds of language and their written equivalent. This leads to difficulty in sounding out words. Surface dyslexia is another form of dyslexia that involves an individual’s ability to recognize and remember words. Decoding abilities becomes the main factor in this specific diagnosis. This disability causes individuals to struggle with remembering how words sound when spoken or are spelled because their spelling does not necessarily match the way they sound. Some examples of words that people who have surface dyslexia may struggle with are “know,” or “gnat” because they are not spelled the way they sound due to the combination of consonants. Words such as, “red,” or “cat” are easier to read because when spoken, they sound exactly as they are spelled.

Other types of dyslexia include, visual dyslexia, rapid naming deficit, and double deficit dyslexia. Visual dyslexia is often related to similar aspects of surface dyslexia when students struggle to identify words just by looking at them. The reasoning behind visual dyslexia is the assumption that children simply cannot recall what the word should look like and therefore cannot recognize it by sight. Rapid naming deficit also affects one’s ability to identify words and can be defined as one’s inability or difficulty in identifying a word immediately. Those who exhibit signs of rapid naming deficit typically cannot remember the meaning of the word right away, it typically will take the individual longer to come to an answer. Although it is more common for children to be diagnosed with only one form of dyslexia, double deficit dyslexia occurs when a patient exhibits the characteristics of someone who has phonological but also rapid naming deficit dyslexia.[9]

In comparison to Berlin’s initial evaluations, today’s methods continue to be more advanced and a longer, more efficient process. It is necessary to consider the patient’s current age and how their abilities have evolved over the course of their life thus far. According to the International Dyslexia Association, “the profile of strengths and weaknesses of an individual with dyslexia varies with age, educational opportunity and the influence of co-occurring factors such as emotional adjustment, ability to pay attention in learning situations, difficulties with health or motivation.”[10]Taking all of these factors into consideration, it becomes evident that including this information alone demonstrates how far the evaluation and diagnosing of dyslexia has come.
Starting from solely evaluating one’s efficiency in reading text, testing and investigating one’s abilities has come a long way since Berlin. Diagnosing dyslexia today requires a very thorough investigation of the patient and their current abilities. Research in the following areas are considered very common during today’s testing: family History and early development, early childhood and primary school grades, as well as middle and secondary school.[11]Granted, it is dependent upon where the patient is currently at development wise when it comes to evaluating these different points in his or her life. Each of these points in development search for specific areas of efficiency that tend to result in the development of dyslexia. Family history and early development search for family related impact such as family history in trouble with reading but also take a look at prenatal treatment as well as if there were any notable delays during the patient’s development of speech. The evaluation of the patient’s first experiences with developing speech are tied included in “difficulty with rhyming, blending sounds, learning the alphabet (and) linking letters with sounds.”[12]This point in development is more closely related to early childhood specifically in children that are in pre-kindergarten and kindergarten. Children who are dyslexic may demonstrate a heightened ability in listening comprehension in comparison to reading comprehension. As patients become older, early to late teens, other areas of research are considered during evaluation. Identified problems are more clear and easier to identify as dyslexic children at this age tend to be, “reluctant readers…slow, word-by-word readers…very poor spellers…may have the tendency to mispronounce common words…weak vocabulary knowledge and use;”[13]additionally, children at this age continue to be superior in listening abilities in comparison to their reading comprehension. Breaking down a patient’s development in this way allows experts to pinpoint specific signs that are relative to particular points.

The patient is questioned about his or her background including family history and testing his or her level of intellectual ability (IQ). Additionally, experts must conduct observations, interviews of the patient, parents and educators as well as distribute a series of testing. It is important to understand what kind of behaviors a student is exhibiting and why testing might be necessary. According to the International Dyslexia Association, the current dyslexia test studies the patient’s oral language skills, word recognition, decoding, spelling etc.  Investigating a patient’s oral language skills is seen as one of the first steps to determining if a child should be tested for dyslexia. Individuals may exhibit strong efficiency in oral skills but cannot perform at the same high level in their writing or reading skills. Individuals who experience these challenges are typically suggested to go through with further testing. Word recognition, decoding and spelling focus on a patient’s ability to read and work through printed texts. Those who have dyslexia will struggle with remembering the definition of a word when it is listed alone without any context that may act as a clue to the patient. Spelling and word decoding involve breaking down words into groups in order to understand the combinations of letters and what kind of sounds these combinations make when spoken.[14]
Dyslexia is immensely common amongst children throughout the world. Children in the United States experience the setbacks of this learning disability and it is important that the best methods are available to these individuals so they can be given the accommodations necessary to perform well in everyday life. Initially called word-blindness, the evolution of defining dyslexia and what factors play into it have come a long way in its 150-year history. The commonality of this disability is what provoked my research in analyzing the evolution of dyslexia.

Reference List:

Kirby, P. (2018). WHAT’S IN A NAME? “Word blindness” was a recognised condition more than a century ago. But it was not until the 1970s that it began to be accepted by the medical establishment. History Today, 68(2), 50. Retrieved from,ip,uid&db=ahl&AN=127141509&site=ehost-live&scope=site

Sawyer, Diane J., Jones, Karen M. (2018) “Testing and Evaluation” International Dyslexia Association.

4.    Wagner, R.F. Bulletin of the Orton Society (1973) 23: 57.


[1]Kirby, P. (2018). WHAT’S IN A NAME? “Word blindness” was a recognised condition more than a century ago. But it was not until the 1970s that it began to be accepted by the medical establishment. History Today, 68(2), 50. Retrieved from,ip,uid&db=ahl&AN=127141509&site=ehost-live&scope=site
[2]Kirby, P. (2018). WHAT’S IN A NAME? 50.
[6]Wagner, R.F. Bulletin of the Orton Society (1973) 23: 57.
[7]Wagner, R.F. Bulletin of the Orton Society (1973) 23: 60.
[8]Wagner, R.F. Bulletin of the Orton Society (1973) 23: 61.
[10]Sawyer, Diane J., Jones, Karen M. (2018) “Testing and Evaluation” International Dyslexia Association.
[11]Sawyer, Diane J., Jones, Karen M. (2018) “Testing and Evaluation” International Dyslexia Association.
[12]Sawyer, Diane J., Jones, Karen M. (2018) “Testing and Evaluation” International Dyslexia Association.
[13]Sawyer, Diane J., Jones, Karen M. (2018) “Testing and Evaluation” International Dyslexia Association.
[14]Sawyer, Diane J., Jones, Karen M. (2018) “Testing and Evaluation” International Dyslexia Association.

The Evolution of Gender Inequality At Trinity College: A Study Through Different Publications

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Throughout the course of history, women’s roles in society have been questioned and changing. Many universities started as male-only institutions. Later, some colleges decided to go coed, introducing women into a male-dominated atmosphere. This dynamic, especially at Trinity College, brings about questions of how Trinity women have expressed views about gender inequalities at different points since the 1970s, and if the issues they raised vary by type of publication. It also brings about the debate of whether social attitudes of sexism are as resolved as they can be or if an attitude of sexism still exists. The issues women talk about and the types of issues they talk about are important to identifying culture and the change in culture. Understanding how inequality changes and the way it is resolved is important to solving issues that still exist, and issues that may arise in the future. Different sources present variations in the extent to which problems are discussed, the detail provided, and insights to how gender inequality affects different groups on campus. By evaluating these different sources to gain a comprehensive understanding of gender inequality issues, and acknowledging the differences between the sources, this essay argues that the progression of time reveals a shift in themes of gender inequality, but a general attitude of sexism and male superiority prevails throughout.

According to the Noreen Channels Alumnae Survey, common complaints in the 1970s and 1980s were the lack of opportunities for women to bond with professors and equally thrive in an academic setting, and an overall attitude that women were intellectually inferior to men. Coeducation at Trinity College was introduced in 1969, making 1989 the twenty year anniversary. This survey was conducted in the spring of 1990, taking responses from approximately 990 Trinity alumnae women who were students between 1972 and 1989. In the section about social life at Trinity, female students commented that there was a type of bond between the male students and faculty that extended outside the classroom. This type of connection and opportunity did not exist for women because they were unable to make as close of a connection with their professors. Outside of the classroom, women noted that a sort of ‘traditional’ culture still existed in small things like girls waiting to be asked to dance at dances. This culture of women as primarily visual objects with intelligence as a secondary concern is shown where one student noted that the first issue the women’s group dealt with was better lighting in the locker room for makeup (Channels 5). The general attitude was still as though males did not yet view women as equals, as some resented a coed campus, and were amazed when women spoke in class. Male students saw the female students as “girlfriends and tutors — not colleagues or partners” (Channels 6). Some women noted males viewed women in a physical manner rather than intellectual or emotional capacity. There were a couple comments of how women were generally ‘ugly’ at Trinity, contributing to the idea of not focusing on women’s intellectual capability. One female alumni from the class of ‘73 noted that “I discovered that coeducation was a myth. At that time, Trinity was still a men’s institution, with some women in attendance” (Channels 4). Overall, there were female students who found their husbands at Trinity, met great lifelong friends (male and female), and felt satisfied with their education. However, many also felt the social barriers between men and women, the social opportunities for men, the recurring theme that men saw women as objects where very few kept long-term relationships, and the male superiority complex persisted in the classroom and beyond. As time went on from academic concerns in the 70s, to the late 80s more female students commented that academic discrimination deteriorated. However, the social differences and prevailing sexist attitudes were still relevant and clear to Trinity campus culture.

In a Trinity Tripod issue from 1993 entitled “Students Demand ‘Mutual Respect… Without Bias’” by Suzzane Fallender, students rallied in the cause of many issues regarding the students’ voices not being heard. One of these includes an issue of gender inequality where Leana Schusheim ’93, “challenged the process where professors who have been accused of sexual harassment have been tenured as well as the college’s mandating coeducation since ‘it’s like saying that women don’t need organizations to support them against issues specific to them because there’s still a need for support’” (Fallender). The Dean of the Faculty at the time, Jan Cohn, replied to the students saying, “‘students have to stop being confidential. There’s no reason students can’t come to me’” and that the administration was unaware of many of the issues raised (Fallender). In the demand of having two students having voting power on the board of trustees, the Chairman of the time, Chairman Koeppel, said that he “did not see them receiving any more than observer status, ‘but you can never judge how the board will turn out’” (Fallender). This statement does not make it seem like there would be much action. Another statement that holds this same sentiment is the statement of President Gerery who says that this is just a matter of “let’s talk it through” (Fallender). However, today’s understanding of sexual assault factors in an entire culture change and more in depth investigations rather than simple case of discussion. This article goes on to explain the administration was hearing the students’ complaints and was increasingly aware of this. As much as it explains the efforts on the part of the administration to hear students out, it does not mention the specific, tangible ways in which the administration planned to address this. Here in 1993, the lack of action and care taken towards concerns of the gender inequality issue of sexual assault is clear. After reading this this article, readers must ask if Jan Cohn really had no idea such complaints were happening. Readers must also question what change was actually made after this article, what was biased, what was censored, and what the actual victim of this sexual assault had to say in her side of the situation. This minimization of claims and prevalence of gender inequality claims was relevant even in the public article of the Tripod.

Ten years later in 2003, Dean Winer’s Psychology at Trinity in Literature and Life reflects on campus culture and cites common problems he himself had heard from Trinity women. One of the main social issues he discusses involves the social climate at Trinity. Winer explains that many women expressed concerns in terms of relationships. An example he states is that “major complaints by female students over many years [was] related to the problem of ‘hooking up’. For many, if not most women, sharing sexual intimacies with males brought particular difficulties when the assumptions about relationships between both parties were, in fact, not communicated but were often at variance between the man and the woman” (Winer). This continues concerns of sexual harassment. However, this does not mention issues with professors, changing from faculty to discussing social culture and issues between students. He notes that “we had a lot to do including, as examples, confronting the issues of sexual harassment and assault, having appreciation for women in student and faculty leadership roles, recognizing subgroups of women within the student body, such as women of color, and establishing the ambiance of a fully coeducational institution, not a men’s college with some women present” (Winer). This statement almost exactly connects to the statement made by an alumni in the Noreen Channels Survey that commented “Trinity was still a men’s institution, with some women in attendance” (Channels 4). Here as opposed to 1993, there is a change in the way the administration reacts to these claims and issues, and an recognition of gender inequality problems that exist outside of academic situations, including subgroups such as women of color within the category of women in general. This is especially important as this statement is made by a member of administration, and therefore these issues are being recognized by more than students and those involved in the Trinity Tripod.

Seven years later, a 2010 survey by James Hughes explores responses from 206 women and their experiences at Trinity. This survey includes data along with first hand accounts from female students in 2010, compared with a 1990 survey of alumni. Hughes’ survey includes comments on the social climate at Trinity, and the prevailing attitude of sexism. One student recalls that she was sprayed with beer “after refusing to have sex with a hall brother” (Hughes). Another explains that “If you hint at the idea that you’d like to make friends without taking your clothes off, you will quickly be ignored” (Hughes). These sentiments go along with the consistent mentality that women are sexual objects, and here, should be punished in some way for not going along with a man’s desires. This also creates a power dynamic that is consistently seen throughout attitudes at Trinity. It is clear women see this dynamic as 92% of women in the 2010 survey rated “issues of sexual assault, sexual harassment, and date rape” and “being considered equal to men inside and outside the classroom” as important issues to them, increasing from 59% and 76% importance in the 1990 survey (Hughes). The evidence shows that this increase in awareness of what counts as sexual assault and revealing who it has affected has heightened the importance to today. This shift from more basic autonomy and equality with rights and education to social issues and personal safety is shown as the most important issues in 1990 are 83% “contraceptive and reproductive rights,” 82% “employment and educational discrimination,” and 77% “learning to handle the changing roles of men and women” (Hughes). Furthermore, in all seven categories tested, the percent of alumni who recognized discrimination increased since they were in school. This supports the idea that women are becoming more aware of the discriminatory practices and that exist, and still prevail. These attitudes of superiority are ones seen in previous sources including the Noreen Channels survey and Tripod articles.

In 2011, Bryan Weeden discusses issues of sexism in his Trinity Tripod article entitled “Hold the Entire Community Responsible for Bigoted Acts.” He explains his opposition in the wording of administrations statements saying:

“Yet when the administration uses words like “incidents,” we as a student body are led to believe that they are isolated; that these examples of blatant racism, sexism, and homophobia are in no way indicative of a larger issue. I fervently disagree with this notion. […] It is easy to pretend that racism, sexism, and homophobia do not exist on our campus when one does not have to live with their effects everyday; unfortunately, not all Trinity students have that luxury. […] Trinity needs to stop building a culture of acceptance that allows these injustices to pass almost unnoticed. We need to feel this as a community and not just as individuals” (Weeden).

This article expresses strong opinions against the administration’s apathy, progressing from the student who recalled an insensitive Tripod account of her sexual assault in the 1970s. This student recalled that after “getting sexually assaulted in a shower at Trinity” and that she vividly “remember[s] the incident as well as the Tripod writing insensitivity to describing it” (Channels). This is important to note that while the Tripod articles sometimes provide a representative attitude, they can also leave out the severity of different situations. In this way, surveys as opposed to publications may be more revealing. This article, however, appears to be true to the campus climate and reveals the consistent attitudes of superiority that are not just isolated to ‘incidents’ as the administration may make it seem.

As seen through variations in different publications, different sources present insights into how gender inequality affects women at Trinity. In looking at these sources to gain a full view of gender inequality issues, these sources show that there is a consistent attitude of sexism and male superiority despite the shift in themes of gender inequality issues.


Channels, Noreen L. (1990): Survey of the Trinity College Alumnae. (Available at the Watkinson Library).

Fallender, Suzzane. “Students Demand ‘Mutual Respect… Without Bias’.” Trinity Tripod, 23 Mar. 1993,

Hughes, James (2010): 2010 Survey of Female Students at Trinity College. Available at:

Weeden, Bryan. “Hold the Entire Community Responsible for Bigoted Acts.” Trinity Tripod, 26 Apr. 2011,

Winer, David. “The Transition from an All Male to a Coeducational College: A Dean’s Reflection.” Psychology at Trinity in Literature and Life, 2003, 2003-2.pdf.


Higher Education for Dreamers After the Failed DREAM Act

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Dreamers have been used as chess pieces by political parties for years in order to gain the vote of Latinos during elections. However, these promises have never been fulfilled and instead the lives of undocumented youth seeking higher education have been displaced by the lack of congressional action to pass legislation to help them legalize their status. The Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act, or the DREAM Act as it is commonly known as, was a relief that was aimed at providing undocumented minors with a pathway to permanent residency, thus allowing them to receive a higher education. The DREAM Act was first introduced to Congress in 2001 and has since been introduced several times in the following years but has never been passed. In 2001, the bill was introduced in three different occasions with some amendments to each new bill, however all three versions were missing few, key votes to pass. The term Dreamers arose in an effort to categorize undocumented youth who were were brought to the U.S. at a young age. It also stemmed from the idea of the American Dream which has led to the mass migration of immigrants and their children to the US seeking a better life and greater opportunities. This term has been adopted by undocumented youth and has consistently been used by politicians. In 2006, The Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act, which included the DREAM Act, failed to pass in the Senate and thus died as both houses were unable to reach an agreement on the bill. 2006 was also witness to the largest protests in favor of a comprehensive immigration reform and changed the way immigration was discussed. Given that there was almost a Republican-Democrat compromise in 2006, how have states such as Arizona and New York grown further apart in their laws regarding Dreamers’ access to higher education?

Overall, given the shift that has been driven by the increasing political polarization, the loss of seats of moderate Republicans who were willing to reach a deal with Democrats, as well as the stalemate in DC, states’ policies have become stronger in a political vacuum.

Although Americans as a whole voted for more Democratic representatives in the 2006 elections, individual states, like Arizona, pushed back against this change in ideals and instead pushed for more stringent anti-immigrant laws. The 2006 elections led to a flip from a Republican-controlled Congress to a Democrat-controlled Congress. This came after increasing disapproval of President Bush’s response to Hurricane Katrina and the U.S.’s involvement in Iraq. In the 2006 election ballots, Arizona citizens voted to pass Proposition 300, a law which barred undocumented youth from being eligible for in-state tuition at institutions of higher education. In the first eight months since Proposition 300 passed, nearly 5,000 people were barred from receiving in-state tuition (McKinley), state-based financial aid, and rejected from adult-education classes. These numbers only reflect those who were officially denied, however it is not possible to measure the thousands of others who were discouraged from even applying to colleges and these programs as they knew they would be rejected. In their research, Ryan Evely Gildersleeve and Susana Hernandez came to the conclusion that “tuition policies have a positive and significant effect on the college-enrollment rates of undocumented Latino students living in states with [in-state resident tuition] policies” (Evely Gildersleeve and Hernandez, 12). Furthermore, they write in their paper that in a study conducted on undocumented Mexican youth who had access to in-state tuition rates, there was a “2.5% increase in college enrollment, a 3.7% increase in the proportion of students who [had] some level of college education, and a 1.3% increase in the proportion of students with an associate degree” (Evely Gildersleeve and Hernandez, 13). This demonstrates the devastating effects laws like Proposition 300 have on the ability undocumented students have on achieving a higher education, creating a better social capital for themselves and their community, as well as creating political power and increasing their political representation. Proposition 300 pushed many Dreamers to come out of the shadows in an effort to organize to fight for the DREAM Act and a comprehensive immigration reform.

Proposition 300 continues to be present in Arizona twelve years later, the law was never repealed, and its effects continue to be widely present today. In 2018, the Arizona Supreme Court came to the conclusion that undocumented youth were not eligible for in-state tuition despite having DACA and meeting other residency requirements (Schmidt). Students who were already enrolled in college with DACA witnessed their tuition double and triple overnight with the court’s decision. Before DACA, Dreamers around the country were halted in their career prospects after graduating from college because, without a social security number they were unable to be hired. Instead, the majority had to resort to entering the workplace as blue collar workers in the construction and restaurant industry. DACA gave undocumented youth social security numbers which permitted them to seek jobs that fit their career prospects and their college education, which in many cases went beyond society’s norm of who an undocumented immigrant is and their prospective abilities. Despite DACA being seen as a relief to help Dreamers attending institutions of higher education, among other things, states like Arizona who consistently resist regulations that favor undocumented immigrants found a way to minimize the possible benefits DACA could have for Dreamers.

Among other steps taken by Arizona’s Congress to intimidate undocumented immigrants, the passing of S.B.1070 in 2010 was a law that brought further fear to the undocumented community. S.B.1070 was condemned by immigrant rights organizations, human rights organizations, and other organizations for legalizing the racial profiling of minorities, in particular of Latinos. S.B.1070 heightened the fear Dreamers, and undocumented immigrants, faced when they went about their daily lives. The effect this had on Dreamers seeking to complete a higher education began when they were attending elementary school, middle school, and high school and continued as they tried to enroll in college. Enrollment rates at schools harshly dropped because of this, and as a result hundreds of families moved away due to fear of this law. Not only this but undocumented students faced decreased grades as a result of the emotional trauma they were undergoing. This trauma paired with the inability to attend institutions of higher education systematically kept Dreamers as underclass citizens without any ability to achieve social, political, and economic mobility.

On the other hand, New York, as a state in general, has prided itself for remaining on the more liberal end of the political spectrum in terms of immigration policy. Though many parts of upstate New York tend to lean more conservatively, New York City is a mecca for different groups of people hailing from all of over the world. New York City became a sanctuary city in 1989 and reaffirmed its stance on protecting undocumented immigrants in 2016 with the city council passing a resolution to continue to make New York a sanctuary city (Fougere). The state of New York has opened up various services to undocumented immigrants, which in other states like Arizona might not be available. Since 2001(Dale) in-state tuition prices for undocumented immigrants who apply to public colleges or universities in New York have been available. Yet, despite having in-state tuition fees available to Dreamers, Dreamers were not eligible for state financial aid or for most state scholarships. The financial issue that attending college presents was thus not solved with simply having in-state tuition and Dreamers were left to find outside scholarships.

Due to the stalemate in Washington, Dreamers fought for six years for the DREAM Act to pass in the New York Senate to help alleviate the costs of receiving a higher education. On January 23rd, 2019 the New York State Senate passed the Jose Peralta New York State DREAM Act. The law seeks to “allow undocumented children, who are already students in New York State, [the] ability to qualify for state aid for higher education, create a Dream Fund for college scholarship opportunities and remove barriers that prevent undocumented families from college saving programs”. New York joins eighteen other states that have passed similar laws to allow undocumented immigrants to have greater and facilitated access to a higher education.

Policy changes like the Jose Peralta New York State DREAM Act demonstrate the pushback against the now ultra conservative federal administration. Similarly to Proposition 300, the Jose Peralta New York State DREAM Act is a defiant act to protest the current administration in power. Though both laws serve as a form of defiance, their end goal and consequential effects were very different. The discussion surrounding Dreamers has always been very controversial with both sides of the argument having strong feelings. Sympathizers of Proposition 300, argue that Arizona and the federal government, as a whole, should not be responsible for helping lower the costs of a higher education for youth who are not U.S. citizens. However, proponents of the DREAM Act argue that Dreamers that were brought to the U.S. at a young age have grown up in this country and rather than being foreigners they are just as American as everyone else. The only thing differentiating them from other “Americans” is a piece of paper granting them citizenship. Furthermore, this begs the question of what it means to be American, who is seen as deserving of a quality education, as well as who determines these things.

The conversation surrounding immigration and Dreamers is inherently linked to the perpetuation of systemic racism, xenophobia, classism, and sexism. The continued criminalization of Dreamers, and immigrants in general, has strong ties to xenophobia and racism. Throughout U.S. history there has always been an “other” that society has feared. Whether it were Jews, Germans, Polish, Italian, or Irish immigrants fleeing religious persecution or simply seeking the American Dream, upon arriving to this country they were seen and treated as outsiders. However, as a new wave of different immigrants arrived, the former were accepted into American society and adopted as such. The difference between those European immigrants and Latinos, which make up the largest percentage of immigrants today, is that Latinos do not fit into the Western, colonialistic perception of a deserving person. Consequently, they are criminalized for simply existing and working hard to keep the U.S. running.

Overall, the issues surrounding Dreamers and their access to higher education will always be present in American society. Americans have grown further torn in this issue as demonstrated by the continued stalemate in Washington. States have created their own policies that mirror the opinions of the majority of the constituents that have voting power in their states. The results of these policies as shown have can either have devastating effects or help Dreamers uplift themselves and their communities. This issue simply brings to light the greater issue of immigration, the criminalization of immigrants, as well as the concerning growth of the lack of bipartisanship.



  1. McKinley, Jesse. “Arizona Law Takes a Toll on Nonresident Students.” NY Times, January 27, 2008. Accessed April 29, 2019.
  2. “Academic Benefits Denied to 5,000 Illegal Immigrants in Arizona, Report Says,.” The Chronicle of Higher Education, August 2, 2007.
  3. Hernandez, Susana, and Ryan Evely Gildersleeve. “Undocumented Students in American Higher Education.” PhD diss., Iowa State University and University of Denver, 2012. August 13, 2012. Accessed May 1, 2019. hernandez – undocumented students.pdf.
  4. Schmidt, Samantha. “‘Dreamers’ in Arizona Are No Longer Eligible for In-state Tuition, Court Rules.” The Washington Post, April 10, 2018. Accessed May 2, 2019.
  5. LEFT BACK: The Impact of SB 1070 on Arizona’s Youth. Southwest Institute for Research on Women, College of Social and Behavioral Sciences Bacon Immigration Law and Policy Program, James E. Rogers College of Law. The University of Arizona. September 2011. Accessed May 1, 2019. Report.pdf.
  6. Fougere, Debora. “Can New York Remain a Sanctuary City?” Al Jazeera, April 10, 2017. Accessed May 3, 2019.
  7. Dale, Frank. “New York Passes DREAM Act, Becomes 4th-largest State with Financial Aid for Undocumented Immigrants.” Thinkprogress, January 23, 2019. Accessed May 3, 2019.
  8. “Senate Majority Passes The José Peralta New York State DREAM Act.” The New York State Senate. January 23, 2019. Accessed May 3, 2019.

