Let’s Talk Affirmative Action: Fisher vs. University of Texas- Giselle Galan

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In 2012, the Fisher vs. Texas case arose in the U.S Supreme court. Abigail Fisher, student suing against the University of Texas, believed she was denied acceptance because of the absence of racial preference. Within the midst of these conversations, educators, students, and legislators have all questioned the idea of affirmative action. On one side, affirmative action, depending on the person or social group defining it, can view affirmative action as a positive term in higher education. On the other hand, affirmative action may also bring a negative connotation to higher education. In attention to when affirmative action was first introduced compared to affirmative action in publicity of the Fisher vs. University of Texas case, my research questions ask the following: How did advocates envision “affirmative action” when they originated the term by 1965, and how have opponents tried to redefine this term in the Fisher case?

Although affirmative action was first introduced in context of employment in the United States, legislators and advocates of this reform believed in equal opportunity regardless of their “race, creed, color, or national origin” (Burstein, p. 373). This was the idea of affirmative action by 1965. When interpreting the definition of affirmative action in 1965, people in the United States were able to understand the positive movement this term brought for underrepresented groups; affirmative action was used as an optimistic term. Over the past five decades, legislators and advocates, as well as new audience like educators, students, and parents, begin to question the language affirmative action brings varying case by case. More specifically, the Fisher vs. University of Texas brings in the term affirmative action as a negative discrimination towards Abigail Fisher due to her background (white student from Texas). Looking at both situations, appointing the importance of language and wording is critical to the origins of the term-affirmative action. Language and the definition of this term, while having a basic context, continue to be a very broad term with many loopholes. This is especially with the attempt to understand the difference between diversity requirements (quota) and the idea of affirmative action on college campuses.

Background- The Civil Rights Act of 1964:

The late 1950’s and early 1960’s brought many several major events in the fight for Civil Rights in America. It was a time where many regions of the United States continued to treat people of color, in particular African Americans, as second-class citizens (Pilgrim). Laws like the Jim Crow laws kept people of color separate from white people in any way possible (Pilgrim). This meant separation in schools, restaurants, restrooms, and transportation due to the color of their skin (Pilgrim).

From these ongoing events of discrimination, affirmative action was first introduced within the context of the 1961 Executive Order 10925. President John F. Kennedy issued The Executive Order 10925 in order to create the Committee on Equal Employment Opportunity. This would provide instructions to projects financed with federal funds taking affirmative action to ensure the hiring and employment practices are free of racial bias (“Equal Employment Opportunity and Executive Order 10925”).

Sadly after the death of John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson continued on Kennedy’s path to an inclusive America for all. He did so by signing into law the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which would be a step closer to eliminate the ongoing struggle for an equal employment opportunity (Burstein, p. 373). During the1964 signing, the court ordered that affirmative action would be used so that employees would be treated with equal opportunity regardless of their “race, creed, color, or national origin” (Burstein, p.373).

While it was introduced in 1961 and 1964, affirmative action was not fully defined until 1965, when President Johnson gave a commencement speech to the graduating class at Howard University. President Johnson speech underlies the concepts of affirmative action emphasizing that civil rights laws alone are not enough to solve discrimination: “We seek not just freedom but opportunity—not just legal equity but human ability—not just equality as a right and a theory, but equality as a fact and as a result” (Johnson). Additionally, throughout his speech, Johnson emphasizes the access of opportunity in relation to affirmative action and higher education. Despite the challenges education (at any level) has presented to diverse groups, many communities remain certain that education is the key to a better life with promising opportunities involved.

Affirmative Action in Higher Education- University of California v. Bakke:

However, as decades pass, the wording of “equality of opportunity” and “equality of outcomes” is at question in regards of the result affirmative action entitles (Crashcourse 01:15). As described by Crashcourse (a series of educational videos in collaboration to PBS), the narrator explains the key differences between each term: equality of opportunity is an equal shot at success compared to an equality of outcomes where not all Americans will be equally successful (01:28). Therefore “that is why they are the focus of affirmative action efforts” (Crashcourse 01:38). More importantly, the defense of practice and policy are applied as foundational structure within the discussion of affirmative action in higher education in America. Looking closely at the definition of affirmative action, readers must take into consideration the public debate that comes with the term while tackling the keys words established with it: “equality, equity, diversity, and democratic” (Tomasson, Crosby, Herzberger, p. Preface).

In perspective of recent, Fisher vs. the University of Texas, it is critical for readers to understand the history of affirmative action when it was first introduced in higher education in America. The 1978 University of California vs. Bakke case was the first case documented to question the legality of affirmative action because the denial of Allan P. Bakke into medical school at the University of California. Bakke was denied acceptance into the University of California because of racial quote- he was white (“BAKKE”). The diagram below shows the breakdown the University of California’s medical school admission’s process worked. For every 100 students admitted, 16 of them are in representation of racial seating.

University of California's Admission Process

In Bakke’s court ruling, two perspectives from legislators indicate the University of California could not deny Bakke because they did not provided equal opportunity. Documented on the court ruling, it states, “no matter how strong their qualifications, quantitative and extracurricular, including their own potential for contribution to educational diversity, they are never afforded the chance to compete with applicants from the preferred groups for the special admissions seats” (“BAKKE”). The court also ruled that it was constitutional because the University of California was meeting a convincing government interest; it was constitutional because it took into consider race as a factor in admissions (“BAKKE”).

Affirmative Action in Higher Education- Fisher vs. University of Texas

As a senior in high school, applying for college is a long, potentially stressful process. For some students, they take alternative routes that do not necessarily lead to higher education. But for Abigail Fisher, her pursuit to higher education was her route after high school. In 2007, Abigail Fisher applied to the University of Texas at Austin with high expectations of getting admitted. To Fisher’s surprise, she was denied summer and fall admission into the class of 2008 (“FISHER”). Wanting to have her application re-evaluated, Fisher believed that her application was considering her race, white, as a factor (“FISHER”). Therefore, Fisher sued on theory that there were other students, emphasizing minority students, who were admitted with “different qualifications” the year she applied (CardozoLawSchool 00:44).

Along with Fisher’s application, reader must understand that the University of Texas has two major components in their admission process (“FISHER”). The first method UT uses is the Top 10 Percent Law (House Bill 588), which was passed in 1997 (“FISHER”). This law “guarantees Texas public high school students graduating in the top 10 percent of their class admission to any state university, including UT” (“FISHER”). The second method UT uses is the academic index (AI) and a personal achievement index (PAI) plan (“FISHER”). The “AI/PAI Plan” is a “multi-faceted, individual review process for admitting applicants who do not qualify for automatic admission under the Top 10 Percent Law, allegedly designed and developed from principles established by the Supreme Court” (“FISHER”).

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As describe in Fisher vs. the University of Texas, UT brings forth an alternative system of admissions. Demonstrated through the video “Professor Michelle Adams on Fisher vs. University of Texas”, Cardozo Law Professor, Michelle Adams discusses Fisher vs. the University of Texas (“CardozoLawSchool”). Professor Adams confidently assures where her standpoint is; she believes this case will have a greater impact on a higher education than most in and out of higher EDU can imagine. In limelight to UT and the direction it takes to the other 90% of students, admissions takes into consideration factors like academic performance, extracurricular activities, and race (“CardozoLawSchool” 00:56).

Looking at affirmative action within the context of higher education and its definition in the Fisher case, administration and legislators continue to attempt to understand the difference between diversity requirements (quota) and the idea of affirmative action on UT’s campus.

Conclusion: What now?

Over the past decade, the United States has experienced a growth in communities of color. Heading in the same direction is the increase number of students of color in institutions of higher education in America. The basic idea that universities can create programs to build and maintain a diverse student body has been upheld since affirmative action was first introduced in 1964. Affirmative action will continue to remain a controversial topic with endless directions of opinions and values. Some have argued that in the near future, affirmative action will eventually be removed. Maintenance for affirmative action will resume, as advocates who envisioned the term in 1965, because many people recognize support for minority groups still remain in order to build equal formation for all in the United States. Nonetheless, one’s interpretation on affirmative action depends on many things like one’s personal background and beliefs.

Works Cited

Abigail Noel FISHER and Rachel Multer Michalewicz, Plaintiffs, v. State of TEXAS, Et Al., Defendants. United States District Court, W.D. Texas, Austin Division. 29 May 2008. Google Scholar. Web. 21 Apr. 2016.

Burstein, Paul. Equal Employment Opportunity: Labor Market Discrimination and Public Policy. New York: Aldine De Gruyter, 1994. Print.

CardozoLawSchool. “Professor Michelle Adams on Fisher v. University of Texas.” YouTube. YouTube, 04 Mar. 2013. Web. 29 Apr. 2016. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2-yJ7o06Pgg>.

Crashcourse. “Affirmative Action: Crash Course Government and Politics #32.” YouTube. YouTube, 26 Sept. 2015. Web. 15 Apr. 2016. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gJgQR6xiZGs>.

“Equal Employment Opportunity and Executive Order 10925.” Equal Employment Opportunity and Executive Order 10925 11 University of Kansas Law Review 1962-1963. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Apr. 2016.

Pilgrim, David. ” What Was Jim Crow.” Jim Crow Museum. Ferris State University, Sept. 2000. Web. 27 Apr. 2016. <http://www.ferris.edu/jimcrow/what.htm>.

“President Lyndon B. Johnson’s.” Commencement Address at Howard University: “To Fulfill These Rights” June 4, 1965. University of Texas, 06 June 2007. Web. 18 Apr. 2016.

REGENTS OF THE UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA v. BAKKE. Supreme Court of United States. 28 June 1987. Google Scholar. Web. 20 Apr. 2016.

Tomasson, Richard F., Faye J. Crosby, and Sharon D. Herzberger. Affirmative Action: The Pros and Cons of Policy and Practice. Lanham, MD: American UP, 1996. Print.

Yosso, Tara J. “From Jim Crow to Affirmative Action and Back Again: A Critical Race Discussion of Racialized Rationales and Access to Higher Education.” Review of Research in Education 28 (2004): 1-25. JSTOR. Web. 01 Apr. 2016.


Italian and Latino Immigrants Across the 20th and 21st Century in New Haven, Connecticut

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New Haven, Connecticut is a city that proudly parades its long relationship with Italian immigration and culture. The influence of the Italian immigrants is still visible in the form of Italian flags, markets, and restaurants scattered throughout the city. Old neighborhoods such as Wooster Square, once a concentrated neighborhood of Italian-American immigrants, now welcomes tourists and visitors to indulge in a tourist friendly version of the area’s charm and ambiance. These remnants of Italian influence are the result of a major wave of European migrants into New Haven during the first half of the 20th century. The charm of neighborhoods like Wooster Square seems to overshadow the reality and the struggles that generations of Italian-american immigrants in the past faced for decades in the 20th century. New Haven today is still a very diverse city with a population that is roughly 68.2% non-white, and 15.8% foreign born with the prevailing immigrant and ethnic group being composed of Hispanic/Latinos.1 For many of the earliest generations of Italian-American immigrants, a major frontline where they experienced American society was in public schools, and the experiences of early 20th century Italian-American immigrants may offer us some insight into what shaped the present day climate in schools across New Haven, and subsequently how Latin-Americans experience schooling in New Haven today. For the purpose of this paper I will ask and seek an answer to the question: How did schooling, language, and opportunity affect the experiences of Italian youth in the early 20th century and how does this compare to the experiences of Latinos today in New Haven, Connecticut?

The experiences of Italian-Americans are significant to understanding the changes that New Haven has made in its policies and responses to its Immigrant populations, particularly Latin American immigrants. Both Italians and Latin-Americans migrated to New Haven in major waves and created systemic changes to the city’s schools and population. As of 2012, New Haven recorded a hispanic/latino population comprising 26% of the total population, also representing 40% of New Haven’s school population.2 In the early 20th century, Italians also represented 25% of the overall population and 41% of school populations.

Although both groups have their differences, culturally and ethnically, both are proportionately composed of non-english speaking, roman-catholic individuals who were/are darker-complexed than their caucasian and northern european peers.3 Both groups migrated to the United States in search of economic and social stability, but education was either an obstacle or a means of social and economic mobility and their experiences were typically dependent on how New Haven approached non-english speaking or bilingual students, and also the opportunities that it presented to these immigrant populations.

In this research paper, I will delve deeper into the most relevant issues which affected the experiences of Italians and Latinos in New Haven. How the city has changed its educational approaches towards english-language learners and immigrant students has changed vastly since the arrival of Italian immigrants, and the rates at which they achieve social and economic prosperity. On one hand, Italians of the 20th century experienced varying social and political pressures that undermined their cultural and familial roles, a lack of educational opportunities, and poor attitudes and approaches towards non-english speakers, making school and education an obstacle. On the other hand, Latin-americans of today would have a different experience than Italians in the 20th century, as New Haven has made reforms to increase opportunity and positive reception of these students, coupled with the immigrants’ own higher-expectations and reverence for education than that of the Italians.

Stephen Lassonde’s historical interpretation of Italian-immigrant experiences described in his book Learning to Forget: Schooling and Family Life in New Haven’s Working Class was my inspiration and the backbone of my research on Italian immigrant students. While there is significant literature and research on the broader topic of Italian-Americans, Learning to Forget is a rare piece which gives a direct scope into New Haven’s Italian diaspora between 1870 and 19404 and also interprets how New Haven’s Italians experienced society, labor, family, and most importantly-schooling. Today, Latinos have a significant influence on New Haven, as they are the prevailing immigrant group. The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven is an organization which is heavily involved in the New Haven community, especially in marginalized poor and immigrant communities. Their mission is defined as: “To create positive and sustainable change in Connecticut’s Greater New Haven region by increasing the amount of and enhancing the impact of community philanthropy.” This organization has published many data-heavy reports on New Haven’s demographics. For this research I will be using their 2015 report Understanding the Impact of Immigration on Greater New Haven as it offers 20+ pages of data specific to the impact and experiences of New Haven’s many immigrant groups.

Part I: Italian-Americans in New Haven, Connecticut

During the peak of migration years (1900-1930), Italian-Americans arriving in New Haven would be experiencing not just an foreign society, but a society which was also rapidly changing in its response to immigrants. Between 1870 and 1911, Connecticut was passing a series of compulsory education laws which would put rigid restrictions on attendance, and child labor. The passing of these laws may have seemed like a benevolent effort on behalf of educational reformers at the time, but that these laws undermined many values and expectations of Italian parents, and put more emphasis on assimilation than inclusion for the Italian students. At the time, Italian parents were skeptical and resentful of the system. Many of these family’s had traveled from southern Italy or Sicily5, and were typically unskilled to low-skilled laborers who expected children to contribute economically to the family, thus making the education system and compulsory laws as an obstacle rather than an institution for social mobility. However, some of the resent of these Italian parents may have been justified as many times schools were “educating” these students less than they were “dealing” with them.

Isolation or segregation was common in many cities at the time. While New Haven took a less vocal approach, other cities, such as Boston even “actively discouraged poor and immigrant children from attending school by expressing openly their contempt for them and consigning children to the city’s most inferior facilities” (Lassonde, p. 54). Despite efforts to pressure Italian youth into assimilating, they assimilated at what the city considered an extremely slow pace. By the 1920s, southern Italian immigrants had outnumbered the cities more familiar immigrant groups, the Irish and Jews.6 Unlike their Jewish and Irish peers, Italians often did not speak English when they began school and subsequently, Italian students were consistently low-proficient or illiterate. In the early days of IQ testing (WWI era), there was speculation that the inability for Italian students to achieve in education was ultimately due to “racial deficiencies” (Lassonde, 57). Eventually by the 1930s the blame for illiteracy amongst Italian students was shifted from “racial deficiencies” to the slow pace at which Italian students learned English. Several key factors played a role in the reasons for the slow pace at which Italian students learned English: (1) Italians were often concentrated in their own neighborhoods, such as Wooster Square, Forbes Avenue, or Union Avenue7 where Italian was the primary language. ( 2) Italian parents had little education themselves, and valued labor and family life more than self-development and socialization which schools were promoting. And finally, (3) There were no English-Language acquisition programs for Italian students. With no incentive or opportunities presented to learn English, Italian students were typically much older than their grade level peers, and only attended schools until no longer legally obligated.8

For Italian students, Language was only one of the obstacles that prevented them from being successful in the classroom. Not only did Italian students struggle with language and literacy, but their parents were also barely literate. Italian students struggled with not just a lack of opportunities, but a lack of incentive. Older generations had been conditioned for years to hold little value for education,9 and their harbored resentments were only amplified by the restrictions schools and lawmakers put on their children. For many years, Italian parents were uninvolved and unconcerned with their children’s educational outcomes. Despite efforts to resist from both parties, inevitably, there came a turning point. Around the depression years, compulsory school attendance laws became more effectively enforced, and subsequently, child and adolescent truancy dropped as more children were staying in school longer (Lassonde, 192). Inevitably, both parents and students began to recognize high school’s opportunity for both social and most importantly, occupational mobility and, according to Lassonde, parents “surrendered their faith in the past for the promise of a more affluent future for their children” (Lassonde, 187). The result was a reversal of roles and compromises. Italian children became more economically dependent on their parents for longer, but parents recognized these changes would ultimately lead to more prosperous and thriving future generations.  By World War II european immigration was tapering off, and after a series of political and social movements, it reached a near-standstill for most of the 20th century. At one point, more than 40,000 ethnically identifying Italian’s resided within New Haven. Today New Haven’s Italian diaspora has a population of less than 3,90010. Italians are blended into New Haven’s community almost seamlessly, and are much less a topic of political discussion than that of tourists who visit the area’s Italian restaurants and markets.

Part II: Latin-American immigrants in New Haven

Today, New Haven’s prevailing immigrant group is Latin-American immigrants, primarily migrating from Mexico, Ecuador, Colombia, and Guatemala.11 While New Haven’s population is overall much larger today than in the early 20th century, Latin-American immigrants and ethnically identifying hispanics represent almost the same portion of the population that Italian’s did-26%. Today, about 1 in 8 New Haven children are immigrants, and 1 in 5 children have at least one foreign-born parent.12 Despite similarity in numbers, Italian students and Latino students are unlikely to have similar experiences in New Haven’s schools due to more recent reforms, changes to curriculum, and more positive attitudes and perceptions of education amongst today’s latino immigrant groups. Instead, the unfortunate experiences and early outcomes of Italian immigrant students offer us reason to support these positive changes, rather than reverse them.

One of the major factors contributing to illiteracy and low-proficiency of Italian students was the slow rate at which they learned English. In reality, most students suffered from having no english-language acquisition programs, and in many of the earlier cases, only went to school to avoid truancy and violation of compulsory attendance laws. While today’s schools are now required to provide English language tutoring programs to aid students as they learn English, New Haven is a city which has expanded beyond simply offering ESL (english as a second language) and ELL (english language learner) courses. In new haven’s schools, more than 60 languages are spoken, and 23% of children identify with a language other than English as their primary language. Spanish is only second to English as the most spoken language amongst students.13 The New Haven school district prioritizes these students by offering tutoring, and language acquisition classes and offer even more specific programs for Spanish-speaking students. The district’s “Newcomer” program groups Spanish-speaking students by grade (K-8) into their own classrooms where language acquisition is a priority (students typically have 10 to 30 months of experience with English). Other and older students partake in ELL or private ESL courses, but some form of language acquisition is mandatory as per Title III, a federal program known as the English Language Acquisition, Language Enhancement, and Academic Achievement Act (a part of No Child Left Behind). Outcomes are positive for students in the program, by about five years, the students are 80% proficient in English, a stark difference from the Italian immigrants of the early 20th century. 14 New haven even boasts a bilingual inter-district magnet school, the John C Daniels School of International Communication, where students participate in curriculums that are taught in English, Spanish, and Mandarin-Chinese. In a report published by the Community foundation for Greater New Haven, the reasoning for concepts such as bilingual programs was “The variety exposes all students to different values and experiences, which prepare them to work in diverse environments and live with tolerance later in life.”15

Unlike the experiences of Italians, the concept of inclusion versus assimilation is stronger in the city’s response to today’s immigrants than it was in the past. Specifically, Latin-American immigrant youth and parents also report more positive feelings towards the system. Like Italians, many latin-american immigrants are low skilled laborers who come to work in manufacturing, or agriculture. Unlike Italians, Latin-Americans of today have more positive perspectives on Education, and are more likely to view it as a means of upward mobility for their next generation. 97% of surveyed children of immigrants in New Haven proclaimed education as “critical” to their future in the U.S.16, reflecting the likelihood of more positive attitudes and less resentment at home towards education. Among its many programs which benefit immigrant students, New Haven also created the New Haven Promise Scholarship Program to help foreign-born students (regardless of immigration status) pay for college. Overall, the city has an increased awareness and many immigrant-friendly organizations. In 2009, the city also launched a district-wide campaign with harsher punishment for under-performing teachers and more funding for community outreach programs. The results of this campaign were significant, as student achievement went up nearly 20 percentage points across the board17.


