Educ 300 syllabus for Spring 2013 (Archived)

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

Time & location: Mondays 6:30-9:10pm in Seabury S205, Trinity College, Hartford CT

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

Teaching assistant: Andy Ribner, Wesleyan ’14 (see his profile and email), will work with students on their education policy journalism assignments

Required books:
Diane Ravitch, The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education, Revised and Expanded. Basic Books, 2011. ISBN 0465025579

Paul Tough, Whatever It Takes: Geoffrey Canada’s Quest to Change Harlem and America, Reprint. Mariner Books, 2009. ISBN 0547247966

James T. Patterson, Brown v. Board of Education: A Civil Rights Milestone and Its Troubled Legacy. Oxford University Press, USA, 2002. ISBN 0195156323

If your last name is A-L: David S. Cecelski, Along Freedom Road: Hyde County, North Carolina, and the Fate of Black Schools in the South. The University of North Carolina Press, 1994. ISBN 0807844373

OR if last name is M-Z: Constance Curry, Silver Rights: The story of the Carter family’s brave decision to send their children to an all-white school and claim their civil rights. Harvest Books, 1996. ISBN 0156004798

A small fee will be collected in class to cover the cost of additional photocopies.

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

by Sunday Jan 27th

Monday Jan 28 in class: Overview & Introduction to Common School Reform

due Fri Feb 1 by 9pm

  • Source detective questions #1 by CV, #2 by EP, and #3 by AP — please schedule appointments with me by Friday to help you discuss your strategies

due Sun Feb 3 by 9pm

  • Use “Guiding questions” below to help organize your notes and to prepare for the Interpretive reading quiz on Moodle (due Sunday 9pm) and mid-term exam
  • Guiding question: How does historian Diane Ravitch explain how recent school reform movements went in the “wrong” direction, and what led her to change her thinking about these issues?
  • Read: Ravitch, Death and Life of the Great American School System, ch. 1-5 (pp. 1-91).
  • Guiding question: According to historian John Rury, what were the major accomplishments of common school advocates, and who opposed their reforms?
  • Read: John L. Rury, “Common-School Reform,” in Education and Social Change: Contours in the History of American Schooling, Third Edition (New York: Routledge, 2009), 74–80.
  • Guiding question: How did common-school advocate Horace Mann justify why citizens should financially support government-sponsored schooling?
  • Read: Horace Mann, “Intellectual Education as a Means of Removing Poverty, and Securing Abundance,” excerpt from “Annual Report to the Board of Education of Massachusetts for 1848,” in Life and Works of Horace Mann, ed. Mary Tyler Peabody Mann, vol. 3 (Boston: Walker, Fuller and co., 1865), 663–670, Recommended: annotated GoogleDoc version, to see my questions/comments and add your own.
  • Guiding question: Although prevailing norms dictated that white Protestant women should remain in the “private sphere” as mothers and homemakers during the nineteenth century, common-school advocate Catherine Beecher bent this rule to persuade women to enter the “public sphere” as school teachers. How did she craft this argument?
  • Read: Catherine Beecher, The Evils Suffered by American Women and American Children: The Causes and the Remedy (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1846), excerpt. Recommended: annotated GoogleDoc version, to see my questions/comments and add your own.
  • Guiding question: How did Beecher’s words influence women teachers in the West?
  • Read: Ellen P. Lee and Mary S. Adams, “Letters from the Frontier (1852-53),” in Woman’s “True” Profession: Voices from the history of teaching, by Nancy Hoffman (Cambridge, MA: Harvard Education Press, 2003), 79–84.
  • Added (in class): John Hughes and New York. Committee of Catholics, Address of the Roman Catholics to their fellow citizens, of the City and State of New York (New-York : H. Cassidy. 1840),; see also GoogleDoc version for public annotation (page 10 excerpt).
  • Recommended: Rosio Baez and Ashley Ardinger, “Are McGuffey Readers still used to educate children today?,” Educ 300: Education Reform, Past and Present, January 31, 2012.
  • Recommended: Fionnuala Darby-Hudgens, “Where can you find Common School teachers’ letters?” Educ 300: Education Reform, Past and Present, January 30, 2012.
  • See also: This week’s Responses to Source Detective questions by your classmates

Mon Feb 4th class: Interpreting Common-School & Contemporary Reforms

Tues Feb 5th optional event

  • Teach For America film screening of school reform documentary, The Cartel, at Seabury N130 at 6:45 p.m. This will be a new option for the video analysis assignment later this semester.