50 Years of ‘Sunny Days’: A Look at the Goals and Effects of “Sesame Street”

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“Do you think television could be used to teach young children?” Lloyd Morrisett asked at a small dinner party in New York City one night in 1968. This is the question that kicked off nearly five decades of ‘sunny days’ for children of all different backgrounds. Joan Ganz Cooney and Lloyd Morrisett put their minds together to figure out a way to use television as a means to teach all children even before they entered school (Davis 2008). Creators knew they had the opportunity to serve “educationally deprived” children, especially during a time of national education need in the late 1960s (Fisch & Truglio, 2014). With this in mind, Ganz Cooney worked on extensive amounts of research regarding educational television in order to propose the idea she felt so passionately about to investors. After giving her convincing pitch and presenting her research, Cooney was able to produce what is now one of the most popular children’s television shows, leaving children everywhere asking “could you tell me how to get to ‘Sesame Street?’” So, what were the goals that Joan Ganz Cooney and other creators envisioned for Sesame Street when it originated in 1969? Has the show benefited children in the way they had hoped since then?

Sesame Street began as a collaboration between an executive of an established corporation with a psychology background and a television producer and visionary who shared similar goals for the advancement of education and cognitive development in children. The expertises of creators combined the idea of television with expanding pre-school learning opportunities. The idea to use television as a medium to teach children was new and exciting because efforts were meant to take place inside homes, where the children already were, instead of at school. Decades later, Sesame Street researchers and reporters  argue that the goals set by creators of the innovative program have been achieved to a great extent.

The story of Sesame Street starts at a quaint dinner party at the Cooney home in New York in 1968. Among the guests were Lloyd Morrisett, Vice President of the Carnegie Corporation, and his wife. Morrisett made mention of how he noticed in his own children a great attraction to the television, even waking in the morning to them staring at transition screens before a program starts. It was from these early morning experiences that he brought up the question of if television could be used to teach children, perhaps even before they start school, to which Joan Ganz Cooney replied that she would certainly like to find out (Davis, 2008). Morrisett knew that the Carnegie Corporation, of which he was the VP,  was showing recent interest in ways to enhance preschoolers’ learning. In particular the Corporation was looking for ways to enhance the learning of children who were at a disadvantage due to low socioeconomic status, so the funding for the new and unknowingly revolutionary idea would not be too difficult to obtain. The thinking that went into creating the idea for an educational TV program for preschoolers went off of the fact that there were new programs and strategies to help disadvantaged students while they were in school, such as Head Start, but what could be done even before they entered school? Using educational television had the ability to serve as an “electronic delivery system” to teach young children things like their ABCs and numbers, which was one of the goals had by creators before the show aired (Davis, 2008). In the book Street Gang: The Complete History of Sesame Street, Michael Davis writes about the original inspiration of Sesame Street and its goals from the start. Morrisett and Cooney wanted to create a medium that would be able to take whatever it was about television that enthralled children so much and use that to the children’s own benefit, to help them prepare for school. The purpose was to be able to reach any and all children in order to bridge a divide that was apparent in the nation in terms of school readiness in young children (Davis, 2008). One of the main goals of Sesame Street was to help children affected by educational inequities that typically were a result of things like race and poverty (Cain, 2017). Starting with the thought-provoking question posed by Morrisett in the late 1960s, goals to reach children before they entered school, inspiring and encouraging them to learn were created.

In an interview with the Archive of American Television in 1998, Joan Ganz Cooney recounts the very beginnings of developing the Children’s Television Workshop and its hit program Sesame Street. She discusses how she worked closely with Lloyd Morrisett and the Carnegie Corporation whose main interest was children’s cognitive development, so with her professional television background and Morrisett’s psychology background as well as his executive position at Carnegie, they were able to eventually create Sesame Street. But before this could happen, Lloyd suggested they put together a study in order to figure out how people would react to an educational television program for their preschoolers to determine whether or not their idea and goals would take off and be effective. Joan Ganz Cooney was sent all across the nation to research this topic to which she came back with loads of information to write a report titled “Potential Uses of Television in Preschool Education.” Joan says in the interview that all of the people she had asked from far and wide were very supportive of the idea of using television to educate young, preschool-aged children, though no one knew if it could be done. Joan argues that point made by the people by saying she knew it could be done because there are kids all over singing commercials, so why couldn’t it be done to teach them something more useful, like the alphabet, in order to prepare them for school. Joan tells the Archive that within her report she suggested something like Sesame Street, as well as something like the Children’s Teaching Workshop. The Carnegie Corporation as well as the commissioner of education at the time showed an interest in the report Joan presented them. It was from a few groups that read and liked the report that the funding to CTW and Sesame Street came about, giving millions of children the opportunity to learn right at home, no matter the background they came from (Cooney, 1998). Ganz Cooney was also quoted in a New York Times article from 1975, a few years after Sesame Street aired, explaining why she felt a program like Sesame Street was needed, “We believed in education then, for particularly preschoolers, it was the right time” (Hecmnger, 1975). In the late sixties Cooney and others felt strongly about addressing educational inequities and decided that using television, which more than 90% of households across the nation had access to, would help to do so. The main goal of Sesame Street was to provide a means of educating children, especially those from areas of low socioeconomic status, before they entered school to give them a better chance in terms of school readiness as well as test performance (Cain, 2017).

In the foreword for the book “G is For Growing” by Fisch and Truglio (2014), Cooney writes about the original goals she had for the show. She says here that the main goal of creating such a program and workshop was simply to use television to help children to learn, particularly children in low-income families. Taking what they already knew about the qualities of television that children were interested in and using that to educate them was the first and foremost goal Cooney set. She says during the late 1960s herself and many others felt it was their responsibility to do their part in making the world a better place, and this was the way they thought they could do so, using television as an educational tool especially for children at a disadvantage. They had high hopes for Sesame Street and The Children’s Teaching Workshop, but could never have imagined the impact they would come to have on children not only across the nation, but eventually across the world, making Sesame Street “the longest street in the world” (Cooney, 2014).

Were the goals set by creators like Joan Ganz Cooney achieved? Were they able to reach children across the nation and did it actually help them once they reached school? Sesame Street researchers and media reporters argue that the program has definitely had an impact on children in not only their education but also socialization. In a 1975 NY Times article titled “‘Sesame Street,’ Child of the Sixties, Faces a New Era,” reporter Grace Hecmnger writes that Sesame Street has in fact had a substantial impact on television, making it a legitimate source for “academic concern and inquiry” (Hecmnger, 1975). The article, written just six years after Sesame Street aired, mentions that Harvard psychologist Jerome Kagan said that the program “telling millions of people that learning itself is important and maybe the youngsters will carry this attitude toward learning with them even when the TV set is off.” Conveying to children that learning is important and providing a means to allow children to use their imagination was one of the goals had my creators, which even just a few years of being on the air, was reported as being achieved. Sesame Street also had an effect on the way preschools and kindergartens taught their students. They were now facing a new era of children, those who had been previously taught, even if it was by a seven-foot tall yellow canary. Even after just a year on TV, a superintendent in a suburban school district told his kindergarten teachers that he expected a portion of the incoming class of five-year-olds to be able to read at a second grade level (Hecmnger, 1975). From only years after its introduction to the world, Sesame Street is shown to have impacted children in a positive way, reaching the goals set by creators in 1969.

Fisch, Truglio, and Cole (1999) wrote a review of the impact Sesame Street had on children thirty years after its creation. In this journal article, a few studies regarding the effects the TV show had on children, specifically on school readiness and performance, were analyzed and discussed. Fisch et al. wrote about a study conducted at the University of Kansas that looked at the impact of Sesame Street on school readiness. The study tracked 250 children from areas of low socioeconomic status ages 3-5 or 4-7, some of whom watched the program and some who did not. Over three years the children were tested in a range of areas. The study concluded that the children who watched Sesame Street spent more time reading and “engaging in educational activities” than the children who did not watch the show. These children that watched the TV show also showed higher test scores in areas like letter-word knowledge, math, vocabulary skills, and school readiness. Long term effects were also found with teachers of these students reporting that the Sesame Street-viewing children were “well adjusted to school.” Fisch et al. also discuss a study conducted by The University of Massachusetts Amherst and the University of Kansas in which high school students who reported watching Sesame Street as a young child were tested and measured to see if the show had any noticable effects in comparison to non-viewers. The results showed that those who did watch as preschoolers had higher test grades in English, Math and Science. These same students also reported having used books more often, showing “higher academic self-esteem” and placing higher value on their education (Fisch et al., 1999). These studies analyzed show just how Sesame Street has had not only an immediate impact on its target audience of three to five-year-olds, but had continued to benefit those who watched further into their high school careers, and hopefully in turn in higher education and the workforce, further achieving the main goals had by Ganz Cooney.

Similarly to studies conducted in the 90s, a study put together in 2015 revealed the same results. Kearney and Levine (2015) wrote of their study in which evidence was shown that Sesame Street-viewing contributed to higher test scores in a randomized group of students. Their large-scale analysis found positive impacts that the show had on school performance of the preschoolers who watched. Kearney and Levine also discuss how academic progress in elementary schools where students typically fell behind grade-level, particularly for students from areas of greater economic disadvantage, is representative of the success of Sesame Street (Kearney & Levine, 2015). Studies like this show how Sesame Street has continued to have a positive impact on children everywhere throughout the years since its creation in the late 1960s, again, achieving the goals mentioned beyond the time period that creators had even imagined.

It is evident that Sesame Street was able to take its goals created in 1968, and executed for the first time in 1969, and apply it to children’s lives for decades after, continuing to this day. Ganz Cooney and Morrisett had hopes to provide a means for millions of children from all different backgrounds to learn and grow right where they already were, perched in front of the television set on Sunday mornings. They knew they had the ability to serve children of all different backgrounds, mainly those from areas of low socioeconomic status and from families in which educational background was not strong. The idea of using television as a means of doing so was revolutionary and set the stage for many other programs to follow in Big Bird’s rather large footsteps. By creating an entertaining and educational television program that is accessible to all preschool age children, The Children’s Television Workshop headed by Joan Ganz Cooney was able to have an outstanding impact on all of its young viewers. The program aided in efforts to create equal opportunity and provide educational resources, which also in turn changed the way preschools and kindergartens across the nation teach their bright students.

Work Cited

Cain, Victoria. 2017. “From Sesame Street to Prime Time School Television: Educational Media in the Wake of the Coleman Report.” History of Education Quarterly 57 (4): 590–601.

Davis, M. (2008). Street gang: The complete history of Sesame Street. Penguin.

Fisch, S. M., & Truglio, R. T. (Eds.). (2014). G is for growing: Thirty years of research on children and Sesame Street. Routledge.

Fisch, S. M., Truglio, R. T., & Cole, C. F. (1999). The impact of Sesame Street on preschool children: A review and synthesis of 30 years’ research. Media Psychology, 1(2), 165-190

Hecmnger, G. (1975, January 15). “Sesame Street” Child of the Sixties, Faces a New Era. New York Times. Retrieved from

Joan Ganz Cooney. (2019, February 22). Retrieved from

Kearney, M. S., & Levine, P. B. (2015). Early childhood education by MOOC: Lessons from Sesame Street (No. w21229). National Bureau of Economic Research.

For-profit Institutions in Higher Education

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Ed 300: Education Reform, Past and Present

Professor Dougherty Jack

Zedong Gao

For-profit Institutions in Higher Education

For-profit colleges refer to educational institutions in higher education operated by private, profit-seeking enterprises. For-profit colleges have flexible course scheduling, career-oriented curricula, and online classes. For people who are unable to complete a heavy four-year college and want to get educated like working adults and part-time students, attending a for-profit college is an option for them. The expansion of for-profit colleges is so rapid that we need to pay attention to its influence. In the 1970s, for-profit institutions attracted plenty of students by using exaggerated advertising about their curriculum and benefit of attending. Their enrollment had boosted for 15 years. However, approximately 40 percent of all for-profit college campuses have closed since 2010 (Dayen, David, 2019). When their business failed, students paid for their failure. Students who attend for-profit institutions have higher student loan default rates (New York Times, 2011). They lost credits, wasted precious time for learning, ending up with no degree and heavy loans. If students fail in for-profit higher education, they are unlikely to achieve social mobility. In order to protect students receive the education they pay for and generate an integrated educational experience for students, it is important to figure out why have some for-profit colleges collapsed (such as Corinthian Colleges) while others continue to operate (such as University of Phoenix), during the past 5-15 years.

Two main aspects explain the decline of Corinthian Colleges and continued operation of the University of Phoenix. The first reason is about the expense of maintaining physical campuses. While Corinthian Colleges operated 111 of colleges among the United States and Canada and continued to build more even when revenues were declining, University of Phoenix only has around fifty campuses and learning sites. The second major reason is about student outcomes. Corinthian Colleges misrepresented students’ learning outcome and fraudulently reported on students’ employed rate after graduation, while students who attended the University of Phoenix had a salary similar to graduates of traditional four-year colleges.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, over two decades, the enrollments of for-profit increased by 225 percent. In 1986, there were only 220 for-profit institutions; however, in 2006, the number of for-profit institutions went up to around 1000. However, the bubble of for-profit colleges collapsed since 2010. Their enrollments declined sharply. In 2010, the Department of Education (DOE) started to evaluate schools with their programs and the outcome of the graduate students based on their employment rate and the loan debt students had. The result was not pretty; hence, DOE released fewer funds aid to for-profit universities (James Ottavio Castagnera, p.240). Most for-profit colleges rely on financial aid and students’ loans, and DOE reported that during 2013 to 2014, around 200 for-profit institutions’ 90% of their revenue came from federal education programs (Jillian, 2016). Because for-profit institutions were invested and received less money from the government, students made fewer loans; as a result, the enrollment of for-profit institutions abridged significantly since between 2010 to 2014.

Table 1 Growth Rate of Degree-Granting FPCUs, 1986-2006

Source: For-profit Colleges and Universities: their markets, regulation, preference, and place in Higher Ed

In this article, I examine Corinthian Colleges and the University of Phoenix in specific. Because these two are super firms in for-profit higher education. To figure out why the former went bankrupt while the latter kept operation, I dig into their revenue from around 2001 to 2015. Corinthian Colleges also refers as Corinthian Colleges, Inc. which is a profit-sinking post-secondary education company, and it announced bankrupt on April 27th, 2015 (Federal Students Aid, 2018). The University of Phoenix is a subsidiary of Apollo Group which is a large equity firm that owns several for-profit institutions. Both companies are public companies. Hence, I am able to find their revenues from the U.S. Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) which is an official website that shows public companies’ financial data. By reading Corinthian Colleges Inc. each year’s annual report on 10-K form from SEC, I collected their revenues from 2001 to 2014. Because Corinthian Colleges went bankrupt in 2015, I am not eligible to collect data in 2015. In the beginning, in 2001, the revenue for Corinthian Colleges was $224,163,000. The growth from 2001 to 2005 was fast. In 2005, the revenue was $928,965,000. The revenue rose more than four times in four years! Then, for Corinthian Colleges, the growth slowed down. In 2010, it reached its peak that the revenue was $1,658,000,000.
Table 2: Revenues of Corinthian and University of Phoenix, 2001-2016

Sources: SEC for Corinthian, University of Phoenix

 In 2013, the revenue was $1,600,205,000. The revenue did not increase anymore and showed a trend to reduce. Although the revenue stayed stable as we can see in Table 2, a return of their stock reflected their issues beneath the revenue. Graph 1 comes from the 10-K annual report in 2012. It shows if an investor bought stock from Corinthian Colleges, Inc, Russell, and the Peer group which was Apollo Group in around 2006, how much return the investor would earn over time. The stock price is a direct indicator that reflects how a company is doing briefly. Therefore, I will try to analyze their business, using a reference to stock price. It is obvious that Corinthian Colleges, Inc started losing their market values around in 2010, which matches the revenue growth in Table 2. A steep decline started around on March 2010 which means stock holds will lose sixty dollars if they spend $100 in purchasing Corinthian Colleges’ stocks. It is reasonable for stock holds to not buy their stocks and lost confidence in their business; therefore, Corinthian Colleges had less cash flow. While the Apollo Group which was the company owned the University of Phoenix was operating their business better than Corinthian Colleges because it had a higher stock price during 2007 and 2011. By reading Table 2, it shows graphically that University of Phoenix’s revenue had a higher increasing rate than Corinthian Colleges because the slope of the line is steeper between 2007 and 2010. Basically, anyone who bought Apollo Group’s stock made money from it. By reading Graph 1 and Table 2, the fact is that the trajectories of the increase in revenue and stock price match each other.

Graph 1: the Stock return of Corinthian, University of Phoenix, and Rusell

Source: U.S. Securities Exchange Commission, 2012

For the University of Phoenix, the revenue was $769,474,000 in 2001. The expansion of revenue was fast. In 2005, the revenue was $2,251,472,000. In 2010, University of Phoenix reacher its peak, and the revenue was $4,498,330,000. As I mentioned at the beginning that a national decline in enrollment happened since 2010, University of Phoenix experienced that too. The enrollment declined from 443,000 in 2009 to 251,500 in 2014 (U.S. Securities Exchange Commission, 2014). The University of Phoenix endured a sharper decline than Corinthian Colleges after 2010. I am going to specify how Corinthian Colleges and the University of Phoenix operated differently in their expenditure and brought different outcomes to students, leading to Corinthian Colleges collapsed while the University of Phoenix kept operation.

First of all, Corinthian Colleges operated more than twice as many campuses like the University of Phoenix hold. According to Corinthian Colleges, Inc’s last annual report in the 10-K form in 2014, it stated that on June 30, 2013, Corinthian Colleges operated 111 colleges with 81,284 students in 25 states and the province of Ontario, Canada (SEC, 2014). Actually, 111 was the climax of the number which means Corinthian Colleges kept expansion until 2013. Corinthian Colleges kept building new campuses when their revenue started declining. If we do simple calculation that divides 81,284 by 111, we know on average, each college only have a capacity of around 732 students. To compare with Trinity College which enrolls around 2100 students on campus, we can feel how unrealistic expansion of Corinthian Colleges was. It is impossible to operate 111 colleges with 81,284 students’ tuition. Operating 111 colleges at the same time means Corinthian Colleges had an enormous sunk cost which is a cost has been incurred and cannot be recovered, and had a high daily expenditure in maintaining campuses. It is reasonable that Corinthian Colleges wanted to build more campuses and expanded their business because, before 2010, their revenue grew rapidly. It was a wise decision only if Corinthian had a corresponding high enrollment increasing rate. However, the Department of Education eliminated the aid for students went to for-profit institutions since 2010, and the enrollment suddenly declined. Corinthian Colleges were not able to maintain 111 campuses giving the fact that they earned less in students’ tuition and financial aid, and Corinthian lost their value in the stock market which means they had less money to maintain their business.

In contrast, in 2010, the University of Phoenix had an enrollment of more than 470,000 students with revenues of $4.95 billion at its peak. In 2016, the enrollment was 142,500, but only around 40 campuses were in operation. This did not mean the University of Phoenix had populated campuses. In fact, lots of students of the University of Phoenix were online students. In 2000, around one-third of students were online (Michael, 2000). By managing a relatively small amount of campuses cut University of Phoenix’ expenditure in maintaining and building campuses without impacting students’ education experience. Moreover, the University of Phoenix successfully reacted to the decline in enrollment. The Apollo Group announced that it was slashing $300-million in costs, largely by closing 115 campuses and other locations. While those campuses serve only about 4 percent of the university’s students (Eric, 2012). The University of Phoenix closed 115 campuses, presumably they lost 4 percent of students. From the perspective of a merchant, it is definitely wise to abandon four percent of students to save money on maintaining 115 campuses. In 2010,  University of Phoenix reached its peak in enrollment. Only in one or two years, University of Phoenix made this crucial decision to survive. It saved much more capital in closing campuses than losing four percent of students. Compared to Corinthian Colleges, University of Phoenix adjusted the marketing strategy to save capital and stopped building campuses. Both declining in revenue and increasing in cost accelerated Corinthian Colleges’ bankrupt. The University of Phoenix responded to the decline in enrollment better than Corinthian did and stopped lost in time.

Second of all, Corinthian Colleges misrepresented on students’ job placement rates. Table 3 is a part of the investment that the U.S Department of Education did after analyzing several years of job placement rates reported by Corinthian College’s Wyotech and Everest programs (DOE, 2015). The table shows, Corinthian Colleges overstated students’ placement rate. The actual rates are all lower than the rates that Corinthian Colleges provided, and some of them are significantly lower. The direct result was that Corinthian Colleges received a $30 million fine for misrepresentation its job placement rates in 2015 (DOE, 2015). The indirect influence was more severe for Corinthian Colleges. Students who attended for-profit colleges value education and their employment. Corinthian Colleges cheated in job placement rate means students would realize the advertisements were inauthentic, and they cannot truly achieve their goal for attending for-profit college; therefore, Corinthian Colleges would definitely lose its reputation and not able to attract students. Moreover, Corinthian Colleges may face more investigation or fines if it did not close.

Table 3: Source U.S Department of Education, 2015   (a better quality graph in the link)

In contrast, University of Phoenix provided the education satisfied students’ need which is the ability to find a job after graduation while Corinthian Colleges did it in an opposite way that fraudulent reported students’ job placement rate. Mark J. Brenner who is senior vice president for corporate communications and external affairs at the Apollo Group said that “the heightened interest in measuring outcomes has made University of Phoenix a better institution. It’s allowed us to focus on what our students need and what will make them successful” (Eric Kelderman, 2012). By analyzing data on College Scorecard in 2015, I found interesting information that the average salary after attending is $47,000. National Association of Colleges and Employers found in 2014, college graduates earn an average of $48,127 which is similar to attendees at the University of Phoenix (2014). The reference group here is four-year college graduates, but the earning gap merely exists; hence, the earning for students from the University of Phoenix was decent. The interesting fact was the graduation rate in six years was around 15% which is significantly below the average. It did not mean students fail in school. However, I believe it actually illustrated that students acquired what they want in the University of Phoenix because as I mentioned, students who participated in for-profit institutions want to receive practical skills or certificates and get employed. The low graduation rate actually means students earned the certificates or skill so that they dropped out and looked for jobs. Their relatively high income matched what I explained about why the completion rate was low. Also, Mark J. Brenner’s saying, “It allows us to focus on what our students need and what will make them successful.” For students in for-profit colleges, their earning reflects their success and how an institution is doing. Overall, Corinthian Colleges exaggerated on students job placement rates, while the University of Phoenix devoted to meet students’ needs and boosted their salaries.

In conclusion, Corinthian Colleges endured a high amount of expenditure on maintaining campuses and misrepresented students’ learning outcomes while the University of Phoenix bore less daily expenditure and generated students practical skills to help them find jobs. Therefore, it is reasonable that Corinthian Colleges collapsed in 2015 while the University of Phoenix keeps operation until now.












Castagnera, James Ottavio. “The Decline in For-Profit Higher Education during the Obama Administration and Its Prospects in the Trump Presidency:” Industry and Higher Education, June 2017. Sage UK: London, England,, doi:10.1177/0950422217713561.

Dayen, David. “Betsy DeVos Quietly Making It Easier for Dying For-Profit Schools to Rip Off a Few More Students on the Way Out.” The Intercept, 12 Apr. 2019,

SEC Filings | Apollo Education Group. Accessed 19 Apr. 2019.

Tierney, William G., and Guilbert C. Hentschke. New Players, Different Game: Understanding the Rise of for-Profit Colleges and Universities. The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2007.

U.S. Securities Exchange Commission. Accessed 19 Apr. 2019.

“Information About Debt Relief for Corinthian Colleges Students.” Federal Student Aid, 2 Oct. 2018, /about/announcements/corinthian.

Berman, Jillian. “Nearly 200 For-Profit Colleges Get over 90% of Their Funding from the Government.” MarketWatch, Accessed 20 Apr. 2019.

Arnone, Michael. “University of Phoenix Markets Its Courses on America Online.” The Chronicle of Higher Education, Oct. 2001. The Chronicle of Higher Education,

Kelderman, Eric. “Enrollment Slide and Cost Cutting May Signal Strategy Shift at U. of Phoenix.” The Chronicle of Higher Education, Oct. 2012. The Chronicle of Higher Education,

Search | College Scorecard. Accessed 25 Apr. 2019.

Hentschke, Guilbert C., et al. For-Profit Colleges and Universities: Their Markets, Regulation, Performance, and Place in Higher Education. Stylus Publishing, LLC., 2012.


Controversy: The True Effectiveness of School Uniforms

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In history, students were not always required to wear a school uniform. When the school system started, most students were only required for students clothing to be appropriate for the learning environment, meaning no sexual, gang-related, or distracting clothing. If students did have to wear a uniform, they did not attend a public school. For many years now, it has been an argument of whether or not school uniforms should be options or should be removed out of schools. Many advocates think that school uniforms allow students to stay safe in schools, reduce crimes, increase attendance, and improve students performance in the classroom. Many people who are opposed to school uniforms are saying by putting kids into school uniforms, we are allowing them to have limited ways to express themselves. Low-income parents are concerned with trying to pay for these uniforms that can be very pricey. Despite this, school officials and school boards believe that uniforms are golden. When and why did school uniforms become widespread in public schools, and did they deliver the results that advocates promised?

The school uniform movement began a lot of cases that were set on student were wearing. Then a local community school in Long Beach, California became what advocates looked like an example school; however, the movement became more popularized after Bill Clinton gave his State of the Union address in 1996. Advocates, school official and school boards, hope that by having school uniforms would decrease in distractions, leveled socioeconomic barriers, and less student worried or concerned that they do not have the best clothes. Over time, school officials saw the change in students; however, researchers do not see the same correlation across many school districts.  


In 1969, there was a supreme court case Tinker v Des Des Moines Independent Community School District. This case was a very important case for U.S school system. In this case, some students of the Des Moines school wanted to protest the Vietnam War, and they did this by wearing black armbands. The principal of the school learned about what was going to happen, and she required students to be removed from the schools if they are wearing the armbands. Students would also be suspended and would not be able to attend school until they agreed to not wear the armband. The Tinker family had a big issue with that because they felt that the school violated their first amendment right. They sued the school district saying that violation. The school simpled argued that they are violating school policies. According to Dress Code in Public Schools: Principals, Policies, and Precepts, “But, a closer look at Tinker may reveal less support for an expansive view of students’ rights to wear any clothing of his or her choice”(DeMitchell, Todd A.; Fossey, Richard; Cobb, Casey 35). The Tinker case is how we see school officials dictating what students wear.  