All in all, Italians and Latinos are comparable groups in both numbers and demographics, but their experiences in New Haven’s public schools vary greatly. In the early years of the 20th century, Italian’s lacked opportunity to learn english, and subsequently succeed in the classroom, leaving many students illiterate or barely proficient until they were old enough to leave school. This form of passive discrimination continued until the expansion of secondary school, and Italian youth and parents finally gave into the reversal of their cultural roles and norms. Had Italians immigrated to New Haven today, they would have experienced a very different climate, one that puts english-language acquisition first so that the student can succeed, and one that encourages and embraces the diverse nature of their public schools through bilingualism, and community involvement.


1 “New Haven City, Connecticut Data” U.S. Census Bureau.  2014  <http://www.census.gov/quickfacts/table/RHI805210/0952000?

2  Page 5, Figure 02:  “Understanding the Impact of Immigration on Greater New Haven”  The Community Foundation For Greater New Haven. 2015.  <https://www.cfgnh.org/Portals/0/Uploads/Documents/Understanding%20GNH/CFGNH%20reports/CFGNH_ImmgRPT_2015_lores_FINAL_PGS.pdf>

3 “Hispanic/Catholic Fact Sheet.”  Georgetown.edu.  2014  <http://cara.georgetown.edu/staff/webpages/Hispanic%20Catholic%20Fact%20Sheet.pdf>

4  Lassonde, Stephen. “Learning to Forget: Schooling and Family Life in New Haven’s Working-class 1870-1940.” Yale University Press. New Haven, CT. 2005.

5  “Immigration:  Italian.”  Library of Congress Online.  <https://www.loc.gov/teachers/classroommaterials/presentationsandactivities/presentations/immigration/italian3.html>

6  Preface, 19:  Riccio, Anthony. “The Italian American Experience In New Haven”  SUNY.  2006.

7 Riccio, Anthony. “The Italian American Experience In New Haven”  SUNY.  2006.

8  Pages 57-59:  Lassonde, Stephen. “Learning to Forget: Schooling and Family Life in New Haven’s Working-class 1870-1940.” Yale University Press. New Haven, CT. 2005.

9  Pages 57-59:  Lassonde, Stephen. “Learning to Forget: Schooling and Family Life in New Haven’s Working-class 1870-1940.” Yale University Press. New Haven, CT. 2005.

10 “Understanding the Impact of Immigration on Greater New Haven”  The Community Foundation For Greater New Haven. 2015.  <https://www.cfgnh.org/Portals/0/Uploads/Documents/Understanding%20GNH/CFGNH%20reports/CFGNH_ImmgRPT_2015_lores_FINAL_PGS.pdf>

11 “Understanding the Impact of Immigration on Greater New Haven”  The Community Foundation For Greater New Haven. 2015.  <https://www.cfgnh.org/Portals/0/Uploads/Documents/Understanding%20GNH/CFGNH%20reports/CFGNH_ImmgRPT_2015_lores_FINAL_PGS.pdf>

12Page 6: “Understanding the Impact of Immigration on Greater New Haven”  The Community Foundation For Greater New Haven. 2015.  <https://www.cfgnh.org/Portals/0/Uploads/Documents/Understanding%20GNH/CFGNH%20reports/CFGNH_ImmgRPT_2015_lores_FINAL_PGS.pdf>

13  Zahn, Brian.  “More than 60 Languages Spoken in New Haven Schools.”  the New Haven Register. 9 January, 2016.  <http://www.nhregister.com/article/NH/20160109/NEWS/160109552>

14  Zahn, Brian.  “More than 60 Languages Spoken in New Haven Schools.”  the New Haven Register. 9 January, 2016.  <http://www.nhregister.com/article/NH/20160109/NEWS/160109552>

15 “Understanding the Impact of Immigration on Greater New Haven”  The Community Foundation For Greater New Haven. 2015.  <https://www.cfgnh.org/Portals/0/Uploads/Documents/Understanding%20GNH/CFGNH%20reports/CFGNH_ImmgRPT_2015_lores_FINAL_PGS.pdf>

16  Page 14: “Understanding the Impact of Immigration on Greater New Haven”  The Community Foundation For Greater New Haven. 2015.  <https://www.cfgnh.org/Portals/0/Uploads/Documents/Understanding%20GNH/CFGNH%20reports/CFGNH_ImmgRPT_2015_lores_FINAL_PGS.pdf>

17  “New Haven Public Schools”  US Department of Education.  2009.<http://www.ed.gov/labor-management-collaboration/conference/new-haven-public-schools>

Curriculum Changes of Sex Education Through The Years

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The topic of sex education in school has always brought up heated debates since the early 1900’s. There has been much controversy over time on what to teach, who should teach, the moral of sex education in the classroom and the religions aspects and beliefs of the families that attend the school. Throughout time we have seen a change in the way sex education is taught in pubic schools. The focus of this paper is to shed light on the content shift in sex education classes to determine why the change occurred. How have the views of sex education in schools created a shift in the learning content from teaching about marriage and family life to pregnancy and STD prevention?

Around the 1950s and 1960s the focus of sex education was towards the marriage and family life style, the anatomy of the human bodies and the roles of family members. As we progress over time towards the 1990’s and today we can see that the focus of sex education has taken a shift in a different direction. In today’s public school system sex education classes now focus more on the prevention of unwanted pregnancies and contracting sexually transmitted diseases. (Finkel, M. L., & Finkel, S. 1985) We see the shift from marriage and family focus to a focus on the individual and their personal preventive health. Prior to the education curriculum of the 1980’s there was a deeper religious impact on the sex education curriculum in school systems in the United States. (Lamb, S. 2013)

In the early 1900’s to the 1940’s the curriculum of sex education focused on the scientific facts of the sexual reproduction system. In the curriculum they put a focus of sex in the natural world. They used animals to portray sex as a powerful interaction between two living creatures and that it deserves respect. When sex education was being taught there were no human depictions being used as examples. They taught sex in this way so the students were still able to learn but they were not intimidated by the possible picture contents of having to see a picture of actual people engaging in intercourse. This curriculum soon changed around 1947 to help the students learn more about moral laws and the customs of society, and to better connect sex to their own lives instead of the animals in nature. The new draft of the curriculum would be focused on educating the students for personal growth and family living. This new change in the curriculum wanted to also help students to focus more on “wholesome decisions.”(Lamb, S. 2013) The moral laws that the students learned about in their sex education class consisted of making an informed decision. The teachers would present the students with questions such as, should young girls be learning about sex? Should they be able to make the decision as to whether or not to have sex or to remain in celibacy? (Lamb, S. 2013). In the mid 1960’s Sex education changed yet again, this time it was named “family life and sex education” and when implemented into high school curriculums it included a portion about ethics and was more student-centered focusing on their discussion. This new curriculum that was more “student-centered” would allow the students to have discussion about topics of sex education and also debates about the issues that came along with it. At this point in time the teachers were not allowed to express their personal opinions about sex and marital status. The teachers had to remain “morally neutral” and they were not allowed to make any comments or take a stand on any issues about sex. The focus was on the students and some topics that arose were homosexuality, contraception, and heterosexual intercourse (Lamb, S. 2013).

According to Finkel and Finkel (1985) the main topics of sex education is the prevention of pregnancies and venereal diseases. Other items on the agenda include teaching high school students responsibility for their actions, how to handle peer pressure, gender roles, personal hygiene, birth control, human reproduction and lastly knowledge of sexually transmitted diseases. (Finkel et al. 1985) In their study they discuss The Family Living/Sex Education curriculum that was established in 1967 for the school system of New York City, which would include all students in kindergarten through the 12th grade. Finkel writes, “Since the first publication of this curriculum, there have been rapid social changes in society.” (Finkel et al. 1985) The social changes in society that can be mentioned from the 1940’s to this point in time are the dynamics of families that have changed, the opening of a Planned Parenthood organization and changes in a person’s sexual orientation and status. In his quote we see that there was a needed change in the curriculum to adjust it to the developing society. The curriculum mentioned above targeted high school students that were in the New York City public school system in the 1980’s.

In the 1980’s according to Peter Scales, the focus of sex education was to make people sexually literate. This process would happen in sex education programs across the nation. Scales states, “To be sexually literate…is to possess the basic sexual information and skills to thrive in a modern world; a comprehensive knowledge of sex and sexuality; the ability to understand alternative sides of a sexual issue; tolerance for ambiguity and paradox…”(Scales, P. C.1989). In this quote we can see that the views in sex are changing in society and there is a greater acceptance for sex education. Society is coming to terms that the role of sex in their lives is changing and that people need to be educated on the new views and perspectives on sex education. If society is more open to accepting sex, then schools should be more open to teaching about it.

As we move to the 1990’s the focus of sex education takes a drastic change. We see this change because of the HIV/AIDS that has surfaced. The sex education programs are now focusing more on prevention education rather than the moral feelings and marital status for engaging in sex. According to Schalet, in 1998 federal funding shifted to focus more on prevention education, sexually transmitted diseases, the benefits of condoms and contraception, and shifted away from the abstinence only movement. (Schalet et al. 2014)

The changes that we see occurring in the curriculum of sex education are results of an ever-changing society. We moved away from the notion of teaching kids that the only way that it was proper to engage in sexual activities was to be married. According to Susan Rose there have been findings that state, just because schools are not teaching students about sex, does not meant that they would not engage and experiment with it. By educating the students there is a better chance that they will not become another statistic of unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.


Works Cited

Carter, J. B. (2001). Birds, Bees, and Venereal Disease: Toward an Intellectual History of Sex Education. Journal of the History of Sexuality, 10(2), 213.

Finkel, M. L., & Finkel, S. (1985). Sex Education in High School. Society, 23(1), 48–52.

Groen, M. (2009). A Right Turn on the Left Coast. American Educational History Journal, 36(1/2), 23–35.

Lamb, S. (2013). Just the Facts? The Separation of Sex Education from Moral Education. Educational Theory, 63(5), 443–460. http://doi.org/10.1111/edth.12034

Mehlman, N. (2007). Sex Ed… and the Reds? Reconsidering the Anaheim Battle over Sex Education, 1962–1969. History of Education Quarterly, 47(2), 203–232. http://doi.org/10.1111/j.1748-5959.2007.00089.x

Mucher, S. S. (2001). School Reform, the First Amendment, and Civility in the 1990s: The Construction of A Statement of Principles for Religion and Public Education. Journal of Church & State, 43(2), 319.

Rose, S. (2005). Going Too Far? Sex, Sin and Social Policy. Social Forces (University of North Carolina Press), 84(2), 1207–1232. http://doi.org/10.1353/sof.2006.0032

Scales, P. C. (1989). Overcoming future barriers to sexuality education. Theory Into Practice, 28, 172–176. http://doi.org/10.1080/00405848909543399

Schalet, A., Santelli, J., Russell, S. strussell@arizona.edu, Halpern, C., Miller, S., Pickering, S., … Hoenig, J. (2014, October). Invited Commentary: Broadening the Evidence for Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health and Education in the United States. Journal of Youth & Adolescence, pp. 1595–1610.

Seaholm, M. (2013). Sex Goes to School: Girls and Sex Education before the 1960s. Journal of the History of Sexuality, 22(1), 168–171.

Stover, D. (2007). Should We Be Teaching Sex Education or Sexual Abstinence? Education Digest, 72(5), 41–48.


Who is Upward Bound?

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Educational support programs outside of the classroom have been long known as highly beneficial for improving the educational development and achievement outcomes of youth, especially for those of color who come from economically disadvantaged backgrounds. According to a longitudinal study sponsored by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, “among the typical after-school care arrangements poor children experience, ASPs (After School Programs) appear unique in their ability to promote academic-related success,” as they found that, “Children characterized by the ASP care arrangement showed significantly higher reading achievement at the end of the school year compared with children in all other patterns of after-school care and were rated by teachers as holding greater expectancies of success compared with children in the other adult/nonadult care pattern” (Carryl, Lord, Mahoney 2005). However, it is also important to note that these programs exist within a larger educational context. The landscape of American education is constantly changing as our society evolves and its needs and priorities shift. Throughout these changes, the overarching goal is to improve our quality of education. One of the means by which many have attempted to advance education outside of the classroom is through pre-college educational programs. These have been known, and supported by research, to be highly instrumental in the educational development and achievement outcomes of youth, and their impacts have shown to be especially significant for students coming from socioeconomically disadvantaged backgrounds. Given our constantly shifting educational landscape, the question arises of how are these programs affected by these shifts. Looking particularly at Upward Bound, a federally funded pre-college educational program, this essay investigates whether its goals or approaches have changed, if at all, since its origin in 1965, and if any factors may have pressured it to change.

In searching for changes in the program since its inception, my findings have shown a change in how this overarching objective is reached. This change was found in looking at the target population of the program. Since their inception, they have made a shift from focusing on opening the door to college for qualified but economically disadvantaged students, especially those of color, to emphasizing helping struggling students get on the pathway to that door. They began by giving well performing students, who were potential first generation college students, the necessary support to make sure they attend college. However, about 35 years after it began, they began to pay more attention to the net change in achievement and initiated plans to focus in on helping students who would likely not get into college without their support. This shift was largely influenced by the criticism received by the program on their effectiveness and their actual impact on student performance as opposed to college enrollment. These questions of efficiency had financial implications, as the federal funding for the program is results based. It wasn’t until a financial incentive was added by the Department of Education that the program began to make this shift in target population.

First, to provide background, the Upward Bound program came about in 1965, during the civil rights era, as a result of what Deborah P. Wolfe called “Excluding the Civil Rights Bill, the most significant legislation affecting the American Negro today,”(Wolfe 1965, p. 88) the Economic Opportunity Act. This act was legislated under the “War on Poverty” declared by President Lyndon B. Johnson and his administration (McElroy & Armesto 1998, p. 373). In explaining the circumstances of, and sentiment around, the act during during that time, Wolfe wrote, “When we look at the total picture in American life, we find that of the 9.7 million families in the United States with incomes under $3,000, 7.6 million, or 79 percent, were white and about 2 million, or 20 percent, were Negro. Such statistics bear evidence of the consistency of poverty among Negroes and therefore the concern that all American Negroes should have in alleviating these conditions as made possible through the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964,” (Wolfe 1965). This was indicative of the widely held view of this act being a beacon of hope for the socioeconomic mobility and advancement of the black population, among other minority groups. Upward Bound was the first of the set of programs that came out of this act and the Higher Education act of 1965, which are now known as the TRIO programs, but originally called the Special Programs for Students from Disadvantaged Backgrounds (McElroy & Armesto 1998, p. 373). This program “engages participating students in an extensive, multi-year program designed to provide academic, counseling, and tutoring services along with a cultural enrichment component, all of which enhance their regular school program prior to entering college,” (McElroy & Armesto 1998, p. 375).

For years, this program served as a sort of conveyor belt, which helped ensure that skilled and qualified students from disadvantaged backgrounds had they support they needed to proceed from high school, to college, and then graduate from college (McElroy & Armesto 1998). However, many of their critics argued that the statistical effectiveness of the program was being skewed due to the way students were selected to participate in the program. In 1997, Mathematica Policy Research, Inc. (MPR) investigated statistical reports on the program’s effectiveness, in summary of their results, McElroy and Armesto stated, “MPR’s investigations found Upward Bound to have no effect on participants’ high school academic preparation or grades, it concluded that the program had a positive effect on students’ college enrollment,” (McElroy & Armesto 1998). Former TRIO program director, Larry Oxendine, had found in a 2002 draft report the results of a longitudinal study comparing students from similar backgrounds, which found that the program only increased the likelihood of college attendance for “Students who had low expectations of attending college at the start of the study,” who were an anomaly amongst the rest of students in the study.” As Kelly Field further explained, “Oxendine surmised that the reason Upward Bound failed to increase college-going rates for the rest of the participants was because those students would have gone to college anyway. He hypothesized that if Upward Bound were refocused on higher-risk students, its impact on college-going rates would be greater and its limited budget would be spent more effectively,” (Field 2007).

In talking with Education Week Reporter, Sarah Sparks, the vice president at Mathematica Policy Research and co-principal investigator of the federal What Works Clearinghouse stated of Upward Bound, “They were intended to solve a real injustice of students who were academically ready to go to college, but just were low income and needed information… When this started there was not an expectation that everybody would go to college, so why would they focus on struggling students?” (Sparks 2014). Upward Bound partly found that reason through their results-based grant funding, which incentivizes high improvements in the net change of student performance. As their program profile released in 2004 states, “The Department of Education has continued to encourage projects to serve greater numbers of higher-risk students,” (Research Triangle Institute 2004). If their focus remained primarily what they were accused of, which is bringing in participants who are college-bound without them, their results would yield little change in performance amongst these students.

After finding in national evaluations that they were achieving greatest increases in performance in 1999-2000 amongst students at high risk of not finishing high school, “the Department of Education awarded supplemental grants to 184 regular Upward Bound projects to encourage them to select and serve such students over a three-year period,” (Research Triangle Institute 2004). With the adoption of this plan, known as the FY 2000 Upward Bound Program Participant Expansion Initiative, the program had made an official plan to shift towards focusing on students who were likely to not graduate high school or attend college. This plan states, “The Secretary gives absolute preference to applications that meet the following priority… A project funded under this priority must serve a target high school in which at least 50 percent of the students were eligible for the Free Lunch program during the 1998-1999 school year,” (United States Department of Education 2000).
To contextualize this change, we must look that how the issues the program aimed to address have changed over that time period. From the early years of the program in the late 1960s and 1970s, to the turn of the twenty-first century, there were significant changes in parent education levels, youth poverty rates, and college attendance. Youth poverty rates showed the biggest decrease from 1970 to 2001 amongst the group with the highest rates, which is the black population, as the poverty rate for black children under the age of 18 went from 41.5 percent to 30.2 percent (Research Triangle Institute 2004). Screen Shot 2016-05-06 at 1.43.12 PMThis change came along with a general increase in educational attainment amongst all groups. The nation experienced an overall increase in college attendance amongst its citizens from 1967 to 2001, as the number of high school graduates aged 14-24 who enrolled in or completed college rose approximately 4.3 percent fScreen Shot 2016-05-06 at 1.44.49 PMor males and 26.4 percent for women. In 1972, only 4 percent of fathers and 3.5 percent of mothers of black children ages six to eighteen had obtained a bachelor’s degree, but by 2002, these numbers rose to 16.5 percent of fathers and 13.9 percent of mothers holding bachelor’s Screen Shot 2016-05-06 at 1.47.10 PMdegrees (Research Triangle Institute 2004). These increases in education levels, especially those amongst women and people of color, show an increase in access to higher education for groups who previously lacked access. These changes in the landscape of our society serve as the context in which the Upward Bound program experienced its pressures to address its effectiveness and subsequently lead to a change in target population. When the program began in 1965, we were only ten years removed from the Montgomery Bus Boycott. At this point during the civil rights movement, war was being waged against the issue of a lack of access to institutions for blacks and other marginalized groups, and the program was intended to address this inequality under the Economic Opportunity Act. As our society improved in educational outcomes since the 1960s, the educational needs and priorities of the country shifted. The continued existence of race-based, class-based, and gender-based educational achievement gaps provided for an environment that would call for educational programs to place focus on helping low performing students raise their achievement level.