Fri Feb 8th 

Sunday February 10th by 9pm

  • Interpretive reading quiz on Moodle on Ravitch, chapters 6-9 and Hess
  • Guiding question: Do Ravitch and Hess agree — or disagree — on the current wave of school reform for greater choice and accountability? And how do both authors rely on historical evidence to support their arguments?
  • Read: Diane Ravitch, Death and Life of the Great American School System, chapters 6-9 (pp. 93-194). Recommended: learn more about the author at:
  • Read: Frederick M. Hess, The Same Thing Over and Over: How School Reformers Get Stuck in Yesterday’s Ideas (Harvard University Press, 2010), excerpts from preface and chapter 1 (pp. ix-xiv, 1-38). Recommended: learn more about the author at:
  • Guiding question: A century ago, John Dewey, Elwood Cubberley, and Robert Yerkes  all were identified with broader Progressive education movement, but had very different goals. How did their views overlap or differ from one another?
  • John Dewey, “The School and Social Progress,” in The School and Society (University of Chicago Press, 1900), 19–44,; and  add comments/questions to public annotation version on Google Docs.
  • Ellwood Patterson Cubberley, “The Organization of School Boards,” in Public School Administration (Boston, New York etc.: Houghton Mifflin, 1916), 85–95, (See online for better graphics.)
  • Robert M. Yerkes, “The Mental Rating of School Children,” National School Service 1, no. 12 (February 15, 1919): 6–7,
  • “Revising the Test” (on Army Alpha and Beta intelligence tests), from “Race and Membership in American History: The Eugenics Movement, Chapter 5,” Facing History and Ourselves, January 3, 2012,
  • See also: This week’s Responses to Source Detective questions by your classmates

Mon Feb 11th in class: Progressive-Era and Present-Day School Reform

  • DUE TO THE STORM, Trinity is closed on Monday, but I invite you to join me for a one-hour abbreviated class from 7-8pm via videoconference. Here’s how:
  • To PARTICIPATE in the video conference, try to partner up with a classmate (or two) on one computer (since we’re limited to 9 participating connections); pick a computer with a good video camera, preferably in a quiet room with Ethernet (but wireless ok). Understand that this video conference will be viewable on the public web.
  • By 6:30pm, someone in your group must register for a free Google+ account, and click on the instructor’s Google+ profile to add me to your circles (and I’ll do the same). 
  • Between 6:30-7pm, log into your Google+ page, and look for my invitation. (I will contact individual computers to test connections before the 7pm full session.) While you’re waiting, discuss the John Dewey reading with your group and write comments on the GoogleDoc version.
  • At 7pm on your Google+ page, look for my invitation to join our “hangout” video conference session. Up to 9 computers may participate.
  • IF YOU DO NOT PARTICIPATE in the video conference, you must watch the broadcast version on this page, which will be available to view LIVE or RECORDED. All deadlines will remain as-is for this course, so be sure to see my instructions on assignments to be completed by Friday. 
  • Presentation: Different Meanings of “Progressive” Education Reform
  • In class: Track years of schooling for any neighborhood in 1940 US census manuscript
  • Assign: Avoiding plagiarism exercise (category=same name; due Fri Feb 15 at 9pm)
  • Choose a date for your Education policy journalism event (due Sat March 2nd by 9pm)
  • How to capture a screenshot and how to add links & images to WordPress
  • Prep for next week’s readings – pick up from my McCook hallway table OR see Moodle

Tues Feb 12 optional event

  • Film screening: American Teacher at Wesleyan University, PAC001 at 6:30 p.m. Dinner will be provided. Call/Email Andy ( if you want to come! (more info on Facebook)

Fri Feb 15th by 9pm

  • Avoiding Plagiarism exercise due (category = same name)
  • No source detective postings due this week