There was a public school, Jackie Robinson Academy, in Long Beach, California that President Clinton recognized for wearing school uniforms. After leaving the school, he recalled a conversation that he had with his wife about school uniforms. He recalled her mentioning to him that school uniforms would make things better in school in terms of student behaviors. He made Jackie Robinson Academy the face for school uniforms in 1994. There begins to be a large wave of school districts in Long Beach that turns over to school uniforms being the solution to their problems, “uniforms [became] mandatory for all 58,500 students in its elementary and middle schools”(Mitchell “Clinton Will Advise Schools on Uniforms.” ). The school district found that by enforcing students wear polos and blue pants or plaid skirts decreased crime in schools by 36 percent. Many people argue that it takes away from children individuality. He defined advocates by stating 

“‘I think these uniforms do not stamp out individuality among our young people,” he said at the rally.”Instead, they slowly teach our young people one of life’s most important lessons: that what really counts is what you are and what you become on the inside, rather than what you are wearing on the outside’” (Mitchell).

In this, the President is recognizing the problems that are going on; however, he is making it clear that adding uniforms will make things easier and more practical for school boards.
President Clinton and students from Jackie Robinson in Long Beach, California, in February 1996. Photo: Getty Images

By January 23, 1996, President Bill Clinton became the first president to mention anything about school uniforms in the United States State of the Union address. When talking about the state of our public school system, Clinton stated “I challenge all our schools to teach character education, to teach good values and good citizenship. And if it means that teenagers will stop killing each other over designer jackets, then our public schools should be able to require their students to wear school uniforms” (Clinton “State of the Union Address”) It was surprising to having the president mention something like this during his address; however, it sparked up some conversation. The New York Times article talks about how the President stated that he believed incorporating school uniforms will better the community of the school, “ If it means that the schoolrooms will be more orderly, more disciplined,” Mr. Clinton said, “and that our young people will learn to evaluate themselves by what they are on the inside instead of what they’re wearing on the outside, then our public schools should be able to require their students to wear school uniforms” (Mitchell). Despite his ideas, he left it up to the school officials on that change.


In 1997 there was the case of an appeal, Phoenix Elementary School District No. 1 v. Green, that had parents stating that they did not agree with the previous ruling in March of 1995 that they would be enforcing school uniforms all over,

“Testimony was presented at trial that the uniform policy reduced clothing distractions, increased campus safety, improved school spirit, leveled socioeconomic barriers, ensured that students dressed appropriately, and reduced the staff and faculty time required to enforce the dress code. The court concluded that the dress code was reasonably related to legitimate pedagogical purposes, including promoting a conducive learning environment and securing campus safety”(Geddis “School Uniforms Reduce Distractions, Aid Safety).

The statements that they address as improvements were also improvements that advocates wanted as well. The biggest improvement that they wanted to see decreased in distractions to promote academic achievement, leveled socioeconomic barriers, and less student worried or concerned that they do not have the best clothes. This is something that the researcher is looking into to see if there were actually any growth on any of these topics.

An Education Weekly article, “Uniform Effects?”, covered how the researcher, as well as school officials, felt about some of the pros and cons surrounding school uniforms. There are many different arguments that school officials at Stephen Decatur Middle School give about school uniforms; nonetheless, researchers dispute what the school officials are saying. David L. Brunsma is a researcher at the University of Missouri-Columbia. He spent time studying the effects of school uniforms in school using the National Educational Longitudinal Study of 1988 and the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study. He made sure to look at the effects that uniforms had on the whole school and the individual students. He found that about 27 percent of elementary school by 2000 had some type of school uniform rule. Majority of those school are in areas with minority or disadvantaged students, which are like the students in Stephen Decatur Middle School.

School Official verse The Researcher

The principal of Stephen Decatur Middle School, Rudolph Saunders, stated that the student tends to behave better when they have on a uniform,” ‘It’s like night and day,” Saunders says. “We have ‘dress down’ days, and the kids’ behavior is just completely different on those day” (Viadero “Uniform Effects?”). Although these school districts are convinced that uniforms have an impact on students’ discipline, Brunsma findings showed that “uniform policies don’t curb violence or behavioral problems in schools”(Viadero ).  In fact, his research shows how dermal having a uniform can actually be to students. The school is just based on what they are seeing without making sure this is really the cause. This is a factor of correlation does not imply causation. This is shown even clearer when Betty Mikesell-Bailey, “the school-improvement resource teacher at Decatur”(Viadero ), says that test scores have increased since the school required students to wear uniforms. However, Mikesell-Bailey could not prove how this was a correlation. Despite this, she still claimed that “[s]he’s fairly certain, though, that the policy has cut down on the teasing to which middle school children subject one another.” Brunsma made it clear that there was no correlation between uniforms and test scores. Brunsma further his argument by saying that uniforms do not “cultivate student self-esteem and motivation [or] balance the social-status differences”(Viadero). Uniforms actually cost a great deal of money, and kids can still bully other kids over the smallest thing, such as a hole in a shoe or even the type of pants they are wearing compared to others’. Brunsma argued that the uniform industry has been taken over by large clothing names like Land’ End Inc, which lead the school uniform industry since 1997, and French Toast, which Decatur middle school got their uniforms from. Students were clearly not a big fan of uniforms. They are arguing these uniforms can be uncomfortable and the have students lost individuality, “‘People can’t be who they are if they have to wear the same thing every day,’ says Alexis Richardson, who’s also in 7th grade”(Viadero). Despite this, school officials would say that uniforms help with being togetherness and recognizable to the school. Mikesell-Bailey stated that it was easier to recognize their students when they are outside, “‘When I see the uniform, I always stop, because I know it’s one of my children,” she says”(Viadero). Brunsma argues that the school should take into account the students’ point of view. He believes that if they looked into the history of uniforms, you can see how students would feel less than other kids without uniforms, “Some of his historical research suggests, for example, that school uniforms originated in England in the 16th century as a way to signal the lower-class status of some children”(Viadero).

They looked into a school with an optional school uniform policy in New Hampshire, the school, Highland-Goffe’s Falls Elementary School, stated that the few students that did not wear uniform, had a harder time being able to transfer the students into other schools where they could wear what they wanted, “We had seven very negative parents out of 454 families,” says Paul. “Those seven children never wore uniforms, which, from my point of view, kind of derailed us” (Viadero ). The school had to stop wearing school uniforms, even though it decreases the about of bully going on in the school.
Brunsma was very unsure as to how these facts were even put out. He felt that the school district’s arguments were very problematic for two reasons. He felt that it was wrong for them to look at just one school district because some schools can be the outlier. Furthermore, he believed that the school failed to mention the dynamics changed that happened in this school, “Brunsma says newer case studies looking at uniform-adoption efforts in schools in Baltimore, Denver, and Aldine, Texas, a suburban Houston district—all of which also point to positive effects—have an additional shortcoming”(Viadero). These were some of the schools that he was able to look at in his research.

Overall, it could be said that school uniforms work for different schools. In some school, we see that school uniforms changed what advocates hoped that they would. In other schools, we don’t quite see the correlation. Because there is not a clear answer, researcher and advocates disagree on this topic all the time. The key ideas that they disagree on are uniforms are less costly for low-income households, uniforms promote academic achievement, and having uniforms does not hinder student views on themselves. We see these ideas being pushed at the forefront when President Clinton gave his address and school began to look into the effects it had on their school. Nonetheless, research like Brunsma looks across school districts. This big difference that has been shown here is how over time, who are school districts focused on and who researcher focused on.

Work Cited 

Clinton Bill “State of the Union Address.” National Archives and Records Administration, National Archives and Records Administration, 23 Jan. 19996,

DeMitchell, Todd A.; Fossey, Richard; Cobb, Casey. “Dress Codes in the Public Schools: Principals, Policies, and Precepts,” Journal of Law & Education vol. 29, no. 1 (January 2000): p. 31-50. HeinOnline,

Geddis, Carol. “School Uniforms Reduce Distractions, Aid Safety – Education Week.” Education Week, Accessed 3 May 2019.

Mitchell, Alison. “Clinton Will Advise Schools on Uniforms.” The New York Times, 25 Feb. 1996,

“Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 18 Apr. 2019,

Viadero, Debra. “Uniform Effects?” – Education Week.” Education Week, Jan. 2005. Education Week,




The Evolution of Connecticut Special Education- An Updated Study After Fifteen Years

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In 2004, Kate Belf Becker, an Educational Studies major at Trinity College, completed her senior thesis entitled “Who Prevails in Special Education and Why?” The inspiration behind Belf Becker’s study emerged from her internship experience at the Connecticut Department of Education’s Bureau of Special Education and Pupil Services Due Process Unit. She was able to examine hearing officer decisions in order to investigate her questions regarding which side emerged victorious in hearing decisions and the factors that contributed to their triumphs (Belf Becker 1). Becker studied hearings relating specifically to autism that occurred between 1998-2003. Belf Becker’s study intrigued me for a variety of personal reasons. My brother was diagnosed with autism in 2001, which falls between Belf Becker’s time frame of cases she studied. However, since approximately fifteen years have passed since this study was conducted, numerous Connecticut hearing decisions have been determined and various federal laws have either been created or edited to reflect the concerns of families whose children with autism receive special education services. The following research aims to examine certain aspects of Belf Becker’s study such as which side prevailed and whether the case concerned a private or public placement. This research examines all of these aforementioned factors, and additionally seeks to explore other aspects of Connecticut hearing decisions related to autism such as how many students are eligible for free or reduced lunch in the district, and the percentage of students with disabilities in the district the case takes place in. Recent policy decisions at the national level are also examined. The purpose of this research is to discover if policies at the national level, as well as any of the previously described factors affected hearing decisions in Connecticut since Belf Becker’s study.

This paper studies fully adjudicated Connecticut hearing decisions that related to autism from 2009-2019 since fully adjudicated decisions prior to 2009 were not available. There were 172 cases in total (including cases not concerning autism), but this study examines a sample consisting of 15 percent of the total cases, with all 15 percent specifying a case of autism.  Belf Becker was able to identify a variety of common themes within the court cases she studied. This included whether the Board or the students prevailed, and the level of income of the families represented in some cases. Belf Becker discovered that the Board prevailed in 52 percent of cases but the students prevailed in 41 percent. Yet, in the 15 percent of cases from 2009-2019, the Board prevailed in 63 percent of cases, with the student only winning 17 percent of cases. The increase in the Board prevailing and the student losing in cases studied from 2009-2019 was astounding, which therefore prompted the question of why this change occurred since the Belf Becker study. Thus, this essay argues that the Board has overwhelmingly prevailed in more cases in the past ten years due to changes in federal laws regarding the Individual with Disabilities with Education Act, as well as whether the case was a private placement. It additionally argues that whether the case dealt with a specific aspect of IDEA, such as the Least Restrictive Environment, or the Free and Appropriate Public Education principle, did not matter when concerning who prevailed in a case. Some factors, such as the percentage of students eligible for free and reduced lunch and the percentage of students with a disability in the district present interesting statistics, but do not guarantee a winning case.   

It is imperative to note that most Connecticut hearing decisions between 2009-2019 deal with disputes over the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). IDEA was renewed in 1990, and was previously known as the 1975 Education for All Handicapped Children Act. There are six aspects of IDEA that outline rights for people with disabilities. Two of these six principles appear often in hearing decisions. One is the Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE). FAPE ensures that the education the child in question receives is correct for the child and follows their Individualized Education Plan (IEP), which specifies certain goals the child should achieve within their educational setting. FAPE often comes into question during issues of outplacement, and cases involving FAPE examine whether or not the public education system the child is in is providing appropriate services or if they should be placed in a different environment better suited to meet their needs. Additionally, Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) ensures that a child with a disability is put in an environment that is best suited for them. They should be as integrated as possible, and it is important to note that this principle is constantly evolving; meaning that what the least restrictive environment for a child was one day may not be the same as the next (Sections of the IDEA Statute). These aspects of IDEA occurred quite frequently in hearing decisions, with parents often not agreeing with the board over provisions related to the aforementioned principles of IDEA.

The cases studied between 2009-2019, similarly with the cases Belf Becker studied from 1998-2003, all concern autism. Autism is a developmental disability that now affects 1 in 59 children worldwide (CDC 2018). During the time Belf Becker conducted her study, specifically in the year 2000, 1 in 150 children were affected by autism. It has been deemed as the fastest growing serious developmental disability in the world, and is quickly growing.

Figure 1: Data taken from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Students diagnosed with autism are, by law, eligible to receive services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

IDEA updates since the Belf Becker study are importantto understand in order to track changes overtime. For instance, one Supreme Court case in particular has clarified the Free and Appropriate Public Education principle of IDEA. One is the Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District case in 2017, which also concerned a student with autism. In this case, the Supreme Court was able to clarify what it means for a student with a disability to receive an “appropriate” education. Mitchell Yell  states that the Supreme Court determined that “the Court rejected the parent’s higher standard, which was that the IDEA required schools to provide an educational program aimed to provide educational opportunities equal to those provided nondisabledstudents to meet the IDEA’s FAPE standard. Nonetheless, the Court clearly embraced an educational benefit standard higher than the de minimis standard” (Yell 12). Therefore, the court found a middle ground in this case that raised the de minimis standard, and concluded that as long as the student is receiving some educational benefit, then the education is appropriate.

Since this aforementioned case raised the de minimis standard for school districts, which ensured that students in a special education setting would receive educational benefit, my personal theory was that this ruling would result in greater victories for families of children with autism since the case emphasized the importance of educational benefit. However, the hearing decisions studied from 2009-2019 still overwhelmingly sided with the Board. This is possibly because even though some Connecticut hearing decisions discovered that the Board in question was not providing an appropriate education for the student, many ruled that the the education the Board provided was appropriate. Of all the hearing decisions examined, 16 of the 24 dealt with the FAPE principle. In 14 of those cases, the Board prevailed. Possible reasoning behind this statistic is the fact that even though the Supreme Court raised the de minimis standard, all the Board must do is ensure the student in question is receiving at least some educational benefit. As long as the student is receiving some educational benefit, then they are not entitled to more services from the Board. They are also not likely to receive tuition reimbursements if the student is enrolled in a private institution since the parents were not pleased with the Board’s educational program. As long as the Board’s plan involves some educational benefit, by law, they are not required to provide anything more.

One factor that is interesting to examine when looking at recent hearing decisions is the percentage of students eligible for free and reduced lunch in a district. As previously mentioned, students only prevailed in approximately 17 percent of cases, meaning that the student only won in four out of the 24 cases studied. Yet, what was intriguing about this statistic was the fact that in two of these cases, the student won in districts that had a couple of the highest percentages of students eligible for free and reduced lunch in the district; 55.60 percent and 58.00 percent respectively. This statistic was intriguing since it showed how socioeconomic status can play a role in hearing decisions, however, it may not always guarantee a win from eitherparty. Similarly, Belf Becker examined socioeconomic status, although she studied median household income of families. In her work, she discovered that in districts with a median household income that was less than $43,000, the student was able to win 38 percent of the time. When the median household income was over $60,000, the student won 53 percent of the time. Belf Becker then writes: “Therefore, it can be concluded that access to representation based on income levels the playing field but does not guarantee a winning case (Belf Becker 17).” Even though Belf Becker studied median household income and this essay examines the percentage of free and reduced lunch in the district, the results are still very similar, which shows that socioeconomic status has not created a huge change in hearing decisions since the Belf Becker study.

Another intriguing statistic this essay studies is the percentage of students that have a disability in certain districts. In the previously mentioned district that had 55.60 percent of students eligible for free or reduced lunch, it also had the highest percentage of students with a disability of the 24 hearing decisions studied, which was 22.90 percent. The student prevailed in this case. Even though this was an interesting statistic, percentage of students with a disability in the district still does not guarantee a winning case. A student prevailed in another case that had one of the lowest percentages of students with a disability in the district, which was 11.30 percent. Therefore, even though percentage of students with a disability in a district could possibly help a certain side prevail, it does not guarantee a winning case.

In her study, Belf Becker examined whether a case dealt with a private placement. She discovered that with cases of private placement, the Board prevailed 45 percent of the time, the student prevailed in 45 percent of cases, and both sides prevailed 10 percent of the time (Belf Becker 13). Although, in this study, 11 of the 24 hearing decisions examined were private placement cases, with the Board prevailing in seven of those 11 cases, equaling 64 percent. Students prevailed in two of these private placements, totaling 18 percent of private placement cases. In one of these cases, both parties prevailed, which constitutes nine percent of cases, and one case was dismissed, which also constitutes nine percent of the 11 private placement cases. Therefore, during Belf Becker’s study, the percentage of families prevailing and the percentage of the Board prevailing was exactly the same. However, in the hearing decisions studied from 2009-2019, the Board overwhelmingly prevailed in cases involving private placement. This shift since Belf Becker’s study can be attributed to the Endrew F v. Douglas County School District Supreme Court case. Again, this case clarified that school districts needed to ensure that the student was receiving some educational benefit, and the court determined a middle ground between the de minimis and de maximis standards. Thus, the hearing decisions in Connecticut from 2009-2019 may not have been as lenient to reimburse a student’s outplacement tuition or deem the Board’seducation plan as inappropriate since if the Board is providing a plan that allows the student to receive some educational benefit, then  private placements are not as likely to be approved or paid for by the district.

One final factor that this study examines that the Belf Becker study does not is the principle of IDEA that applies to each hearing decision. Of all 24 cases this study covers, 16 are disputes over the Free and Appropriate Education principle, two concerning the Least Restrictive Environment, and six that concern whether the student in question received an appropriate disability evaluation from the board. While it is intriguing to examine the nature of each hearing decision studied, when determining a prevailing party, the type of case did not matter. For example, out of the four cases in which students prevailed, two cases were about FAPE and two concerned appropriate evaluations. However, the Board was able to prevail in cases involving FAPE and appropriate evaluations as well. Therefore, there is no pattern between the nature of a hearing decision and the party that prevailed.

In conclusion, the Board has overwhelmingly prevailed in hearing decisions since the Belf Becker study. This is an overall trend, but it is especially prevalent in cases concerning private placements. This disparity can be largely attributed to Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District, since it concluded that students only need to receive an educational benefit between the de minimis and de maximis standards. Percentages of students eligible for free and reduced lunch and students with disabilities in a district provide some patterns, but do not guarantee a winning case, which is similar to Belf Becker’s examination of socioeconomic status. The principle of the Individuals with Disabilities Act that the case dealt with provided no pattern to constitute a winning party because there was no principle that stood out when examining which party prevailed. Therefore, there has been a significant shift in regards to the Board winning more cases than the student, yet, it is mostly attributed to federal law as opposed to other previously mentioned factors.         


Belf-Becker, Kate. “Who Prevails in Special Education and Why?” “Educational Studies Senior Research Project, Trinity College Digital Repository Apr. 2004,

“Special Education Hearing Decisions.” Connecticut Department of Education, Accessed 8 Apr. 2019.

Yell, Mitchell. The Law and Special Education. 5th ed.

CDC. “Data and Statistics on Autism Spectrum Disorder| CDC.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 5 Apr. 2019,

Yell, Mitchell L.,and David F. Bateman. “Free Appropriate Public Education and Endrew F. v. Douglas County School System (2017): Implications for Personnel Preparation.” Teacher Education and Special Education, vol. 42, no. 1, Feb. 2019, pp. 6–17. SAGE Journals, doi:10.1177/0888406417754239

“IDEA News and Updates.” Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, Accessed 3 May 2019.

Piecing Together the Mystery: A look at the portrayal of autism in the 1940s, 1970s, and today.

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Piecing Together the Mystery:

A look at the portrayal of autism in the 1940s, 1970s, and today.

Autism Spectrum Disorder is a developmental disorder that impacts a broad range of people in many different ways (NIMH 1). Over the past fifty years, there has been a 25-fold increase in the diagnosis of autism; according to the Center for Disease Control, one in forty children in the United States is currently diagnosed with having Autism Spectrum Disorder (Shea Brogren 1). Chances are, each person currently living in the United States knows at least one person who is on the autism spectrum. Because autism is such a relatively new disorder, there are many differing thoughts and opinions on it. The United States popular media certainly has a large part in the overall awareness––and therefore stigma––surrounding it, and the ever-evolving experts’ definitions of it contribute, as well. So, how have portrayals of autism by psychological experts and popular media changed in the United States during three specific decades: 1940s, 1970s, and today?

Portrayals of autism have evolved over time, and as more time passes, the more information there is available about it. However, in its earliest stages, not much was known about autism. But, as more time went on, there was much more knowledge about it. That is why there is a direct correlation with the amount of time after its original definition and the more accurate portrayals of it. During the 1940s, there was very limited information about autism which lead to an overall emphasis on figuring out the main cause of autism; people wanted hard, easy answers. By contrast, in the 1970s, several experts shifted their focus to blaming anyone that they could.  Here, the cause of autism was unknown, however there was a general disinterest in figuring out the cause and an increased interest in figuring out different groups of people to put the blame on for causing these children to have this disorder. Closer to the present, many experts focus on the way in which the media’s portrayal of autism––both in the past and in the present––contribute to the overall stigma surrounding autism. Essentially, today there is a greater focus on the actual treatment of those with autism, which shows a greater amount of understanding and empathy that the general public now has surrounding those with autism. From the 1940s to the present, we can see a general trend where the experts shift from focusing on figuring out the cause of autism in the 1940s, to them trying to place blame onto individual parties in the 1970s, to a general focus on finding proper treatment for those with autism along with an increased awareness of separating the person from the disorder today. These trends helped to create an environment which allowed the overarching stigma surrounding autism to prosper and continue to grow. In this essay I will analyze this relationship and shift in thought.

In 1911, Swiss psychiatrist, Eugen Bleuler, used the word “autism” for the first time ever. He coined the phrase when referring to a group of children that he was studying; “According to Bleuler, autistic thinking was characterized by infantile wishes to avoid unsatisfying realities and replace them with fantasies and hallucinations,” (Evans 1). However, we know today that the children he was studying actually exhibited symptoms of schizophrenia. These two disorders are very different: schizophrenia often causes individuals to suffer from hallucinations, while autism causes individuals to have trouble with “a broad range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication” (Autism Speaks). However, there is a clear relationship between the two disorders in that both cause individuals to have increased trouble with socialization. Although Bleuler’s original diagnosis of autism was very incorrect, it helps point to the bigger idea that there was not a real understanding of this disorder until very recently. This sheds light on the fact that the more time that went by, the more information that came out about autism and all of those affected by it.

While it is known now that autism is not something that a child can be cured of, there was an overall interest with the idea that Autism Spectrum Disorder (herein referred to as ASD) can be cured with proper treatment, especially in the 1940s. In 1943, Doctor Leo Kanner from Johns Hopkins University used the word “autism” for one of the first times since Bleuler. While studying a group of children, he used “autism” to “describe the withdrawn behavior of several children he studied” ( After this broad definition was given, there was an utter obsession with the term “autistic”, and many people––even experts––were using it to over-diagnose and eventually stigmatize ASD. People were obsessed with finding the “cure” to it, and were trying just as hard to figure out where it came from.

Furthermore, it is interesting to note different champions of children with autism, one of the most interesting being that same doctor, Doctor Leo Kanner. At his time, he did not know much about the disorder at all. In fact, he thought it was something easily fixed like how “orthodontists straighten teeth” (TIME, Frosted Children 1). This was most probably not because he was discriminatory against those with autism, rather he simply misunderstood them, and this is very important to understand. Before Kanner provided us with autism’s first definition, there was little to nothing known about it. Kanner attributed these children’s apathy and desire to be alone as the result of their parents being “Cold Perfectionists.” Kanner even went so far as to describe these children as being “kept neatly in a refrigerator which didn’t defrost,” (1). Here, Kanner describes these children with autism as being physically and emotionally “cold” whose parents never gave them the opportunity to “defrost.” Built into his definition of these “frosted children” are his views of just what the cause of autism was: their “cold perfectionist” parents. This is interesting because it shows how early on, even the doctors and advocates for those with autism did not yet fully grasp just what having this disorder meant. Many people thought that autism was something that children were not born with, and even hinted at them being less evolved and matured than those without it. Even though through judgment of these seemingly harsh words Kanner seems like he did not care much for these children at all, this is not entirely the case. Instead, Kanner really thought that what he was talking about and doing for these children was beneficial to them. This is because of the lack of knowledge about ASD during this time: the 1940s.

In 1944, author Gelolo McHugh launched a study to test the validity of an experiment done by Doctor T.V. Moore in the 1920s. In Moore’s study, he concluded that autistic thinking can be described as the “tendency to draw conclusions based on pathological major in the sense of a false premise that has no basis in logical common sense,” (McHugh, 90). Essentially, in Moore’s 1920s study, he stated that children experience autistic tendencies when they are young, but eventually outgrow them, thus linking autism to immaturity. So, McHugh’s 1944 study aimed to test the accuracy of this hypothesis. Her experiment tested whether or not children outgrow these autistic thinking tendencies with age. She asked participants a series of true-or-false questions and separated their results based on their answers and ages. By the end, McHugh, citing Moore, was able to conclude that “there is no evidence to support a conclusion that ‘autistic reasoning is a transitory phenomenon of childhood’” (98). This therefore discredited Moore’s study from about 20 years earlier. This emphasizes how the 1940s was still a time for grasping knowledge about ASD. People were still trying to figure out just what autism was and what having it entailed. While McHugh did not get a lot of information out of this study, she was able to disprove a past study that provided false information. This was a huge step for a study in the 1940s, and shows the continued progress that experts were making in regards to autism.

Next, the ideological shift from the 1940s to the 1970s presents itself. In the 1970s, there was an increased infatuation with finding out who was to blame for children having autism. Two studies in particular, one in 1974 and another in 1977, point to the fact that this decade––the 1970s––was especially interested in finding different parties and places to blame for autism. The 1974 study was conducted by two psychologist researchers, Sara Williams and Juliet Harper. They title their article “A Study of Etiological Factors at Critical Periods of Development in Autistic Children”, and they look at children with autism, who they refer to as “autistic children”, and try to find different factors that would have contributed to the children to “develop” autism at different critical points in their development periods. Williams and Harper list different events that could have contributed to the development of autism, including, “significant separation from mother before two years,” being “exposed to two languages before three years,” their mother having depression, and the “children locked in a room or tied up” (Williams and Harper 94). These two experts were willing to look at a wide variety of different factors that could potentially lead to a child to develop autism; they tried to find places to place the blame. And, while we know today that autism is not something that a person just develops over time, rather it is something that one is born with, these experts did not know this. Instead, they looked at a number of different places that could potentially lead to an ultimate cause of autism.