Overall, these findings have shown that a shift did indeed occur in the target population of the Upward Bound program, as the Department of Education placed explicit priority on serving students who at risk of not graduating high school and continuing to college. It also showed that a shift in social context, criticism on efficiency, and financial incentives have been the key factors in causing the Upward Bound program to begin this shift in its target population. The changing needs and priorities of American education that developed as access to higher education increased provided a propitious setting for the concerns and criticisms of the programs methods to be addressed. With these factors in place, the addition of a financial incentive served as the last needed component to formalize a shift in its target audience. The ways by which this program made its shift in approach also serves an example of how financial incentives tend to be the selling point of making changes that are viewed as beneficial for society. Which leaves us with the question, what level of importance do financial incentives hold when pushing for progressivity in educational programming?


Carryl, Erica. Lord, Heather. Mahoney, Joseph L. &. (2005). An Ecological Analysis of
After-School Program Participation and the Development of Academic Performance
and Motivational Attributes for Disadvantaged Children. Child Development, 76(4),

Field, K. (2007). Are the Right Students ‘Upward Bound?’. Chronicle Of Higher Education,
53(50), A20-A21.

McElroy, E. J., & Armesto, M.. (1998). TRIO and Upward Bound: History, Programs, and
Issues-Past, Present, and Future. The Journal of Negro Education, 67(4), 373–380. http://doi.org/10.2307/2668137

Research Triangle Institute. Cahalan, Margaret W. Curtin, Thomas R. (2004). A Profile of the
Upward Bound Program: 2000-20001. United States Department of Education Office of Postsecondary Education Federal TRIO Programs.

Sparks, Sarah D. (2014). ‘Lucky Few’ Served By War on Poverty College Programs. (cover
story). Education Week, 34(11), 1-15.

U.S. Bureau of Census. (2001). March Current Population Survey, various years as reported in
the U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Condition
of Education.

U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census. (2002). Current Population Surveys,
Historical Poverty Tables, Table 3. Poverty Status of People, by Age, Race, and
Hispanic Origin: 1959-2002.

U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census. (2002). Current Population Surveys,

U.S. Department of Education. (2000). Office of Postsecondary Education Upward Bound
Participant Expansion Initiative and Inviting Applications for Supplemental Awards
for Fiscal Year (FY) 2000. Part V. p 45699.

Wolfe, D. P.. (1965). What the Economic Opportunity Act Means to the Negro. The Journal of
Negro Education, 34(1), 88–92. http://doi.org/10.2307/2294300

A New Teacher Evaluation System for New Haven Public Schools

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Evaluating teachers is a heavily contested issue because of the varied methods administrators can use. Such methods include employing students’ standardized test scores, sit-in evaluations by principals, and forms filled out by students. In 2010, New Haven Public Schools (NHPS) implemented a new teacher evaluation and development system (TEVAL) as a result of collaboration among the city’s mayor, superintendent, assistant superintendent, and teachers’ union president (Donaldson, 2015, p. 48). In this new approach, teacher evaluations are measured according to student learning goals, instructional and/or leadership methods, and professional values. All teachers are evaluated according to a five-point scale, ranging from “needs improvement” to “exemplary” by November of the academic year. Teachers are then re-evaluated at the end of the academic year to determine if there was growth for teachers ranked lower on the scale (New Haven Public Schools, 2012). TEVAL is the first practice in New Haven providing valuable qualitative and quantitative feedback for each teacher in NHPS. Why did New Haven educators and city leaders seek a new method of evaluating teachers’ work in 2010? What are the preliminary outcomes for teacher environments and student achievement?

Around 2008, New Haven Mayor John DeStefano, Jr. faced mounting pressures as there was a national push for increased teacher accountability and increased criticism for New Haven’s declining school system. Although TEVAL is relatively new, it has fostered a collaborative, transparent, and student-centered environment in NHPS. Teachers have additional time to work together and improve their practices (Rubalcaba, 2016). The evaluation process is also transparent with teachers, informing them of their ratings and working with them to improve their teaching statuses during the academic year. Through all of these practices, NHPS is more focused on effectively teaching students and improving grades and graduation rates. At the beginning of the academic year, teachers determine student learning objectives (SLOs) as tools to measure student achievement, keeping the focus of schooling on student achievement and growth. Through TEVAL, underperforming teachers have been enabled to leave voluntarily, having seen and understood their evaluations (Donaldson, 2015, p. 63). Overall, school climate reports were positive, student achievement slightly increased, and dropout rates improved (RAND Education, 2014, p. 2-3). Ultimately, New Haven is serving as a model for the rest of the country, especially with the heavy involvement of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) in TEVAL’s creation and implementation.

In February 2009, Mayor DeStefano, Jr. and Superintendent Reggie Mayo approached New Haven Federation of Teachers president David Cicarella with plans for comprehensive school reform (Cicarella, 2014). At the time, a national push for increased teacher accountability was under way, led by President Barack Obama. He pointed to tracking teacher performance, rewarding effective teachers, and removing bad ones. Ultimately, he wanted to hold teachers legitimately accountable to improve the United States’ education system (Dinan, 2009). According to Cicarella, all persons involved in education needed to be dedicated to creating lasting change, which led to the development of TEVAL (Cicarella, 2014). In 2008, one in five third graders was reading at grade level. NHPS serves approximately 20,000 students, where nearly all are poor and Hispanic or black (Bailey, 2013). Ultimately, Mayor DeStefano, Jr. needed a way to change and reverse these outcomes to empower poor Hispanic and black students and their families, whom he had been serving since 1994. There was a sense of urgency for him to create profound effects and, as a political leader, to leave a positive legacy behind in New Haven. This took the form of a groundbreaking teachers’ contract, through which TEVAL emerged.

TEVAL is an approach to evaluating teachers in NHPS that is ongoing from September to July, which is divided by three types of conferences – goal-setting, mid-year, and end-of-year. At the center of the process are teachers and their instructional managers (IMs), who are typically principals, assistant principals, or teacher leaders. Teachers are evaluated according to three main components: SLOs, instructional practices, and professional values. SLOs are measured by student learning growth, as determined by change in scores on assessments and meeting academic goals and standards, as outlined by school districts or state governments. Instructional practices are assessed according to the IM’s observations regarding teacher performance; that is, IMs examine teachers’ preparation, classroom practices, and reflections. Professional values are measured by whether or not the teacher demonstrates professionalism, respects colleagues, and shows high expectations for students (New Haven Public Schools, 2012). These three components are the markers for IMs to uniformly assess all teachers continuously throughout the academic year. They still allow teachers to demonstrate individuality in the classroom, but they also indicate a basic expectation for all teachers.

At the beginning of the academic year, teachers establish SLOs for the academic year, which focuses on the growth of the students the teacher is assigned to. During this time, teachers also work with IMs to determine the teacher’s professional focus for the year and their professional development program; that is, they determine what the teacher’s area of improvement should be and what support mechanisms should be used to help achieve these outcomes. Such mechanisms may include coaches in particular subjects, or collaborating with other teachers in the school. Before November 1st, teachers earning either “exemplary,” a five, or “needs improvement,” a one, status must be notified so a third party can validate their status; these third party evaluators are ex-teachers not affiliated with the school (New Haven Public Schools, 2012). So, the goal-setting conference is used to identify the teacher’s goals for the year in terms of their students and their own teaching practices.

Between November 1st and March 1st the mid-year conference is then used to assess whether teachers are on track to fulfilling their SLOs and other professional goals. Before and after this conference IMs observe teacher practices – specifically through examining instructional time, other classroom observations, data, and other professional exercises. During the mid-year conference, IMs sit down with teachers to discuss their overall performance and development, using the empirical data they gathered during observations. The teacher also conducts a self-assessment, allowing them an opportunity to contribute to their evaluation (New Haven Public Schools). It is at this point during the academic year that teachers become acutely aware of their performance because they are able to discuss one-on-one with an IM the specifics of their performance, whereas before TEVAL was implemented, they did not receive such intimate information. Between March 1st and July the end-of-year conference is conducted, where teachers receive their ultimate evaluation of their performance during the academic year. It is informed by the teacher’s self-evaluation, the final rating the IM reports for each component, and an aggregate rating which is informed by the teacher’s development during the current academic year and their projected development for the following year (New Haven Public Schools, 2012). Because teachers have been involved in their evaluation processes since the beginning, they are aware of their progress – or lack thereof – and use this as an opportunity to make an informed decision about whether or not to continue teaching.

Across the United States, teacher evaluation systems have been so complex that most teachers are evaluated as satisfactory year after year just so administrators can move onto other tasks. This leaves no room or encouragement for improvement, especially with a faulty system. During the 2011-2012 academic year, twenty-nine teachers were rated as “needs improvement” (a one on a five-point scale) under TEVAL. Of those twenty-nine, improved to “developing” (two), four improved to “effective” (three), and two improved to “strong” (four) after one year. During the same year, of the seventy-nine teachers ranked “developing”, thirty-three improved to “effective” and three improved to “strong”. Furthermore, since TEVAL’s implementation, between one and two percent of teachers left NHPS, regardless of tenure status, because of their underperforming status. Most left voluntarily (Districts Rising, p. 2). Because teachers are evaluated at the beginning of the academic year and are notified by November 1st if they are underperforming, they are challenged to improve their practices and receive the proper support through IMs and other practices. During the year, they are also given resources to facilitate this improvement, such as consistent feedback and third party evaluators (Donaldson, 2015, p. 62). The program also calls for an additional thirty minutes to the school day for teachers to collaborate. This provides an opportunity for them to share their best practices and learn from one another. So as not to provide too strict guidelines, schools can determine when and how to use this time, specifically (Districts Rising, p. 2). Creating a collaborative and supportive environment, TEVAL fosters a positive environment where teachers can help one another and hold each other more accountable.

In 2013, twenty teachers lost their jobs as another component of TEVAL was implemented during the 2012-2013 academic year – those who failed to attain an “effective” rating after three years. Of the twenty, eight were tenured and twelve were non-tenured. Because of the newly-implemented standard, four teachers lost their jobs. Instead of facing direct termination from their supervisors, the twenty teachers voluntarily resigned, according to Superintendent Garth Harries (Bailey, 2014). These teachers were able to hold themselves accountable to their students, understanding that their practices had not improved as desired and expected. According to Harries, this added component is another measure to improve the teaching workforce. According to the New Haven Federation of Teachers’ president David Cicarella, teachers have been “treated fairly” and “supported properly” (Bailey, 2014). With each successive year, it seems NHPS has been holding its teachers more accountable, and teachers are facing the pressure to be increasingly effective in the classroom.

Preliminary outcomes on student achievement can be attributed to TEVAL and other components of the groundbreaking teachers’ contract signed in 2009. From 2009 to 2014, high school graduation rates increased from 58.1% to 75.5%. College enrollment increased by eight percentage points between 2014 and 2015. The percentage of students from New Haven who returned to college for a second year was 78.5% in 2015, whereas the national average is 68.7%. Eighth graders scoring at least proficient on Connecticut Mastery Test (CMT) increased from 62.1% to 72% in math, and 51.2% to 72.8% in reading from 2008 to 2013. These rates also increased for grades five through seven. Enrollment in NHPS also increased by 9% from 2010 to 2015, whereas enrollment in public schools statewide has declined (New Haven Public Schools, 2015).

Other than TEVAL, other components of the groundbreaking 2009 contract were hiring new management for a few failing schools each year, having teachers reapply for their jobs at these schools, and 3% annual raises for teachers (Bailey, 2013). Ultimately, such changes have allowed the NHPS system to turn around and improve student outcomes. However, because such changes have only recently taken place, not all outcomes can be necessarily attributed to the 2009 teachers’ contract. Examining these statistics preliminarily, New Haven is under close watch to see the long-term effects of TEVAL and these other practices, such as how NHPS students perform in college, the effects on New Haven’s economy, and the socioeconomic makeup of the city. Ultimately, TEVAL emerged from growing concerns over educational outcomes in the country, where city and school leaders were able to respond with collaborative efforts making students the focus of these reforms. The reform’s preliminary effects have created a hopeful atmosphere for the future of NHPS where teachers can be held more accountable and provided the necessary support for their teaching practices. Unlike previously ineffective approaches, TEVAL allows IMs to work with teachers individually to develop the plan that works best for them.


Bailey, M. (2013, June 11). A teachers union embraces reform in New Haven, creating a model for others. The Hechinger Report. Retrieved from http://hechingerreport.org/a-teachers-union-embraces-reform-in-new-haven-creating-a-model-for-others/.

Bailey, M. (2014, February 28). New Haven evaluations push out 20 more teachers. The CT Mirror. Retrieved from http://ctmirror.org/2014/02/28/new-haven-evaluations-push-out-20-more-teachers/.

Cicarella, D. (2014). A Fine Balance. American Federation of Teachers. Retrieved from http://www.aft.org/periodical/american-educator/spring-2014/professional-educator.

Dinan, S. (2009, March 10). Obama wants teacher ‘accountability.’ The Washington Times. Retrieved from http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2009/mar/10/obama-calls-accountability-education/.

Districts Rising. New Haven Public Schools: When Adults Work Together, Children Succeed. Retrieved from http://education-first.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/DistrictsRising-NewHaven-FINAL.pdf.

Donaldson, M. L. & Papay, J. P. (2015). An Idea Whose Time Had Come: Negotiating Teacher Evaluation Reform in New Haven, Connecticut. American Journal of
122, no. 1, 39–70, doi:10.1086/683291.

New Haven Public Schools (2012, March). New Haven School Change and Evaluation and Development Program [PowerPoint slides]. Retrieved from http://www.nhps.net/node/2328.

New Haven Public Schools (2015). When Adults Work Together, Children Succeed. Retrieved from http://education-first.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/DistrictsRising-NewHaven-FINAL.pdf.

RAND Education. (2014). Transforming an Urban Public School District: Tracking the Progress of New Haven Public Schools’ Educational Reforms and the New Haven Promise Scholarship Program. Retrieved from http://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/research_briefs/RB9800/RB9811z2/RAND_RB9811z2.pdf.

Rubalcada, Chad (2016, March 23). A Team Effort: Building a Coalition to Support Teachers in New Haven. Education First. Retrieved from http://education-first.com/a-team-effort-building-a-coalition-to-support-teachers-in-new-haven/.

Equality in Public Montessori Education

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The Montessori method of instruction is an educational innovation that has been highly praised since its conception over 100 years ago by Dr. Maria Montessori (“History of Montessori Education and the Movement”).  The method promotes student independence through peer learning in mixed age classes, freedom in choosing what activity to work on, and long periods of uninterrupted time to work in the classroom (“Introduction to the Montessori Method”).  Dr. Montessori’s first school, Casa dei Bambini, was opened in a low income neighborhood in Rome, and as the method has spread to every continent excluding Antarctica, it has continued to be employed as a means through which to advance diversity between different types of learners, ethnicities, and socio-economic backgrounds (“History of Montessori Education and the Movement”).  The Montessori method was introduced to the United States shortly after its’ founding in the early 1900’s, however it didn’t obtain lasting popularity until a revival in 1960, led by early childhood expert Dr. Nancy Rambusch (Pace)(“History of Montessori Education and the Movement”). By the 1970’s the Montessori method was hailed as an educational innovation with the potential to provide an alternative to students who did not function optimally in a traditional classroom setting (Stevens) and experienced growing popularity with middle class suburban families (Whitescarver, Cossentino 2584).  This growth lead it to became part of the “War on Poverty” movement, and was seen as a constructive way to promote desegregation in urban schools through utilization as a magnet option (“Growth of Public Montessori in the United States:19745-2014”).  With the creation of charter schools in the 1990’s the method continued to grow in popularity as an alternative to traditional schools, and in the past fifteen years, an estimated 290 public Montessori schools have opened (“Growth of Public Montessori in the United States:19745-2014”).  In light of the method’s growth in the public sector, and its perceived potential to address issues of educational inequality, how successful has public Montessori been in addressing issues of educational inequality over the course of recent decades?

American Montessori Society. “Montessori: Valuing Diversity with Andrew Solomon.” Online Video clip.  Vimeo. Vimeo, 29 July 2014. Web. 20 April 2016.

Dr. Maria Montessori developed her method to reach underserved children by putting focus on the individual and value on the differences between students. The Montessori method embraces differences between students, be they race, socioeconomic status, ability, or other (“Montessori Success in Minority Communities“).  The objective of this method, along with its focus on building executive functions, makes it a promising reform for combating issues of equality in America’s schools, at least in theory.  Research into the effectiveness of public Montessori school’s ability to remedy educational inequalities is new, but researchers have observed both strengths and weaknesses in how well the method has worked to serve minority and low income students.  Although there is a possibility for the Montessori method to be successful in addressing issues of educational inequality, there are problems with the application of the method in the public sector which continue to obstruct this potential.  Among these problems are the availability of Montessori options to minority and low income students and persistent issues with the treatment of minority students and families in public Montessori classrooms and communities.   

The East Dallas Community Schools (EDCS) manages two Montessori charter schools that serve higher numbers of low income and English language learner students than the rest of the state.  In an area where the graduation of the local public high school is 50%, of the third grade alumni of EDCS 94% graduate high school, and 88% go on to college on average (East Dallas Community Schools Newsletters).  However, not all public Montessori options offer this same high quality experience to underserved students.  Public Montessori schools, particularly charters, are becoming less available to minority students, resulting in a vital way in which Montessori schools are not as effective as they could be in addressing issues of educational inequality.  About 6% of of public schools in the United States are charter schools, while 41% of public Montessori schools are charters (“The challenge of a desirable school choice” 31). Montessori charters have been increasingly popular in recent years, and are now even slightly exceeding magnet options (“The challenge of a desirable school choice” 31-32).  These Montessori Charters are often less racially and economically diverse than district and magnet school, and over 60% of these charters enroll less than 40% minority students and have less than 40% of their students eligible for free and reduced price lunch, which is an important indicator of the number of students living in poverty (“The challenge of a desirable school choice” 32-33).  

“As a group, Montessori charter schools enroll a higher percentage of white students and a smaller number of black, Latino, Asian and free- and reduced-lunch-eligible students than Montessori magnet and district schools,” writes education researcher Mira Debs in her forthcoming article The challenge of a desirable school choice: Public Montessori between Social Reform and Elite Schooling (32).  Debs calls upon Kevin G. Welner’s “dirty dozen” concept to explain the inequitable techniques employed by charter schools that are making a growing number of public Montessori options less available to minority and low income students (“The challenge of a desirable school choice” 34).  Lack of English as a second language materials, not offering programs like free busing and or school lunches, are all ways that charters can keep themselves from being more available to minority and low income students, however there are also techniques that are unique to charter Montessori schools.  Because of pedological differences between Montessori and traditional classroom methods, many Montessori schools require that students have prior experience with the method before elementary school, and do not allow students to enter the school after a certain grade.  If there are no free public Montessori preschool options available to families, this can bar them from accessing or being eligible for public Montessori later on (“The challenge of a desirable school choice” 35).

This was the case in Des Moines, Iowa at Cowles Montessori, which is the only public Montessori school in the state.  Crowles Montessori enrolls students through a preschool program requiring $167.50 a week in tuition which is double the cost of other public preschool programs in the area.  The result has been a 49% decrease in the number of low income students and a 29% decrease in the number of minority students attending Crowles Montessori compared to the district (“The challenge of a desirable school choice” 22).

