Seminar Syllabus for Spring 2016

Posted on

Educ 308: Cities, Suburbs and Schools
Spring 2016 seminar, Mondays 1:15-3:55pm from Jan 29-May 2, 2016
Austin Arts Center room 231, Trinity College, Hartford, CT
Map to our classroom — visitor’s map of Trinity campus

Instructor: Jack Dougherty, Professor of Educational Studies
Personal website,  email, and online appointment calendar

Jump to: Week 1: Jan 25 — Week 2: Feb 1 — Week 3: Feb 8 — Week 4: Feb 15 — Week 5: Feb 29 — Week 6: March 7 — Week 7: March 21 — Week 8: March 28 — Week 9: April 4 — Week 10: April 11 — Week 11: April 18 — Week 12: April 25 — Week 13: May 2 — Assessment

Our upper-level undergraduate seminar operates as a team research workshop on cities, suburbs, and schooling. To develop our skills with qualitative, quantitative, and historical methods, we closely read other studies and conduct our own small-scale research in metropolitan Hartford. As a community-learning seminar, we partner with local groups and share our findings and stories on the public web.  Prerequisite: Ed 200 or the Cities Program or permission of instructor. (Cross-listed with American Studies and Public Policy & Law.) Enrollment limited to 20.

This semester our theme is School Choice and Civil Rights. We begin with present-day debates over public school choice as a reform strategy in the Hartford region, and go back in time to understand its historical roots in civil rights activism over discriminatory housing and schooling. Our seminar will work on three research projects:

  1. How do school choice programs communicate with families in the Hartford area?
  2. What does public school enrollment data reveal about choice in Connecticut?
  3. How do housing mobility program advocates communicate their policy goals in the Connecticut legislative arena?
  4. How have discriminatory barriers and civil rights activism evolved in the Hartford area, and how do we share meaningful histories and teaching ideas on the public web?

This semester we will share our research drafts for feedback with our “Sister Seminar” at Yale University: Cities, Suburbs, and School Choice, taught by Professor Mira Debs. See our Trinity-Yale GDoc Organizer

Also, guest evaluators for our historical web essays are: Jasmin Agosto (Trinity ’10 and NYU Gallatin MA ’15), an artist/activist/historical researcher in Hartford; and Glenn Mitoma, a professor of human rights and education, and director of the Dodd Research Center at UConn.

For each session, students must bring a laptop for in-class writing, peer editing, and data analysis. Contact me if you need to borrow my spare Chromebook. Most readings will be made available in digital and paper formats.


(Subject to change; asterisk* = more to come; revisions marked in red.)

Week 1: Jan 25
How do Hartford parents experience the public school choice application process? 

Week 2: Mon Feb 1
Why are there so many public school choice options in the Hartford area? How do choice programs market to different parents? 

Week 3: Mon Feb 8

How do different parents navigate school choice markets? How have other researchers investigated this process? How can we analyze our collective qualitative field note data?

  • Read qualitative studies, using Moodle versions with annotations:
    • Allison Roda and Amy Stuart Wells, “School Choice Policies and Racial Segregation: Where White Parents’ Good Intentions, Anxiety, and Privilege Collide,” American Journal of Education 119, no. 2 (February 1, 2013): 261–93,; see Moodle version annotated by  Michelle and Vianna
    • Mary Pattillo, “Everyday Politics of School Choice in the Black Community,” Du Bois Review: Social Science Research on Race 12, no. 01 (March 2015): 41–71,; see Moodle version annotated by Courtney and Jessica
    • Maia Cucchiara, “Re‐branding Urban Schools: Urban Revitalization, Social Status, and Marketing Public Schools to the Upper Middle Class,” Journal of Education Policy 23, no. 2 (March 1, 2008): 165–79,; see Moodle version annotated by Cara
    • Jack Dougherty et al., “School Information, Parental Decisions, and the Digital Divide: The SmartChoices Project in Hartford, Connecticut,” in Educational Delusions? Why Choice Can Deepen Inequality and How to Make Schools Fair, ed. Gary Orfield and Erica Frankenberg (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2013), 219–37,; see Moodle version annotated by Lilly
  • Assign: Essay 1 qualitative analysis of choice information, due on GDoc Organizer by end of Friday Feb 12th, and assigned internal peer editing due by end of Sun Feb 14th
  • In class: Thematic analysis of team and individual field notes on GDoc Organizer
  • Sample 1 and Sample 2 by last year’s students on similar assignment
  • Assign: Revise Essay 1, due on Trinity-Yale GDoc Organizer by end of Mon Feb 15th, for Yale seminar peer editing
  • Discuss: Qualitative research secondary sources, led by annotators
  • Feedback about writing/reading annotations on PDFs with
  • Prep for next week’s readings and annotators/discussion leaders

Week 4: Mon Feb 15

Who chooses? Who enrolls? Who leaves? Who benefits from school choice?

Mon Feb 22: No Class (Trinity Days)

  • Recommended: Attend the courtroom trial on Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding (CCJEF) vs Rell. Learn more at

Week 5: Mon Feb 29

How do housing mobility program advocates communicate their policy goals in the Connecticut legislative arena?

Week 6: Mon March 7

What makes housing choice policy more successful in some US metro areas? How could Connecticut’s housing choice programs be improved? What lessons can we learn by comparing housing choice and school choice?