The Society for Science and the Public posted an edition of Science News on March 12, 1977 with an article titled, “Autism: Insights into the Causes.” This article begins by flat out discrediting the theory that poor parenting is to blame for children having autism––a claim, more or less, made just months later by the same magazine, which will be examined later. This article explains a study that looked at the genetic predisposition of children with autism. The researchers point to a past study that gave results that “suggest than an inherited cognitive abnormality can cause autism in some instance, that brain damage at birth can cause it in others, or that both factors can conspire together to trigger the disease,” (Science News 167). This article looks into different places on which the blame for autism can be placed. This is not rare for this time period, where many other people were looking to find places to do just this. Additionally, this was a rather large stride in that this was one of the first studies to look at the genetic factors that contribute to a child having autism whilst discrediting theories that arose in the past such as “bad parenting” as a factor. While they did not necessarily mean any harm in either of these articles, they both further prove that the 1970s as a whole was a decade where researchers were especially interested in finding where to place the blame for children having autism.

However, not everyone was making the same amount of progress. While there were a lot of major strides made toward finding a more accurate definition of autism, there were many steps taken back, as well. In December of 1977, the Society for Science and the Public published an edition of Science News magazine with an article titled, “Mother-to-be’s Anxiety Linked to Autism”. The article begins with the very matter-of-fact statement, “Although [autism’s] first signs–– rejection of close contact with the mother–– appear in early infancy…” (374). This article already begins with a fallacy, but it highlights the fact that there was still so little known about autism. However, the general trend of this time period is the fact that so many people, even including the expert psychologists, were willing and eager to place the blame onto any party they could. So, this article chooses to blame the pregnant mother-to-be and her anxiety levels. Here, Ward, the researcher who conducted this experiment, concludes that out of the women studied, 32% of them experienced “marital discord.” He defined such discord as “‘interference in family functioning by a previous husband’”; “‘feeling ‘in-sane’”’; or having “‘frequent arguments.’” (374). Even though he later explains that only 3% of these mothers experienced this while they were actually pregnant, he continues with the article. One would think that this aforementioned fact would be enough to make Ward end the experiment altogether because it would discredit the article’s accuracy––3% of the population that he studied actually supported his argument. However, Ward continued with the study and continued to publish it in a science magazine. So, all those who read this magazine take his experiment to be hard, true facts. This was and still is incredibly dangerous to the autism community as it takes it back so many steps. None of this evidence was enough to be convincing, but he carried on with it anyway.

Additionally, as the article continues, it continues to place the blame of autism on the mothers, even though there was no evidence to prove that Ward’s original claim was correct. Ward refers to mothers of children with autism as “autistic mothers”, and explains, “more than twice as many ‘autistic’ mothers as controls were diagnosed as having a psychiatric problem,” (374). He also went on to say that “several of the control mothers who separated from their husbands during pregnancy suffered no apparent emotional conflict. But all six of the autistic group who separated were emotionally affected,” (374). These two pieces are especially interesting to analyze. The first piece highlights the fact that Ward places the blame of autism onto the mother’s for having one “psychiatric problem” or another and it was published in a well-known magazine for people to take as a fact. This shows the readiness so many people had to place the blame on anyone they could, even if they were incorrect in doing so. Then, he follows that up with him more or less equating these mothers being unmarried with them having psychiatric problems. As if insinuating that a mother who is unmarried most probably has psychiatric problems is not bad enough, Ward does just that without any clear evidence that it even was a factor. I argue that Ward piles on words, which confuses readers, because he wants to distract people from the fact that the evidence he provides, which he conveniently gives out in bullet points to make it easy for readers to quickly skim, are not backed up with real evidence. Again, Ward explains that “six of the autistic group [mothers] who were separated [in marriage] were emotionally affected” (374). However, this did not take into account at all the emotional toll that being the parent to a child with autism takes on a parent, and also does not take into account the emotional toll that getting divorced has on a mother. Instead, Ward chooses to put those facts aside in order to most easily and conveniently for him place the blame on the easiest party he can find: the mothers. In this article, Ward uses only the evidence that helps to prove his argument, and completely tosses aside any and all of the evidence that could potentially be used to discredit his overarching claim. This shows how people quickly became more willing to point their fingers and place the blame on people for this disorder, even though it was and is entirely out of control. This also points to the complete misunderstanding of autism at this time, even though it had been defined more than thirty years earlier.

Shifting to today, there is a desire to get those with autism the proper treatment that will enable them to live their best lives. While in the 1940s, 1970s, and years in between, many people thought that with the right treatment autism could be cured, it is widely known today that there is no possible way to “cure” someone of autism. Therefore, today, experts highlight the importance of finding the right treatment that is specific to each person. Each person is unique, and their treatment should reflect that. Experts, like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, emphasize the importance of early childhood intervention. They explain that such services, “include therapy to help the child talk, walk, and interact with others.” (CDC 1). They also list different therapy options, that include, but are not limited to, Applied Behavior Analysis, which “encourages positive behaviors and discourages negative behaviors in order to improve a variety of skills,” occupational therapy to “help the person live as independently as possible…” by helping them with “dressing, eating, bathing, and relating to people”, and sensory integration therapy which “helps the person deal with sensory information, like sights, sounds, and smells… [it] could help a child who is bothered by certain sounds or does not like to be touched,” (2). Overall, the emphasis on different treatment methods highlights the fact that today, finding proper treatment for those with autism is of utmost importance to people today, whereas in years past many people were still stuck on finding ways to “cure” someone of autism.

Additionally, there is a great emphasis on understanding the impact that words can have when describing a person with autism. Many advocates for those with autism have coined and advocated for the term “identity-first language,” while many others have advocated for the “person-first” language. Identity-first language refers to the calling of those with autism an “autistic person”, and person-first language calls them a “person with autism.” One study conducted by Northeastern University explains that, “the choice recognizes that a human is first and foremost a person: They have a disorder, but that disorder doesn’t define them. For people who prefer identity-first language, the choice is about empowerment. It says that autism isn’t something to be ashamed of.” (Molly Callahan 2). While there is some argument surrounding this ideology, one thing mostly everyone can agree on is the general rejection to calling people “retarded.” Callahan explains that most people agree that that term, and some others, are generally “dehumanizing” and not at all acceptable in today’s society. This points to the shift in society that is seen today, where many people are trying to look past the disability and into the person; understanding that the person is more than just their disability.

A graphic to help understand the “identity-first” type of language.
A graphic to help understand the “person-first” language.

Also, many people look into the ways in which media’s portrayal of autism plays a role in the general public’s overall understanding of autism. An article published by the Los Angeles Times written by author Joy Resmovits titled, “Why Sesame Street’s new character isn’t representative of most kids with autism” critically looks at the children’s show’s addition of a character with autism. In the show, a girl, Julia, was introduced, and this author was critical of the fact that she was a girl. Resmovits explains that, “about five times as many boys as girls are diagnosed with autism,” so, “if Sesame… were truly interested in representing autism most accurately, wouldn’t its new character be a boy?” (Resmovits 1). Sesame Street’s Vice President explained the rationale by explaining that because boys are more likely to have autism than girls, their goal was “to make it clear that girls can be on the spectrum, too…” she explains, “we’re trying to eliminate misconceptions, and a lot of people think that only boys have autism,” (2). While there is not room to analyze which side of the argument is correct, this is interesting to look at because it shows the huge shift over the past several decades. In the 1940s and 1970s, this debate would not have taken place because people at those times were so caught up in finding cures and placing blame onto others. Today, we have moved past that, and that has allowed us to take a step back and think about things that really matter: acceptance and understanding.

Therefore, it is important to also look at the United States popular media’s portrayal of autism over time. To begin looking at this aspect, one should begin with the frequency in which it is even mentioned in the media. Two experts’, Muhamad and Yang’s, 2017 study looked at 413 total news articles about autism and found that 186 of them (45%) were on the front page. Additionally, the study notes that there “is a strong presence of the ‘burden’ label” in an overwhelming amount of these articles which therefore “further divides communities.” (Muhamad and Yang, Framing Autism 195). Also, the article notes that this “blame-placing” is extremely detrimental as it places the blame on certain parties who are in no way in control which therefore takes away “services, resources, [and] research funding” from those who are in need of it the most (195). This article does not find it surprising that media and news sources such as the ones that they studied place the blame of this disorder on a certain group or individual; it is simply easier to do this. This study is significant because it introduces the idea of autism in the media. The fact that autism was only featured 45% of the time on the front page alludes to the fact that talking about autism is still considered “taboo”, which therefore allows for there to still be a stigma surrounding ASD.

To eliminate such stigma, many people turn to the power of the popular media, in particular television shows and movies. Researchers Christina Belcher and Kimberly Maich wrote an article that looks at the representation of characters with autism. In their article, they look at twenty children’s books, movies, novels, and television shows and analyze how characters with autism are portrayed in each. Throughout the study, numerous different media platforms are thoroughly analyzed. At the end, Belcher and Maich conclude that “results show that television characters with ASD tend to be portrayed as intellectually stimulating geniuses who make us aspire to be like them; movies tend to show those with ASD as heroes… novels tend to present ASD in a complex, authentic context of family and community, rife with everyday problems; picture books appear to be moving towards a clinical presentation of ASD,” (Brock Education 97). All of these findings are significant in their own ways. Belcher and Maich note that, “generally, television, movies, and novels… entertain and have ASD as an area of interest,” which is why it makes sense that they portray ASD in such a heroic way and as people who we often aspire to be like (111). Likewise, the more clinical representation in children’s books “is significant because they form part of teaching and learning away from parental or civic input when used in the classroom,” (111). Belcher and Maich make it a point to put a disclaimer at the end that states, “In learning [about autism] from various media, we can extend or absorb valid, false, or exaggerated perspectives about realities and misrepresentation of ASD; therefore, careful choice-making and in-depth critique is essential to utilize the engaging and instructional features of mass media to develop and authentic understanding,” (109). Belcher and Maich understand the impact that popular media has on people, and they show the difference in portrayals of autism across different media outlets.

Additionally, one study looks into the fact that the there has been an increase in “consumer selection of non-scientifically supported treatments [for autism],” (K. A. Schreck et al 300). Here, Schreck, Russell, and Vargas look into the idea that said increase is linked to “celebrities’ and prominent professionals’ testimonials, consumers’ a priori beliefs, and the lack of easily understood decision-making guides,” (300). They explain that “journalists from the top five circulated newspapers and magazines in the United States devoted less than one quarter of their statements about autism treatment to discussions about ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis),” and “prestigious newspapers such as the Wall Street Journal, Daily News, and USA Today reported about non-scientifically supported treatments 97-100% of their coverage,” (316). These findings make evident that there is a direct correlation between information given out in popular media and people’s actions as a result of it. This is clear because the uptick in the selection of non-scientifically supported treatments is positively correlated with the fact that the United States’ most prestigious newspapers talk about those treatments 97-100% of the time. This shows the importance of popular media in relation to autism in this country.

Therefore, because this evidence is available now, it is safe to say that this was also the case in the 1940s and 1970s. In those two decades, the rhetoric used to talk about autism and the ways in which autism was portrayed impacted the general public’s understanding of it and the ways in which they treated it. In the 1940s, there was still not much information about autism, which is evident by the utter lack of understanding about it; people were still trying to figure out just what autism was. In the 1970s, experts in particular were less concerned about finding out the causes of autism, and instead shifted their focus to finding new parties to blame for its presence in children. And, today, there is a newfound emphasis on separating the person from the disorder and finding the proper treatment, all with the knowledge that autism is not something that a person can be “cured” of. Therefore, it is easy to see that all of these factors influenced and still influence the popular media’s changing portrayal of autism throughout time, specifically in the 1940s, 1970s, and today, which therefore created an environment that fostered and allowed the overarching stigma surrounding autism to present itself. Erasing the stigma surrounding autism is not and will not be an easy feat, but by understanding the media’s effect on our perception of autism, we are one step closer to defeating it.


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“Mother-to-Be’s Anxiety Linked to Autism.” Science News, vol. 112, no. 23, 1977, pp. 374–374. JSTOR, JSTOR, doi:10.2307/3962249.


NIMH » Autism Spectrum Disorder. Accessed 2 May 2019.


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Unpacking the Debate over Person-First vs. Identity-First Language in the Autism Community. Accessed 2 May 2019.


Wendorf Muhamad, Jessica, and Fan Yang. “Framing Autism: A Content Analysis of Five Major News Frames in U.S.-Based Newspapers.” Journal of Health Communication, vol. 22, no. 3, 2017, pp. 190–97. PubMed, doi:10.1080/10810730.2016.1256453.


“What Is Autism?” Autism Speaks, Accessed 25 Apr. 2019.




Assistive Technology for Students with Special Needs

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Since the 1990s, there has been an increasing focus on special education due to the American Disabilities Act being passed. The change over time in prioritizing equal access and accommodations has led to new forms of assistive technology being created to aid people both in and outside of the classroom. Some of the technological innovations come in the form of smartboards, Ipads, clickers, computers, and special keyboards. On these platforms, apps have been created with new fonts, games, videos, and communication tools to help people with special needs learn in a new fashion. Some critiques of these programs emerged due to the lack of human interaction that may occur, and that may hinder the social aspects that the educational system provides for students with a disability–mental, physical, emotional, etc. Larry Cuban is a researcher who investigates the impact of technology on the educational system. He inspects whether technology altered classrooms live up to the promises that the new systems guarantee in the educational system over time. My research presents information about assistive technological programs in the special education system: although historian Larry Cuban has questioned whether technology changes classroom teaching and learning, has assistive technology for students with special needs been an exception to this rule over time?

I argue that assistive technological programs are beneficial in special education classrooms when the programs are intertwined into the normal classroom routine overtime. If introduced at once, it may cause a sensory overload for the students which may reduce the effectiveness of the assistive program. This may also decrease the human interaction too quickly and negatively affect the socialization of the students with adult leaders and fellow peers. However, there are benefits to the introduction of assistive technology programs in special education classroom which is why they should still be introduced to the daily learning process in the classroom. Advancements in technology have increased over time with faster processors and more interactive programs, and lots of promises have been made about how beneficial the ‘progress’ will be. Cuban delves into the truth about how reliable the beneficial promises about implementing technology into the classroom actually are. By examining multiple sources such as written works by Larry Cuban, blogs, and scholarly articles, this paper will address both how assistive technology has been implemented in special education classrooms over time and how effective the programs implementations are.

The introduction of technology into classrooms in more recent years has been a process that has been critiqued by people concerned that technology will lessen the learning experience. The introduction of computers to schools “as an instructional tool has been preceded by enormous publicity and speculation, obscuring many of the substantive issues surrounding its real and potential uses” (Howell, 1). Many educators and parents are anxious about computers being implemented into any classroom because of the little evidence of the beneficial qualities of computers with furthering education that was initially available. However, even as research has been done on the introduction of technology into schools, “the general findings of which are a sober reminder of how difficult it is to translate innovation of any kind into practice” even when “important observational and naturalistic studies have been conducted” (Rieth and Woodward, 1). Essentially, a point that researchers are trying to make to people who are wary of these implementations is that new systems of doing things has always taken time to adjust to. This can be applied to educational systems as well as ways of cleaning or communicating. The intensity of speculators has been even greater with implementations of technology to special education classrooms because there needs to be a lot of individualization into the programs.

Multiple forms of technology have been introduced into the classroom, starting in the 1970s and, in the 1990s—the programs became more advanced. One form of technology—that this paper focuses on—is assistive technology which “employs various types of services and devices designed to help people with disabilities function within their environment” (Blackhurst, 2). Assistive technology for people with special needs is comprised of different strategies, devices—mechanical or not—that may be specialized to a certain disability, aids, etcetera that “(a) assist them in learning, (b) make the environment more accessible, (c) enable them to compete in the workplace, (d) enhance their independence, or (e) otherwise improve their quality of life” (Blackhurst, 2). However, a common critique of the goal of assistive technology in classrooms is that the use of the technological devices “should lead to cognitive gains that are superior to traditional instructional methods” (Woodward and Cuban, 6). This claim works to discredit teachers of the vital work that they do for the students. Emphasis of the word ‘should’ in the quote highlights that the introduction of technology is not perfect; there is trial and error with the implementation of new teaching techniques and technology—especially in the classroom. Because of this, researches argue that assistive technology “must also be used in combination” with other teaching devices and methods (Blackhurst, 4). Also, the programs are more beneficial to the learning process when they are introduced over time so that there is time and space to tweak the different forms of assistive technology to best aid the students and teachers.

Furthermore, the introduction of computers into special education classrooms over time as assistive technology has had both a positive and negative response. There can be some more personalization within the programming of computers to the individual student which can help with them learning at the specific pace that is most beneficial to them:

“Likewise for special-needs students, who find learning via e-readers, computers and software to be more engaging. And because lessons through such devices can be personalized for the students rather than a single lesson for the whole class, children with learning disabilities find themselves able to handle even advanced lessons and reach their fullest potential” (n.a., 1).

For many, this is an added draw to adding assistive technology into the classroom. The ability to manipulate the technology has not always been a factor in assistive programs. For example, when braille was introduced in 1829, everyone who used it had to learn it and apply it in the same manner which made a beneficial advancement less applicable and helpful. For this reason, “the setting factors that determine when and where computers will be used in the classroom, including their location, scheduling, and patterns of usage among students and teachers” are vital components to implementing assistive technological programs in special education classrooms (Howell, 1). A lot can be learned from older implementations of programs for people with special needs that guided introducing new programs in the past forty years.

An important timeline in the implementation of technology that lead to the introduction of the computer and other devices. Beginning in the 1970s, “attempts to summarize the effectiveness of technology in special education” began appearing due to the beginning stages of microcomputers (Woodward and Cuban, 5). The device continued to be created and became mass produced in the 1980s and is considered to be “the most influential technology of the late 20th century” (Blackhurst, 1). The microcomputer became a template for more modern forms of computers and tablets and their implications into the classroom today. Yet, the microcomputers were not introduced to teachers or students individually because “the 1980s also witnessed an increased emphasis on assistive technologies and the emergence of technology literature and computer software targeted directly at special education” (Blackhurst, 1). From this overdose of technology, researchers found that negative responses to assistive technology appeared at a heightened rate. Parents and teachers were wary “that technology’s primary use was to teach content material or basic skills; that is, in those studies, technology was used as an electronic tutor” (Woodward and Cuban, 5). For special education classrooms in particular, this posed a major concern about losing the individualized approach that comes from Individualized Education Plans (IEP) and teacher-student interactions. The goal of assistive technology, as seen earlier, is not to act as a tutor, but to make the daily life of a person with a disability easier and more accessible. In the classroom, the technology also helps to provide equal access for all students in the building, even if environmental factors vary. The late 1980s also had legislation being passed—the Technology-Related Assistance for Individuals with Disabilities Act—where Congress said that technology is beneficial for people with disabilities and should be allowed/accommodated for. Thus, the 1980s served as a transition period into the 1990s in terms of awareness and computer advancements.

Once the American Disabilities Act (ADA) passed in 1990, there was an increased focus on special education classrooms. With the ADA, a shift about the function of assistive technology occurred: “the remedial and special education literature abounds with a number of effective interventions, such as direct instruction, peer tutoring, and cooperative learning” (Woodward and Cuban, 6). The transition in perception around assistive technology use in special education classrooms suggests that teachers and parents are fining success in the alterations of the technology as it develops overtime. Plus, at this point in time, computers were starting to be seen more in the classroom on a regular basis; in fact, in a survey about technology use, “all of the special education teachers surveyed thought learning about computers was important and thought computers should be used in subjects other than math” (Elkins, 3). Not only is there a shift in the effectiveness of technology in the classroom, but teachers are also becoming more aware and versed in the different applications of the programs to most benefit the students. Cuban notes this “as a modest shift in the spectrum from non-users to occasional users and from occasional users to serious ones,” and he accounts this to the ADA being passed in 1990 and a heightened drive in teachers to explore ways of greater inclusion (Woodward and Cuban, 122). Also, the “focus on instructional design variables” around this time helped in “identifying the impact of critical instructional variables” on “potentially significant implications because these features could be added to or subtracted” to programs for students with disabilities (Woodward and Cuban, 8). The design variables are a step towards solving the problem around assistive technology with needing individualized plans for the students in special education classrooms to align with their IEPs.

Today—the early 2000s—is a technology centered world, but there are still concerns around technology being used in special education classrooms. Many parents are concerned that there is too great a dependence on technology in schools as some transition from textbooks to computers and Ipads. This is a positive in a sense for students who use keyboards to communicate—sometimes seen with students on the Autism Spectrum—because it lessens the emphasis on the student using something that signifies them as ‘different’. Yet, a key point to emphasize is that “the ultimate decision as to how or whether they will be used is left generally to the individual teachers” (Elkins, 1). Different attitudes toward teaching with technology generally relate to “teacher attitudes toward computing, [and] therefore, are critical if computer are to be successfully implemented in special education classes” (Elkins, 1). This discussion relates back to the transition in the number of teachers moving towards technology-based learning back in the late 1990s. Some teachers use “videodisc programs…with an entire class of students” to teach the general lesson, and then work individually with the students to work through remaining questions about the overall learning goal (Woodward and Cuban, 11). A rebuttal to this program—using technology only as a general introduction and not for the students—is that some applications are actually better for teacher organization and allow for the programming to be individualized for each student if they log into an account:

“Applications such as Google Classroom help teachers stay better organized and connected with their class while also tracking a student’s academic progress. This has helped to yield critical information regarding the learning process and performance of special-needs students, and subsequently, teachers can create more customized lesson plans for those students as well as determine how technological devices and software applications can better be used to assist them in their instruction” (n.a., 1).

However, the knowledge that this is not a unanimous practice emphasizes that “new technologies will not be easily integrated without a more definitive understanding of the interactional context into which they are being introduced” (Howell, 1). Instead, many people emphasize that the individual student matters more in the education process than the actual implementation into the program. Also, the setting of the classroom being a communitive place actually allows assistive technology to be a segway for more complex forms of reasoning because there can be collaboration with the other students in the classroom (Howell, 1). Therefore, the current debates around the implementation of assistive technology in special education classrooms is still fairly similar in the major conflicts that the discussion faces. Yet, with computers and programs, the installment of updates lets technology update to the newest version each second meaning that the newest programs are slowly upgrading to allow teachers and students time to get comfortable with assistive programs.

Overall, the use of assistive technology in special education classrooms is still widely debated today because of the potential lack in individualization and the lack of systematization across education systems. If teachers use technology in the forms of keyboards for communication, individualized apps for interactive learning, and smartboards with clickers for whole-class discussion, then there may be success with the programs. Yet, they must be introduced and advanced in increments to the classroom because they could inhibit socialization and communication techniques if used too quickly. In the past forty or so years, teachers and researchers have worked to improve the introduction techniques of assistive technology, especially after the ADA. Larry Cuban’s research on the effects of technology in the classroom are challenged by the use in special education classrooms due to the emphasis on one-on-one interactions between the student and teacher or aid. Moreover, the research around assistive technology in special education classrooms complicates the introduction of general technology because the purpose around assistive technology is slightly more geared to advancing skills that me need more fine-tuning for students with disabilities than students who are not in the special education classroom. Therefore, if assistive technology is integrated into special education classrooms in conjunction with standard classroom techniques and works to individualize programs based on student needs, then it is beneficial for the learning process and teaching practices in special education classrooms.


For a helpful infographic, follow this link:



Works Cited

50th-Anniversary-Timeline.Pdf. Accessed 1 Apr. 2019.

“Assistive Technology for Students with Disabilities.” The Tech Edvocate, 21 Nov. 2016,

Blackhurst, A. Edward. “Perspectives on Applications of Technology in the Field of Learning Disabilities.” Learning Disability Quarterly, vol. 28, no. 2, 2005, pp. 175–78. JSTOR, JSTOR, doi:10.2307/1593622.

Elkins, Ruth. “Attitudes of Special Education Personnel Toward Computers.” Educational Technology, vol. 25, no. 7, 1985, pp. 31–34. JSTOR.

Howell, Richard D. “Technology and Change in Special Education: An Interactional Perspective.” Theory Into Practice, vol. 29, no. 4, 1990, pp. 276–82. JSTOR.

Woodward, John, and Larry Cuban. Technology, Curriculum, and Professional Development: Adapting Schools to Meet the Needs of Students With Disabilities. Corwin Press, 2001.

Woodward, John, and Herbert Rieth. “A Historical Review of Technology Research in Special Education.” Review of Educational Research, vol. 67, no. 4, Dec. 1997, pp. 503–36. SAGE Journals, doi:10.3102/00346543067004503.

Sexual Violence at Trinity: Policy Changes That Make No Change

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1975- 1979: “ Getting sexually assaulted in a shower at Trinity (on campus). I vividly remember the incident as well as the Tripod’s (writers) insensitivity to describing it” (Channels).

1988-1989: “[My] friend was physically and sexually assaulted off campus by five Trinity “men” in their apartment. This young woman then contacted the authorities at Trinity and pressed charges against the men. In the end, the result included no formal punishment for the culprits but the young woman I knew left the college never to be heard from again” (Channels).

2010: “I have been sexually assaulted on this campus by another student (not at a fraternity)” (Hughes).

2010: “Getting sprayed with [beer] after refusing to have sex with a hall brother ” (Hughes).

It is a highly problematic and widely acknowledged fact that sexual assault and sexual harassment are prevalent on college campuses. As demonstrated by these direct quotes from female students when asked about their most memorable experience on campus, Trinity College as an institution of higher education is most certainly not immune from this. Though it has never been exempt from the atrocities of sexual assault and harassment, the beginning of coeducation at Trinity effectively brought these issues to the forefront of student experiences, when in 1969 the college’s first class of women were officially admitted. This momentous step toward coeducation also brought increased incidences of sexual misconduct in the decades following the introduction of women on campus. In order to understand the context of this research, it is important that I shed light onto the time frame I have chosen to focus on, which is the years between the start of coeducation at Trinity, 1969, through 2018, the beginning of the current academic year. I do not attempt to make any assertion that sexual violence did not occur on this campus prior to these years, but for the purposes of feasibility and manageability in conducting this research, I will begin in 1969 when women entered the stage of Trinity College and sexual violence more transparently reared its ugly head. I operate under the strong assumption that one can gain a more holistic view of the trajectory of sexual violence on college campuses throughout time by delving into official school policies, student reported experiences, and institutional reports that provide statistics of incidences of sexual violence. This paper will explore the extent to which Trinity College rules and regulations regarding sexual violence changed between the years of 1969 and 2018, and how Trinity women (and men and others) experienced sexual violence on campus during this time.