Katie E. Brown’s article Racial Diversity, Segregation, and Montessori Charter Schools built off of some of the work of Mira Debs, and sought to examine how representative public Montessori schools were of the district’s population.  Brown’s research provides further evidence that Montessori charters, which educate 37,926 students, are often racially segregated and predominantly white (2) (11).  Only 53 of the 166 Montessori charter schools had populations that were representative of the districts they were serving, whereas the remaining 113 schools (68.07%) had at least one racial group that was over or under represented. In 76 (45.78% ) of the Montessori charter schools in the study, white students were the population to be overrepresented (Brown 13).  

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“Percentage of Montessori Charter Schools Exhibiting Differences in School Population verses District Population by Race.” (K. Brown 13)

Outside of the issues associated with segregation in Montessori charters, there are also problems with the treatment of students within public Montessori schools, as well as with the ability of low income and minority parents to adjust into Montessori communities.  These practices leave families disenfranchised from the schools, despite the demonstrated potential for the Montessori method to be a positive innovation for many minority and low income students.  Brown and Steele found that rates of disproportionate discipline for minority students in public Montessori schools were statistically significant, like they are in traditional schools (1).  Black students in Montessori programs were two to three times more likely to receive out of school suspension than white students, which comparable to the rates in other schools (Brown, Steele 22).  

However, the researchers did find that within the district that they were conducting their study racial discipline disproportionality was less striking when compared to the traditional schools of the district (Brown, Steele 22).  This finding prompted Brown and Steele to conclude that although disproportionate discipline of minority students persisted in public Montessori schools, there is evidence that Montessori could potentially be a remedy to unequal treatment of minority students, “Montessori schools are not immune to racially disproportionate discipline and should work to incorporate more culturally responsive classroom management techniques. Conversely, the lower levels of racially disproportionate discipline in the Montessori schools suggest that further study of discipline and classroom management in Montessori environments may provide lessons for traditional schools to promote equitable discipline” (Brown, Steele 1).

Education researchers Elizabeth Brown and Molly Makris explore in their article Too Many White Ping Pong Balls: The Difficulty of Diversity Maintenance in Prestige Charter Schools,  the growing number of public Montessori schools that fit the description of being a “prestige charter” (E. Brown, Makis 7) which in many ways serves white and high income families better than minority, and low income families.  The alternative teaching method, which made Montessori an appealing option for middle class families in some ways makes it less desirable to minority and low income parents.  In her article Conflicted fit: Black and Latino parents’ experience in public Montessori schools, Mira Debs found that the experiences of minority and low income parents made understanding the abstract principles of the Montessori method difficult for them.  Montessori actives like gardening can be difficult for Black and Latino parents to accept. “I can’t figure out all this motherly, green thumb, nature-loving hippie part of the program,” one Latino parent interviewed in Debs article said, “I’m trying to prepare [my daughter] for modern-day stuff like technology and computers and all these advances in medicine – and they’re planting peas…She can rake, and she can trim bushes, but real-world practical use?” (“Conflicted fit” 18-19).  Some Black and Latino parents also held issue with the lack of homework in their children’s Montessori schools, which Debs acknowledges is the case of many parents in Montessori (“Conflicted fit” 19).  However, Debs argues that the concerns of minority parents for academic rigor were strengthened by their experiences with “limited educational opportunities” and “their awareness of the discrimination and dangers their children of color might face in the future” (“Conflicted Fit” 19).  Debs calls this “conflicted fit,” where parents were fond of the caring Montessori community but still apprehensive about the abstractness of the mission and the perceived lack of attention paid to academic achievement (“Conflicted fit” 14).   Debs found that parents who faced conflicted fit in the Montessori schools where their students attended were disenfranchised from the communities and more likely to consider enrolling their child in a different school (“Conflicted fit” 21).

One concern is that some minority families are disenfranchised from schools with high levels of parent involvement, resulting in “parentocracy” where the “the individual needs and preferences of some privileged parents may dominate and supersede the needs and interests of the collective good” (E. Brown, Makris 9).  Debs states that Montessori schools and educators need to become more culturally sensitive and understanding of the different perceptions and background of parents in order for minority parents to feel equally empowered in the school communities (“Conflicted fit” 23).  

 Following her participation in the Montessori Public Policy Initiative Retreat in the Fall of 2015, Katie Brown, co-author of Racial Discipline Disproportionality in Montessori and Traditional Public Schools: A Comparative Study Using the Relative Rate Index, shared her impression that the current dialogue about public Montessori expansion was is not adequately addressing greater outreach to underserved populations, I was struck by the lack of discussion of equity and inclusion. When I looked around the room, I noticed that the group was sorely lacking in representation from Montessorians of color…very little was said about increasing access for students of color and low-income students specifically, and how we ensure that high-quality Montessori best fits their educational needs…I brought up the question of how to diversify the Montessori teacher pool, but my impression is that if I had not, the issue of racial diversity may have gone unaddressed in this session” (“Advancing Montessori Public Policy, Expanding Access and Equity”).  

Public Montessori options have grown in recent decades.  This expansion of an educational innovation which was formerly a largely private school option, should give low income and minority students greater access to a method that is believed to have far reaching benefits, “including better scores on reading and math standardized tests, more positive interaction on the playground, more advanced social cognition and executive control, and more concern for fairness and justice” (Murray).   However, current public Montessori practices are imperfect and do not address problems of educational inequality in America’s schools.  In fact, the growing segregation of Montessori charters suggests that the method’s growth in the public sector could be contributing to the backtrack of desegregation in America’s schools.  Angela K. Murray of the American Montessori Society advocates for an expansion of public Montessori options so that. “skills that have been the province of the few must become universal” (Murray).  The noble goal of Dr. Nancy Rambusch for “the creation of a viable American Montessori educational experience for as many children as possible,” (Whitescaver, Cossentino 2582)  may very well have the potential to remedy many of the issues of educational inequality obstructing our schools today.  However, first the obstacles facing the method in light of the expansion of Montessori into the public sector must be understood and addressed.  

 Work Cited 

American Montessori Society. “Montessori: Valuing Diversity with Andrew Solomon.” Online Video clip.  Vimeo. Vimeo, 29 July 2014. Web. 20 April 2016.

Brown, Katie. 2016. “Racial Diversity, Segregation, and Montessori Charter Schools.” Paper presented at the American Education Research Association, April 12, Washington DC.  

Brown, Katie E., and Aimy SL Steele. “Racial Discipline Disproportionality in Montessori and Traditional Public Schools: A Comparative Study Using the Relative Rate Index.” Journal of Montessori Research 1.1 (2015).

Brown, Katie. “Advancing Montessori Public Policy, Expanding Access and Equity.” Montessori for Social Justice. 16 Nov. 2015. Web. 6 May 2016. http://montessoriforsocialjustice.org.

Debs, Mira. “Conflicted fit: Black and Latino parents’ experience in public Montessori schools.” American Education Research Association Annual Conference. Washington D.C. 11 April 2016.

Debs, Mira. “The challenge of a desirable choice: Public Montessori between Social Reform and Elite Schooling.” Yale University Unpublished Paper. 2016.

East Dallas Community Schools Newsletters.  National Center for Montessori in the Public Sector. 2009-2010. Web. 3 May 2016.  http://www.public-montessori.org/sites/default/files/resources/EDCS%20Outcomes%20Charts%20and%20Graphs.pdf. 

“Growth of Public Montessori in the United States:19745-2014.”  National Center for Montessori in the Public Sector.  Web. 20 April 2016http://www.public-montessori.org/growth-Public-montessori-united-states-1975-2014. 

“History of Montessori Education and the Movement.”  American Montessori Society,. 2016. Web. 20 April 2016http://amshq.org/Montessori-Education/History-of-Montessori-Education

“Introduction to Montessori Method.”  American Montessori Society.  2016. Web. 20 April 2016. http://amshq.org/Montessori-Education/Introduction-to-Montessori                                  

“Montessori Success in Minority Communities.” Golden Oaks Montessori. Web. 3 May 2016. http://www.goldenoakmontessori.org/Info/PDFMasters/Success_In_Minority_Communities.pdf.  

Murray, Angela K. “Expanding Access to Montessori Education: An Opportunity for Disadvantaged Students.” CUNY Institute for Education Policy.  24 February 2015. Web. 3 May 2016. http://ciep.hunter.cuny.edu/expanding-access-to-montessori-education-an-opportunity-for-disadvantaged-students/.  

Pace, Eric. “Nancy Rambusch, 67, Educator Who Backed Montessori Schools.” The New York Times. 30 Oct. 1994. Web. 22 Apr. 2016. http://www.nytimes.com/1994/10/30/us/nancy-rambusch-67-educator-who-backed-montessori-schools.html

Stevens, William K. “Parents Unhappy With Publci Schools Find Alternative in Informal Classes.” New York Times. 21 June 1970. Web. 8 April 2016. http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=9E0CE2D91339E336A05752C2A9609C946190D6CF

Whitescarver, Keith, and Jacqueline Cossentino. “Montessori and the mainstream: A century of reform on the margins.” The Teachers College Record 110.12 (2008): 2571-2600. Web. 8 April 2016.  http://www.montessoriconsulting.org/publications/montessori_and_the_mainstream.pdf 





The SAT: the origin and the present

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The term “test” has the history of more than a thousand years. Ancient China was the first country in the world used a standardized test nationwide, called imperial examination. The test has come to the United States for more than one hundred years. From the past to now, among all these tests like IQ test, High School Placement Test, and ITBS(Iowa Test of Basic Skills), the SAT definitely plays an important role in the American test system. The SAT is a widely used standardized test administered and developed by ETS and College Board for America’s most college and university admissions to choose students from high schools each year. This essay explores two questions about the origin and the present of the SAT. First: what were the original reasons behind the creation of the SAT in the 1920s? Second: why have a growing number of colleges adopted SAT optional policies?

I argue that the original reason behind the creation of the SAT in 1962 was to make more equalities which allow colleges to identify the students not only from wealthier cities and suburbs but also from rural areas in America. This standardized test is to measure student’s aptitude, which tests innate abilities the students are born with, regardless of educational background. While starting with Bates College in 1984, more and more elite colleges are going SAT optional or even don’t require the SAT scores.[1] They find SAT scores can’t precisely predict students’ academic performance in colleges. They also want more diverse student groups and expand access to more students who might historically be underrepresented. In addition, they think the SAT scores are biased, coachable, and creating inequalities.[2]

The SAT was developed, scored and published by the Educational Testing Service (ETS) and administered and constructed by the College Board.[3] The College Board was first founded in 1900 as College Entrance Examination Board (CEEB), consisting a membership of twelve most elite universities and colleges, such as Columbia University, New York University, Barnard College, and etc.[4] The primary purpose of the Board was to provide a uniform admissions exam, “college boards”, on different subjects to “perfect the close fit between New England boarding schools and Ivy League colleges.” With the support of CEEB, the American Council on Education (ACE), and the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, Educational Testing Service was founded in 1947, which now is the largest nonprofit administrator of standardized test.[5]

The first SAT created in 1926 was redefined from the Army IQ Test. In 1905, the idea of “intelligence quotient” (IQ) was invented by Alfred Binet, a French psychologist and named by Lewis Terman, a Stanford professor. They believed that the IQ test could measure the innate capacity of the brain. Thus, students could be sort into different intelligence levels and taught correspondingly to their IQ.[6] During the First War World War, when Robert Yerkes, a Harvard professor, applied IQ tests to the Army with nearly two million recruits, IQ test did make some big process. Since up till 1917, psychologists believed that IQ could be only measured on one on one basis. It was critical to create an intelligence test that could have been taken by such a massive scale. In addition, these 1.75 million IQ tests produced a large database to be analyzed on.[7]

Looking at the database of testing results, Carl Campbell Brigham, a psychology professor at Princeton, figured out that “the test results as a whole were like a photograph of American culture, so faithfully did they reproduce the social order.” In addition, he figured out that these differences were innate that were born with the people, not environmentally.[8] His idea impressed the CEEB. In 1925, College Board hired Brigham to develop a universal entrance test for college admission. By 1926, Brigham transformed the Army Test into the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) which could be called “Army Test 2.0” with harder questions. The SAT majorly focused on word familiarity with some mathematical calculations and identification of shapes and facial expressions.[9] In June 23rd, 1926, 8040 high school students took the first SAT test. At the same time, the Army allowed Brigham to use the SAT to test applicants to West Point. However, at that time, the SAT was not for admission use, but to see the validity by comparing the scores with the test takers’ freshman grades. Not until 1933, Brigham had enough data to prove that the SAT could predict students’ academic performance.[10]

The idea of meritocracy emphasize the equities brought by the standardized test like the SAT. Michael Young who created the word “meritocracy”, argued that “IQ scores and merit are the same things – in fact that universal IQ testing followed by educational sorting is the only possible way of organizing a society so as to provide the fair opportunity to all”.[11]

Standing for “Scholastic Aptitude Test”, the SAT is used to predict how well a student can perform in school based on the innate ability while “aptitude” means the natural ability to do something.[12] On the other hand, achievement test examined what the student has already learned while “achievement” is defined as “a thing done successfully, typically by effort, courage or skill”.[13] In 1933, James Bryant Conant, the president of Harvard University from the 1930s to 1950s, assigned two of his colleagues to find an aptitude test for the new Harvard scholarships. Conant didn’t like achievement tests since he believed that they favored the rich students whose parents could buy them “top-flight high-school instruction” or expensive tutors. He wanted the smart kids from every corner of the society.[14] One of the colleagues was Henry Chauncey who later became the first president of the ETS. He brought the SAT to Conant and in 1934, Conant chose the SAT to be the Harvard scholarship test. In 1941, the SAT was required for all applicants to Harvard. He suggested that “the SAT, in other words, would finally make possible the creation of a natural aristocracy”.[15] Before the SAT, the students in the America’s higher education were mostly selected on the families’ economic statuses. With the SAT, Conant hoped that everyone regardless of the background should have the equal opportunity to go to college and be educated. This allowed the students from every part of the America to have equal chances to go to colleges.

Forty years later, believing that standardized tests do not predict student’s college success accurately, Bates College was the first elite college to go SAT-optional in 1984.[16] In these twenty years, Bates had their own research, keeping track on the students who submitted the SAT and those who didn’t. The result was that the SAT submitters and non-submitters had almost the same GPA at Bates.[17] In a recent research, “Defining Promise: Optional Standardized Testing Policies in American College and University Admissions”, “with almost 123,00 students at 33 widely differing institutions, the differences between submitters and non-submitters are five one-hundredths of a GPA point and six-tenths of one percent in graduation rates. By any standard, these are trivial differences.”[18] Instead, high school GPA could be a better predictor of students’ academic performance in colleges. The study shows that students with higher high school GPAs generally continually perform well in colleges though they might have lower SAT score. In contrast, the students performed weakly in high school had lower GPAs and graduate at lower rates.

The standardized test could also narrow the access for students to higher education. Going test optional, colleges now can choose students from a bigger pool.[19] According to the explanation of George Washington University which went SAT-optional this year, “The test-optional policy should strengthen and diversify an already outstanding applicant pool and will broaden access for those high-achieving students who have historically been underrepresented at selective colleges and universities, including students of color, first-generation students, and students from low-income households.”[20] The study pointed that non-submitters are mostly minority students, women, and students with Learning Differences.[21] As a successful example, Knox College located in Illinois has abandoned both SAT and ACT scores since 2006. As a result, the college accepted its most diverse student class ever, with twenty percent more applicants.[22] In 2015, Trinity College also joins SAT optional movement. Trinity states that “Beginning this year, Trinity College will incorporate the evaluation of personality traits and characteristics that research has proven predict student success. Grades and academic coursework help admission counselors understand academic achievement, but we know this is only one part of a student’s complex story. Attributes such as curiosity, optimism, persistence, grit, and creativity (to name a few) are strong predictors of success in college and beyond.”[23]

More and more colleges find that away from the original purpose of the creation of the SAT, the SAT fail to create the equal opportunities for students. It actually brings inequalities and gaps among students. For example, some students begin to prepare for the SAT five years in advance and spent thousands of dollars to take tutor programs.[24] Then the richer students who are able to take tutors will have higher scores than those who don’t. Then the SAT seems to favor the rich students instead of measuring the true ability on an equal footing. The misuse of the standardized test blocks those qualified students from the higher education. It heavily impacts on minority students and those from low-income families.



In the graph, we can clearly see the white test-takers, in general, have a higher score than black test-takers. What’s more, the students with higher family income do better than those with lower family income. So the background between racial and family background do impact how students perform on the SAT. Both ethnicity groups and socioeconomic abilities create gaps between applicants. If not racial, culture bias exists in the SAT too. In the multiple choice questions, some inner-city black students don’t have the knowledge which might be considered as common sense for other students.  [26] In another report “Is the SAT biased”, it indicates that the SAT is sex biased which the multiple choice format seems to favor boys. The data shows on average women score 61 points lower than men while the same young women have higher GPA in their freshmen years than men do. Other studies identify the gender bias of the math portion of the SAT in particular. [27]

In theory, the creation of SAT was to help colleges identify students in both rural America with few schools and wealthier parts and give the equal opportunities to all the students. However, nowadays, the SAT creates the inequalities among the applicants which is totally opposite to its original reason. With other concerns like the accuracy of the prediction of the SAT and the limited student groups, more and more elite colleges are going test-optional. Starting from this year, the SAT is newly designed into a different structure. Will the new SAT fix the problems of inequalities, going back to its original purpose and become a stronger prediction of students’ academic performances in colleges? The result remains to be seen in the few years. Unless the new SAT makes some changes, the number of colleges go test-optional will increase.



[1] Bates News, “20 Years of Optional SATs,” 11:33am, http://www.bates.edu/news/2004/10/01/sats-at-bates/.

[2] Marilyn Gilroy, “Colleges Making SAT Optional as Admissions Requirement,” Education Digest 73, no. 4 (December 2007).

[3] “About ETS: Frequently Asked Questions,” accessed May 6, 2016, https://www.ets.org/about/faq/.

[4] College Entrance Examination Board of the Middle States and Maryland. Plan of Organization for the College Entrance Examination Board of the Middle States and Maryland and a Statement of Subjects in Which Examinations Are Proposed. [n.p.], 1900. http://archive.org/details/cu31924031758109.

[5] “History of Educational Testing Service – FundingUniverse,” accessed May 6, 2016, http://www.fundinguniverse.com/company-histories/educational-testing-service-history/.

[6] Nicholas Lemann, The Big Test: The Secret History of the American Meritocracy (Macmillan, 2000): 18-19.

[7] TEDx Talks, How the Army Gave Us the SAT | Frank Donoghue | TEDxEdina, accessed May 6, 2016, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sjml-sLyJNM.

[8] Nicholas Lemann, The Big Test: The Secret History of the American Meritocracy (Macmillan, 2000): 30.

[9] Ibid., 31.

[10] Ibid., 33.

[11] Ibid., 117..

[12]“Aptitude Definition in the Cambridge English Dictionary,” accessed May 6, 2016, http://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/dictionary/english/aptitude.

[13]“Achievement: Definition of Achievement in Oxford Dictionary (American English) (US),” accessed May 6, 2016, http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/us/definition/american_english/achievement.

[14] Nicholas Lemann, The Big Test: The Secret History of the American Meritocracy (Macmillan, 2000): 38.

[15] Ibid,. 43.

[16] News, Bates. “20 Years of Optional SATs,” 11:33am. http://www.bates.edu/news/2004/10/01/sats-at-bates/.

[17] News, Bates. “NPR Reports on ‘first-of-Its-Kind’ National Study by Hiss ’66 Challenging the Value of Standardized Tests,” 12:25pm. https://www.bates.edu/news/2014/02/18/npr-standardized-test-hiss-report/.




[19] Michael Robinson and James Monks, “Making SAT Scores Optional in Selective College Admissions: A Case Study,” Economics of Education Review 24, no. 4 (August 2005): 393–405, doi:10.1016/j.econedurev.2004.06.006.

[20] “Standardized Test Scores Will Be Optional for GW Applicants.” GWToday. Web. 27 July. 2016.