Sun Feb 17th by 9pm

  • Interpretive reading quiz on Ravitch and Progressive-era historians on Moodle
  • Guiding question: Why does Diane Ravitch criticize the Gates Foundation and other private philanthropies that donate money to improving public schools? What does Ravitch mean by the “corporate school reform movement,” and what is their agenda?  If there is no “silver bullet” to magically reform schools, as Ravitch states, then what type of reform policy does she recommend?
  • Read: Ravitch, Death and Life of the Great American School System, chapters 10, 11 and epilogue (pp. 195-288). 
  • Guiding question: Historiography is the study of how different people have written about the past. How have four historians (Cremin, Tyack, Bowles & Gintis, and Ravitch) interpreted the goals and outcomes of Progressive-era reform in different ways? Why do their accounts differ?
  • 1) Read: Lawrence A Cremin, The Transformation of the School: Progressivism in American Education, 1876-1957 (New York: Vintage, 1961), excerpt pp. vii-ix, 135-142.
  • 2) Read: David Tyack, The One Best System: A History of American Urban Education (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1974), excerpt pp. 126-129, 182-191.
  • 3) Read: Samuel Bowles and Herbert Gintis, Schooling in Capitalist America: Educational Reform and the Contradictions of Economic Life (New York: Basic Books, 1976), excerpt pp. 180-181, 191-195.
  • 4) Read: Diane Ravitch, The Troubled Crusade: American Education, 1945-1980 (New York: Basic Books, 1983), excerpt pp. 43-48.

Mon Feb 18th in class: Interpreting Progressive & Present-Day Reform in CT

Fri Feb 22nd 

  • Source detective postings #10:Cartel by SW, #10:American Teacher by VA; #10:Superman by AC; #10:Lottery by RD; #10:RaceToNowhere by AD, due Fri 9pm (Note that your source detective posting is different from the film assigned to watch)
  • Recommended: education policy scholar Kendall Deas’s Teaching Discussion (12-1pm) or Research Presentation (1:15-2:15pm) in McCook 305

Sun Feb 24th by 9pm

  • View education reform documentary video on TrinFlix account (requires Trinity password access), explore companion site, and write video documentary analysis (category = Video analysis, by title), with films assigned by student’s last name:
  • Bowdon, Bob. The Cartel. Video documentary, 2009. (for last names A-D instructor will contact you)
  • Roth, Vanessa, and Brian McGinn. American Teacher. Video documentary, 2011. (for last names E-Ka)
  • Guggenheim, Davis. Waiting for “Superman”. Video documentary, 2010. (last names Ke-P instructor will contact you)
  • Sackler, Madeleine. The Lottery. Video documentary, 2010. (for last names Q-S)
  • Abeles, Vicki, and Jessica Congdon. Race to Nowhere. Video documentary, 2010. (for last names T-Z)
  • See also: This week’s Responses to Source Detective questions by your classmates
  • Comment on two other classmates’ video analysis posts before Monday Feb 25th class
  • Start reading Paul Tough, Whatever It Takes: Geoffrey Canada’s Quest to Change Harlem and America. Boston: Mariner Books, 2009.
  • There is no Moodle reading quiz this weekend

Mon Feb 25th in class: Contrasting Theories of School Reform

Sun March 3rd by 9pm

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

Mon March 4th in class: Theories of Poverty and School Reform

Fri March 8th by 9pm

Sun March 10th by 9pm

Mon March 11th in class: Civil Rights Movement & Desegregation Law

Mon March 18th – Spring Break – no class

by Sun March 24th

  • If your last name is A-M, read: David S. Cecelski, Along Freedom Road: Hyde County, North Carolina, and the Fate of Black Schools in the South. The University of North Carolina Press, 1994, OR
  • if last name is P-Z, read: Constance Curry, Silver Rights: The story of the Carter family’s brave decision to send their children to an all-white school and claim their civil rights. Harvest Books, 1996.
  • See Curry/Cecelski comparative reading guide; be prepared for in-class reading quiz
  • Read: Jack Dougherty, “Conclusion: Rethinking History and Policy in the Post-Brown Era” in More Than One Struggle: The Evolution of Black School Reform in Milwaukee. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2004.

Mon March 25th in class: Racism and Policy Implementation, North & South

Fri March 29th by 6pm (note: Watkinson Archives close around 4pm)

  • Trinity Archives exercise due (mark initials on GDoc paragraph, worth 3 points)

Sun March 31st by 9pm

  • Guiding Question: How did students featured in the readings below experience schooling and social change, in similar or different ways? 
  • Read: David Adams, Education for Extinction: American Indians and the Boarding School Experience, 1875-1928. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1995, chapter 4.
  • Read: Leonard Covello. The Heart Is the Teacher. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1958, pp. 28-31.
  • Read: Esmeralda Santiago, When I Was Puerto Rican. New York: Vintage Books, 1994, excerpt.
  • Note: There is no reading quiz this week, but be prepared to discuss & analyze in class.