It is by comparing changes in official college rules and regulations in Trinity College Handbooks as the years progress, to student lived experiences via reports and sexual assault incident statistics that my research begins to take shape. It is clear that Trinity College policies have evolved from essentially nonexistent and focused on the victim’s role in sexual violence to well outlined, relatively extensive, and focused less on the victim’s role in the act between the years of 1969 and 2018. During the time period of 1969 to 1978, there was no explicit mention of sexual assault or harassment in the handbook policies and regulations. Therefore, for the first ten years of coeducation Trinity did not address sexual violence. In the decades that followed, policies shifted from minimal and placing responsibility on the victim to more detailed and less focused on the responsibility of the victim. However, Trinity student experiences largely remain stable between the years of 1969 and 2018 in their reports of abundant sexual misconduct and a culture of toxic dangerous male dominance, with peaks in intensity during the 1980s. Exceptions to this finding that should be noted are women involved in Greek life and women involved in a varsity sports team on campus in the 2000s; both of these groups’ reports were incongruent with the wider campus experience regarding sexual assault and harassment.

The first component of this research examines changes in Trinity College rules, regulations, and policies surrounding sexual assault between 1969 and 2018, and I will begin with the first ten years of coeducation. The first time that the words “sexual assault” or “rapist” are used in Trinity College Handbooks is in the 1978-1979 copy. Prior to this, sexual assault and harassment are not ever explicitly mentioned nor are there any regulations outright forbidding it. Between the 1969-1970 Trinity College Handbook and the 1977-1978 Trinity College Handbook, the closest the college comes to mentioning sexual violence is the rules that there could be no “abuse or physical assault of any person” and that “no exploitation or coercion of any other person shall be allowed” (Trinity College). While the latter hints at or suggests sexual assault, it is not explicitly stated until the 1978-1979 academic year. Just as there were no regulations forbidding sexual violence, there were no supports outlined for those who were victims of sexual assault or harassment nor were there repercussions for the perpetrators of this violence due to the institution’s general silence around the subject.

The Trinity College Handbook goes through its initial shift in the years between 1979 and 1987, wherein sexual assault begins to be explicitly mentioned, but the focus of the rhetoric emphasizes (almost exclusively) the victim’s role in preventing rape. Although during this time period sexual assault is officially addressed and seen as an issue, the college’s policy solely mentions steps of prevention that individuals, namely women, can take in order to not be raped or assaulted. Such steps include “BE RUDE, DON’T BE RAPED!”, being confident and walking with confidence, never changing in front of an open window, and telling your potential rapist that “I have my period” or “I’ve got V.D. [venereal disease]” in order to prevent assault (Trinity College, “1979-1980 Handbook”). Trinity College official policies and prevention ideology such as those listed above contribute to a victim-blaming culture where, if an individual was sexually assaulted during this time, the logical assumption was that they failed to do all steps necessary to prevent an assault and/or somewhere along the way did something (such as change in front of an open window or not walk confidently) that made them more susceptible to sexual assault.

In addition to an abundance of victim-centered policies on responsibility to prevent sexual assault, between 1979 and 1987 there was also an incredibly limited amount of information provided to students who had been victims of sexual assault. Until 1987, there were only four bullet points regarding the process that occurs after a sexual assault, only one of which included contact information of resources for students (Trinity College, “1985-1986 Handbook”). One of these mere two contacts provided was campus safety. Two of the bullet points discuss briefly the obligation and responsibility a victim has to others to report the assault, claiming that since a rapist doesn’t only rape once, victims have a responsibility to other potential victims to report. No options regarding pathways to reporting or instructions for reporting are given. The fourth and final bullet point under this section of “After an Attempted or Actual Assault” advises victims to get a medical examination following the incident. The utter lack of resources and contact information provided to students after an assault and the lack of instructions regarding how to report shed light on the minimal policies and regulations in place at Trinity College to prevent sexual assault and to support victims through a clear process of reporting during the years of 1979 to 1987.

The following several years, 1988-1995, mark a period of further evolution in policy within Trinity College Handbooks, wherein a “Statement on Sexual Harassment” is added to Trinity policy on sexual violence, clarifications regarding the scope of sexual harassment and assault are included, and certain language that place prevention responsibility on the victim are removed. In Trinity’s 1988-1989 Handbook, a “Statement on Sexual Harassment” appears for the first time. In this section of Trinity policy, sexual harassment is distinguished as different from sexual assault, and is explicitly acknowledged for the first time as a key component of sexually inappropriate behavior. Acknowledging the harm done from less extreme versions of sexual violence such as sexual harassment is a critical step in developing a more holistic policy on sexual violence. The added “Statement on Sexual Harassment” beginning in 1988 also states for the first time that men can be victims of sexual violence, not just women. The statement that “Most frequently, the offender in an incident involving sexual harassment is a male with authority or power over a female’s employment academic career. However, a woman in the position of power may be the aggressor in relationship to a male subordinate or student, or both victim and offender may be of the same sex” brings men into the picture as potential victims for the first time, yet the language while doing so operates under an assumption (as it did in past Handbooks) that sexual violence primarily occurs in powerful professional-student relationships (Trinity College, “1988-1989 Handbook). It makes the assertion that sexual harassment by and large happens in the context of a powerful faculty or boss who has control to some extent over the less-powerful student. Therefore, while making progress in the detail involved in descriptions of sexual harassment, the 1988-1989 handbook fails to make changes regarding the dynamics in which sexual harassment can take place, such as student-student interactions and not just faculty-student ones.

Perhaps the most significant and drastic changes during this period of evolution in policy between 1988-1995 are the removal of poignant language that places prevention responsibility of sexual assault/harassment on victims, an expansion of post-assault resources and clarity, and the addition of a “Sexual Assault and Awareness Education” section. In the 1990-1991 Handbook, the sexual assault prevention instructions of “BE RUDE, DON’T BE RAPED!” and telling one’s assailant that “I have my period” or “I’ve got a v.d.” are eliminated. The decision to remove such rhetoric from official college regulation surrounding sexual violence shows a pull away from victim-oriented prevention strategies wherein the person who is violated is somehow responsible for preventing the assault. However, the suggestion towards women to walk with confidence as a way to prevent rape remains in this copy of the handbook, suggesting that although significant changes in rhetoric that place responsibility on the victim do occur, they are not eliminated completely.

The expansion of post-assault resources for victims and increase in the clarity of policy (including a “Sexual Assault and Awareness Education” subheading) can be seen especially in the 1990-1991 Handbook and the 1993-1994 Handbook. In the 1990-1991 edition, a page of contact information/resources, instructions regarding how to report, and student options to either keep a complaint within Trinity or take it to the police is added to the previously existing “After an Attempted or Actual Sexual Assault” section of the handbook (Trinity College, “1990-1991 Handbook”). Prior to this expansion of information for victims, a mere four bullet points were listed as protocol and resources after an assault. Yet during this pivotal moment in policy change, a page worth of statements on confidentiality, options of who to report to, and eight additional contacts are added, effectively expanding post-assault resources for victims. Additionally, the 1993-1994 Handbook serves as an example of the period’s increase in detail and clarity, as well as an even further pull away from victim-oriented prevention. In this copy and increasingly others in the following years, labels and subheadings are clearer and easier to find grouped together. This makes the process potentially easier for sexual assault/harassment victims who go looking for regulations and policy about where to turn. The 1993 Handbook also introduces a “Sexual Assault and Awareness Education” component wherein the college explains programs implemented at orientation and throughout the school year that aim to educate students about the prevalence of sexual violence and various resources such as peer educators and peer counselors. Offering (and requiring) an increased amount of resources outside of the victim’s own actions demonstrates a continued separation from the victim-oriented prevention that previously dominated Trinity policy.

The last period of change addressed here stretches from 1996 until the beginning of this academic year, 2018-2019. The changes in regulation and policy that are outlined above have continued to evolve in Trinity College Handbooks. Definitions of sexual assault and harassment have continued to become more clearly stated and nuanced, and in the 2009-2010 Handbook for example, specific examples of physical, verbal, and written sexual harassment are given as well as different dynamics of sexual harassment (harassment in romantic relationships, in student-student relationships, etc.) (Trinity College, “2009-2010 Handbook”). This level of detail and specificity grows even more when one looks at the 2018-2019 Handbook, where a link is provided that takes the reader to the college’s Policy on Sexual Misconduct. This policy is more detailed than in any prior handbook, with 24 different subheadings on the table of contents (about the equivalent to the number of subheadings in the entirety of previous Handbooks). These headings relate to definitions of sexual harassment and assault, reporting protocol, the investigation process, education on sexual violence, sanctions/punishments, as well as an abundance of contacts and resources for victims. Although the college has included far more detail in recent years than ever before, the extent of this detail may in fact be confusing or overwhelming for new victims to work through and make sense of.

The college also still has a “Prevention and Education” component of their policy on sexual misconduct, yet the prevention tools given are incredibly different from those in the school’s earlier years of coeducation. Where prevention in earlier handbooks was primarily focused on what the victim should be doing to ensure they do not get assaulted, prevention in the 2018 version includes a mere paragraph which mentions prevention programs that focus on bystander intervention and programming about consent (Trinity College, “2018-2019 Handbook”). The length of this prevention section as well as the content are significant indicators that the emphasis in Trinity policy currently is much less focused on the victim’s responsibility to prevent sexual violence and is more focused on how others can intervene and/or prevent crossing lines of violation by getting consent. It is evident, then, through an examination of Trinity College Handbooks that policy and regulations regarding sexual violence on campus have evolved significantly from being essentially nonexistent, to minimal and focused on the victim’s responsibility to prevent assault, to finally more detailed and less focused on the victim’s responsibility in preventing assault.

Although official policy surrounding sexual violence at Trinity college has evolved between 1969 and 2018, an examination of student experiences during this time is necessary in order to uncover the relationship between change in policy and student experiences during this time. Through the analysis of student testimonies in Professor Noreen Channels’ “Survey of the Trinity College Alumnae”, Female Students Surveys, Campus Climate Surveys, and Title IX Surveys, I have been able to gain a solid understanding of student experiences at Trinity College surrounding issues of sexual assault and sexual harassment. The first of these examinations of student experiences with sexual violence that I will explore is Professor Noreen Channels’ “Survey of the Trinity College Alumnae”. This survey was conducted in the Spring of 1990, making its release immediately following the 20 year anniversary of coeducation at Trinity. In this survey, Professor Channels asks female students who attended Trinity during these first 20 years of coeducation (the 1970s-1980s) about their experiences on campus, discrimination they may have faced, and any notable memories from their time at Trinity, among other things. The findings reveal that during the 1970s and 1980s, female students experienced an incredible amount of sexual violence on campus.

By analyzing this survey I am able to see that between 1970 and 1989, during which Trinity policy evolved from nonexistent to minimal but focused primarily on victim-oriented prevention, student experiences did not decrease at all and in fact a peak in intensity of sexual assaults can be seen in the 1980s. When asked to explain one or two specific memories about being a woman at Trinity in Channels’ survey, women who attended the college in the 1970s made countless comments about the lack of safety that they felt and the sexual assault, harassment, and/or the hostile sexualized and male-dominated environment that they experienced. Time and time again, women during the 1970s at Trinity also reflected on their time at the college by describing the lack of support or care that administration had for their safety and for pursuing justice for their assaulters. Examples of such comments regarding this lack of safety and dissatisfaction with administrative actions surrounding sexual violence can be seen in one student’s comment (who attended Trinity in 1975-1979) that “Even though there were a significant number of physical assaults on women, there was essentially no college-sponsored remedy”, and another student’s sentiment, who attended during the same years, that “It felt like it was ‘open season’ on Trinity women my freshman and sophomore years. I rarely felt physically safe. Security should’ve been increased in every way possible” (Channels 6). Similarly, flocks of female students reported stories of sexual assault, harassment, and sexually hostile comments that they heard on campus. These sexually inappropriate comments from male students contributed to a hostile, male dominated campus culture that made female students feel unsafe. Examples of the type of sexual harassment that is frequently reported of female students from the 1970s in this survey include unwarranted visits from males in female bathrooms/showers and harassment from male Professors who humiliated students for refusing to succumb to sexual requests (Channels 19). These sentiments are reflected countless times throughout the Channels survey, demonstrating that female students in the 1970s felt incredibly unsafe and vulnerable to sexual harassment and assault in addition to feeling unsupported by administration/policy.

Through student responses in the Noreen Channels survey, the 1980s prove to be the worst decade in the years that I examine for this research, due to the significant spike in intensity of sexual assault incidences. It is worth revisiting the fact that it is in the 1980s that Trinity College policy in the Handbooks were incredibly focused on the victim’s role and responsibility in preventing violence done to them. During the time period where this victim-oriented prevention thrived in college policy, female students experienced the worst and most intense culture of sexual violence to date. Dozens of women who attended Trinity in the 1980s reported vulgar sexual assaults done to either them or those that they knew in this survey. Countless women spoke of a gang rape incident in which a Hartford woman was sexually assaulted by a group of fraternity brothers at a Trinity fraternity house; nearly all women who mentioned this incident in the survey also discussed the fact that they believed the administration brushed the whole scenario off and the brothers who raped the young woman were not held accountable to an appropriate level. In addition, women described the rhetoric at the time to be emphasizing the victim’s role in the assault and claimed that she was “asking for it” (Channels). Similar stories of various assaults are told over and over in this survey, with one woman explaining her own experience being gang raped by her date and his fraternity brothers. After describing how they forcefully held her down, ripped off just the amount of clothes necessary to do what they intended to do, and raped her, she goes on to discuss how she was made to feel about the situation by the campus culture. She writes:

As the victim I felt I must have done something to instigate this behavior or I should not have been in his room and it must have been my fault. I was finally able to tell a few friends after locking myself in a dark room tor a week, I guess to pay penance. My friends were sorry for me but we all came from nice towns and nice schools and this didn’t happen to “nice” girls. Maybe that’s one reason I didn’t report it. I also came to Trinity a year after the “Crow Incident” [where the Hartford woman was gang raped by fraternity brothers] and I know a few of those involved in that and also just hearing people talk about it made the woman out to be the instigator and the feeling seemed to be that she deserved it. Well now I know that isn’t true but back then I felt that was the response I would get. There was another rape incident which was reported and the girl sued the boy but be won because she had been in his room and according to many students she was asking for it.

The attitude that this woman expresses about the shame and blame she put on herself as well as the blame that the Trinity community put on other female victims of sexual assault is incredibly reflective of Trinity policy during this time. The overwhelming majority of material in Trinity College policy (as seen in the handbooks) during the 1980s emphasized actions that women should be sure to do in order to prevent being sexually assaulted. Putting the responsibility to not get raped on women via instructing them to never walk alone, to walk confidently, to not be alone with someone they don’t know well, or to tell a potential assailant that they were on their period or had a venereal disease, created a campus culture that blamed female students for being raped. If a woman was sexually assaulted, the campus community spoke of the ways that she must have been asking for it since she was at the man’s dorm alone with him or was dressed provocatively. This in turn lead to women feeling ashamed of being assaulted and placing blame on themselves, as described above. The college policies in the 1980s that did not hold rapists and perpetrators accountable for not assaulting women and instead held women accountable for not being raped, is strongly correlated with a decade of alarmingly intense reports of sexual assault and harassment.

As Trinity College policy regarding sexual violence in the handbooks continued to evolve to become more detailed and less victim-oriented in prevention tactics moving into the 1990s and 2000s, student experiences continue to show an abundance of sexual assault, harassment, and a culture of toxic male dominance on campus. Although the intensity of student reported experiences are not at the same level as they were in the peak of the 1980s, recent student experiences of sexual harassment can be seen as just as abundant and male-dominated as they were in the 1970s. One source that sheds light on the still sexually violent and hostile campus environment is Trinity College’s Report on 2010 Female Students Survey (Hughes). In this report, in addition to several questions about campus involvement and interest, female students were asked to recount one or two specific experiences of being a woman at Trinity, a similar question to that in the Noreen Channels survey. Although the question makes no explicit reference to sexual assault or harassment, many students’ responses focus on these aspects of life at Trinity. An overwhelming majority of comments reflect those mentioned at the beginning of this paper, where women described what can only be explained as a male-dominated, aggressive campus culture of objectification and sexual violence on various levels. Sexual violence is seen through these student testimonials to include harassment such as derogatory and inappropriate language, non-consensual sexual touching, ridicule and bullying when one doesn’t consent to sexual acts, and sexual assault. While explicit and easily identifiable trends of sexual assault and fearing for one’s safety at parties are seen in this survey, so too are more subtle but incredibly harmful trends of sexual harassment that contribute to a sexually hostile campus culture that persists today despite changes in policy. Examples of this harassment include being cat called and stared at when walking down the hall in a towel after a shower, groped and rubbed up against unwarrantedly at parties, the notion that, “If you hint at the idea that you’d like to make friends without taking your clothes off, you will quickly be ignored”, and being sprayed with beer when refusing to have sex with a fraternity brother (Hughes, “Female Students Survey”). Many women spoke of a campus culture wherein “male domination still pervades on campus” through verbal harassment, physical harassment, and systems such as fraternities that exist in such a way that male students are given power to selectively let in women they deem sexually attractive enough to pursue once they are inside (Hughes, “Female Students Survey” 13). The abundance of incidents such as these reported in the 2010 Female Students Survey alone indicate that, although as the years after coeducation have passed policies and expectations have evolved to be more blatant, detailed, and less focused on the victim’s job to prevent assault, there still remains a sexually hostile and unsafe environment on Trinity’s campus.

It is true that a large proportion of respondents in the 2010 Female Students Survey indicated this level of sexual violence through harassment and assault, yet by and large female students who were members of Greek life or athletic teams in the 2000s reported quite the opposite. Both female students involved in sororities and in varsity athletics reported an overwhelming sense of comradery and safety on campus. One sorority sister wrote “I loved my experience at Trinity.  Any small negative experience I encountered had NOTHING to do with the fact I am female.  I would actually say being a woman enhanced my experience a ton because I could be part of a sorority which I absolutely love.” Similarly, a student athlete whose view is reflected in several other female athlete’s reports said “As a member of the Women’s Rugby team, I feel empowered to be a woman on Trinity’s campus. I feel that the girls on the team really take pride in their status as women and they have taught me so much about appreciating being a woman” (Hughes, “Female Students Survey”). No claims of sexual violence during their years spent at Trinity were mentioned in statements by women who also claimed that they were a part of a Greek life organization or athletic team. A handful of female athletes did report discriminatory practices in the spending and resources that men’s teams as opposed to women’s teams received, but none mentioned incidents of sexual assault or harassment.

In addition to the majority experience of females on campus regularly undergoing sexual harassment and assault in the 2000s even as Trinity policy became thoroughly outlined, students also failed to report instances of sexual violence likely due to a lack of knowledge/clarity regarding where and how to report. As mentioned previously, although the policy in Trinity College handbooks evolved to become detailed and elaborate, it is very possible that such an exorbitant amount of detail can in fact be confusing and overwhelming for victims looking to report. This is supported in the 2007 Campus Climate Survey, where, out of the individuals (both men and women) who responded in the survey that they had experienced sexual harassment of some sort during their time at Trinity, only 7% of women and 0% of men actually reported the incident to any campus faculty besides an RA or professor (Hughes, “Campus Climate”). Additionally, only 10% of women who responded in this survey that they had been sexually assaulted at Trinity actually reported the incident to any campus faculty besides an RA or professor. This is to say that 0% of men in this survey filed an official report or complaint of their harassment, a mere 7% of women filed an official report or complaint of their harassment to the college, and only 10% of women (women were the only ones to respond as having been assaulted) filed an official report or complaint of their assault. A source of information that explains this utter lack of reporting is the 2015 Title IX Survey. According to this 2015 Title IX Survey, “Only half [of respondents] felt they knew how to file a formal sexual assault/harassment criminal complaint, or were familiar with the disciplinary processes that would be put in motion by such a complaint” and  “Only one in ten could accurately identify the Title IX coordinator” (Hughes, “Title IX Survey”).” The disparity between abundant student experiences of sexual harassment and assault as described in the 2010 Female Students Survey and the lack of reporting seen in the 2007 Campus Climate Survey can certainly be attributed to the respondents’ lack of knowledge regarding the process of reporting and the resources to whom one should turn to in order to report. This confusion and lack of clarity about the reporting process is explained in the aforementioned 2015 Title IX Survey. It is also possible that, given student testimonies of victim-blaming culture on campus in prior years, students did not feel comfortable reporting and did not trust in the administration to deliver justice to their assailants. Even though Trinity College policies and regulations changed to become more detailed and less focused on victim-oriented prevention, student experiences of sexual violence did not decrease in the 2000s and due to a lack of clarity surrounding reporting (or perhaps a toxic campus culture), a shocking proportion of students also did not report their incidents of being victim to sexual misconduct.

By analyzing change over time in policy on sexual harassment and assault in Trinity College Handbooks, it has become evident that the college’s official regulations and policy shifted from nonexistent during the first ten years of coeducation, to minimal and emphasizing the role of the victim in prevention strategies for assault between 1979 to 1987, to extensive, relatively well outlined, and focused less on the victim’s obligations to prevent her/his own assault in recent years. However, while this progressive shift toward a more holistic sexual assault policy took place, student experiences did not improve. In fact, student-reported experiences of harassment, assault, and a dangerous male-dominated environment remained stable between the years of 1969 and 2018, with a dramatic peak in intensity of sexual violence in the 1980s. Female sorority members and female varsity sports team athletes seem to be the only exception to this finding, as this demographic reported feelings of safety and comradery on campus and did not claim to be victims of an abundance of sexual violence as the majority of other females did.  Additionally, student reporting of sexual harassment and assault did not improve as Trinity policy did, and according to one survey, startlingly low percentages of victims actually officially reported their incident to the college. This is likely due to either a lack of clarity about where and how to report, as the 2015 Title IX Survey suggests, or due to a victim-blaming culture on campus that several students reported left them feeling to blame for their own sexual assault and untrusting of college administration. By comparing various aspects of Trinity College policy and regulations in the handbooks to various aspects of student experiences with sexual harassment and sexual assault on campus, I have been able to discover the following: official policies evolved in quality and quantity of description and prevention strategies between 1969 and 2018, while negative student experiences peaked in the 1980s and proceeded to remain stable in terms of sexual violence and male-dominated environments between the years of 1969 and 2018.


Works Cited

Channels, Noreen L. “Survey of the Trinity College Alumnae Conducted in the Spring, 1990.”    Watkinson Library at Trinity College, 1990.

Trinity College. “Trinity College Handbook.” 1969-2018. Accessed 06 April 2019

Hughes, James J. “2007 Campus Climate Frequencies.” Trinity College, 2007.

—“2010 Female Student Survey Frequencies.” Trinity College, Apr. 2010

— “2015 Title IX Survey Summary.” Trinity College, July 2015.

“Trinity College Policy on Sexual Misconduct.” Trinity College, 12 Sept. 2018.


“Race-Blind” Higher Education Admissions

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Upon first glance, it may be troubling to understand why there is so much debate over Affirmative Action. Why would anyone oppose a system in higher education that furthers the rights of minorities and provides them with greater opportunities in admissions and employment? History has also shown that the government has fought hard for multiple decades to instill these protections in attempts to diversify numerous professional fields. Here it is crucial to realize that multiple factors have changed in the social sphere from when affirmative action first originated, and that opponents of the process believe it to be unconstitutional as it allows race to be factored into such an important decision at their own determinant. For instance, many Asian American students believe that they feel “reverse discrimination” in that they are not allowed into colleges of their choice despite having equal or even better SAT scores, high school GPAs, etc. than their counterparts. This essay explores how Affirmative Action has been defined under the equal protection clause over the past few decades, and the debate over it’s feasibility and application in higher education admissions.

Affirmative Action originated after the era of civil rights, as proponents thought of it as a way that employment and admission into higher education could be made more available to minority groups. As President Johnson would state, Affirmative Action was a means to even the starting line of a race for all races. By 2003 this had changed as both opponents of Affirmative Action and the Supreme Court declared that using a quota system to allow greater opportunity for minority groups violated the Equal Protection Clause of The Constitution. However, it was also ruled that race could still be used for diversification purposes if it was used as part of holistically judging an applicant. As such, proponents at the time continued to argue that Affirmative Action was being used to diversify professional and academic fields. Today, opponents of Affirmative Action at Harvard claim that the admissions office has a hidden quota system where points and percentages are used to quantify race in the applications process, a practice that violates the Equal Protection Clause. Proponents have stated that without Affirmative Action, the racial diversity of such institutions would greatly diminish and lead to lack of diversity in thought.

These changes have occurred as a result of a changing social sphere in America, and our desire to provide equality to those who have previously had opportunities deprived of them. However, in doing so, people have questioned whether the government is adhering to the equal protection clause if they are providing extra help or assistance to one racial group over another. The fact that the constitution is also a living, breathing document that is open to interpretation has also fueled debate over how the clause applies to education. Ultimately, the question has become whether America is adhering to it’s democratic ideals if it is diversifying education at the sake of equal treatment to all races. Additionally, ongoing debates have questioned whether it’s even feasible for race to even be considered a part of the admission process, when it’s not a characteristic that one can change or improve as they can their qualifications.

In order to understand the debate over Affirmative Action, it is first important to understand how the term was initially defined in the 1960s-1970s. Affirmative action was seen as a product of the era of civil rights, a time where protests and riots all wished for equal rights to rightfully be extended to African Americans. However, in order to ensure equal rights to African Americans, it was also true that reperations would have to be made for the external and internal pressures that had previously allowed for the subjection of these individuals. President Johnson implicitly brought up this notion of Affirmative Action in his commencement speech at Howard University.

“You do not take a person who, for years, had been hobbled by chains and liberate him, bring him up to the starting line of a race and they say, ‘you are free to compete with all the others,’ and still justly believe that you have been completely fair…it is not enough just to open the gates of opportunity.” (Johnson, 1965)

As such, it was understood that additional assistance from the government would be needed as a means to ensure that people of the minority would have equal rights to their white counterparts. Johnson’s ideas were translated into the signing of Executive Order 11246, “which reaffirmed the government’s commitment to promoting ‘equal employment opportunity’ in companies holding federal contracts” (Kotlowski, 1988). Although this was a step in the right direction, no real specific plans for the future were made to reinforce these ideas and the executive order. Additionally, it was questionable whether this change was enough to make sure that individuals in the minority and White Americans were at the same “starting line of the race”.