[21] William C. Hiss and Valerie W. Franks, 3.

[22] Marilyn Gilroy, “Colleges Making SAT Optional as Admissions Requirement,” Education Digest 73, no. 4 (December 2007): 37.

[23]“Trinity Joins Test-Optional Movement and Encourages Students and Counselors to Share a Deeper Narrative,” accessed May 6, 2016, http://www.trincoll.edu/Admissions/Pages/TestOptional.aspx.

[24] Marilyn Gilroy, 37.

[25] Ezekiel J.1 Dixon-Román, Howard T.2 Everson, and John J.3 McArdle, “Race, Poverty and SAT Scores: Modeling the Influences of Family Income on Black and White High School Students’ SAT Performance,” Teachers College Record 115, no. 4 (April 2013): 1–33.

[26]“How Changes in the SAT Will Affect College-Bound Blacks.” The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education, no. 36 (2002): 12–13. doi:10.2307/3133904.

[27] Joan L. Eberle and Gary L. Peltier, “Is the SAT Biased? A Review of Research,” American Secondary Education 18, no. 1 (1989): 19.

School Choice Through the Private Sector: A Chilean Method of Education Reform

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Globally, market-based school choice systems are one of the more current education reform movements. Choice systems are generally developed to use the competitive market theory to improve educational quality for struggling school districts while driving down costs. They place more control over decisions in education into the hands of private citizens in the effort to democratize education and improve outcomes through market competition. Chile has a robust, and growing system of market-based school choice systems which has thrust the country into the international spotlight (Winkler 203). Education policy and administration in Chile has undergone drastic changes since the early 1980’s. Through this research I seek to answer how public policies on education changed in Chile from the 1980’s to present day, and how have these changes impacted the public and private school enrollments. In addition, how has public opinion about decentralization and privatization shifted as these policies have unfolded?

I argue that the shift in Chilean education policies, beginning in the 1980’s, have caused the private sector to grow substantially through voucher based government funding. This has resulted in a significant increase in the number of students attending private sector schools, and a subsequent decrease in public sector enrollments. Public perceptions of this educational reform, which were once favorable during the initial decades, have now shifted to increasingly critical of a system which has created further socio-economic stratification.

At the end of the 1970’s Chile was coming out from under deep economic hardship, and the government moved to a system of decentralization and privatization for many of its social and welfare services. Education is one of the major institutions which experienced significant restructuring during the time of the military regime, headed by General Pinochet (Gauri 1). The first major shift toward decentralization and privatization in Chilean education policy encouraged the movement of students out of the public sector and into the private with the Law of Municipal Revenues of 1979. This law transferred oversight and implementation of schooling to local communities, with the idea that local municipalities are better suited to make decisions about the educational needs of their children (Gauri 23). A series of laws and enactments followed which created a system of equal funding per pupil regardless of the type of educational institution the child was enrolled in. Through a government voucher called subvention, parents could enroll their child in any public or private institution, and that school would receive government funding for each child based on per pupil enrollment (Gauri 2). This voucher system opened the flood gate for private schools to expand enrollments now that all students had the ability to pay for their education regardless of family income.

This new funding policy, which created a whole new education market, encouraged the development of a new network of for-profit, private schools which began developing in the early 1980’s. A decade  after the initial policy changes which led to this new, publicly funded, private marketplace, 1,000 new tuition-free, private schools sprang up to fill the demand (Elacqua 447). This increase in private school access made it difficult for municipal schools to maintain student enrollments and remain economically viable (Guari 2). These policies transferred education decisions into the hands of individuals and democratized schooling through free market practices.

There were substantial changes to student enrollments immediately following the new funding structure. Economist Varun Gauri wrote a book in the 1990’s documenting the history of policy changes and their effects in Chile. According to Gauri,  in the early 80’s approximately 75% of students were enrolled in traditionally structured, public schools which received government funding and oversight. By the mid 90’s, only 58% of the student population were enrolled in these public institutions. The cause for this substantial decrease in public school enrollments were that by 1996, about 35% of students were enrolled in private institutions which were “essentially tuition-free” due to public subsidies which allowed for families to enroll their children in private institutions which had limited or no government oversight (Gauri 2). Gauri documents that at this time, “…many Chileans believe passionately in the education reforms, arguing that they are effective, fair, and fundamentally moral” (3). Public opinion around these policies were favorable as more people were gaining access to new educational opportunities for their children. This was likely and exciting time for the Chilean middle class as private education, once reserved for the most privileged, was now considered to be open to all.  

During this period, research about Chile’s school choice system was also favorable and found that nationally, “…several measures of the performance of the Chilean educational system seem to have improved.” Among the documented positive outcomes were higher rates of educational attainment and lower drop-out rates (Gauri 2). During these earlier stages of implementation many researchers considered the choice system in Chile as a democratic and effective method for improving the educational experiences of all Chilean students regardless of income and social class. Private education was seen as more effective than the municipally run school districts at improving educational outcomes of students, and the belief that through this free market, municipal schools would be required to improve through competition. The graph below shows that the greatest changes in enrollments occurred immediately following the new funding policies of the early 1980’s.

Source: Elacqua. "The Impact of School Choice and Public Policy on Segregation: Evidence from Chile." (2012).
Source: Elacqua. “The Impact of School Choice and Public Policy on Segregation: Evidence from Chile.” (2012).

New research began to call into question the consequences of the voucher system which resulted in children with different socioeconomic characteristics  attending different types of schools. According to researcher, Gregory Elacqua, who has been actively researching the effects of school choice in Chile, “…most evidence suggests that unrestricted choice in Chile has exacerbated stratification between public and private schools” (444). The development of this body of research has provided the basis for growing concerns about the equity of the Chilean model of administering education. These findings may have been surprising to the international community, the Chilean government, and the Chilean people because this system was believed to provide more equitable opportunities to the children of Chile. While more children now had access to private education, who would not have otherwise, those experiencing the greatest levels of poverty in the country were receiving an education in much more isolated settings of concentrated poverty as a result.

As the graph below illustrates, by 2007, municipal schools were serving a disproportionate share of low and low-middle income students. By contrast, subsidized private schools that received per pupil voucher funding from the government, were serving a predominantly middle income and middle-high income population.

Source: Murnane. "Distribution of Student Achievement in Chile Baseline Analysis for the Evaluation of the Subvencion Escolar Preferential, SEP (Preferential School Subsidy)." (2010).
Source: Murnane. “Distribution of Student Achievement in Chile Baseline Analysis for the Evaluation of the Subvencion Escolar Preferential, SEP (Preferential School Subsidy).” (2010).

While it was difficult to identify the absolute causes of this economic segregation of Chilean students, there were documented procedures and policies in private schools which were considered to contribute heavily. In a 2010 World Bank report, the unregulated flexibility for private schools to filter in higher socioeconomic status groups could be attributed to their ability to “…accept, reject, and dismiss students as well as to establish their own selection processes” (Murnane et al.  6). The unregulated nature of these private institutions allowed them to control the population they were serving in a way that municipal schools could not, leading to further stratification between economic and social classes. The decentralization and privatization policies of of the 1980’s to the 2000’s led to a dual system of schooling: Highly regulated public schools were serving the country’s poorest citizens and faced the greatest challenges associated with poverty, in providing an equitable education. The non-profit and for-profit private schools had much more flexibility to cultivate a population of students with more desirable socioeconomic qualities who required fewer resources to succeed.  

These major shifts in the policies of education implementation and funding have not existed without criticism and public push back. As new research emerged about the consequences of unregulated privatization, a series of massive student protests brought these concerns into the public sphere as well. In 2006, a major, nationally organized demonstration of more than 600,000 students took place across the country of Chile. This unified student protest, dubbed the Penguin’s Revolution, was the youthful reaction to what many believed to be an inherently unfair education system. Entire schools were paralyzed across the country as students boycotted classes and engaged in public displays of outward defiance. (Cabalin 219) This first major protest was the beginning of a multi year movement which the public was calling into question whether a system originally intended to promote equity, was in fact producing more inequality and stratification.

Students protest by dragging their desks into the school quad during the 2006 “Penguin Revolution.” (Photo by antitezo.) Center for Latin American Studies. U.C. Berkeley (2015)
Students protest by dragging their desks into the school quad during the 2006 “Penguin Revolution.” (Photo by antitezo.) Center for Latin American Studies. U.C. Berkeley (2015)

Following the early exhibitions of public pressures on the government to offer more equitable education in 2006, the Chilean Legislature and political actors began changing their opinions on the future of education in their country. Patrick McEwan, an economics professor spent the 2000’s conducting research on the effects of voucher systems and school choice on socioeconomic stratification. He documented that, “In 2006, student protests resulted in renewed government commitments to address education quality. Additionally, there was surprising agreement among candidates in the last presidential election that education policy should address high levels of inequality” (McEwan et al. 2). The demands of protesters and subsequent public pressure did not fall on deaf ears, and politicians began to look closely at ways to mitigate the effects of the government policies during the previous decades.

In 2008, the Ley de Subvencion Preferencial (SEP) Law was enacted and developed a new funding structure for education. This funding structure adjusted the subvention amount so students with low socioeconomic status would receive supplemental funding, to adjust for the higher needs of those student populations. This additional subsidy added 50% to the base voucher amount and was intended to help schools which served high needs community more effectively (Elacqua 451). This law was enacted in the effort to offset the harmful effects of segregated education which was believed to be exacerbated by the initial flat-rate per pupil subvention expenditure. According to Elacqua, in response to findings that private schools were responsible for some of this socioeconomic segregation, the new law “forbids participating schools from using parental interviews and admissions tests to select and expel students. In addition, participating schools cannot charge tuition to priority students.”  The law also increased accountability to all schools which required them to prove their effectiveness and created limitations to private schools to filter out the most disadvantaged students (Elacqua 451). This change in public policy did not abandon the idea of market competition to provide more equitable funding. But now there was a desire for more government oversight in the effort to make equitable opportunities a reality, rather than leave the system vulnerable to the free market mechanisms, which bent to business and individual motivations for economic advantage.

Despite changes to the per pupil funding structure in Chile, which was intended to balance inequities within the system, a second wave of student unrest erupted from 2011 to 2013. The demands of these protests were also focused on equity, but now called for the end to the outsourcing of education to private institutions. Among the demands, students called for that the government withdraw funding from for-profit, educational institutions, which they argued placed profits above the needs of socio-economically disadvantaged students (Elacqua 446). This shift in the demands of the students signified a movement to change the educational funding structure entirely, rather than a restructuring of the current system.

“Education Is Not For Sale” Movilización estudiantil de 2011 en Chile: marcha del 30 de junio de 2011.
“Education Is Not For Sale” Movilización estudiantil de 2011 en Chile: marcha del 30 de junio de 2011.
“Up to 120,000 defy winter rains and violent confrontations in Santiago as Chile’s students regain momentum” (Quiltro) https://sitioquiltro.wordpress.com/
“Up to 120,000 defy winter rains and violent confrontations in Santiago as Chile’s students regain momentum” (Quiltro) https://sitioquiltro.wordpress.com/

Over 35 years after the initial decentralization of schooling in Chile, the country has followed the path to unregulated privatization to privatization with increased government oversight. The most current research argues that this voucher system has lead to further economic stratification within the country, and the concentration of populations living in poverty into municipal schools. There is also new research that calls into question whether private schooling is even effective at increasing student achievement. Much of the research argues that the “peer effect” has a greater consequence on individual achievement rather than the type of school a student attends (Somers et al 69). While the overall academic benefits of school privatization appear to be neutral, there is a belief that it has been a cost effective way to educate the population due to cost cutting measures that municipal schools are not able to employ such as limiting teacher pay and collective bargaining powers (World Bank 7). Privatization policies have made it difficult for municipally run schools to compete with their less regulated, private market competition.

With this latest research, the heated debate over the course of government involvement in the education of private citizens is not likely to cool down. Relative to the country as a whole, those with political and economic power have an incentive to maintain the current system which increases stratification. This is because they have benefited the most from it. Time will tell how the Chilean government and its citizens will continue navigate and negotiate these issues around education. What is understood through the study of the last 35 years is that the public will demand a say in the future policies which will affect students for generations to come.


Cabalin, Cristian. “Neoliberal Education and Student Movements in Chile: Inequalities and Malaise.” Policy Futures in Education 10.2 (2012): 219. Sage Journals. Web. 4 May 2016.

Elacqua, Gregory. “The Impact of School Choice and Public Policy on Segregation: Evidence from Chile.” International Journal of Educational Development 32, no. 3 (2012): 444-53. Accessed April 20, 2016. doi:10.1016/j.ijedudev.2011.08.003.

Gauri, Varun. School Choice in Chile: Two Decades of Educational Reform. Pittsburgh, PA: U of Pittsburgh, 1998. Print.

McEwan, Patrick J., Miguel Urquiola, and Emiliana Vegas. “School Choice, Stratification, And Information On School Performance: Lessons From Chile.”Economia 8.2 (2008): 1-42. Social Sciences Full Text (H.W. Wilson). Web. 5 May 2016.


Murnane, Richard J., Lindsay Page, and Emiliana Vegas. “Distribution of Student Achievement in Chile Baseline Analysis for the Evaluation of the Subvencion Escolar Preferential, SEP (Preferential School Subsidy).” The World Bank (2010). Web. 4 May 2016.


Somers, Marie‐Andrée, Patrick J. McEwan, and J. Douglas Willms. “How Effective Are Private Schools in Latin America?” Comparative Education Review 48.1 (2004): 48-69. Web.

Winkler, Donald R., and Alec I. Gershberg. “Education Decentralization in Latin America: The Effects on the Quality of Schooling.” Annual World Bank Conference on Development in Latin America: Decentralization and Accountability in the Private Sector (1999): 203-20. Web. 10 Apr. 2016.

Trinity College Administrations: Embracing its Urban Identity

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When I mention to people that I’m writing an essay about Trinity College’s relationship with the City of Hartford in recent decades, many quickly reply that “Trinity has done nothing.” But the truth is that Trinity College has played a large role in transforming the future of some of its residents through collaboration via community service projects and internships at a multitude of Hartford organizations. However, the relationship between Trinity College and the Hartford community struggles. The college community differs greatly from the city of Hartford and at times seem like two completely different worlds. In its founding, Trinity College was in constant collaboration with the city but over the years, with Hartford’s changing character, the connection between both communities grew wider and wider. After “white flight” in the 1970s Hartford struggled economically as Trinity managed to repel the issues that came with residing in the city. Hartford’s ills, did not go unnoticed by some in the college community. How did Trinity College view its relationship with Hartford in the 1980s and 1990s, and how have different presidents expressed changing strategies during this time?

Over a 20 year period beginning in 1981, the Trinity College administration has made efforts to improve community relationships in Hartford. Despite these efforts, the interactions with the Hartford community have remained strained. Although community service and service learning projects make efforts to improve Hartford appear superficial from the outside, there has been a direct attempt that has been deeply embedded into several administrations that had a mission to help improve the surrounding Hartford community and its relationship with them. Trinity College has not only executed vanity projects in the Hartford community. Instead, the efforts made by administrations over time have aimed for systemic change within surrounding neighborhoods. Though different administrations have had a different perspective on what aspects relating to the college and the Hartford community should be prioritized, there was a commonality of recognizing that Hartford was home to Trinity and that the college’s urban setting was something that should be embraced instead of erased. James Fairfield English, Jr, Tom Gerety, and Evan S. Dobelle each made changes during their administration and had varying effects.

Trinity College, founded in 1823, is a liberal arts college located in an urban environment. In its founding Hartford, looked a lot different than it does today. Founded by religious leaders and wealthy investors from Hartford, the student body greatly reflected the city in the nineteenth and early twentieth century making it easier for the college to feel like a part of the city. As American industrialization, widespread immigration, and the Great Migration of African Americans changed Hartford demographics, Trinity’s remained unchanged. Before the 1960s, its student body, mostly male and white, lacked diversity. Demands from black students and student leaders pushed the college to become co-ed and admit a larger number of African American students through scholarships. Today the city of Hartford, Connecticut’s capital, is a majority-minority city with more than half of it’s residents coming from an African American or Latino background. Although Hartford is only 17 square miles, it is densely populated and plagued with poverty. The average income in the city in a little over $16,000. (U.S Census 2010) while the cost of tuition at Trinity College is $65,000.

On July 1, 1981 James English, Jr. took over as president of Trinity College. Formerly the chairman of Connecticut’s Bank and Trust Fund, English had a background in finance and planning and grow up in Hartford. He recognized Trinity as being “on the periphery of the city” when recognizing its need to have a stronger relationship with it (Knapp, p. 483). As President English stepped in, the College’s Board of Trustees was recognizing the colleges increasing struggle with student enrollment and money problems. English’s background in business was the ideal fit. As he emphasized Trinity’s urban location he took on a political approach to the way that he saw Trinity should be managed going forward. “You have to balance some fairly diverse constituencies,” he once stated at the beginning of his term (New York Times, 1981). In the following years displayed that his intentions were to do just that.

President English realized that in order to strengthen ties with the Hartford community, some of Trinity’s resources would have to be utilized and, in turn, prioritized fundraising. In 1985 the college launched the Campaign for Trinity to increase its capital. English’s background proved useful after the administration raised over $50,000,000. During his administration, English took several steps to grow the college’s capacity. He approved the consortium for Wesleyan and Connecticut College in an effort to improve the college’s academic experience and expand the college’s use of technology. In 1989, years ahead of the country’s widespread use of computing technology, the administration designated $6,000,000 to computing and engineering. (Knapp, p. 471) In 1982, the English administration used Trinity’s Individualized Degree Program as a way to strengthen ties with Hartford by actively recruiting students. As a result, students in the program would commonly dwell in the Greater Hartford area.  (Knapp, p. 410) Hartford was seen as an asset to the administration to enrich the Trinity College student experience. President James English, during his term initiated a theme of change and community collaboration within the Trinity College community. He efforts recognizing the urban community and seeking to invest in it through the college’s endowment funds set an expectation for future presidents.

Tom Gerety was appointed president of Trinity College in 1989 after the retirement of President English. President Gerety  was previously dean of University of Cincinnati College of Law before making the move to Hartford. Continuing with former President English mission of having a commitment to Hartford. While President English primarily collaborated with Hartford organizations While Gerety approved a continuation he also sought to invest in the the surrounding neighborhoods. Stating that Hartford provided a vibrant setting for Trinity college students and faculty. Months into his appointment, Gerety spoke out against racial injustices and quickly took a stance on his views on equality. One of his early initiatives was to promote diversity inside the college. President Gerety formed a committee and appointed four non-white individuals to combat racial tension on campus. Soon his initiatives would go beyond Trinity’s boundaries and spill directly into the streets of Hartford with a new yet familiar face.

In President Gerety’s plan to move efforts into Hartford he started by seeking out one of Hartford’s biggest assets. It was in 1989 that President Gerety appointed Eddie Perez, a community advocate and student of the college’s Individualized Degree Program, “when Trinity’s trustees were in a panic over the deteriorating neighborhood” (Hartford Courant, 2001). This move was a predecessor of future things to come. Perez was brought on to strengthen ties with the the city and college. President Gerety’s strategic plan focused on increasing the College’s academic programs,increasing rigor, and increasing student activities and involvement in on campus activities.

Student and community interaction increased dramatically during this period. For example, one on-campus “Community Outreach” organization composed of Trinity students helped mentor children in the immediate Broad street neighborhood and strengthen ties within the community with Neighborhood Posse initiative. One Trinity Tripod article stated that the Trinity community had negative stereotypes about black and Latino males in Hartford. (Trinity Tripod, 1990)  President’s Gerety and his commitment to diversity worked to dissolve some of the negativity. Another example of the changing climate on campus during President Gerety’s administration comes from another Trinity Tripod article recapping a community conversation held to alleviate the homeless problem in Hartford. Trinity College was becoming an institute of change.