Mon Apr 1st in class: Student Experiences of School Reform

Fri Apr 5th by 9pm

Sat April 6th by 9pm

Sun April 7th by 9pm

Mon April 8th in class: Teachers, Assessment, and School Reform

Saturday April 13th

  • Optional: Public policy discussion on “Creating a Dual-Language Magnet School for the Hartford Region,” 9:30am welcome, 10-11:30am panel discussion, Learning Corridor Commons cafeteria, with 1 bonus point for those who attend and write reflective post (category = dual language).
  • Source detective posts #16 and #17 due by 9pm

Sun April 14th by 9pm

  • Interpretive reading quiz on First Amendment and religion in education on Moodle
  • Reading guide: How has the US Supreme Court’s interpretation of the Free Exercise and Non-Establishment clauses of the First Amendment regarding public schools changed from the 1960s to the present?
  • Charles Haynes and Oliver Thomas, Finding Common Ground: A First Amendment Guide to Religion and Public Schools (Nashville, TN: First Amendment Center, 2007), read chapter 4 (The Supreme Court, Religious Liberty, and Public Education) and chapter 16 (Frequently Asked Questions about Religious Liberty in Public Schools).
  • View video excerpt on Moodle: Calvin Skaggs and David Van Taylor, With God on Our Side: The Rise of the Religious Right in America, Documentary, 1996.
  • Read online: Ashley Ardinger, “Sex Education: Defining Gender Roles During the Sexual Revolution and Today,” Educ 300 web-essay, Trinity College, May 2012.

Mon April 15th in class: Religion, Sex Education, and School Reform

Thur April 18th

  • Optional: Guest lecture by Michael Paris (CUNY, Staten Island), “Serving Two Masters Revisited: Cause Lawyering and Legal Mobilization in Sheff v. O’Neill, or, Some Thoughts on the Death (and Possible Life) of School Desegregation” Common Hour (12:15pm), Rittenberg Lounge, with 1 bonus point for those who attend and write reflective post (category = Sheff lecture).

Fri April 19th

Sunday April 21st by 9pm

  • Interpretive reading quiz in Moodle
  • Reading guide: How do traditional degree programs, online degree programs, and online courseware differ, according to Taylor Walsh, and how are the lines shifting between them in higher education? What is a “flipped classroom,” and what are the challenges of implementing it in the K-12 and higher education sectors?
  • Taylor Walsh, Unlocking the Gates: How and Why Leading Universities Are Opening Up Access to Their Courses (Princeton University Press, 2010), chapter 1, freely available at
  • Read online: Dan Berrett, “How ‘Flipping’ the Classroom Can Improve the Traditional Lecture,” The Chronicle of Higher Education, February 19, 2012, (requires password).
  • Read online: Sarah D. Sparks, “Lectures Are Homework in Schools Following Khan Academy Lead,” Education Week, September 28, 2011, (requires password).
  • Read some online posts: “Where’s the Classroom? A Discussion Group to Experience and Evaluate Digital Courses,” Trinity College, Hartford, Connecticut, Spring 2013.
  • Comment on two assigned peer drafts before Monday’s class (worth 2 points)

Mon April 22nd in class: Credentialism and Computers in Ed Reform

Mon April 29th in class: Panel Presentations & Making Sense of Reform

  • Read before class: Stan Karp and Linda Christensen, “Why Is School Reform So Hard?,” Education Week, October 8, 2003,
  • Marc Porter Magee, “The Promise and Peril of Cage Busting,” Education Week – Rick Hess Straight Up, April 2, 2013,
  • Student presentations: deliver a meaningful presentation that highlights your title, research question, working thesis, and interpretation of at least one key source (under 2 minutes, with visuals in your GDoc), as part of your thematic panel
  • Student assessment of most insightful thesis, richest source interpretation; Instructor assessment of most improved panel
  • Moving your research essay from GDocs/MS Word to WordPress and adding links, images, and (optional) “about the author”
  • Preparing for open-book interpretive exam #2, which will be same number of questions and format as exam #1, but with a longer time period allowed (up to 3 hours), and students may do the exam anywhere with Internet access. The exam may address any topic on the syllabus, but is more likely to focus on those covered after the first exam.
  • Presentation: What I Believe: Making Sense of Education Reform

By appointment

Fri May 3rd

Mon May 6th

  • Exam #2, open-book, interpretive questions will be made available on Moodle, 6:30-9:30pm.
  • Students may submit word-processed responses OR scan handwritten pages as PDFs (via personal or library scanner). Upload your exam responses for blind-review (use Trinity ID for filename)


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