Johnson’s speech was part of the first of two distinct stages in which Affirmative Action developed. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 were also two important events that defined the first stage (Graham, 1992). These two events can be seen as eliminating the pressures that existed in continuing the subjection and discrimination of minority groups. These ideologies transferred into the realm of higher education admissions, as the Civil Rights Act in particular would make “it illegal to discriminate against students and college applicants on the basis of race or gender” (Education.Findlaw, 1964). In understanding the historical context of this time, the Regents of the University of California v. Bakke court case is also vital. The plaintiff in the case, a thirty-five year old white male, was denied application twice from the University of California Medical School at Davis despite his qualifications being higher than those of certain admitted minority students. These students were actually part of the college’s pre-set number of qualified minorities to be admitted (Oyez,1979). Ultimately, five out of the nine justices contended that the use of a “racial quota system…violated the Civil Rights Act of 1964”, however stated that race could be used as part of the college admissions process for the bonafide purpose of diversifying the student body. (Oyez,1979). As such, race could be used in admissions if it wasn’t explicitly discriminating against other races. By having a certain number of seats saved for a certain minority group, it would however, be discriminating against the majority and be considered unconstitutional.

The second stage occurred about a year later, and was said to have introduced new policies/procedures that would bring minority groups up to the starting line. Additionally, emphasis was placed on the role of the presidency and Congress in interpreting a “race-blind Constitution” (Graham, 1992). Important changes included the creation of the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission (EEOC) in 1965, Title IX in 1972, and the Office of Federal Contract Compliance in 1977 (Graham, 1992 & Mansky, 2016). All three of these changes showed how the government was shifting toward creating an environment in which qualifications, rather than race, were of consideration in employment. Despite the fact that none of these changes directly affected education, they did suggest a “race blind” system that believed providing additional help to one racial group over another was not the goal. Regardless, these events still functioned in allowing minority groups greater opportunity in employment at the time.

The University of Michigan cases, both of which occurred a few decades later in 2003, were crucial in further defining what exactly the Bakke case meant by allowing race to be considered part of the admissions process but not allowing a quota. The first of the two cases in Michigan was Grutter v. Bollinger. In this court case a highly achieving white female was denied admission to University of Michigan’s Law School that was known to “use race as a factor in making admissions decision because it serves a ‘compelling interest in achieving diversity among its student body’” (Oyez, 2003). In order to do so, the committee used “a point system in which students were awarded an additional 20 points for being a member of an underrepresented minority…” (Oyez, 2003). The admissions committee also evaluated the student’s high school GPA, extracurricular abilities, and alumni relationships to determine her eligibility. Justice Sandra Day O’Connor concluded “that the Equal Protection Clause does not prohibit the Law School’s narrowly tailored use of race in admissions decisions…” (Oyez, 2003). The court reasoned that because admission is decided on a case by case overview of the students’ merits, and race is only one of the factor that is used in holistically obtaining an image of the application, it is not unconstitutional in its use. However, on the same day in the Gratz v. Bollinger court case, the opposite decision was made. The University of Michigan’s Law School was found to violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment because they held a certain number of seats for minority students and used the point system.

Subsequently, proponents in the Michigan cases and the Bakke court case, believed that holding seats and allowing extra points for minority students allowed them an advantage that was equivalent to those that majority groups already enjoyed due to their race. Conversely, opponents of affirmative action, did not believe that the law school’s desire to diversify their student body was more important that selectively providing certain races a significant advantage. Once again, the quota system could be compared to something like the literacy tests that were required of certain African Americans to vote prior to 1965. Affirmative Action was viewed as system that would discriminate against a racial group or even allow their race from admissions, regardless of the fact that they were part of the majority.

Conversation had changed in the past decade from whether race can or can’t be allowed as part of admissions, to whether race is being applied constitutionally and without a quota-system. Recent court cases, including the Fisher v. University of Texas, have called under fire whether schools are secretly using a quota-system. A vital court case, with deliberation that is currently occuring, is the Harvard Affirmative Action Case that began around 2012.

The plaintiffs in the case claimed that their child had not been accepted to Harvard because of his ethnicity. “Specifically, they allege that Harvard set a limit on the number of Asian American students admitted to the University and applied a higher standard to their son’s application that it did to applications submitted by White Americans”(Quay, 1999-2019). Harvard immediately denied these accusations and stated that they did not use any quota-system, “to exclude or to include”, nor did they hold Asian Americans to a different standard than White Americans (Quay, 1999-2019). According to the constitution, admissions committees are allowed to use race in their admissions process if it is part of holistically judging an applicant rather than on a quota system where student are awarded points for being one race over another. As such, the admissions committee posited that despite the child being well rounded and having grades that would allow him to succeed at Harvard, other applicants had stronger qualifications. The plaintiff’s family was not satisfied with this response, and an investigation was opened.

In letters between Harvard’s Attorney and an individual at the Office for Civil Rights, a multitude of documents in regard to Harvard’s admissions process were included. Additionally, the process that the committee uses to decide whether an applicant is eligible was clearly stated in the letters and is as follows. All applications are first rated on a scale from 1-4 on academic achievement, extracurricular activities, athletics, and personal qualities. Applications are reviewed by “docketts” that are essentially “sub committees formed around geographical areas” (Quay, 1999-2019). The dockett for Southern California has an acceptance rate of 5.1%, in which Asian Americans have an acceptance rate of 5.6% and White Americans have an acceptance rate of 5.1%. Prior to the court case, The United States Department of Education had also stated that although “Asian American applicants have been admitted at a significantly lower rate than white applicants…this disparity is not the result of discriminatory policies or procedures” (Quay, 1999-2019).

Opponents of Affirmative Action point to the fact that although Harvard denies claims of discriminating against Asian American applicants, they also contend that if they were “forced to abide by racial neutral criteria, the number of black and Hispanic students on campus would plummet” (Biskupic, 2018). As such, opponents focus on the fact that Harvard is admitting to not using a “racial neutral” system for admissions. They pose the question of whether involving race in the process is feasible at all, if the ultimate effect is providing significant advantages or disadvantages to either race. Allowing admissions to one race and baring it for another.  Additionally, it isn’t a criteria that applicants can somehow change or improve like they can other criteria. Opponents, including the Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA), also point to the fact that the average class of 1600 freshman have consistently been about 23% Asian American, 15% African American, 12% Latino, and 50% White American. SFFA argues that “Asian American applicants are essentially capped below the acceptance percentage”, and that Harvard consistently having these same percentages is proof of use of a hidden quota. (Biskupic, 2018) Critics of the SFFA may argue that if an equivalent number of Asian Americans are applying to Harvard over the years, it is reasonable for the percent of admitted student to remain equivalent. However, a study on the number of applicants, has shown that the number of Asian American applicants has actually grown by nearly 93.7% since 2000 (Avi-Yonah & McCafferty, 2018). As such, to accommodate for a greater number of applicants, we would expect an equivalent increase in acceptance rate. Lastly, opponents of Affirmative Action state that Harvard is able to indirectly use race in a quota-type system by providing Asian Americans with lower “personal ratings” despite the fact that these applicants perform better in academic and extracurricular activities than their non-Asian American peers (Reilly, 2018). Figure 1 shows the “percentage of Harvard Applicants Who Received High Personal Ratings” (Jung, 2018), in comparison to other races.


Figure 1: Personal Ratings

In a rally the day prior to the court cases, the leader of the SFFA attempted to sway public opinion by stating how unethical and unjust it was in “a multi-racial, multi-ethnic nation like ours, [for] the admissions’ bar [to] be raised for some races, and lowered for others” (Reilly, 2018). The question is of whether it would be more reasonable to completely remove race from the admissions process and instead focus on the students’ merits, thus creating a truly “race-blind” system. The argument being made here is that the equal protection clause is not being applied to the racial majority and that enough time has passed from prior subjectation/discrimination for the government to not have to provide significant advantage to minorities.

Conversely, proponents of Affirmative Action mainly argue that removing the policies in place will harm minority groups to quite some extent. Subsequently, there will be a notable decline in diversity among races, and diversity of thought on college campus as racial inequality deepens. We can also expect for future opportunities for minorities to decline if they are allowed access to higher education at lower percentages. Ultimately, proponents of Affirmative Action view allowing race as part of the decision as a way to even the playing field for minority students, and allowing them the same benefits that their non-minority counterparts can afford. They argue that the diversification of education and employment is feasible and protected under the equal protection clause.

Clearly both proponents and opponents in this case are making very emotionally charged arguments, which doubled with the racial climate, will make it difficult to arrive at a decision in the next few months. Additionally, the decision made in this court case will set precedent as to how race is considered in education and employment in the future. Ultimately, this court case highlights how the definition of Affirmative Action have changed significantly since its origin and shows how application of the equal protection clause to education has changed significantly over the past few decades. Despite all the time that has passed, the question remains whether race should even be allowed as part of the admissions process and whether we can sacrifice equal treatment of all races for the purposes of diversifying the student body at colleges.



Affirmative Action and College Admissions. (1964). Retrieved from

Avi-Yonah, S. S., & McCafferty, M. C. (2018, October 19). The Harvard Crimson. Retrieved May 1, 2019, from

Biskupic, J. (2018). Harvard affirmative action trail arguments come to a close. CNN Politics. Retrieved from

Graham, H. (1992). The Origins of Affirmative Action: Civil Rights and the Regulatory State. The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 523, 50-62. Retrieved from:

Gratz v. Bollinger. (2003). Oyez. Retrieved April 2, 2019, from

Grutter v. Bollinger. (2003). Oyez. Retrieved April 2, 2019, from

Johnson, L. B. (1965, June 4). Commencement Address at Howard University: “To Fulfill These Rights”. Retrieved May 1, 2019, from

Jung, C. (2018, November 02). Harvard Discrimination Trial Ends, But Lawsuit Is Far From Over. Retrieved from

Kotlowski, D. (1998). Richard Nixon and the Origins of Affirmative Action. Historian, 60, 523-541. Retrieved from:

Mansky, J. (2016, June 22). The Origins of the Term “Affirmative Action”. Retrieved from

Quay, H. (2012, February 2). Letter to Nicole Merhill, Office for Civil Rights. Retrieved from Cited in Evidence in Harvard Admissions Trial, The Washington Post, 1999-2019

Regents of the University of California v. Bakke. (1979). Oyez. Retrieved April 2, 2019, from

Reilly, K. (2018). As the Harvard Admissions Case Nears a Decision, Hear from 2 Asian-American Students on Opposite Sides. TIME. Retrieved from

Food, Glorious Food: The Evolution of School Lunches from 1946 to 1970

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Everyone has eaten a lunch in schools at one point or another, but have you ever wondered where the food actually comes from? The National School Lunch program is a meal program established by the federal government that is designed to run in public schools as well as in non profit private schools aiming to provide nutritional meals for children every single day. This essay will examine how exactly The National School Lunch Program in The United States has evolved from 1946 to the 1980s. In doing so, it will become clear who the federal Government was looking to please over the years and will further explain why certain foods were accessible in schools in some years but not others.

The story of this program consists of the federal government making various promises to several different groups of people that were changing over time. The National School Lunch Program began in 1946, a time where the federal government was solely focusing on the needs of farmers by purchasing their excess crops. But the Program outcomes changed and shifted by 1950, when the quality of surplus food improved, making school lunches more nutritious for children. Finally by the 1960s, the federal government had more funds to distribute a wider variety of food options, making them more accessible and less expensive for schools allowing much more free nutritional support for low income areas.

In the years leading up to 1946, nutrition reformers, specifically women that worked closely in home economics food research, were finally granted what they worked hard for for years. This ‘success’ was known as the National School Lunch Program but it initially did not exactly pan out how they dreamed it would and in fact took over twenty years before being a true success all around. The National School Lunch Program was created “as a measure of national security, to safe courage the health and well-being of the nations children and to encourage the domestic consumption of nutritious agricultural commodities and other foods.” (Gunderson, 14-15) While this sounds like it would work wonders on a society that recently exited a time of extreme struggle known as the Great Depression, it was not nearly as easy as it sounds. The National School Lunch Program was established in a time where it was safe to say that what kinds of foods children were consuming was not high on the list of things to worry about in schools in America and children’s nutrition certainly “took a back seat to other interests.” (4) While the Programs aim on the surface was to “rescue children from greasy food and teach students to prefer zucchini over french fries” (introduction), they were left with no choice but to only have the capability of serving ‘greasy foods’ due to the fact that they were the only affordable foods in this time period. The administrative structure of the National School Lunch Program “limited its ability to deliver universal child nutrition or to feed poor children” (72) which were two of the sole purposes the program existed in the first place. This poses the question of whether this program was a success in the earlier years specifically.

In short, the answer to this question seems rather clear in that The School Lunch Programs did increase tremendously in the twenty five year span. While this answer is expected, it is fascinating to examine why exactly this was and display just how many parts there are to what seems as though a rather simple issue of putting meals on childrens plates. This simple issue, was by no means simple.

While the National School Lunch Program officially started in 1946, it wasn’t until the 1960s that it really became a national success and spread throughout The United States. Yes, establishing the Program did mean all state schools were responsible for serving food at lunch time, but it by no means further defined what this meant. In the early years of the program, “the menu always depended more heavily on surplus commodities than on children’s nutritional needs” (2) due to the fact that food was scarce to begin with as a result of The Great Depression. Not only that, but also schools were given foods that they simply could not use and it was said that “perishable foods rotted en route to schools or arrived unannounced at schools that could not refrigerate them,” (Levenstein, Harvey)  This not only wasted a lot of quality food, but also gave schools less food to serve to students and sometimes left them unable to have full meals. It was clear that it really was not about the nutrition for these young children, but rather what foods were able to be provided at that time. Getting healthy foods on children’s plates was not a concern at a time when getting food for them in general was.

While finding a balanced meal was a problem for students in the United States school district in general, it was extremely problematic, for lower income families due to the fact that they were relying on schools to feed them in place of the meals that they would miss at home because they were unaffordable and inaccessible. It is said that “the National School Lunch Program is the single most important source of nutrition for children from low income families” (2) because it, in theory, offered free meals to those that could not afford to eat otherwise. This is made clear by Levine when she marks, “without school lunches, many children in this country would go hungry; many more would be undernourished.” (2) But, the lack of funding for these free meals for poor children resulted in schools having no choice but to serve processed and fast foods which completely goes against any form of nutrition that these young children both needed and deserved. This puts a block on any potential for children to have a healthy cushion in the most important and developmental stages of their life making them unable to grow to their fullest potential. Overtime, nutritional reformers began to realize this as a really big issue through the statistics on childhood obesity as well as malnourishment in schools.

Not only were students in the earlier years not getting the nutrition they needed to monitor their growth, but it was also noted that some school lunch opponents view government involvement with lunches to be a threat to the children’s development of character and it was now a common fear that a “free school lunch program would destroy national morale.” (82) Communal feeding seemed new and dangerous for some students as well as the idea of government feeding program would result in socialistic views for children which made many uncomfortable. This further shows the unsuccessful rate of The School Lunch Program in its early years because of the controversy and issues it brought up.

By the 1950s, there were already extreme improvements with the help of the Department of Agriculture’s domestic agenda in addressing one of the leading concerns; children’s health. They were now more so looking to “improve the dietary habits of school children” (NYT) because the funds of the federal government increased. In doing so, this allowed the federal government to focus more on child nutrition and less on purchasing foods for the sake of farmers. There were rapid changes in The School Lunch Programs in their introduction to all sorts of commodities. In addition, “the government distributed close to two million pounds of food products, including dried beans, cheese, orange juice, and peanut butter, along with apples, pears, cranberries, beets, cabbage, butter, and honey,” (93) which clearly steps far away from the fast food products that were forced in in the earlier years. There were many aspects of noted improvement such as “a strong well-fed youth, a larger income for the farmer, a huge market for the food trades, jobs for the lunchroom personnel, employment for related industries, constructive outlets for abundant commodities, a well-nourished student who is more receptive to instruction, and a healthier Nation.” (93-94) While the improvements were tremendous there was a dark reality that laid below the surface of things that certainly track back to the original ways of The School Lunch Program.

While on the surface it seemed as though these improvements really came from people wanting “to encourage the domestic consumption of nutritious agricultural commodities and other foods” (NYT) , and it was certainly painted like that, which in part is very true, the reason it all finally came together is fairly separate from that. One big reason all these nutritious foods were placed into these lunchrooms was because they were surplus foods of the time. It was said that even “food industry groups- and their congressional representatives- were not shy about claiming their commodities to be “in surplus” if market places were low” (94) because of how merely obvious it was that this was happening before us. In short, The School Lunch Program increased because farmers and society in general were no longer struggling from the aftermath of The Great Depression. “With postwar industry zipping along, children were fed rich, protein-heavy dishes like cheese meatloaf, sausage shortcake, ham and bean scallop, and orange coconut custard with cottage cheese.”(Wells, Jeff) By the end of the 1950s, there was a rapid growth in supply of feed grains, wheat, corn, and other really prominent crops. “The total supply of feed grains for the 1958–59 season has been estimated at 246 million tons, 12 per cent more than in the preceding year. The corn supply of around 3.5 billion bushels is 9 per cent ahead of last year’s supply, and a corn carry-over of more than 1.8 billion bushels is in prospect.”(CQ Researcher) Having this significant growth at the tail end of the 1950s, allowed a very strong start from the school lunch program on entering the 1960s.

In the 1960s, foods that people in 1946 never thought would make it into school cafeteria’s were making their way across schools in America. A wide variety of nutritious options were now being served at schools and it was clear that the federal government was now not only looking to buy surplus foods but was also certainly keeping children’s nutrition in mind. Now, the federal government made enough money to guarantee free meals for children that needed them and made the lives of many low income families much easier. “peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, meatloaf and mashed potatoes, and fish sticks with tartar sauce” as well as having a cold section alongside those hot foods where children could get salads and vegetables.

In 1966, Lyndon Johnson signed and passed the Child Nutrition Act. This act was stated by congress  “In recognition of the demonstrated relationship between food and good nutrition and the capacity of children to develop and learn, based on the years of cumulative successful experience under the National School Lunch Program with its significant contributions in the field of applied nutrition research, it is hereby declared to be the policy of Congress that these efforts shall be extended, expanded, and strengthened under the authority of the Secretary of Agriculture as a measure to safeguard the health and well-being of the Nation’s children, and to encourage the domestic consumption of agricultural and other foods, by assisting States, through grants-in-aid and other means, to meet more effectively the nutritional needs of our children.”(USDA) Figure 1 displays a typical school meal in the year 1966. As shown in the picture, it is obvious that having a wellbalanced meal was stressed at the time and very important. The meal displayed covers all important food groups and is a great meal for a growing child. This act made it clear that children’s nutritional needs were finally at the forefront of school lunch programs.

A Type A school lunch as specified by the Dept. of Agriculture, with a protein food, fruits, vegetables, bread and butter, and milk. Washington, D.C.: June 1, 1966.
(Photo by Underwood Archives/Getty Images)

This essay examined the evolution of The School Lunch Program from the year it began in 1946 to the late 1960s. The Program shifted in response to the funds that the federal government received. The less money the federal government had, the more they had to adjust to purchasing and distributing the excess crops of farmers, straying away from thinking about child nutrition. Alternatively, the more money the federal government had, the more able they were to provide nutritious and healthy foods for the children as well as being more capable of distributing free lunches for low income families. Through the statistics and analysis it is clear that in those twenty four years, The School Lunch Program got much better in many aspects.


Reference list:

Levine, Susan. “Levine, S.: School Lunch Politics: The Surprising History of America’s Favorite Welfare Program (Paperback and Ebook) | Princeton University Press.” Princeton University, The Trustees of Princeton University,

“Pupils Get Food in 60,000 Schools,”NYT, August 9, 1959.

P.L. 396 passed June 4, 1946. Gordon W. Gunderson, “The National School Lunch Program: Background and development,” Food and Nutrition Services, 63, U.S. Department of Agriculture, 1971

Wells, Jeff. “What School Lunch Looked Like Each Decade for the Past Century.” Mental Floss, 12 Oct. 2016,

“Child Nutrition Act of 1966.” USDA,

“Farm Surpluses and Food Needs.” CQ Researcher by CQ Press, 4 Mar. 1959,

Levenstein, Harvey. The Paradox of Plenty: A Social History of Eating in Modern America. Oxford University Press, 1994.

Rude, Emelyn. “School Lunch in America: An Abbreviated History.” Time, Time, 19 Sept. 2016,


Public Schools in the Twentieth Century: The “Melting Pot” for Immigrants

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“Into this continental reservoir there has been poured untold and untapped wealth of human resources. Out of that reservoir, out of the melting pot, the rich promise which the New World held out to those who come to it from many lands is finding fulfilment.”
                 -- Israel Zangwill, The Melting Pot, 1908

In 1908, a play called “The Melting Pot” first released in America. Written by Israel Zangwill, a Jew from England, the play was set in America and portrayed a touching love story between a Russian Jew, David Quixano, and a beautiful Russian Christian immigrant named Vera. The Melting Pot did not receive much attention until Theodore Roosevelt, the 26th President of the United States, watched the play and was impressed by its idea of “melting” different ethnicities, races, and religions together to create a united citizenry. President Theodore Roosevelt believed that assimilating immigrants’ culture to create a homogenous citizenry was the vital key for a united nation’s future, and immigrants who identified to “Italian-American” or “Asian-American” instead of “American” are not “wholly American.” In his Foreign Policy, Roosevelt advocated that “Some Americans need hyphens in their names because only part of them has come over, but when the whole man has come over, heart and thought, and all, the hyphen drops of its own weight out of his name” (U.S. Government Printing Office, 1917, p. 743). Since then, the political and generalized view of the melting pot metaphor created a trend of completely fading new immigrant’s culture and Americanizing immigrants into citizens that benefit the United States’ economic, political, and social welfare. The “melting pot” trend raised a debate of various perspectives of American cultures and consequently changed the US education policy and school experience for immigrants. Therefore, this paper is going to investigate the origination of the melting pot metaphor in US educational policy, and how reformers used it to change schooling for immigrants.

Cover of Theater Programme for Israel Zangwill’s play “The Melting Pot,” 1916

I argue that since the early twentieth century, advocates started to associate the “melting pot” metaphor with public school educational policies to promote the cultural assimilation of immigrants. During the late phase of the Age of Mass Migration from Europe (1850-1920), Americanization programs including English-language education and American citizenship curriculums were introduced to public schools, one of the essential “tools” for cultural assimilation, and were promoted through the nation. However, Americanization was not optional. State governments forced Americanization programs into the public school system, and reduced options for low-income immigrant parents to send their children to private schools. Consequently, most immigrants children were “sent” to the public-school system and “melted” to become American.

While the “melting pot” is a metaphor that used to represent the fusion of foreign cultures from immigrants and American culture, schools are one of the vital “tools” that many advocates promoted to “melt” the immigrants’ cultures and Americanize the foreign population. Before the actual application of blending immigrants into the United States, advocates from different industries had already promoted the action of Americanizing immigrants through public school education. In the 42nd Annual Meeting of the American Bar Association, George T. Page (1919) proposed that one of the significant difficulties that would threaten the American government was immigrants who were born under governmental institutions that are “ignorant and untaught as to the meaning of ‘life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness’ and wholly ignorant as to the quantity and quality of responsibility that rests upon the individual” (p. 158). Due to the “ignorance” of the foreign population, Page (1919) stated that schools should act as a “melting pot” that not just teaches the immigrants English, but more importantly, educates them about the “new liberty and democracy” that makes them “wholly American.” If the immigrants refused to be Americanized, they need to be sent back to their countries (Page, 1919). Another example, C. Alphonso Smith (1912), an English professor at that time also stated his concerns about the large immigrant population in America: “The most serious [danger to American’s national identity is] the coincident coming to our shores of great hordes of unassimilable immigrants” (p. 250). Smith (1912), however, believed that if immigrants come as children, Americanizing immigrants through public education would be possible and the potential risk of immigrants could be under control: “Though education can do little more than bring out what is already latent: breed, at least, is more than pasture” (p. 250). Thus, advocates like Smith (1912) believed that immigrants’ values would alien them from American, which impair their loyalty to the country and divided the united nation. In order to remain regime stability, immigrants’ culture needed to be “melted” so that they can develop a new identification to the United States. Assimilating immigrants, on the other hand, could be achieved through continuously educating them about American values from generation to generation in the public-school system. Therefore, since the early twentieth century, advocates such as Page (1919) and Smith (1912) started to connect the “melting pot” metaphor with the educational policies in public schools, and in consequence, changed the schooling for immigrants in America.

Noticing public schools’ ability of “melting” immigrants, state governments started actively forcing immigrants to become “wholly American” by requiring Americanization programs in public schools. At the 1911 report of United States Congress Joint Immigration Commission, the Congress first use the word “Americanization” as a synonym for “assimilation.” This word shift reveals the goal of Americanization programs – assimilating immigrants by “melting” their cultures and ethnicities to reconstruct an “American” identity. After that, over thirty states passed the law requiring Americanization programs in public schools (Good, 1956). The programs mainly contained two dimensions: English-language education and American civic education. Frank Trumbull (1915) of the National Americanization Committee was quoted in the New York Times as stating:

It has come to us that we are a country full of unassimilated groups within groups with varying social ideals, varying ideas of American citizenship and loyalty to America… Americanization is a complex matter… But there can be no doubt about the first steps – the English language and the principles of American citizenship.

In order to assimilate immigrant students through English-language schooling, state governments passed the law to restrict foreign language education and introduced English as the required language for public school instructions. For example, chapter 249 of the Nebraska Sessions Laws of 1919 forbid public schools to hold any foreign language curriculums before the students completing their eighth grade: “No person, individually or as a teacher, shall in any private, denominational, parochial or public school, teach any subject to any person in any language other than the English language.” (Siman Act, Session Laws of Nebraska 1019). Minnesota also passed a law in 1919 stating that “A school, to satisfy the requirements of compulsory attendance, must be one in which all the common branches are taught in the English language, from textbooks written in the English language and taught by teachers qualified to teach in the English language” (Minnesota Laws of 1919). After World War II, California passed laws that required non-English speakers to take Americanization courses and prohibited foreign language instructions in public schools, especially in Germany (Ziegler-McPherson, 2000). Therefore, by viewing foreign-language education in public schools as a violation of the law, state governments used legal coercion to cut down the language connection between the first-generation immigrants and their America-born children, which they believed could “melt” the immigrants’ foreign identities and assimilate people with different races, ethnicities, and cultural backgrounds to the American values. By requiring English-language schooling and restricting foreign-language education, they were able to create a national unity among Americans and immigrants.