President Gerety’s abrupt departure left a hole in the Trinity College community. While an acting president stepped in to take his place the college’s board of trustees sought a new president. When Evan Dobelle stepped in as president of Trinity College in 1994 he was credited for his knowledge of urban settings and capacity to fundraiser. According to the Trinity College tripod, Dobelle has experience with creating solutions in “grim situations.” (Trinity Tripod, December 1994). Though faculty and the board of trustees were optimistic about his appointment, others were skeptical. Gang violence, absentee landlords, and drug related issues were at an all-time high. And as students and administration in the Trinity community stood safe on the hill the issues of Hartford bled into the college’s reputation. As the turbulence in Hartford increased the student yield rate, the rate in which students choose to go to Trinity, decreased dramatically and was at an all time low. The College administration realized that if action was not taken to alleviate some of the community’s issues, Trinity would not be able to uphold its reputation as an intellectual and competitive institution. During his term, Dobelle made many changes, not only inside the college, but outside as well. He focused heavily on revitalizing the surrounding Hartford community by building a learning environment around the college in collaboration with Southside Institutions Neighborhood Alliance or SINA, a partnership between Trinity College, Hartford Hospital, and the Connecticut Children’s Medical Center.  During his administration, Dobelle strengthened community learning initiatives with infrastructure that would visually improve the outside of Trinity’s campus.

As the quality of life in Hartford was declining, the neighborhood deteriorated and its reputation affected the college. In response to the low yield rate, the administration also sought to attract students internationally and further across the country. Trinity was marketed aggressively as an institution for change, as it was in the midst of improving the community. President Dobelle’s messaging was directed at embracing the urbanity of the college campus not only locally but globally (Knapp, p. 505). One program during the Dobelle administration was the Trinity’s Center for Neighborhoods or TCN partnered students with nonprofits in the community and assisted with research efforts to gather data for the organizations to work with. Community Learning Initiatives like that of TCN continued throughout President DoBelle’s administration and were centralized to becoming a direct efforts from the College instead of from separate on-campus organizations and faculty. The arrival of The Learning Corridor which connects Trinity College to Hartford Hospital was the catalyst in transforming the community around the college campus.

Trinity College and Hartford are not as distant as they might appear to some and many of the Trinity College’s efforts have not been realized. When issues like those in Hartford exist, twenty years ago and today, it is important that efforts like Trinity Center for Neighborhoods and the Learning Corridor are realizes so these collaborative efforts may continue. As continue Hartford struggles with the same issues, many of the programs launched by Presidents English, Gerety, and Dobelle are still in existence. Some of the names have changed, and so have the faces but Trinity’s College’s commitment to being an urban liberal arts college allow for the possibility of change.



Knapp, Peter J., and Anne H. Knapp. Trinity College in the Twentieth Century: A History. Hartford, CT: Trinity College, 2000. Print.
“Cincinnati Law Dean to Lead Trinity College.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 22 Apr. 1989. Web. 06 May 2016.
“A Political Perez Learns About Being A Politician.” Tribunedigital-thecourant. N.p., 09 Sept. 2001. Web. 06 May 2016.
“John Parkyn, Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge.” Reformation Studies (n.d.): n. pag. Web.


African American Experiences of HBCUs After Integration Period

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Racial integration of the school systems was one of the biggest educational reforms in American history. Before the Brown vs. Board of Education Supreme Court case in 1954, segregated schooling was required by law in Southern and border states. It was not until the 1960s that the decision of this case, to integrate American schools, was implemented by the government. Although African American students had been attending schools with white students in some parts of the United States, the integration changes that resulted from the Brown decision had finally made it illegal to allow segregation throughout the country. Because of this major change in America’s educational system, this essay explores how African American experiences of historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) changed or remained the same after the beginning of major integration in the 1960s onward.

Education has often been a status symbol that dictates where an individual stands in society. Walter Allen, a writer for Journal of Negro Education, explained, “we were told the educational gap between blacks and whites was the reason for our subjugated status in society”[1]. Many African American families wished for better opportunities to have their children become educated at superior schools that would not “stunt their learning and self-esteem,”[2] but before the Brown decision they had no other options. After the Brown decision was implemented, more African American students began to attend colleges and universities. Historically black colleges and universities, or HBCUs, also saw a surge in numbers of African American students shortly after the Brown decision was implemented. Once the implementation of the Brown decision began to take effect in the educational reforms of the 1960s, more African Americans were able to experience a college education at traditionally white institutions (or TWIs), while historically black colleges and universities (or HBCUs) saw a wider racial array of students who began to apply to their schools. HBCUs started getting more non-African American applicants and lost many prospective African American students to TWIs.

The resulting change that came from the Brown decision “opened the doors to higher education for many African American students,”[3] as tons of TWIs began to change their admissions standards to be fair to all students – regardless of race. “Prior to the 1950s,” Allen wrote, “blacks were exclusively educated at HBCUs”[4]. As predicted, the Brown decision not only resulted in more African American students being able to attend HBCUs, but also to be able to attend institutions of higher education that had almost exclusively been white dominated since their inception. By 1975, “approximately three quarters”[5] of African American students attending colleges or universities across the country were receiving their education from formerly white dominated institutions. There was finally more African American students being afforded the opportunity to defeat racial bigotry in order to attend institutions of higher learning.

Not only were more African American students attending more HBCUs, they were also able to attend traditionally white institutions (TWIs). Because more African American students were beginning to attend TWIs in general compared to HBCUs, this led to the fear that HBCUs would become obsolete. HBCUs did, however, continue to serve as important educational conduits for African American students, and remained “a touchstone for the Black community.”[6] Even though TWIs possessed a large amount of the African American student population in higher education, HBCUs still continued to educate and graduate “a disproportionate share of black college students.”[7] HBCUs have roughly “one hundred or so”[8] institutions today. Although HBCUs make up only “three percent”[9] of the student population of all those involved in higher education, they still enroll “just under one fifth”[10] of the entire pool of African American college students.

HBCUs have continued to serve as educational channels for African Americans and others alike, but they had experienced changes since the Brown decision was put in place. Walter Allen conducted research on how “the relevance and mission,” of HBCUs, “have shifted and evolved”[11] in accordance with the changing times. The “modern Civil Rights movement,” as Allen described it, needed scholars of HBCUs to begin a “reassessment of the role of these institutions within what has been referred to as a post-Civil Rights context.”[12] Initially HBCUs had been created on an “industrial/vocational model”[13] that had been led by Booker T. Washington to teach former slaves and how to support themselves with a trade. However, as more HBCUs were established, their curriculum became more diversified and started to focus more on the liberal arts. W.E.B. Du Bois was typically associated with the call for “access to the liberal arts,” explained Allen. This stood in stark contrast to the “restriction of black students to vocational education,”[14] as Booker T. Washington had often been accused of endorsing.

HBCUs had seen major changes since the integration movement in the 1960s. For example, Langston University in Oklahoma used to have only African American students attending their school. Because of the integration implementations that had occurred since the 1960s, the student population at this HBCU was last recorded at “thirty-seven percent”[15] white in 1999. Additionally, Lincoln University in Missouri – another HBCU – also experienced major changes to their student population in terms of the ratio between black and white students. By 1999, white students made up “nearly three quarters”[16] of the student body. While African American students were mostly receiving their educations from TWIs, HBCUs started seeing more non-African American coming to their schools. While these differences were not necessarily true for every HBCU across the nation, the integration implementations were certainly responsible for the changes.

During the 1960s, more African American students had begun to enroll in TWIs that had formerly rejected them solely because of their race. Once the federal government mandated they would “pull funding”[17] from academic institutions that refused to comply with the Brown decision, TWIs flung their doors open to African American students. Better still, the TWIs even began “providing financial aid”[18] to economically disadvantaged students who were in need of assistance to afford tuition. One of the downsides of this change in school choices for African American students was the dropoff of enrollment to HBCUs. The total number of African American students, especially those with high test scores and grade point averages that normally only applied to and enrolled in HBCUs, “began to decline.”[19] This shift in African American students going from HBCUs to TWIs – in addition to the new “open door policy”[20] of HBCUs which encouraged students of any race to attend in spite of having historically African American backgrounds – led to “demonstrative gaps”[21] in terms of academic achievement between African American students at HBCUs and their counterparts at PWIs.

When the integration implementations were still relatively fresh in the 1970s, there were concerns from some advocates of HBCUs that their schools would succumb to issues stemming from a shortage of tuition funds and a lack of student enrollment with the increased flight of African American students who left HBCUs for TWIs. Those who wished to ensure the economic survival of HBCUs during this shift proposed “major adaptations in their curriculums and programs,”[22] in addition to tweaking tuition and other costs to be “kept lower”[23] than other institutions – like TWIs. These demands were made with the hopes that HBCUs would retain more African American students in order to keep the schools running. This was because the fear of their becoming obsolete had still been a major concern in the 1970s. As Marion Thorpe put it, the hope for anxious HBCU advocates in the 1970s would only be achieved through “the mechanism of change from its current method of functioning,”[24] so there had been a desire on the part of many HBCU leaders to cater to the changes brought upon them by the then recent integration laws.

The need was evident among HBCUs that there had to be some changes made in order to survive after the integration implementations took place. While HBCUs have continued to exist and thrive even in the present day, many relied on the new open door policy to continue generating revenue. By having more non-African American students attend HBCUs, most were able to endure the shift of African American students leaving for TWIs. Another positive contributing factor that helped HBCUs endure this flight of African American students was the fact that they received “substantial financial support”[25] from federal and state contributions. From 1977 to 2001, up to “seventy-three percent”[26] of public HBCUs’ revenues were gained through public funds. Private HBCUs, though they received less funding from the state, still generated “one third”[27] of their revenue from public funds. That had been a critical time to receive public funding to save their schools. This was because HBCUs had been hurting from losing so many prospective African American students to TWIs. On top of the assistance from the state, these academic institutions – that had been historically black – never barred non-African Americans from attending either. Having more non-African American students admitted to their schools helped the fiscal dilemma of HBCUs as well. By having encouraged white students and others to come to their schools, these academic institutions simply adapted to the times.

While many HBCUs had been able to change and overcome their difficulties from the decrease in student enrollment, other schools had found it hard to overcome the “critical declines”[28] in student enrollment. In spite of the fact that HBCUs served an important historical role by helping African American students achieve success, some ended up having to attempt to justify their existence. In the US vs. Fordice Supreme Court case of 1992, state legislatures were tasked with finding “educational justification”[29] for the continued existence of HBCUs. The Supreme Court had argued that HBCUs would have to be integrated if they were not able to provide educational justification. While many HBCUs had drastically altered their methods to allow for an “increase in non-black students,” some were never able to meet the new educational standards imposed on them by the Supreme Court and succumbed to “critical declines”[30] in their financial assets.

Another unfortunate downside to the shift in African American students leaving for TWIs was enduring the social hostilities from racist white peers. Many African American students at these TWIs felt “alienated”[31] in these new environments, and had to endure racial bigotry during their time at school that resulted in detriments to their psychological and emotional well-being. African American students at TWIs in the 1960s and 1970s often lamented that they had not “felt welcome”[32] to participate in student activities. They also reported having felt “more like appendages that were to be tolerated but not integrated” into the whole of the academic institutions they had been attending. To combat these feelings of ill-will against African American students, Black Student Unions had been started at many TWIs. The unions served as a resource to help aid the difficulties of being a minority in a socially unforgiving environment. Many of these Black Student Unions were developed “during the late 1960s”[33] to provide a network for African American students to feel less isolated at TWIs.

In a more recent study of HBCUs, it was found that “eighty-three percent”[34] of students who attended the schools were African American. While HBCUs went through a lot of changes after the integration implementations, they still continued to be largely composed of African American students. This showed that the earlier fears of HBCUs becoming obsolete in the 1970s never turned out to be as real as some had suspected. Contrary to most of the patterns regarding African American flight from HBCUs to TWIs that emerged shortly after the integration period, enrollment in HBCUs had “recently increased”[35] according to the Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis Journal. This study also indicated that student enrollment – regardless of race – at HBCUs had actually gone up. The results were a “fifteen percent increase between 1986 and 1990,”[36] so HBCUs had been able to serve a purpose and had continued to make positive contributions to the educational field.

HBCUs had their fair share of hardships, as did many African American students. The integration movement that the Brown decision created had always been a noble cause, but it had proved somewhat detrimental to the overall well-being of HBCUs and African American students. When considering the current state of HBCUs being on the rise, it looks as though the initial desire to desegregate schools has finally started to pay off. Even though many African American students left HBCUs to take the chance to gain recognition for academic excellence at TWIs in the following decades after the integration movement, HBCUs still matter. While HBCUs no longer serve an entirely African American student body, the integration movement had been vital in helping people of all races be given an opportunity to choose where they wanted to receive an education.


[1]           Walter R. Allen, “Historically Black Colleges and Universities: Honoring the Past, Engaging the Present, Touching the Future,” Journal of Negro Education 76, no. 3 (Summer 2007): 263, http://www.jstor.org.ezproxy.trincoll.edu/stable/40034570 (accessed April 19, 2016).

[2] Allen, 264.

[3]  Allen, 264.

[4]  Allen, 264.

[5]  Allen, 264.

[6]  Allen, 264.

[7]  Allen, 264.

[8]  Allen, 264.

[9]  Allen, 264.

[10] Allen, 264.

[11]  Allen, 265.

[12]  Allen, 266.

[13]  Allen, 267.

[14]  Allen, 268.

[15]         “The Racial Integration of Historically Black Universities: High Praise for the State of North Carolina,” The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education, no. 26 (Winter 1999): 74, http://www.jstor.org.ezproxy.trincoll.edu/stable/40034570 (accessed April 19, 2016).

[16] “The Racial Integration,” 74.

[17] Allen, 269.

[18]  Allen, 270.

[19] Allen, 270.

[20] Allen, 270.

[21] Allen, 270.

[22]         Marion D. Thorpe, “The Future of Black Colleges and Universities in the Desegregation and Integration Process,” Journal of Black Studies 6, no. 1 (Sepember 1975): 103, http://www.jstor.org.ezproxy.trincoll.edu/stable/2783751 (accessed April 19, 2016).

[23] Thorpe, 103.

[24] Thorpe, 104.

[25]         Roland G. Fryer and Michael Greenstone, “The Changing Consequences of Attending Historically Black Colleges and Universities,” American Economic Journal: Applied Economics 2, no. 1 (January 2010): 117, http://www.jstor.org.ezproxy.trincoll.edu/stable/25760195 (accessed April 19, 2016).

[26] “The Changing Consequences,” 117.

[27] “The Changing Consequences,” 117.

[28] “The Changing Consequences,” 117.

[29] “The Changing Consequences,” 117.

[30] “The Changing Consequences,” 117.

[31]         Joy Ann Williamson, “In Defense of Themselves: The Black Student Struggle for Success and Recognition at Predominantly White Colleges and Universities,” The Journal of Negro Education 68, no. 1 (Winter 1999): 92, http://doi.org.ezproxy.trincoll.edu/10.2307/2668212 (accessed April 19, 2016).

[32] Williamson, 95.

[33] Williamson, 95.

[34]         Harold H. Wenglinsky, “The Educational Justification of Historically Black Colleges and Universities: A Policy Response to the U. S. Supreme Court,” Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis 18, no. 1 (Spring 1996): 92, http://www.jstor.org.ezproxy.trincoll.edu/stable/1164232 (accessed April 19, 2016).

[35] Wenglinsky, 92.

[36] Wenglinsky, 92.


Allen, Walter R., Joseph O. Jewell, Kimberly A. Griffin, and De’Sha S. Wolf. 2007. “Historically Black Colleges and Universities: Honoring the Past, Engaging the Present, Touching the Future”. The Journal of Negro Education 76 (3). Journal of Negro Education: 263–80. http://www.jstor.org.ezproxy.trincoll.edu/stable/40034570.

Fryer, Roland G., and Michael Greenstone. 2010. “The Changing Consequences of Attending Historically Black Colleges and Universities”. American Economic Journal: Applied Economics 2 (1). American Economic Association: 116–48. http:// www.jstor.org.ezproxy.trincoll.edu/stable/25760195

“The Racial Integration of Historically Black Universities: High Praise for the State of North Carolina”.1999. “The Racial Integration of Historically Black Universities: High Praise for the State of North Carolina”. The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education, no. 26. JBHE Foundation, Inc: 74–75. doi:10.2307/2999167.

Thorpe, Marion D.. 1975. “The Future of Black Colleges and Universities in the Desegregation and Integration Process”. Journal of Black Studies 6 (1). Sage Publications, Inc.: 100– 112. http://www.jstor.org.ezproxy.trincoll.edu/stable/2783751.

Wenglinsky, Harold H.. 1996. “The Educational Justification of Historically Black Colleges and Universities: A Policy Response to the U. S. Supreme Court”. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis 18 (1). [American Educational Research Association, Sage Publications, Inc.]: 91–103. http://www.jstor.org.ezproxy.trincoll.edu/stable/1164232

Williamson, Joy Ann. 1999. “In Defense of Themselves: The Black Student Struggle for Success and Recognition at Predominantly White Colleges and Universities”. The Journal of Negro Education 68 (1). Journal of Negro Education: 92–105. doi: 10.2307/2668212.

Work Hard, Play Hard: What’s Really More Important in a Kindergarten Classroom?

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Danielle Soviero

Ed 300 Research Essay

Work Hard, Play Hard: What’s Really More Important in a Kindergarten Classroom?


My first day of kindergarten is a memory that vividly sticks out in my mind. I can remember crying as I was led away from my parents and into the vibrant classroom full of colors, toys, and other students. The world of schooling was still foreign to me at that point, and kindergarten was my first time being away from my sheltered home, and having the opportunity to socialize with other children my age. Beginning an education is a unique experience and is different for children of all grade levels, but kindergarten specifically takes the meaning of learning to a different height fit for children in the 5-6 year age range. The idea behind kindergarten was created in Germany in the early 1800’s, but didn’t make the move over the the United States until nearly fifty years later. Kindergarten has been implemented in the US system since the late 1800’s, but the movement was really spearheaded by the time the 1900’s came around. Early activists felt that they were creating something unique to children’s education with the concept of kindergarten. In most kindergarten classrooms across the nation, it is the year for children to begin exploring the creative side of their minds through hands on activities. Why did the original early childhood advocates for kindergarten emphasize “play” as an essential component to the curriculum? And why has this notion gradually declined in classrooms over recent decades?


Early German and US kindergarten advocates saw themselves as creating a different approach to learning than traditional common school classrooms at that time. Activists such as Friedrich Froebel and Elizabeth Peabody mainly focused their curriculum on individual child development, and devoted this year in a child’s life as the stepping stone for learning before entering the common school years. Both Froebel and Peabody placed a huge weight on the important use of creativity and imagination in the kindergarten classroom. Peabody and Froebel insisted that children of the kindergarten age range were not only fit for learning, but the learning that would occur within the walls of the kindergarten environment would push them further to determine their morality and success in future academic endeavors. Friedrich Froebel was the original pioneer who spearheaded the idea of Kindergarten, when he created the first classroom in Germany. The notion behind his curriculum of children learning through play has been around ever since. “Kinder” meaning children, and “garten” meaning garden, were two words that came together to define the meaning of kindergarten. It was designed as a place where children could flourish with the help of some TLC, like flowers in a garden. “How does a gardener treat his plants? He studies their individual natures, and puts them into such circumstances of soil and atmosphere as enable them to grow, flower, and bring forth fruit.” (Mann 10) Kindergarten was that atmosphere, and it’s teachers were the gardeners who would allow their children to grow. Froebel utilized techniques such as the concept of “gifts” and “occupations” as a parallels to toys and activities for children to engage in during classroom time. Through playtime with different toys, children are able to gain “sensory experiences” (Saracho 60)  that are central to their growth and development as students.  In 1860, Elizabeth Peabody opened the very first English speaking kindergarten in Boston, and carried along with it the very same values that Froebel had implemented into the original concept.  This concept was different from traditional common school classrooms, grades first through eighth, because unlike primary level curricula, kindergarten did not force the retention of information at such a tender age, but instead graciously prepared them for the road ahead.