Mon March 14: No Class (Spring break)

  • Read: Susan Eaton, The Children in Room E4: American Education on Trial (Chapel Hill NC: Algonquin Books, 2007), in paper or digital format.
  • Watch: T. J. Noel-Sullivan, Separate But Unequal: Sheff v O’Neill, Streaming video (Hartford, CT, 2014),

Week 7: Mon March 21

How do we tell meaningful stories about civil rights, past and present, in the Hartford region?

Week 8: Mon March 28

How have housing discrimination and civil rights activism evolved in the Hartford region?

Week 9: Mon April 4

How have public schooling and private housing influenced each other over time?

Week 10: Mon April 11

How do we craft compelling stories with insightful analysis? What is inquiry-oriented learning, and how can we use this method to enhance the teaching of civil rights history?

  • Updated Essay 3 timeline and organizer
    • Essay draft posted for internal comments by end of Mon Apr 11
    • Internal comments done by Wed Apr 13 at 12 noon
    • Revised essay posted for Yale comments by end of Thur Apr 14
    • Yale peer edits done by Mon April 18th at 12 noon
    • Final web essay posted in GDoc AND WordPress by end of Wed April 20th for guest evaluators
    • TeachIt lesson posted by end of Sunday May 1st
  • In-class: Crafting your story with analysis
    • 1) Pitch your essay: What are the stories that pull us in? From whose perspective do you tell them?
    • 2) What are your insightful arguments (a thesis statement) about how and why events happened, or a deeper understanding of the stories?
  • How to embed digital content and links in the GDoc version (later on WordPress)
  • Video conference 2-2:15pm with guest evaluator Glenn Mitoma, assistant professor of education and human rights, director of Dodd Research Center, University of Connecticut
    • Possible questions: Why are you interested in seeing more historical web essays on education activism in the Hartford region?
    • What advice can you offer to help us bring the stories of “rights” (whether civil rights or human rights) to the surface?
    • When reading an historical web essay, what qualities make it successful, especially for broader audiences?
  • Prepare for next week’s deadlines

Week 11: Mon April 18

Week 12: Mon April 25

  • Guest evaluators Jasmin Agosto and Glenn Mitoma join us to discuss their written feedback, with online comments from Susan Campbell

Week 13: Mon May 2

  • Invitation to attend Harriet Beecher Stowe Center Salon on Thursday May 5th (see details below); if you would like a ride, meet Jack at 5:10pm in Mather Circle
  • Invitation to attend dinner with Yale sister seminar on Sunday May 8th, 6-8pm at Professor Mira Debs’ house in Hamden CT; please RSVP her ( and Trinity classmates/instructor if you plan to attend
  • Informally present your inquiry-oriented lesson ideas for
  • Designate on Organizer if you would like your lesson sent to Rebecca Furer
  • Recommended: Send me revised essays for consideration in On The Line
  • Your feedback on 5 paragraphs about Sheff: From Idea to Implementation
  • Share your views (positive and negative) about the web writing process
  • Download template and email me peer evaluations of overall contribution to learning by the end of tonight (Mon May 2nd). I will average scores and scramble order of comments, then forward to individual students.

Join us on Thursday May 5th

Redlining and Housing Discrimination, Salon at Harriet Beecher Stowe Center

Redlining is a discriminatory practice by which financial institutions refuse or limit loans, mortgages, or insurance within specific geographic areas, especially inner-city neighborhoods. Despite gains, housing discrimination continues today. How can we take a stand against housing discrimination? How can we create inclusive communities? Join the conversation with featured guests: Professor Jack Dougherty, Trinity College and Maria Cuerda, CT Fair Housing Center. The event is free and will take place in the Stowe Visitor Center.
5:30 – 5:45 PM Refreshments; 5:45 – 7 PM Discussion


Students may access their individual scores on the password-protected Moodle site. Your work will be evaluated based on:

  • Research Project 1: Qualitative analysis of school choice and parent information
    • Team field notes = 5
    • Individual field notes = 5
    • Essay 1 draft and internal peer editing = 5
    • Essay 1 revision for Yale peer commentary = 15
  • Research Project 2: Policy analysis of housing mobility program
    • Essay 2 draft and internal peer editing = 5
    • Essay 2 final draft = 15
  • Research Project 3: Historical essay with teaching ideas
    • Essay 3 draft for internal and Yale comments = 5
    • Essay 3 final draft for guest evaluators = 15
    • Teach It lesson idea = 5
  • Peer editing of 2 Yale school choice essays = 2 x 5 = 10
  • Peer editing of one Yale final prospectus essays  = 5
  • Seminar peer evaluation of overall contribution to learning = 10

Total = 100 points

Late assignments will receive a 10 percent penalty for every 12 hours overdue, with exceptions granted only for verified medical or family emergencies.

In this course, unsatisfactory work (below 70%) falls in the D or F range, adequate work (70-79%) in the C range, good work (80-89%) in the B range, and outstanding work (90 to 100%) in the A range. Each range is divided into equal thirds for minus (-), regular, and plus (+) letter grades. For example, 80 to 83.33% = B-, 83.34 to 86.67 = B, and 86.68 to 89.99 = B+.

Students are expected to engage in academic honesty in all forms of work for this course. You are responsible for understanding and following the Intellectual Honesty policy (around page 20) of the Trinity Student Handbook.

Students with Academic Accommodations: Trinity College complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. If you have a documented disability and require academic accommodations, please schedule a meeting with me during the first two weeks of the semester and bring a copy of your accommodations letter. If you do not have a letter, but have questions about applying for academic accommodations, please contact Lori Clapis, Coordinator of Accommodation Resources, at 860-297-4025 or

Please notify me during the first week of the course if you require any scheduling accommodations for religious observances.

Leave a Reply