Figure 1. Percent of Children Ages 10-16 Speaking English, 1910-1930 (Lleras-Muney and Shertzer, 2015) Notes: The data was retrieved from Lleras-Muney and Shertzer’s (2015) study: “Did the Americanization Movement Succeed? An Evaluation of the Effect of English-Only and Compulsory Schooling Laws on Immigrants.” Samples included non-black children aged 6-16 years from the 48 continental states. Children whose parents were both America-born were in the “native parent” group; children were considered as “first-generation” immigrants they were not born in the US; as “second-generation” immigrants if they were born in the US but their parents were not (Lleras-Muney and Shertzer, 2015). During 1920, there was a significant increase in the number of children who speak English across all groups.

For civic education, state governments compelled immigrants to take American citizenship courses to further assimilate them in the “melting pot”. For example, Iowa passed a law that forced all public high schools to teach American citizenship curriculums that describe American history and civics (Lleras-Muney & Shertzer, 2015). Kansas, New Jersey, South Dakota, and Nebraska also had similar requirements for educating immigrants about “American values” (Lleras-Muney & Shertzer, 2015). For example, New Jersey authorized courses in high schools schooling American civics and democracy whereas all primary schools needed to give courses to immigrants in geography, history, and civics of the state (Rider, 1920). Furthermore, on May 9, 1918, Congress approved the Bureau of Naturalization to publish a citizenship textbook called “Student’s textbook. A standard course of instruction for use in the public schools of the United States for the preparation of the candidate for the responsibilities of citizenship” (Atzmon, 1958). Besides the basic unit of conversion, handwriting, and cultural activities such as important holidays, the textbook also contains general information of the nation, states, and the government. The story of the flag is shown, the steps in naturalization are told, and pieces of American history are described (Bureau of Naturalization. & Crist, 1918). The citizenship textbook became widely distributed across the country and was accepted by many states, such as California and Nebraska, for Americanization programs (Atzmon, 1958). Therefore, by requiring immigrants to take American citizenship courses using a textbook that educated in American history and civic, state governments legally pressured the immigrants to learn and identify to “American values.” Inside of the public schools, “melting pots” for cultural assimilation, states governments forced immigrants to develop loyalty to the United States and became citizens who are willing to shed “the more concrete bonds of family, religion, neighborhood, custom, and so forth whenever these intrude upon their commitment to the communities of interest which they share with others whom they know but cannot see” (Kaufman-Osborn, 1984, pp. 1158-1159).

However, although immigrant parents had the freedom of sending their children to private schools to prevent being “melted,” their financial status and the public-school financing regime made the “freedom” nearly impossible to act on. During the Age of Mass Migration from Europe (1850-1920), eighteen million immigrants from Europe, Mexico, Asia, and every corner of the world crowd into the United States. In the country that was described as a paradise full of opportunities, those “new American’s” lives were not that pleasant as they expected. In “Life and Community in the ‘Wonderful City of the Magic Motor’: Mexican Immigrants in 1920s Detroit,” Zaragosa Vargas (1989) portrayed the struggles that Mexican immigrants faced during the early twentieth century. Because of the lack of education and the limited job opportunities, male Mexican immigrants in Detroit were only able to work at sugar factories or Auto factories at a very low income. Half of the female immigrants were able to find a job to support their family while the rest of them could only stay at home and do some housework. The local Mexican community was so overcrowded that an entire family needed to squeeze in a room of an apartment. The large population made finding a job extremely difficult for immigrants, leaving a large number of immigrants unemployed (Vargas,1989). Therefore, in the early twentieth century, most immigrants in the US are in a population with limited educational background and fierce competition within the community, causing their poor financial status. Moreover, since the public-school financing regime would not cover the expense of private schools, immigrant families could not afford any way of education other than the public school education. As a result, losing the “choice” of sending their next generation to other educational institutions that could help them preserve their cultures, immigrant parents had to send their children to public schools, where they were Americanized in the “melting pot.”

Nevertheless, it is important to notice that immigrants might also have the desire of being “melted” to become American. Weinberg (1976) analyzed a biography from an Italian immigrant named Constantine M. Panunzio to reveal immigrants’ lives in the United States in the early twentieth century. Italian immigrants living in the South faced an extreme cultural barrier between their identity and American values. Conflict – cultural, social, and class – is the major topic that Panunzio included in his biography. Values like social responsibilities and norms within the community became so disturbing to Panunzio that he decided to be “melted”: he was hired by the United States government and became an associate director of the Foreign Language Service, a vital Americanizing agency in the 1920s. English-language courses were also embraced by immigrants since more advanced language skills enabled them to understand their foremen’s instructions and work more efficiently (Weinberg, 1976; Hill, 1919). Therefore, the Americanization programs were welcomed by some immigrants as a way of “better” adapting to the new country. However, immigrants in the early twentieth century were not completely helpless and had their ways of controlling their lives. To the opposite of Panunzio, Italian communities in New York and Chicago were highly organized and successfully preserved and recreated their traditional culture (Weinberg, 1976). Therefore, rather than being assimilated to the “American values” defined by the governments, immigrants have their own expression of being American. However, state governments still applied legal intimidation to mandate Americanization among immigrants, although some of them did not have the need of being assimilated to “American values.”

This is an interesting photo that recorded what happened at the graduation ceremony of Ford’s English School. Graduates of Ford’s English School wearing their “native clothes” walked into a large pot labeled “The American Melting Pot.” After experiencing a virtual smelting process, the graduates’ immigrant identity disappeared, leaving a new citizen wearing American clothes and waving American flags who walked out of the pot (Melting Pot Ceremony at Ford English School, July 4, 1917).

In conclusion, during the early twentieth century, advocates believed immigrants’ cultures did not fit into the American ideals, so the US had an increasing urgency of assimilating immigrants who poured into the country. During this period, the “melting pot” metaphor was connected to public schools, leading to their future educational policies that convey “American values” to immigrants. After the word “Americanization” was used as a synonym of “assimilation” in 1911, state governments started to pass legislation that force immigrants to take Americanization programs that aimed at teaching immigrants English as well as American citizenship in the public schools. Foreign-language education was also restricted to promote English-language schooling. Furthermore, although some immigrants embraced Americanization programs and viewed them as a way to “better” adapt to society, most immigrants had their own idea of being American meanwhile preserving their cultures. Nevertheless, immigrant families’ low financial-status made it almost impossible to send their next generations to places other than public schools for education. Public schools, however, were assigned Americanization curriculums. As a result, immigrants were thrown into the “melting pot” by the governments, the schools, and the society to discard their traditions and accept an “American” identity.

Researching this topic allows me to generate some personal insights. “Melting” immigrants in the “melting pot” does not fit into American’s ideal of liberty. Liberty is the freedom in society without being oppressed by authority on one’s ethnicity, religion, and way of life. “American values” should not be determined by the higher power and Americanization should not be forced by the law. The definition of American and the way of being an American ought to be defined and chosen by every civic in the nation. An Asian-American and an Italian-American are the same as an American-American, as part of a united nation. Invasion of immigrants’ liberty should raise the alarm for every citizen in the United States, because at the end of the day, the authority may have the power of determining whether you are an “American” or not depending on your political views, religious beliefs, or even lifestyles. Someone’s yesterday may become someone’s tomorrow. Therefore, every citizen’s, including immigrant’s, liberty should be valued and protected. Rather than “melting” the immigrants in a “melting pot” that destroys their identity as an individual and erases the diversity of the United States, America should become a “salad bowl” that allows every citizen to define the American values corporately. As a concept that represents multiculturalism, “salad bowl” suggests the possibility of having diverse cultures co-exist in a society instead of “melting” them into a homogenous culture. The “salad bowl” encourage coalescing of immigrants and meanwhile respect their liberty of preserving their traditions, customs, and cultures. Various distinct components can combine to make a salad as various Americans can work together to build the United States. The “melting pot” might have its historical function, but as we look forward to the future, it is the “salad bowl” that preserves each individual’s liberty of being who they are as part of a smaller group, as well as a component of the United States.

Continue reading Public Schools in the Twentieth Century: The “Melting Pot” for Immigrants

Trinity Enrollments: Rate of Acceptance for Students of Color

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Today when we think of Trinity College, a predominately white institution, we want to also assume that this space is open for students of color. Considering the number of students of color that attended this institution from the 1970s until now the changes are undeniable. There are currently 20% students of color on campus compared to 4% in the late 1960s. That means 1 in 5 students here at Trinity College, is a student who comes from a non-eurocentric background. Diversity, in its many forms, is one of the many selling points for colleges across America, and Trinity has acknowledged it’s important, and in fact, the befits of variety of students to be on their campus. With America’s history with slavery, which has internalized into institutional racism, to this day students of color have a hard time applying and getting accepted into higher education. Even today colleges in America stay predominantly white, even with this newfound urge to admit those who’ve been historically left out of colleges. Students of color often have a hard time considering the possibility of higher education due to financial issues, no exposure to higher education and lack of resources and support for their communities and schools.

This essay explores the history behind some of the policies from Trinity’s end and some national changes that have affected the rate of students of color acceptance to Trinity College. In Trinity’s case, it wasn’t until 1968 that the administration started making the effort in accepting large numbers of African American and other minority students to its campus (History). This push was influenced by some of the political and social factors in America such as the civil rights movement, and especially the death of Dr. King. Trinity guided their students into understanding social structures and the racial tension in America. As a student of color here at Trinity, I know how great of an opportunity it is to be part of such an institution but I can’t help but feel underrepresented not only in classrooms but also in social spaces. Since my arrival at Trinity, I wanted to explore some of the reasons as to why students of color are the slowest growing population at Trinity. This leads to the question: When did Trinity experience the most growth in students of color, and were these periods of growth linked to changes in Trinity programs or national influences?


Upon doing research for the acceptance rates for students of color, I was able to find a copy of Trinity College Admissions from 1969-1998 and a factbook of Admission from fall 1999 to spring 2017. Since I had two sets of data, I merged the information to create a line graph that showed the changed over time in Trinity’s Admission for Students of color from 1969-2017. After making the graph, I was able to clearly pinpoint the years where there was a change over time in the acceptance rates for students of color at Trinity. For the purposes of this paper, I will be focusing on some of the forces that promoted the enrollment of students of color at Trinity College, specifically black students.


Sources: Trinity College Admissions Statistics from 1969-1998 and a factbook of Admission from fall 1999 to spring 2017.

Trinity’s First Move

In his book Connecticut, Albert Van Dusen detailed everything that ever occurred in Connecticut from 1916 to 1999, including the establishment of Trinity College in 1824 by Bishop Thomas Brownell. The college first opened as Washington college and from its conception, Washington College was very exclusive, only open to about 9 students. During this time, slavery was still very much legal in the state of Connecticut. However, Trinity was ahead of its time! In 1830, Bishop Brownell awarded Edwards Jones, a black man preparing for his work as a missionary and educator, with a Master of Arts degree. On campus, there was another student of color, the student was reportedly from Africa and attended Trinity College in the early 1830s. The college was then renamed Trinity College in 1845 and with its new name, there was a new location, which consisted of one housing chapel, library, two Greek Revival buildings, and lecture rooms and dorms. In the late 1800s early 1900s, Trinity increase enrolment to 500 students (History). Still, Trinity didn’t maintain any official records on the racial backgrounds of their undergraduate and graduate students, until late in the 1960s.

Although Trinity did admit a couple of black students since its conception, colleges around the nation were more focused on working towards desegregating their campus. Large colleges such as Dartmouth and Princeton and even smaller ones like Bowdoin and Swarthmore provided black students with scholarship opportunities as well as encouraging their own students to become admission representatives. For schools like Dartmouth, this was one of the many ways that the schools used to get their message to students of color across the nation. In 1964, noticing the lack of black students on their campus, Trinity students took the Trinity Tripod to called out the student body and administration for not following the same suit. The editorial suggested that Trinity should start touring urban high schools as it will encourage marginalized students to consider and even start applying to higher education. One particular reason why there was a rise in enrollments for students of color at Trinity was due to changes from both Trinity’s and National level influence. In response, F. Gardiner Bridge, of admissions, did an interview with the Trinity Tripod to say that Trinity is looking for “the best-qualified candidates we can get, no matter who they are” (Knapp 337). That same year, admission staff visited over 400 high schools in California, Texas, Illinois, Florida, New York, etc, with a focus on inner-city schools in the metropolitan area. Trinity was able to adapt some of the strategies used to attract black students, and they were successful in doing so. According to the Trinity College Admissions Statistics, there was a 2% increase in enrollments of students of color in the years 1965-1966 (Graph) With students going out to public high schools and advocating for Trinity, students of color were presented with this opportunity that higher education is feasible with the support of this institution.

The president at that time, President Albert C. Jacobs, was not only a huge advocate for a liberal arts education but he also emphasized the importance of inclusion at Trinity. In his final public address to the class of 1964, he urged seniors to “to seek out in the community in which you find yourself a young man of the culturally disadvantaged group, a potential candidate who is equipped or who can be helped to equip himself for admission to Trinity or to another college or similar standing” (Knapp 329). He continues to say that we should “encourage him, plant in him the desire for higher education”, which he states is not only for the benefit of the individual but also for Trinity. He expected Trinity to be filled with diverse point of views, where students can reflect on current social issues from different perspectives- which he emphasized is the purpose of a liberal arts education. As the president of the school, he made the first move in trying to encourage Trinity to open its doors to different ideas, and people from different backgrounds.

In the chapter Currents of Change, Peter Knapp covers changes at the national scope from the civil rights movement to the rise of the Black Panthers, undergraduate rebellions on college campuses, and the death of leaders like John F. Kennedy and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. being some of the few and how they have affected the Trinity community. Despite the changes around it, Trinity College was ranked first in America’s liberal arts education institutions. However, on April 4, 1968, the assassination of Dr. King’s took Trinity and the rest of the nation by storm. This was an external influence that encouraged President Jacobs to called an emergency meeting with members of the Trinity community, and gave a speech on how Trinity needs to “utilize its resources to ease racial tensions in Hartford.” (Knapp 342). Students were encouraged to attend the funeral and professors held vigils and provided texts for students to analyze the violence against black people in America. On April 7, 1968, the student body urged trustees to use the Senate funds and create a scholarship for black students and other disadvantaged students for students in the Hartford and New Haven area and to incorporate black history to Trinity’s curriculum. After much debate, and students even willing to have some of their activities fund cut, the scholarship was able to pass on April 23, 1968. Students held a sit-in, wrote letters and even delivered them to the office to make sure that black students got the same opportunity as them to receive a liberal arts education.

This is one of the biggest pushes from the national level that, in turn, started to gain the attention of Trinity students on campus. Students felt as if Trinity could be doing a lot more than the bare minimum for black students. In the second part of their proposal, the Senate stated that Trinity needs a closer relationship with St. Paul’s College in Lawrenceville, Virginia, which is a predominantly black college. Trinity offered to help reshape their curriculum by integrating black history into their curriculum for credits. One of the things I noticed while reading this part of the book is that Trinity was pretty much hands-on comes it comes down fixing an issue. Trinity was able to recognize its privilege and decided to become an ally for marginalized students and even their schools. It’s kind of disappointing to see that the administration didn’t fully commit to their agreement. Looking back now, I wonder what happened to the plans of adding black history Trinity’s curriculum.


Once President Jacobs retired, the Trustees began the search for his replacement. After much debate and an impulsive decision from Trinity, Dr. Harold J. Lockwood was elected president on July 1, 1968. Much like his proceeder, President Lockwood emphasized the importance of a liberal arts education and also mentioned the need for inclusion. In his inauguration he mentioned that Trinity needs to be an atmosphere where its members have are:


 “openness to ideas, debate, and dissent

… commitment to the search for

truth, beauty, and understanding

[and) genuine concern for the individual,

whatever may be his or her race or creed.”  

    (Knapp 330)

This happens to be one of my favorite quote from the book because it’s not telling the student body to go out, find a black person and convince them to attend Trinity but it was more about helping others understand the importance of higher education. Especially during the civil rights movement, black students at Trinity felt as if they had taken on the “black activist” role, which in turn didn’t attract a lot of other black students to apply to Trinity. African American students didn’t want to go to college to defend why they belong in that institution or represent the entire black population. They just wanted to attend college and receive an excellent education. On campus, the black student felt that pressure, they wanted to create that space for incoming black freshmen. Black students were able to unite and create an organization called the Trinity Association of Negros (TAN), this organization ceased to make sure that incoming black Trinity students didn’t feel out of place.

Source: Umoja House circa1969.

By this point, Trinity knew that if they wanted students to attend the school they will have to accommodate to their needs. For starters, Trinity implemented a new program into the admissions system called a Freshman-Sophomore Honors Scholar Program. The program paired a sophomore with an incoming freshman to help them adjust to Trinity’s curriculum and just the school in general. From students to educators to administration, everybody was on board to continue promoting an inclusive education at Trinity. The second program was directed at public school high school students in New York City, that are in good academic standing and had the potential to excel in higher education. Admission doing tours around the country to inner-city schools and public schools in urban areas, Trinity was able to spread the word about the new mission of the college. The rate of black students enrollment at Trinity was increasing and by 1970, that was a total of 87 black students attended Trinity college as undergraduates, making 6.8 percent of the student body of 1,493( Knapp 340)

Nevertheless, black undergraduate students showed concerns that Trinity was incapable of providing a comfortable space for students which continues to discourage students from applying. In hopes of starting a conversation about campus life for black Trinity students, Trinity Coalition of Blacks, which is now known as Imani, and the Trinity Coalition of Black Women Organization continued to celebrate their identities and culture. The organizations used the spaces on 110-112 Vernon Street designed by the college as the Black Cultural Center in 1970. The center was later relocated to 74 Vernon Street and renamed the Umoja House (Knapp 473). This house fosters students from underrepresented backgrounds, especially those of African American descent. Students of color were able to finally create a safe space where to meet, discuss new ideas and be surrounded by people who share similar backgrounds as them.

Source: Umoja House

In the early 1980s, Trinity College was flourishing as a higher institution under the presidency of James F. English Jr. At his inauguration speech on October 3, 1981, President English “placed particular emphasis on Trinity’s urban location” and the need to continue helping out in the community (Knapp 468). His most important point is that Trinity is open to Hartford students from all backgrounds and that Trinity is “seek[ing] a student body which reflects the diversity around us.” (Knapp 468). Post the Industrialization Era, Hartford had become predominantly black and Latainx population.
Even with all its efforts, Trinity’s student body remained predominantly white. Under the President’s administration curriculum reform, fundraising campaign, and implementing new technologies in the curriculum and enhance the Hartford-Trinity relations. Although Trinity was thriving, there was a decline in the enrollment of students of color but expanding the diversity of the student body remained the goal for Trinity’s admission. In the mid-1980s, Trinity’s enrollment for students of color started to soar yet again.

By 1989, admissions started revisiting some of their strategies from the late 1970s by visiting public high schools in urban areas with higher percentages of minority students. Trinity was always working towards recruiting more students of color on to their campus, but why wasn’t the administration working towards making sure that the programs they have in place are effective and are running to their full potential. Although I believe that new tacts bring in new people, the old programs just need a little tweaking to see better results.

Connecting Black Students to Black Alumni

Trinity wanted its students to excel beyond their years on campus, by helping them create networks with previous graduating classes. This was hard especially for black graduates, who were thrown into the workforce and were scared to look back at college. In regards to alumni programs, Trinity decided to host its first Black Alumni Gathering in September 1990. Trinity wanted to strengthen the relationship between graduates and black alumni, especially on how alumni can be more involved in admissions. Connecting current students to black alumni is one of the key ways to foster a sense of community and a powerful network. This is one of the things I feel like Trinity needs to bring back in full force. Although I’m grateful for resources like The Career Development Center, I want to talk to somebody that similar experiences as I did at a predominantly white institution and will not shy away from explaining the challenge I might face as a black woman. For the 1900s, there is a lack of documented evidence on the enrollments of students of color but from the graph, we can conclude that students of color endured. At this point, Trinity was somewhat consistent in the admission rate for students of color, until the rise and then small decline between 1998-2000.


End of an Era

In 1999, Karla Spurlock-Evans is selected as Trinity’s first Dean of Multicultural Affairs. Dean Spurlock-Evans and the Office of Multicultural Affairs were a huge part in promoting diversity amongst members of the Trinity College community. The office tends to students from all backgrounds by promoting a cognitive dialogue and creates “initiatives to promote a campus environment that respects and celebrates diversity in all its dimensions” (Homepage). The office’s goal is to also “weave multiculturalism into the institutional fabric of Trinity College” by making progress in recruiting a diverse student population. Over the years, Multicultural Affairs was able to help increase diversity at Trinity college.

According to Dean Karla Spurlock Evans, of Multicultural Affairs for 19 years, Trinity started working with Posse in 2002, specifically with the New York City location. Posse is a non-profit organization that “identifies, recruits and trains students leaders from high school to form multicultural teams” whilst providing students with a full scholarship (Homepage). After selecting their scholars, Posse then has an intensive eight-month program to prepare students for college. Posse homepage displays a big quote “Diversity is the key to solving our country’s biggest problems”. The Posse is, by design, multicultural and include black, Asian-American, Latinax and white students, although over the years the greatest number of Posse Scholars have been black and Latinax. Up until recently, each year Trinity used to accept up to 10-12 students per Posse but then admissions started limiting the size of to only 10 students per cohort. I first heard about Trinity through the Posse Foundation. I had no idea where the school was let alone what they offered. After doing my research, I knew that I wanted to apart of this great institution. Through Posse, I knew that I will have a cohort, full of students who had the same drive and hunger for higher education as I did. Aside from that with Posse, I knew that I will have an on and off campus support system throughout my college career. Although I didn’t get past the final round for Posse, I’m proud to say that the majority of my friends are Posse scholars.

In 2004, Trinity partnered with QuestBridge, a non-profit organization that connects low-income students to higher education. QuestBridge provides a College Prep Scholarships for high school juniors and a National College Match programs for high school seniors. QuestBridge aims to revolutionize the way leading colleges and universities recruit talented low-income students and the way these students approach their educations and futures” (Homepage). With the two programs working with Trinity, In 2005 Trinity reaches 24% in the rate of students of color enrollment. In 2006 Trinity accepted 52.8% black applications compared to 42.3% of all but in an article written by the New York Times, trinity college was facing some racial tensions on campus. Some black students have complained that they were regularly stopped to show identification and even a Latainx professor was mistaken for a janitor. Students of color felt as if the school was indifferent towards their discomfort on campus. They took matters into their own hands and staged protests and called upon “college officials to improve social relations by taking steps such as spelling out a racial harassment policy in the student handbook and of course to broaden its financial aid in order to expand the sociologic diversity of the student body (Hu 2006). After that decline in the number of students of color, Trinity started working to improve and expand financial aid. Trinity wasn’ really do anything to help resolve the racial tension on campus. Instead, as David Calder ‘20 said, “they’re good at smiling and patting themselves on the back, but at the end of the day, nothing gets done”(Hu 2006). Dean Evans comes to Trinity’s defense saying that students are the only here for four years “but I’ve been here a long time, and I know every effort counts” (Hu 2006).  Efforts do count but if there is plans or future logistics on how to take the issue, it becomes just a bandaid fix.


In a Trinity Tripod issue written on May 3, 2019, Trinity Announces End of QuestBridge Program Partnership, Trinity discontinued its relations with QuestBridge in 2016. According to a Tripod written in December 2016, in an Interview with Angel Perez, Trinity’s Vice President for Enrollment and Student Success, he reviled that Trinity has stopped its partnership with QuestBridge because Trinity was “spending an insane amount of money” ( Tripod 2016). Perez states that this actually will open up a bigger space in terms of admission because the money will be sued towards broadening Trinity’s demographics. Partnering with QuestBridge requires money and Trinity was paying $100,000 annually in “addition to Admissions staff travel expenses to QuestBridge events and training” (Tripod 2016). Perez hints at the idea that Trinity might partner with similar programs like Posse and QuestBridge in the near future.

Source: Trinity Tripod. Last QuestBridge cohort.

In 2018, Trinity experienced one of the highest growth in the enrollment of students of color. With an increase in percent, making up of students from Posse New York and Chicago. New York Posse 18 is the last Posse cohort to be accepted from New York City but Chicago will still remain. According to a Tripod written by Marquis Brinkley, “with a total of 609 students, the class of 2022 is Trinity College’s most diverse class in history (Brinkley 2019). With over 70 countries being represented and 54% of students are just outside of the New England area. Students from class 2022 shared their concern that Trinity is cutting off yet another resource that was helping to provide access to higher education. Eliminating these resources will result in a decrease of students of color in the coming years.

Source: Current Trinity Students at Mather

Although Trinity remains to be a predominately white institution, they have continued to diversify the campus. Trinity should pride itself in taking the initiative to open their space for students of color from start until now. Over time, Trinity had implemented additional policies or strategies to their admissions to encourage students of color to apply. However, I’m disappointed to see that Trinity didn’t completely commit to some of its policies. I would love to take a class on African American History. Still, Students of color are still at a disadvantage when it comes to the unwritten rules of a liberal arts campus makes students of color feel unwelcome and as if they don’t belong. Trinity faculty and staff need to Trinity’s admission need to consider taking action towards making this space a lot safer for students of color, which will promote inclusiveness at the institution.



Van Dusen, Albert E. “Connecticut .” Internet Archive, New York, Random House, 1 Jan. 1961,

Knapp, Peter. “Currents of Change .” Trinity College in the Twentieth Century: a History, Trinity College, 2000, pp. 327–430.

Knapp, Peter. “Prelude to the New Millennium .” Trinity College in the Twentieth Century: a History, Trinity College, 2000, pp. 468-525.

“History.” Trinity College. 08 Apr. 2019 <>.