Moving forward to the 1990s, there are many factors that have diminished the emphasis on play in kindergarten classrooms. Back in 1983, President Ronald Reagan addressed the nation on America’s failing education system. His speech was titled the “Nation at Risk Report,” and indeed went on to list the many ways that America was at risk for not just a failing educational system, but a failing country as a whole. According to the report, schools were getting worse. Not only were students illiterate with failing test scores, but on top of that the teachers were not qualified enough to be educating the students of our nation. Regan said, “Our society and its educational institutions seem to have lost sight of the basic purposes of schooling, and of the high expectations and disciplined effort needed to attain them.” (A Nation At Risk) This report was a major turning point in the turnaround of the American school system as we know it, and acted as a major reform in the way we think about schools today. Following this report, there was an abundance of pressure put on schools to implement more vigorous work in classrooms, thus creating more aggressive, scholarly learners. The report suggested that curricula become more rigorous, which would in turn challenge students to a greater degree and assume they would become smarter beings. With this added pressure came the beginning of the decline of play in the kindergarten curriculum, specifically. In order to create “smarter” students, play was not the answer. Instead early childhood classrooms were feeling the pressure to, in a sense, “prove” to the nation that kindergarten students could read and write.


In more recent years, the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), signed by President George W. Bush in 2002, put further pressure on schools to ensure students were doing well. After the growing concern that the education system was headed down the drain, the law, “significantly increased the federal role in holding schools responsible for the academic progress of all students.” (Edweek, Klein.) Holding schools accountable for student success places an immense amount of pressure on educators to make sure they are representing the school well. Moreover, “under the NCLB law, states must test students in reading and math in grades 3 through 8 and once in high school.” (Edweek, Klein.) This means, that in order for students in grade 3 to perform well on these state literacy and math tests, students must be prepared for these tests prior to entering third grade, leaving only grades K-2 to prepare. With not much time to cultivate student success, teachers have had to start implementing more extensive curricula in the early childhood years.


With that being said, the act of playing is still crucial to the exploration of children’s creative minds, and is in fact one of the strongest facets of learning that there is for young children to begin developmental skills. Playing teaches kids social skills such as learning to share and interact with other children, as well as independent cognitive abilities. I argue that the diminishment of play time in kindergarten classrooms is destructive to the moral and academic growth of children. Playing and learning are not two different categories of education, but instead go hand in hand with one another in the kindergarten setting. Thus, play should remain a key ingredient in kindergarten classrooms, as opposed to the current shift of focus on work as an independent component, separate from play. When children play, their ideas come from within their own minds, and the result of that creative process is independant learning. Initiating play with other peers also initiates self taught lessons, and personal growth. In the report, “Crisis In Kindergarten,” written by Edward Miller and Joan Almon for the Alliance for Childhood, the authors suggest a piece of evidence that is crucial to my argument stating, “Research shows that children who engage in complex forms of socio-dramatic play have greater language skills than non-players, better social skills, more empathy, more imagination, and more of the subtle capacity to know what others mean. They are less aggressive and show more self-control and higher levels of thinking.” (Miller, Almon 2) The dynamic of play not only aids in socialization, but also strengthens communication and language skills, tightens imaginative abilities, helps control temperamental issues, and opens the door for critical thinking in children.


With these times rapidly changing, the kindergarten curriculum is slowly but surely loosing the important focus on play. Classrooms are taking the idea of play away and instead introducing literacy and mathematics skills early on in children’s educational careers. The reason being, is due to the pressure for kids to do well early on, and in order for that to happen, schools need to show their rigor from classrooms of younger ages. However, the idea that implementing core curricula early on will better enhance children’s learning in later years is simply put, wrong. Children need time to be kids, and explore their imaginative sides. Should play be done away with altogether in kindergarten classrooms, students will become academically worn out before elementary school even begins. In Jen Scott Curwood’s, “What Happened To Kindergarten?” PhD and author, David Elkind suggests that, “Play facilitates the growth of children’s reasoning abilities…Children’s questions are a form of mastery play… in asking questions, children are creating their own learning experiences.” (Curwood 30.) The act of play is vital to the development and answering of questions for children, a strategy that is crucial for success later on in life. Curwood also points out that playing fosters some key components to strengthening children’s academic abilities. First and foremost, the notion of socialization through active learning with peers is an important factor for development. Secondly, play as a tool for “reasoning,” will overtime help children learn more about sorting out problems. Lastly, the idea that with play comes imagination and with imagination comes innovative skills. Each of these key factors add to the reasoning why playtime is vital to student growth in kindergarten settings.  


The transformation of learning in kindergarten classrooms today is alarming, and guiding our nation’s children down the path for no natural development, nor creative energy. The foundation of the kindergarten concept was not built upon academics alone, but on the notion of hands on learning through play. Kindergarten has been around for centuries, and worked well as it was meant to be when it was created and carried over to the US. Should America’s schools continue to dwell on what looks right for economic success, as opposed to what is right for the morality of children, it is poignant to suggest that kindergarten classrooms might be done away with altogether- which would be a major loss for the education of America’s children.



Ailwood, Jo. “Governing Early Childhood Education through Play.” Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood 4, no. 3 (September 1, 2003): 286–99. doi:10.2304/ciec.2003.4.3.5.

Armytage, W. H. G. 1952. Friedrich froebel: A centennial appreciation. History of Education Journal 3 (4): 107-13.

Bassok D., & Rorem A. (2014) Is Kindergarten the new first grade? The changing nature of Kindergarten in the age of accountability. EdPolicyWorks Working Paper Series, No. 20. Retrieved from: http://curry.virginia.edu/uploads/resourceLibrary/20_Bassok_Is_Kindergarten_The_New_First_Grade.pdf

Breen, Audrey. U.V.A researchers find that kindergaren is the new first grade. in UVA Today [database online]. Online, [cited January 29 2014]. Available from https://news.virginia.edu/content/uva-researchers-find-kindergarten-new-first-grade (accessed May 4 2016).

Curwood, Jen Scott. 2007. What happened to kindergarten? 117 (1049-5851) (32 August): p28-30.

Gardner, David P. & Others. 1983. A nation at risk: The imperative for educational reform. an open letter to the american people. A report to the nation and the secretary of education. Washington, DC: Superintendent of Documents, Government Printing Office, ED226006.

Klein, Alyson. No child left behind: An overview. in Education Week [database online]. Online, [cited April 10 2015]. Available from http://www.edweek.org/ew/section/multimedia/no-child-left-behind-overview-definition-summary.html (accessed May 5, 2016).

Mann, Mary Tyler Peabody, and Elizabeth Palmer Peabody. Moral Culture of Infancy, and Kindergarten Guide…: By Mrs. Horace Mann and Elizabeth P. Peabody. JW Schemerhorn & Company, 1870.

Miller, Edward & Almon, Joan. Crisis in the kindergarten: Why children need to play. in Alliance for Childhood [database online]. College Park, MD, [cited March 2009]. Available from http://www.imaginationplayground.com/images/content/2/9/2963/crisis-in-kindergarten.pdf.

Muelle, Christina More. 2013. The history of kindergarten: From germany to the united states. Florida International University, .

Reagan, Ronald. 1983. Archived: A nation at risk. National Commission on Excellence in Education, .

Saracho, Olivia N., and Bernard Spodek. “CHILDREN’S PLAY AND EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION: INSIGHTS FROM HISTORY AND THEORY.” The Journal of Education 177, no. 3 (1995): 129–48.

Head Start: Is It Effective?

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Head Start: Is It Effective?

For many years, Americans have been trying to find a way to end poverty and create a more equal society. Many solutions have been proposed and one of the most common areas mentioned is education. It has been an American idea for a long time that schooling could end poverty in America. Dating back to the mid-1800s, Horace Mann proposed that education was an essential tool to eradicate poverty. He believed that if the country put more money towards education, then people will be able to get jobs and create human capital—all of this done by educating more people. As stated before, this idea came about in the 1800s and today in the 21st century, America is still trying to find a solution to end poverty. One of the most publicly known proposed solutions is called Head Start, a program created by the federal government in 1965 that focused on early education for disadvantaged children, with the hope that this program will break the cycle of poverty. Head Start created a lot of media attention and had the support of many politicians, including the President Johnson—who was also key in creating the program (Garces, Thomas, Currie, 2002). This essay will examine the following questions: what did the creators of Head Start envision as the goals of the program? And to what extent have researchers found effectiveness of these goals?

The Head Start program offered unique ideas in 1965 about a child’s education. Rather than just focusing on classroom learning, Head Start focused on the whole child—which included not only a child’s education but also the health of the child and parent-child interactions at home and with the program. Head Start also offered a shift away from traditional schooling, which measured success by using test scores. The program wanted to measure developmental improvements in and outside of the classroom. Such developmental improvements involve the child’s ability to socialize in and outside the classroom, the child’s physical and mental health, and the child’s cognitive abilities. Unfortunately, with these goals in mind, research done over the years has shown that there are mostly short-term benefits to participating in Head Start and these benefits tend to fade away in the long-term. This essay will highlight some of the most important findings throughout the years regarding education attainment post-Head Start, cognitive and academic abilities post-Head Start, and parent’s influence and view of the program.

The program was inspired by findings by psychologists in the 50s and 60s that intelligence is not necessarily hereditary and it could be “modified through experience” (Rose, 2010, p. 15). This promoted the idea that intelligence is plastic and also one’s environment is a critical factor in development. During the Kennedy and Johnson administrations spanning from 1961 to 1969, preschool was increasingly seen as an innovative response to the trials of poverty and schooling. Head Start was introduced in 1965 by the Johnson administration as a part of the “War on Poverty,” and was continued into Nixon’s administration. In the beginning, Head Start was a summer program with 561,000 predominately African American children (Garces, Thomas, Currie, 2002). And students’ ages range from 3 to 5 years old (Oyemade-Bailey, Waxler, Washington, 2006). Head Start was offered in every state and consisted of mainly six-to-eight-week summer projects under a variety of sponsors (Williams, Evans, 1969). The federal government offered guidelines that Head Start needed to provide a nurturing learning environment, as well as facilitating and monitoring utilization of preventative medical care by participants, and providing snacks and meals to the students (Garces, Thomas, Currie, 2002).

First Lady Lady Bird Johnson visiting a Head Start classroom in 1966, about a year after the program began

Head Start offered unique ideas to early education. As stated by researchers Ura Jean Oyemade-Bailey, Trellis Waxler, and Valora Washington, the overriding philosophy of Head Start programs is comphrensive and interdisciplinary: “foster the development of the whole child” and with this, each activity that a child participates in must have an educational component, a health component, and a social service component (Oyemade-Bailey, Waxler, Washington, 2006, p.15). These concepts that underlie the Head Start program were based on the thinking of some of the most professional researchers in the child development area. As author Elizabeth Rose explains, “Head Start was born in a time of enormous optimism, both about the impact of early intervention could have on children’s development and life trajectories and about the federal government’s ability to solve deep-seated problems of poverty and inequality” (Rose, 2010, p. 13). Head Start wanted to beat poverty and erase the harm that it did the child by providing services such as: health services; job services for parents of preschool children; and, the program wanted to encourage community organizing and parent involvement. Head Start had about seven goals in mind. Rose states them as, “improving poor children’s physical, cognitive and social emotional development; strengthening the bonds between the child and the child’s family; increasing a sense of dignity and self-worth within the child and the child’s family; increasing a sense of dignity and self-worth within the child and the child’s family; and developing in both child and family ‘a responsible attitude toward society’” (Rose, 2010, p. 21). Since a start of Head Start in 1965, a lot of research has been done on the effectiveness according to these goals.

The first evaluation of Head Start effectiveness was conducted in 1968-69 by the Westinghouse Learning Corporation-Ohio University. It was the first national assessment of the program, which at that point was serving 561,000 children. The study sought to answer the question: taking the Head Start program as a whole as it has operated to date, to what degree has it had psychological and intellectual effect on children that has persisted into the primary grades (Grimmett, Garrett, 1989)? To answer this, the researchers compared cognitive test scores of first, second, and third grade children who had attended Head Start and compared the scores to children who had not attended Head Start (Rose, 2010). The results of this study were very controversial because of the methods that were used but regardless, the results were very alarming. There were five major conclusions from the study. The first was that the summer Head Start program was not effective in providing any gains in cognitive and affective development that lasted into early elementary grades. The second was that the full-year programs were also not effective in aiding affective development and only marginally effective in making any cognitive gains. The third was that all Head Start students were below national norms on tests of language development and academic achievement and school readiness in first grade approached the national norm. Fourth, the parents of Head Start approved the program. And finally, the full-year programs were better than the summer programs, but they are both unsatisfactory with these results (Grimmett, Garrett, 1989). Many were quick to argue these findings and criticize how the study was conducted. This prompted many more research studies to be conducted about Head Start to see if similar results were found.

With the goals of furthering educational attainment, The Head Start Evaluation, Synthesis, and Utilization Project in 1985 found immediate positive and educationally meaningful effects of Head Start. However, these positive effects were followed by students’ declined performance in the following years. The study also found that there were few differences between Head Start children and control groups in any measure by the second year after graduating from Head Start. Additionally, this study found that participation in Head Start had stable effects for disadvantaged black children through first grade on some measures of school success, specifically those compared to no preschool attendance. Finally, this study found that children with less educated parents, with fathers who are absent, whose family’s income was very low, are likely to experience some academic deprivation associated with these environmental conditions, which could also attribute to the fade away effect (Mckey et al., 1985 cited by Lee, Brooks-Gunn, Schnur, Liaw, 1990). Soon after this study, more research was released called “Where Do Head Start Attendees End Up?” in 1995. This study concluded that as Head Start attendees move into elementary grades, many of the positive effects of the program decline. This decline can be particularly rapid for Head Start children who did not participate in any follow-up interventions after the program ended. This study found that no matter how strong the early boost these children received in Head Start, the fact that their following education is in lower quality schools seems to undermine any of their early advantages. Even with the early benefit of Head Start, these children were moving on to some of the nation’s worst schools (Lee, Loeb, 1995). This cycle continues because the children who are attending Head Start live in some of the poorest neighborhoods in the country, so after they complete Head Start they go straight to the public schools in these areas that are dramatically of lesser quality than Head Start and all of the academic and cognitive improvements that they made are quickly erased.

Focusing on the goals of developmental improvement, a study was done by Janet Currie and Duncan Thomas in 1995, called “Does Head Start Make a Difference?” the researchers used a national sample of data from the National Longitudinal Study of Youth (NLSY) and the National Longitudinal Survey’s Child-Mother file (NLSCM) to reexamine the impact of Head Start on a child’s “school performance, cognitive attainment, preventative medical care, and health and nutritional status” (Currie, Thomas, 1995, p. 341). The researchers decided to contrast children who have been enrolled in Head Start against their siblings who were not enrolled, in order to control for family background influence and cognitive and health outcomes. Regarding the utilization of heath care, the study found that both white and African American children were 8-11 percent more likely to be immunized if they attended either Head Start or another preschool than if they did not attend preschool. The researchers objected that the preventative services that Head Start offers is the same as the coverage available to many of the poor children under Medicaid and therefore, these services have little value (Currie, Thomas, 1995). These results do show that while the health services that Head Start provides are useful, but they are the same services that are provided to the children through Medicaid—the health insurance plan most of these children are under.

Additionally, the same researchers compared the impact of Head Start relative to children who did not go to preschool and the impact of participation in other preschools relative to children who did not go to preschool. With the way the study was controlled, it was found that Head Start had positive and persistent effects on the test scores and school attainment for white children, relative to those who were in other preschools or no preschool at all. But in contrast, while the test scores of black children also increased with participation in Head Start, these gains were quickly lost and there then appeared to be no positive benefits regarding school attainment from Head Start. This study also finds that white children who participated in Head Start are 47% less likely to have repeated a grade than other white children who did not participate in Head Start (Currie, Thomas, 1995).

The Early Head Start Study in 2002 found modest impacts for children of ages two and three for participating in the Early Head Start program. Participating children were seen as less aggressive and were more successful on measures of cognitive and language development (Love et al., 2002, cited by Barnett, 2007). For children of age five, modest effects were found on children’s behavior and attitudes towards learning, and on parenting and parental support for learning, in a study done in 2005 (Puma et al., 2005, cited by Barnett, 2007). The key to these findings is how the researchers describe them as “modest” because marginally, these effects are not significant. This is one of the only studies that focused on behavior and attitudes towards learning, which are extremely hard to measure. With these findings, one can see that while there were “modest” improvements, these findings do not show any significant impact on the children. With the examples of the past few studies, one can see that there is a very common theme that Head Start shows very little effectiveness with educational attainment and health services.

Another one of the main goals of Head Start was to improve family life for the child and the parents. A major focus of studies has been about parental involvement and if Head Start benefits families. In a national study of the long-term effects of Head Start in 1983, it was found that Head Start did promote self-sufficiency and about 7% of the parents indicated that Head Start helped them get further education (Collins, 1983, cited by Oyemade-Bailey, Waxler, Washington, 2006). In 1985, researchers Washington and Oyemade found six trends that were evident in family life for Head Start students. Such trends consisted of the feminization of poverty, rise of teenage parents, an increased amount of mothers in the workforce with children in preschool, the challenge for low-income families to be economically self-sufficient, substance abuse by parents of preschoolers, and an increased amount of family and community violence. With these trends that were found, a change in Head Start was needed to meet the demands of interventions for the parents. Increased rates of addiction placed the Head Start population at a greater risk for dropping out of school, unemployment, crime, incarceration, and continued poverty. Also, children who are exposed to substance abuse prenatally were then entering the Head Start program in alarming numbers. In response to this, Head Start started two techniques, such as teaching appropriate programs and working with parents (Washington & Oyemade, 1985 cited by Oyemade-Bailey, Waxler, Washington, 2006). Correspondingly, researchers wanted to look at how parents viewed involvement with their child’s education and how this affected their own views of themselves. In a study called, “Who Gets Involved? Head Start Mothers as Persons,” done in 1989, minority scholars investigated parents’ opinions of typical parental activities. The study also looked at the personality of the parents as an important level of participation. The two major findings of the study where: Head Start may contribute significantly to the level of parental involvement by increasing the amount of options available to them and there was a significant relationship that exists between involvement at high levels and ego development (Slaughter, Lindsey, Nakagawa, & Kuehne, 1989 cited by Oyemade-Bailey, Waxler, Washington, 2006). This suggests that parents had experienced personal development through participating in the Head Start activities. With Head Start learning what is needed for the parents, the program has been able to create programs that do successfully benefit a family unit.

While the Head Start program offered new and unique ideas about a child and their education in 1965, the program that still exists today is not yet modified enough to provide any significant benefits to a child. As the results have shown, all through the past 50 years, the effectiveness of Head Start findings has been fairly consistent in regards to the fade away effect. Starting in 1969, it was revealed that Head Start does not have all the lasting benefits that the public believed would end the cycle of poverty. With all of this in mind, one is left to wonder: if there is rarely positive effects found from Head Start, why is the program still intact today? I believe that with America’s ongoing fight to end poverty, Head Start contributes very marginally to helping this and the government wants to keep it around for its slight improvements. But this is not fair to the children. As a country, we need to create a program that equally supports all children. I think that the ideas that Head Start provided regarding the whole child and developmental improvements are innovative and very important and these techniques should be more emphasized regarding improving programs such as Head Start. Additionally, as some studies have shown, many of the fade away effects were because of the elementary schools that the children moved onto. This proves further the bad state of our countries schools. Unsurprisingly, these findings support the profound knowledge that our countries public schools are not in good shape. I believe that a possible solution to the fade away effect would be to improve elementary schools and further education so the effects of Head Start do not fade away. Head Start does have short-term positive effects but if the children the move onto schools of the same quality of Head Start, then these effects would not necessarily fade away.