“Timeline Entries .” Finalized Timeline Entries Web, Trinity College ,
“Multicultural  Affairs Office .” Multicultural Affairs Office,

Brinkley, Marquise. “Class of 2022: The Last Members of Posse New York.” – Trinity Tripod, 11 Sept.2018,

“Class of 2022: The Last Members of Posse New York.” – Trinity Tripod, 11 Sept. 2018,

Hu, Winnie. “An Inward Look at Racial Tension at Trinity College.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 18 Dec. 2006,


Cripps, Karla, and Cnn. “Homepage.” The Posse Foundation,


The Rise and Fall of Sex Education in the Progressive Era

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Sex education formally became known as sex education during the late Progressive Era (1880-1920) in the United States. Before it was sex education, hygiene education was the most similar curriculum taught to students about their health. After it became sex education, the values and lessons have changed in many ways over the years, and the sex education during the 1920s was quite different from the sex education taught in most secondary schools today. Although much has changed, it is important to look back and examine the roots of the movement to bring sex education in to secondary schools, scrutinize its progress and its failures, and learn potential ways to advance sex education today.

This essay will explore the changes in sexuality education during the Progressive Era (1880-1920) and work to answer why hygiene classes partially transform into sex education classes in U.S. secondary schools in the Progressive Era. The shift from hygiene education to sex education in U.S. secondary schools occurred in the 1920s as a result of public health concerns that emerged from World War I, unprecedented government involvement through research, departmental cooperation, and funding, and shifting, more indulgent youth culture about health and sexuality. While these factors pushed change forward, the progress was only momentary and within a few years the progressive education experienced a conservative relapse because very same factors that had initially been transformative, became a detriment to change. The Great War ended, slowing the momentum that public health received, government funding and support waned, and the conservative culture prevailed, essentially ending the progress made for sex education during the Progressive Era.

Hygiene Education (pre-1920s)

Hygiene education in the United States before the 1920s Progressive Era focused primarily on cleanliness, immorality, and sexually transmitted diseases. The purpose of hygiene education was first, “to teach sexual morality” and second, to educate students on the “principles of hygiene” (Strong 141). In addition to the focus on morality, hygiene education excluded scientific information. Specifically, the American Federation for Sex Hygiene’s official recommendations for education included a guideline starting there should be “no study of external human anatomy [and] very limited study of internal anatomy” (Imber 349). The fixation on venereal diseases in hygiene education increased dramatically during World War I and the education surrounding it was based solely on fear tactics (Moran). Although these ideals were the primary focus of hygiene education before the Progressive Era, public health campaigns arising from WWI, new government involvement, and an opening of youth culture to sexuality momentarily increased awareness and support for the transition into sex education.

Transformation Factors

Public health campaigns that focused primarily on venereal diseases during World War I enabled sex education reformers to bring “unprecedented funding and acceptance to sex education” (Moran 200). The crusade for public health during this time brought the importance of sexual health to the forefront of health issues and heightened public support. The War Department’s campaign was multifaceted and intensive to combat venereal diseases. In fact, the War Department considered the fight against venereal diseases as a “matter of national security” (Huber 30). It included public outreach, pamphlets, education, and more. Soldiers were instructed to return from the war and provide information to their families, specifically their younger brothers, and become advocates in their home communities for prevention awareness, resources, and education (Huber). A pamphlet created in 1918 shortly after the war was over noted:

The War is Over! The last gun has been fired, the last bomb dropped, the last torpedo shot. But there is one enemy which has done more damage than the Germans ever thought of. This enemy is called the Venereal Diseases. The Government has been fighting them openly and energetically and much has already been done, but the battle is not yet over. It is a battle of peace times just as much as of war times. (Sex Education 130).

Another example of the crusade against venereal diseases is in the image found below, a billboard display in Pennsylvania during World War I.

“Social Hygiene.” The American Social Hygiene Association, vol. 6, no. 1,

These campaigns were not only effective in generating public support, but also were successful in their mission because as a result of the War Department’s efforts, the venereal disease rate “dropped to the lowest rate ever reported” (Huber 30).

Additionally, the extent of this campaign and its open rhetoric changed the culture surrounding public health. Technology and medicine were advancing, which served to both increase developments and to illuminate the horrors and dangers of venereal diseases (Burnham). The rhetoric surrounding venereal diseases also began to diverge from the common fear tactics, which were proven to not be effective, and began to employ a moral argument about diseases (Moran). Much of the dialogue started to center around the “innocents” impacted by venereal diseases, like for example wives whose husbands had infected them (Burnham). Doctors even began to diagnose “syphilis of the innocent” in regards to certain cases (Burnham 891). This rhetoric continued to be utilized by a poster campaign called “Keeping Fit,” made by the American Social Hygiene Association in 1922. Below is a poster in the campaign that shows a gruesome image of a young boy who inherited syphilis from his father, causing him sever physical deformities. The poster urges men not to make their future children “pay the penalty of [their] mistake”.

Inherited Syphilis. 1922. American Social Health Association,

The public campaigns initiated during World War I to fight venereal diseases succeeded in their missions, but also had unintended consequences that helped transform hygiene education to sex education during the Progressive Era. These campaigns brought public health, and specifically sexual health, to the forefront of conversations in both the public and medical fields and increased acceptance to the goals of sex education reformers. The reformers of the time perceived the weaknesses of these campaigns and decided to disseminate their message not through fear, but rather through encouraging the internalization of “affirmative rules of behavior” (Strong 140). Additionally, many sex education reformers believed that with the advances in technology and medicine, a cure for venereal diseases was imminent and they would therefore need a new approach to encourage chastity among the youth (Strong). The increased awareness of sexual health caused by campaigns during World War I stimulated support, approval, and new direction for sex education.

Government involvement in the form of research, departmental cooperation, and funding was also an essential factor for the transformation of hygiene education to sex education in secondary schools. In January of 1920, the United States Bureau of education and the United States Public Health Service collaborated to create a questionnaire seeking to gather sex instruction information in high schools (Edson). They received 6,488 replies detailing the state of the sex education instruction in each school: 1,633 provided emergency sex education, 1,005 provided integrated sex education, and 3,850 provided no sex education (Edson 593). Emergency sex education was instruction through “lectures, talks, sex hygiene exhibits, and pamphlets,” while integrated sex education was taught “incidentally in subjects of regular curriculum,” like Biology, Sociology, Physiology, or Hygiene (Edson 593). It was also reported that out of 1728 principals, over 80% of them were in favor of emergency sex education, even if it was not currently taught in their high school (Edson). Below is a chart created in the report detailing the sex education instruction in high schools by state in 1920.

Edson, Newell W. “Some Facts Regarding Sex Instruction in the High Schools of the
United States.” The School Review, vol. 29, no. 8, 1921, pp. 593–602. JSTOR,

Governmental involvement also included support from departmental cooperation. In 1919, the Federal Government issued that it was the responsibility of schools to teach sex education, but the United States Public Health Service took an “active role in guiding sex education the 1920s” and urged high schools to teach more than simply conception (Sex Education 135). In 1919, the United States Public Health Service cooperated with state boards of health and education and got over 5,000 requests for sex education pamphlets (Huber). In fact, by 1921, 47 out of 48 state boards of health worked to control and prevent sexually transmitted diseases with the Public Health Service (Huber). The government also provided significant financial resources to help fund sex education in high schools. The Chamberlain-Kahn Act in 1918 allotted $2 million to support sex education (Moran). The awareness, research, departmental cooperation, and funding were all significant transformative factors for sex education in the Progressive Era.

The more indulgent and sexually progressive youth culture in the 1920s also was a contributing factor that helped to develop sex education. Although, it is clear that the liberal ideas of both the sex education reformers and the youth culture progressed in tandem and were mutually beneficial because sex educators were “responsible for creating a foundation of sexual frankness and media freedom” that bolstered the youth cultural revolt against conservatism (Moran 80). The most visible aspects of this revolt were in female clothing style and new dances that were more outwardly sexual and promiscuous (Moran). Women were also becoming more sexually active at a younger age and in fact, it was reported that less women, a drop from 33% in 1900 to 23% in 1919, failed to achieve “even one orgasm in their first year of marriage” (Strong 134). Women, in particular, were becoming more outspoken about their sexual desires and bodies in general and this cultural change was reflected in high school sex education. Sex educators could not longer rely on the “innate purity of girls” to enforce chastity and had to adjust accordingly (Moran 82). In some cases, the female students assisted in this adjustment: in 1920 it was reported that a group of high school girls came together and requested that menstruation, female reproductive organs, and opportunities to answer questions about sexuality be included in the school’s sex education curriculum (Moran). Because of this cultural shift towards sexual frankness among adolescents, sex educators were motivated to adapt to the changes and incorporate “popular post war sentiments about individual fulfillment, mental health, and ‘positive’ sexuality into their programs” (Moran 89).  After the First World War, the sex education garnered movement through awareness from public health campaigns, government support and funding, and progressive youth culture surrounding sexuality. These three factors initially pushed hygiene education into the 20th century, but within a few years, circumstances changed and the same three factors would contribute to the dissolution of Progressive Era sex education in secondary schools and the continuity of the older, more conservative ways.

Inhibition Factors

The momentum generated from campaigns during World War I centered solely around venereal diseases, but for a time, sex educators successfully diverted this support towards sex education. However, once the war ended in 1918 and the venereal disease campaigns began to weaken, so did the redirected support towards sex education because the two movements were “inextricably tied” (Moran 100). Sex educators were confident that after the war, the focus on public health would maintain strength and the attention would shift towards sex education or other health initiatives. Yet this was not the case, and the waning of support of both movements illustrated the failure of sex educators to “transfe[r] the momentum of the anti-venereal disease crusade to their own program” (Moran 108). Additionally, the funding from Chamberlain-Kahn Act, passed in 1918, to combat venereal diseases and support sex education programs rapidly decreased by 1922 because the funding was also closely tied to the War Department’s effort (Sex Education). Moreover, by the end of the decade, the United States Public Health Service officially withdrew support from sex education to appropriate funds to more “controversial projects” (Moran 108). These cuts in funding and support were also exacerbated by the Great Depression soon to come. Now that national support and federal funding was essentially cut from sex education, the movement could only be sustained by individuals. However, those who answered this call were part of the older social hygiene societies and these individuals became the majority of support and leadership for sex education in high schools (Moran).

Even before waning support from the public and the federal government, the sex education movement “paid the price for [its] new freedom of discussion,” with the unwanted addition of “moral idealism” added to the conversation (Burnham 905). Although the sex education reformers aimed to change the previous Victorian morality that dominated hygiene education, they did not introduce new morals into the curriculum, and chose to focus on science (Huber). The reformers thought by emphasizing science, rather than morals, they could “de-eroticize sex” and keep their message pure (Strong 148). Yet, when sex education moved “from the abstract to the physical,” to many it also moved “from the noble to the pornographic” (Strong 132). Ironically, by attempting to avoid morality in sex education, it caused many to believe that now, more so than ever, was morality needed in discussions of sexuality, especially now that the conversations were so open and explicit to follow the youth culture. Because the sex education reformers did not have new moral messages, older Victorian morals of the 19th century infiltrated the curriculums (Strong). This insertion was only exacerbated by the perceived rapidity of youth to “rush into sexual misconduct,” causing moral messages to become more stringent and controlling, especially of female sexuality (Moran 90).

The new orthodoxy in sex education stigmatized sexually open young women as not only “immoral but also socially deviant and unfit for marriage” (Moran 96). A clear example of this double standard is illustrated in the United State Public Health Service’s “Keeping Fit” campaign posters in 1922. The campaign was aimed exclusively for young men and ways to keep their sexuality healthy. The image below demonstrates efforts to alleviate concerns about male sexual development and normalize their process, instructing the boys not to worry about seminal emissions, without any mention of female sexual behaviors.  

Do Not Worry. 1922. American Social Health Association,

Additionally, a blatant contraction about female sexuality is seen in the two posters from the campaign shown below. The first shows a young women looking directly at the audience and smiling. The caption reads: “Somewhere the girl who may become your wife is keeping pure. Will you take to her a life equally clean?” This message places the onus on men to protect the innocent women from venereal diseases. However, in the second poster, “immoral girls” are to blame for the cause and spreading of venereal diseases.


Pure girl is waiting somewhere. 1922. American Social Health Association,


Self-control and venereal disease. 1922. American Social Health Association,

Although sex educators “tied their efforts to some of the age’s dominant cultural trends” to follow sexually progressive youth culture, the values of sex education remained inextricably connected with “essential attributes of the Victorian moral code” (Moran 96). Because of the lack of support and funding after World War I and because of the conflation of medicine and morality, the initially strong and momentous sex education movement was “ultimately too obscure, uncoordinated, and diffuse to ensure its own survival” (Moran 109).


The transformation of hygiene education to sex education in U.S. secondary schools during the Progressive Era was pushed forward by three factors: public health concerns that emerged from World War I, government involvement through research, departmental cooperation, and funding, and shifting, more indulgent youth culture about sexuality. Yet, those same three factors all contributed to the demise of Progressive Era sex education just a decade later. The end of World War I and the Great Depression looming on the horizon meant that public support and government funding waned and was diverted to other, more seemingly important things. While the more progressive youth culture pushed sex education to more frank and open discussion about sex, the more conservative Victorian morals infiltrated the curriculums and held the progress back. Change and continuity are always on two sides of the same coin and are in a continuous battle for control. While many factors influence progress and stagnation, every generation must reflect on the past and continue to push forward towards change.


Blount, Jackie M. “The History of Teaching and Talking about Sex in Schools.” History of Education Quarterly, edited by Jeffrey P. Moran and Janice M. Irvine, vol. 43, no. 4, 2003, pp. 610–15. JSTOR.

Burnham, John C. “The Progressive Era Revolution in American Attitudes Toward Sex.” The Journal of American History, vol. 59, no. 4, 1973, pp. 885–908. JSTOR,

Do Not Worry. 1922. American Social Health Association,

Edson, Newell W. “Some Facts Regarding Sex Instruction in the High Schools of the United States.” The School Review, vol. 29, no. 8, 1921, pp. 593–602. JSTOR,

Huber, Valerie J., Firmin, Michael W. “A History of Sex Education in the United States since 1900.” International Journal of Educational Reform, vol. 23, no. 1, pp. 25-51.

Imber, Michael. “Toward a Theory of Curriculum Reform: An Analysis of the First Campaign for Sex Education.” Curriculum Inquiry, vol. 12, no. 4, 1982, pp. 339–362. JSTOR,

Inherited Syphilis. 1922. American Social Health Association,

Moran, Jeffrey. Teaching Sex: The Shaping of Adolescence in the 20th Century. Cambridge, Harvard University Press, 2000.

Pure girl is waiting somewhere. 1922. American Social Health Association,

Self-control and venereal disease. 1922. American Social Health Association,

“Sex Education in the 1920s.” Sex Ed, Segregated: The Quest for Sexual Knowledge in Progressive-Era America, by Courtney Q. Shah, NED – New edition ed., Boydell and Brewer, 2015, pp. 130–140. JSTOR,

“Social Hygiene.” The American Social Hygiene Association, vol. 6, no. 1,

Strong, Bryan. “Ideas of the Early Sex Education Movement in America, 1890-1920.” History of Education Quarterly, vol. 12, no. 2, 1972, pp. 129–161. JSTOR,

Female Faculty’s Past and Now

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Women, commonly seen as the symbol of “nurturing”, are believed as the perfect choice for teaching. In the United States, when women first entered the teaching field, they were told to think of this job as a noble mission; they were sent to save the poor children (Goldstein, 2015). But unlike male teachers, without access to higher education, these women were unable to teach students properly. This resulted in low payment for female teachers and the stereotype that women were not good at teaching, but rather caring for children. However, WWII became a watershed moment for women to access higher education due to economic needs and new societal attitudes (Glazer-Raymo, 1999). After the mid 1960s and early 70s, many colleges in the US began to co-educate women and men. Women were able to access higher education and enter academic fields, and U.S. colleges and universities began to hire more female faculty during the 1970s and ’80s. However, many female faculty used to describe their experiences on and off campus as “inadequate”, “uncomfortable”, “an impostor” and “muted” (Aisenberg & Harrington, 1988). How have female faculty experiences changed over time both on and off campus at colleges across the United States, from the 1970s and 80s to today?

Overall, the status of female faculty has been positively uplifted, but there are many obstacles. Regarding female faculty’s working environment on campus, female faculty used to being seen as incapable of teaching and unprofessional; today, there are women in every field, including female faculty, that are still being marginalized. Female faculty earn less than their male colleagues in the past, and still do despite efforts to reduce differentiation. Off campus, female faculty do not receive proper welfare and care in the past and today. Thus, I will examine the changes mainly in the professional field, salary, and welfare. By look at the female faculty experience over time, such as the difficulties they face in their working environment, we can understand the needs of female faculty members, and what has been done and what needs to be done in order to improve the female faculty working environment.

First, I will examine female faculty’s working environment on campus. Although women were able to receive higher education, female faculty were still struggling to teach when they entered universities and colleges. Many of them felt depressed for not knowing how to teach. Not all new professors struggle with such problems, at least not all male professors. Unlike their female colleagues, male professors were able to receive the guidance of the “game” from their mentors. Because of the lack of general career instructions, female faculty became unaware of important steps to achievement. The lack of professional guidance and support not only caused female faculty to struggle with their work, but also made their male colleagues label them as “naive” and “soft”(Aisenberg & Harrington, 1988). With such labels, female faculty were then limited in the field. First, female faculty often received rejections of their professional work. In the book Women of Academy, author Aisenberg and Harrington described a story a female Arabic scholar who was unable to publish her work due to her gender. She then “took it home… never submitted the manuscript again to anybody, never looked at it, never did anything and that was the end of it”(Aisenberg & Harrington, 1988). Such frustration then created a vicious circle; female faculty were seen as amateurs, and therefore had fewer opportunities to publish their work. This vicious cycle offered an excuse for the universities and colleges to give less tenure track position to female faculty, instead they were often assistant or associate professors (Glazer-Raymo, 1999).

The data suggested that female faculty were being despised. From 1970 to 1993, the percentage of female faculty in universities and colleges has grown from 24.3% to 51.7% (U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Digest of Education Statistics). Although there was growth towards an equal number of faculty


Full-Time Faculty by Academic Rank and Race/Ethnicity (Glazer-Raymo, 1999, P.52)
Full-Time Faculty by Academic Rank and Race/Ethnicity (Glazer-Raymo, 1999, p.52)

(the percentage of full professor has only changed from 9.6 to 17.2), many female faculty were still staying as associate and assistant professors, instructors, and lecturers (U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Digest of Education Statistics). Less than two-fifths of female faculty were on the tenure track (Gerald & Hussar, 1995). Data suggests that during 2016, the percentage of female faculty had increased up to 45, which 32% were professors, 45% were associate professors, and 51% were out of tenure track (U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Digest of Education Statistics). This gap is gradually closing, but with most female faculty still stay in the lower end position.

Another limitation in the professional field for female faculty was the label of “softness” created the stereotype that female faculty were only capable of “soft” academic subject such as human subjects(Aisenberg & Harrington, 1988). The word “soft” was saying “easy” in a nicer way. Though women did tend to study in human subjects such as literature, psychology, and arts, women were entirely capable of studying and teaching “hard” subjects such as math and science. Then the reason many women chose “soft” subjects first was “you’d be doing something else”(Aisenberg & Harrington, 1988), the resistance from the “hard” field that refused to let women entering the field; second, many women chose the “soft” field because these field like arts and literature could provide ways for women who were able to access higher education to share their experience and feelings with other women in order to create changes and provide support (Aisenberg & Harrington, 1988). Today, female faculty do have the ability to publish their work and teaching in all kinds of fields. However, there are still discriminations against female faculty in the “hard” fields. It is still difficult for females to enter the STEM areas, although some of them are able to access these programs, they face microaggression and their voices are not being heard. Many of them feel isolated and marginalized (Smith, 2014).

Female faculty also face more pressure than their colleagues from both work and home, and many female faculty feel stressed (Aisenberg & Harrington, 1988). Marriage often will put female faculty in a difficult position: they will face the stereotype from school that women spend less energy and time at their career, then categorize them as unnecessary; their students also seen female faculty as moms but not professors (Aisenberg & Harrington, 1988). One female professor described her experience after getting pregnant: her school did not expect her to teach. She also said that “whenever anyone spoke to me, they brought up my pregnancy. Nothing else ever seemed to come up”(Aisenberg & Harrington, 1988, p110). School institutions often will make female faculty choose between family and career, for they think that women are not capable of too many responsibilities.




Secondly, I will look at the salary of female faculty members. There was and is no equal pay between male and female professors. When women first entered the teaching field, they treated this job as a noble mission, they were sent to poor places with little and even no money. Many schools administrations then used this idea to pay female teachers less than the male teachers (Goldstein, 2015). This act did not change even after women were professionally trained to be teachers and professors and the federal government’s involvement since the 1960s in employment practice stipulated rules that against sex and race discrimination (Aisenberg & Harrington, 1988). Many female faculty argued that they were not only paid unequally compare to their male colleague but also extremely underpaid by universities and colleges. A female part-time university teacher described her feeling: “yet, when I look at the person who sits across the hall from me and makes three times what I make, doing much less work, seeing fewer students, correcting fewer papers…”(Aisenberg & Harrington, 1988 P36). One excuse that the most school institutions used to decrease the female faculty’s salary during the 1970s was the argument that female faculty were not serious about their job. They argued that the female faculty would leave their job after marriage based on the social norm that women needed to take care of the housework. Because of the undercapitalization, some unmarried female faculty needed to work another job in order to make a living. When female faculty did get married later, they would have a lower hourly wage. The reason for the difference again, would be because these female faculty would put more energy on their housework (Glazer-Raymo, 1999).

According to U.S. Department of Education, during 1972 to 1973, female faculty (here female faculty only include professors, associate professors, assistant professors, and instructors) only made 82.7 percent of male faculty’s salary (U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Digest of Education Statistics). This disparity was decreasing during the 1970s and 80s, but once again, the salary gap became wider during the 90s. Beginning in 1990, female faculty’s salary had decreased from 90.6% to 79.9%. In 2015, the disparity was 82.5%, not even mentioning the disparities in different academic field and disciplinary. Female faculty tend to earn less money in male-dominated fields like business, education, engineering, and health science (Kopka & Korb, 1996). Female professor only made 69.5% of their male colleagues basic salary and 61.8% of their total income (Glazer-Raymo, 1999). Today, there is salary schedule that requires equal pay for both female and male professors; however, there are 33 states in United States do not have statewide salary schedule (Hopkins, 2018). Also, the salary is different schools by schools. Female faculty often do not have the mobility as male faculty to work in better-paid schools, for female faculty do get tied up with their family choice, like female faculty need to consider the distance between their workplace and their children’s school. So even if equal pay is required, there still is a salary gap between male and female faculty (Hopkins, 2018).

Even with the same amount of salary, female faculty are given more work and responsibility than their male colleagues. Because people still hold the stereotype that nurturing and caring are in women’s nature. Thus, people tend to hold higher expectation for female faculty than male faculty. Students tend to ask female faculty more questions and special favors. One professor mentioned that “students come to my regular office hours to discuss issues specifically related to the course” and “Students send emails asking questions about class materials” (El-Alayli & Hansen-Brown, 2018). Students will also ask for redo assignments for a better grade, stop by offices without appointment, and expect friendly behaviors more from their female professors than male professors (Flaherty, 2018). Female faculty often spend more after school time to help their students. While female faculty are not being paid and rewarded, when male faculty do the same thing, they are being paid. Female faculty do not have equal salary as their male colleagues, but are underpaid for their effort.

Lastly, I will examine the female faculty’s welfare. Female faculty not only make less salary than their male colleague, but have less welfare, for example, the retirement fare. Because retirement fare is linked to salary, thus female faculty often have lower social security and retirement position (Glazer-Raymo, 1999). Second, because of the social norms, some female faculty also carry the responsibility to take care of their children. However, not every college and university provides daycare for faculty’s children which creates distractions for female faculty and make female faculty waste time and energy. Even if there is daycare, the cost is often higher than female faculty’s salary (Glazer-Raymo, 1999).

Female faculty are being held to high standards by their students. It is more difficult for female professors to meet student expectations, perhaps resulting in poorer course evaluations, and putting more work demands and emotional strain on female professors”(Flaherty, 2018). Female faculty not only have to deal with consequences from their family, but also need to help students to solve their personal issues. Many female faculty also face sexual harassment from their colleagues and students, but many of these cases are not being reported (Glazer-Raymo, 1999). A survey suggested that more than one half female faculty had experienced sexual harassment in 1993 (Stobo, Fried & Stokes, 1993, p. 349). However, there is hardly news and report focus on female faculty member’s experiences. Female faculty often feel stressed, but there is no counseling provided for them (Aisenberg & Harrington, 1988). There is lack of attention about female faculty’s mental health in the past and today.

Compare to the past, today female faculty do have more status. Women are able to enter in all kinds of academic fields, publish their progress, and make more money. However, this does not mean that female faculty are better off. The public seems to forget that female faculty need help too, for female faculty still face gender discrimination which many women are still being rejected from important studies. Because of the stereotype toward women, female faculty have to carry both responsibilities from home and workplace. Especially in the teaching field, the public holds a high expectation for women.

“Women feel better about their work and themselves when they enjoy greater autonomy, more control over their work schedules, reasonable job demands and greater job security, more equal opportunities for advancement, more access to flexible time/ leave benefits and dependent care benefits, more supportive supervisors and a family-friendly workplace culture, and spouse or partners who take more responsibility for family work” (Glazer-Raymo, 1999, p39)

If the public wants female faculty to be the perfect teacher, then we should create a comfortable environment for them to show their talent.



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  • Smith, C. A. S. (2014). Assessing Academic Women’s Sense of Isolation in the STEM Disciplines. In P. J. Gilmer, B. Tansel, & M. Hughes Miller (Eds.), Alliances for advancing academic women: Guidelines for collaboration in STEM fields (pp 97-113). Rotterdam: Sense Publishers.
  • Chan-Kopka, Teresita L. & Korb, Roslyn A. & Educational Resources Information Center (U.S.).  (1996). Women, education and outcomes.  Washington, DC: U.S. Dept. of Education, Office of Educational Research and Improvement, Educational Resources Information Center: National Center for Education Statistics
  • Flaherty, C. (2018, January 10). Study finds female professors experience more work demands and special favor requests, particularly from academically entitled students. Retrieved April 6, 2019, from