Works Cited

Barnett, W. S. (2007). Revving up Head Start: Lessons from Recent Research. Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, 26(3), 647-677. Retrieved 2016, from http://www.jstor.org/stable/30163422


Lee, V. E., & Loeb, S. (1995). Where Do Head Start Attendees End Up? One Reason Why Preschool Effects Fade Out. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 17(1), 62-82. Retrieved 2015.


Lee, V. E., Brooks-Gunn, J., Schnur, E., & Liaw, F. (1990). Are Head Start Effects Sustained? A Longitudinal Follow-up Comparison of Disadvantaged Children Attending Head Start, No Preschool, and Other Preschool Programs. Child Development, 61, 495-507. Retrieved 2016.


Grimmett, S., & Garrett, A. M. (1989). A Review of Evaluations of Project Head Start. The Journal of Negro Education, 58(1), 30-38. Retrieved 2016, from http://www.jstor.org/stable/2295548


Currie, J., & Thomas, D. (1995). Does Head Start Make a Difference? The American Economic Review, 85(3), 341-364. Retrieved 2016, from http://www.jstor.org/stable/2118178


Oyemade-Bailey, U. J., Waxler, T., & Washington, V. (2006). Head Start: Translating Research into Policy and Practice. Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development, 71(1), 145-161. Retrieved 2016, from http://www.jstor.org/stable/3701426


Williams, W., & Evans, J. W. (1969). The Politics of Evaluation: The Case of Head Start. The Annals of the American Academy of Political Social Science, 385, 118-132. Retrieved 2016, from http://www.jstor.org/stable/1037541


Garces, E., Thomas, D., & Currie, J. (2002). Longer-Term Effects of Head Start. The American Economic Review, 92(4), 999-1012. Retrieved from http://jstor.org/stable/3083291


Rose, E. (2010). The Promise of Preschool: From Head Start to Universal Pre-Kindergarten. Oxford University Press.











Title IX: Then and Now

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Title IX is a law that was an annex to the Education Amendment Rights of 1972 that requires gender equity for males and females. Essentially, the law states that all students of any sex, male or female, have the right to access every educational program that receives funds from the Federal government. Title IX is usually perceived as a law that applies to sports, however, sports are only one of the ten areas that is addressed in this law. Title IX and what it stands for has changed significantly over time. Among many college campuses, when Title IX is heard of, many people connect the law to having a focus on gender equality in sports and now has a strong focus on sexual harassment. The focus on sexual harassment has grown immensely on college campuses. For example, campuses such as Trinity College, located in Hartford, Connecticut, requires that all incoming students watch a Title IX video which has a main focus on sexual harassment on the college campus. Initially, the supporters and political advocates of Title IX focused on the demand for gender equality in education and the workplace and was purposely created to end sexual discrimination in education and the work place. Has Title IX eliminated gender inequality? How did researchers and political advocates argue in favor of Title IX prior to its passing in 1972 and after its passing?

It is clear that political advocates and researchers have held the goals of Title IX that was proposed prior to its passing in 1972. However, Title IX has had central focuses at different points in time. To some, Title IX has had a central focus on having women being able to play sports in higher education institutions. Recently, Title IX has had a major focus on sexual harassment on college campuses and in employment institutions. Title IX and its creation comes from one of its main supporters and political advocates, Edith Green, also known as the mother of Title IX. Green is known as the political advocate who proposed Title IX and the crafter of Title IX. A former teacher and a former staff member for the Oregon Education Association (Phi Delta Kappa International Vol. 29, 1968) Green used her power to establish the Title IX bill. Her aim, was to make federally funded higher education institutions open to women and men. Along with that she advocated for equal pay for both male and female employers. For Green, she had a view of better education for students in educational institutions at all levels, including, elementary, secondary, and those in higher education institutions. Her mindset sets the preface to Title IX. Green believed that students at all education levels who live in poverty or those who do not have the access to extracurricular activities outside of school should have the opportunity to have a safe place to go. In an interview with congresswoman Edith Green, she stated that she would like to give all students the chance to have a community center and a safe place to be by using the educational institutions when they are not in use (Phi Delta Kappa International Vol. 29, 1968). Because of Green’s personal experience with gender discrimination, this pushed her to advocate for women’s rights at a much more assertive rate. Being a woman in congress surrounded by men, Green experienced consistent discrimination because of her gender. As a female, she outperformed many of the congressmen (Women in Congress, 2015). Green believed that if she was experiencing sexual discrimination at such a high level of power, other employed women may be facing the same discrimination. Green believed, “woman has to work twice as hard as a man to prove that she can do the job” and because of this she worked to draft a legislation that would give women equal rights and opportunities as men (Women in Congress, 2015). Two of her main goals while being a representative, was to achieve pay equity and gender equality in higher education institutions and the work environment through Title IX.

Two other political advocates who had strong opinions as to why Title IX should be passed was Birch Bayh and Patsy T. Mink. Birch Bayh, a Senator at the time of Title IX passing, was called the “father of Title IX (American Civil Liberties Union, 2016). Patsy T. Mink, the representative of Hawaii is seen as an author and major sponsor of Title Ix and its passing. Both Mink and Bayh held similar arguments and advocated strongly as to why Title IX needed to be passed into law. According to Diane Henson in Litigation states that both Mink and Bayh advocated that “Title IX had the ambitious purpose of ending sexual stereotypes in society and providing equal opportunity for women in education. Scholarships, graduate assistantships, professional salaries—all would be affected” (Litigation, 2005). These two individuals held a great power in government that allowed them to pose viable arguments as to why Title IX should be passed into law. Not only was Mink and Bayh able to have this law passed, but with it, Congress intended that there would also be an increase in the various employment opportunities for women to be enhanced. These advocates received corporation from many secondary and post-secondary institutions because many of them feared that their federal funding would be cut if they did not abide by the new law. Title IX served as a powerful weapon to conquer sexual discrimination and possibly end sexual discrimination in places of employment and in educational institutions. For Representative Patsy T. Mink, she based her support for Title IX on the fact that she faced multiple forms of sexual discrimination in her time spent in educational institutions. Mink states that during her time spent on the United States Congress, she continuously battled gender discrimination and racism from the very start of her career. During the years in which she applied to medical school, she was denied by twelve schools which she was believed was due to her being a female. She continued to face gender discrimination when she decided to apply to law school and was rejected because she was a married woman. For Mink, sports became one of the reasons why she advocated for Title IX. In her years in secondary education, she was never allowed to play full court basketball because it was believed that females playing a full court game of basketball was too difficult. As stated by Mink, “…many inequities in our schools continue to prevent girls from reaching their full academic, social, and economic potential” (The Girl’s Crisis Movement, in General Psychology, 2010) which is why advocating for Title IX was essential in ending gender discrimination that girls face in schools. It is clear that Patsy T. Mink and Edith Green, two women in government who held high positions, both advocated for the gender discrimination against women to end. Because if the experiences that they faced throughout their schooling at the elementary, secondary, and post-secondary education. Mink advocated for women to be accepted into medical schools and to be able to have equal opportunities to play sports. Prior to Title IX, only ten percent of students in medical school were women. After Title IX was passed until 2012, that number has increased to thirty-five percent of women who are now residents in surgery (Carnes, 2012). Although these advocates had multiple reasons as to why Title IX should be passed into law, the way that Title IX is perceived now and what it stands for has changed to some extent.

US Bureau of Labor Stats
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Ever since the passing of Title IX, advocates and researchers have argued differently about Title IX. For some individuals, when Title IX is mentioned on college campuses, it was first thought of as a way to end gender discrimination in sports and allowing women to receive equal treatment to men. According to advocates of Title IX at Yale, the Yale law journal states, “The movement’s leaders are smart, courageous survivors of gender-based violence—virtually all of whom are current undergraduates or recent college graduates. Joining them are multiple generations of anti-gender-based violence activists, attorneys, leaders, and scholars” (Yale Law Journal, 2015). These student advocates have centered the Title IX law as one that focuses on gender-based violence. The article continues on to state that these individuals are joined by other generations who have begun using and changing the law to end sexual violence in the work environment, by reforming the criminal law of rape, and to empower victims of domestic violence to seek legal aid (Yale Law Journal, 2015). To these advocates in the year 2015 who have made connections to advocates from the 1980’s they have been using Title IX and are seeing it as a gateway to end sexual assaults, and as a gateway for women to speak up about being raped, abused, or threated.

For other advocates of Title IX, the center of their focus is equal treatment for women in sports at the secondary and post-secondary institutions. One advocate of this was a secondary school girls’ basketball coach who felt like his girls’ team was being treated unfairly compared to the boys’ team. Under Title IX, coach Jackson sued his secondary school and won. Jackson’s girls team was being treated unfairly in that they were not allowed to use the new basketball gym for practice, they did not have access to the ice machine for injured players to reduce swelling when hurt and not having the necessary uniforms for the girls (Greenberger et. Al, 2005). A simple search of the term “Title IX” tends to produce multiple court cases that are focused on gender discrimination in sports and various sexual harassment cases. Many advocates have highlighted these two focuses of the law as the main components of Title IX. When visiting the website, “Know Your IX” a list is provided of the IX rights that students should be aware of under the Title IX law. All of these rights are about sexual assault or sexual harassment proving that for many, Title IX is seen as a law main goal is to end sexual assault and harassment.

For other women advocates, they have actually found problems with Title IX and have made multiple complaints. In a summary of issues being raised by women’s groups concerning the proposed regulations of Title IX, these women have composed a list of issues pertaining to particular sections of the regulations. These issues are focused on the education equality aspect of Title IX. One of the complaints in the summary is centered on the admission of part- time and older students. These women find that the law does not have any prohibitions that concern the treatment of part time students. They found that there were restrictions on part time students financial aid and that Title IX needed to address the policies and practices that affect such students. Another concern that these women had was that there was no clear distinction between remedial and Affirmative action in Post-secondary institutions. “The women feel like a clear understanding of the limits and essential contents of remedial and affirmative action is necessary to give guidance concerning Title IX compliance” (Sandler, 1975)

Have the arguments that advocates made prior to the passing of Title IX really changed after it became a law? Some may argue that Title IX went from being a law that covered a diversity of various aspects against gender discrimination on women. Topics such as educational equality, sports equality, opportunity to stray away from the multiple negative stereotypes that women may face, and equality in greater job opportunities for women. It was also passed so that women may receive equal pay to men in the labor force, and to help prevent sexual harassment at educational institutions and at work environments. As the years have progressed, the law has had very key focuses to some advocates and researchers compared to others. To some advocates, Title IX is essential to stopping or reducing sexual assault at various institutions such as college campuses and work areas. To others, Title IX is the law that allows women to be treated fairly in sports, not only at educational institutions but in any federally funded program. According to a Title IX advocate and law professor at Florida Coastal School of Law, Nancy Hogshead-Makar, “Title IX is working every bit as hard in the classroom as it is on the athletic field and the original goal was access to education for girls and women as broadly as you can imagine—as broadly as education goes” (Kilman, 2012). Overall, the passing of Title IX has led to many great improvements in gender discrimination against women. There are more women in medical and science fields and many women have gone on to play sports beyond the post-secondary level. Aside from those components, Title IX has been able to give women a voice and a cushion to fall back on in case they may face difficulties with sexual discrimination at school or work.


Works Cited:

Edith Green: A Congresswoman Discusses the Politics of Education. (1968). Edith Green: A Congresswoman Discusses the Politics of Education. The Phi Delta Kappan, 49(6), 307–311. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org.ezproxy.trincoll.edu/stable/20372069

Wasniewski, M. A. (2006). Women in Congress, 1917-2006 (No. 14903). Government Printing Office.

Suggs, W. “New developments may alter enforcement of Title IX.” The Chronicle of Higher Education (2005): A33-A34.

Southern Poverty Law Center. 400 Washington Avenue, Montgomery, AL 36104. Tel: 334-956-8200; Fax: 334-956-8484; Web site: http://www.tolerance.org/teach/magazine/index.jsp

Title IX – The Nine. (n.d.). Retrieved April 21, 2016, from https://www.aclu.org/title-ix-nine

Henson, D. (2005). From Pom-Pom Girls to Center Court. Litigation, 31(4), 30–34. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org.ezproxy.trincoll.edu/stable/29760514

2011 Womens Sports foundation. http://www.womenssportsfoundation.org/home/she-network/education/patsy-mink

Farady, M. (2010). The girl-crisis movement: Evaluating the foundation. Review Of General Psychology, 14(1), 44-55. doi:10.1037/a0019024

Carnes, M. (2012). What would Patsy Mink think?. JAMA: Journal Of The American Medical Association, 307(6), 571-572. doi:10.1001/jama.2012.79

Nancy Chi Cantalupo, For the Title IX Civil Rights Movement: Congratulations and Cautions, 125 YALE L.J. F. 281 (2016), http://www.yalelawjournal.org/forum/for-the-title-ix-civil-rights-movement-congratulations-and-cautions

Greenberger, M. D., & Chaudhry, N. K.. (2005). Sex Discrimination in Education: Miles to Go Before We Sleep. Human Rights, 32(4), 19–21. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org.ezproxy.trincoll.edu/stable/27880503

Greenberger, M. D., & Chaudhry, N. K.. (2005). Sex Discrimination in Education: Miles to Go Before We Sleep. Human Rights, 32(4), 19–21. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org.ezproxy.trincoll.edu/stable/27880503

Sandler, B., Dunkle, M. C., Gleaves, F., Meckes-Jones, K., & Hunter, L.. (1974). Summary of Issues Being Raised by Women’s Groups concerning the Proposed Regulations for Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. Women’s Studies Newsletter, 2/3(4/1), 13–17. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/40042356

Kilman. C.(2012). Southern Poverty Center: Title IX at 40. http://www.tolerance.org/magazine/number-42-fall-2012/feature/title-ix-40.

Title IX at 40. (n.d.). Retrieved April 21, 2016, from http://www.tolerance.org/magazine/number-42-fall-2012/feature/title-ix-40




SAT Causing Trouble Since 1984

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The SAT has gone through many evolutions since it first began in 1926 as the Scholastic Aptitude Test. But the most recent and drastic change occurred in 2005 we began to see schools starting move away from the SAT again for the first time since the first initial spike in 1984. Many high level universities saw the SAT as unable to accurately portray a student’s academic ability. Because of this the College Board decided to implement new additions and edits to the test structure. The SAT no longer saw quantitative comparison and analogy as necessary predictors and added reading comprehension, an increase in math concepts, and an essay question. These changes, made to improve the SAT, still may not have increased the test ability to portray academic ability. Since these changes, schools like Trinity College have decided to no longer look at SAT scores. Since Bates went test optional in 1984 have the reasons why colleges, like Trinity College, no longer require the test remained the same or changed over the past thirty years? Why have they stayed constant or stayed the same?

Over the past thirty years, the reasons colleges have shifted away from the SAT and and other tests have stayed constant. The issues surrounding racial scoring gaps and the test’s inability to accurately predict academic success are still prevalent today. Universities feel that they still need to require the SAT because they believe it sets their schools to a higher academic standard. This first initial spike, after Bates kick started the test optional movement,  in college rejections of the SAT occurred in 1994 when over 100 universities decided to go test optional. 1 Test optional schools continued to grow for the next decade when now even elite colleges are beginning to put less weight on the SAT. Racial scoring gaps within the test have become extremely prevalent in the media as well as how colleges are analyzing scores of their incoming students. The SAT has gone through so many restructuring that universities are beginning to question whether or not the test is a good predictor of how well their incoming class will do academically for the next four years.

Racial inequality issues within the test have been one of the most influential issues surround the SAT even when Bates first decided to go test optional. In the 1980s there was much debate about how the SAT represented and did not represent different parts of the American community. A study conducted by The Staff of the National Center for Fair and Open Testing in 1987 they found, “in examining these test items, it becomes apparent that parts of the SAT will be easier for students who are familiar with the activities of upper-middle class Americans”. 2 An example of these tests were inserted into the study

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Lots of lower class and minority students could have issues with these types of questions because they may not have been that type of life style. Many schools in the late 80s began to have issues with racial inequalities and how students began to view their own academic success and potential because of the test. Michael Behnke Director of Admissions at M.I.T says that his school worries “about people defining their worth and potential in terms of the scores. This is especially troubling because of race and gender difference in scores’”. 4 Another big issue surrounding inequality within the test at this point was test preparation. There were not as many available test aids for all types of students as there is today. So unequal preparation was something many admission officers were concerned with as well as, “that the advantages that coaching offers to richer applicants makes it more difficult for institutions to assess the comparative qualifications of students of differing economic status”. 5 This point ties right into the racial scoring gap within the test “It’s just not fair to minority, blue-collared and rural students” that they did not have equal opportunity to succeed on the SAT and show colleges that they were also acceptable candidates for their school. 6

In 1984 Bate’s had issues surrounding racial inequality and scoring gaps within the SAT that are still in the minds of admissions officers today. There is clear research showing this gap between minority and white student test scores and as colleges begin to get more and more diverse tests with this issue will no longer be a good indicator of academic success. There continues to be a large debate over the value of the SAT because of this scoring gap, “black colleges and universities are among the institutions most likely to have dropped the SAT/ACT requirement”. 7 The inequality in the scores is influenced by many factors such as socioeconomic advantages, test preparation, and how the test is designed all together. Even though “blacks and Hispanics are more likely than whites from comparable backgrounds to utilize test preparation”’ there is still a gap of almost “200 points” between black and white test takers. 8 For colleges that emphasize on their SAT averages of their student body 200 points carries a lot of weight when accepting a student. Because many of the top universities like Harvard and Yale continue to put a high value on SAT scores it makes it increasingly harder for “black students, who are otherwise highly qualified, to win admission to the nation’s highest-ranked colleges and universities”. 9 Starting in the 2000s there were over 800 high ranking colleges that became test optional or stopped looking at the test all together but there still seems to be a reputation that low SAT scores predict less success in college. Even in today’s version of the SAT there are many issues surrounding the bias wording of test questions similar to the wording in the 1980s. An example of one of these questions:

Screen Shot 2016-05-05 at 4.08.19 PM 10

The right answer is (C) but “an inner-city black student who has never seen a boat, much less heard of a regatta” may not find this question so easy to answer. 11 These racial inequality issues were prevalent in 1980 and are still prevalent today.

Issues surrounding the test’s ability to predict success began to arise in the 1980s. As universities began to go test optional in the late 80s and early 90s they began to see that their applicant pool for incoming students did not show any less able minded students. The current SAT was not showing them the abilities that these students would need in the years to come in college. College’s also saw, “that if a student, after completing a national examination, feels that the test scores are too low as many of them do he or she is inclined to apply down”. 12 When Bate’s went test optional they immediately saw a rise in applicants to their college as well as seeing, “the percentage of students not submitting testing rose to the mid-to-high 30% range”. 13 Not only did this increase and diversify up universities application pool many universities like Bowdoin College, Johns Hopkins, and Union College saw the SAT as giving them unimportant information about the student. They saw the SAT as showing which students can pay for the most study preparation and which students spent their time memorizing how to take one specific test. These colleges and many more saw the SAT as ‘’unfair, measure irrelevant knowledge, and provide redundant information”. 14 When Bowdoin first decided to go test optional one extreme difference they saw within their applicant pool were students that were “highly motivated” as well as did “more interesting extracurricular activities”. 15 The SAT even in the 1980s was unable to show schools that students would be prepared for the rigorous course load of college. Instead they found that it showed them a limited group of students that had the resources and ability to do well on the test.

Today the SAT still does not test students on abilities they will need once they get to college as well as being unable to predict success. Within the SAT there are four sections reading, math, language, and the essay. During the restructuring in 2005 additions like the essay were implemented within the test. Because of how this section is structured it “requires students to answer an essay question without doing research and without adequate time to prepare or edit their response”. 16 Along with issues within the test, there has been an increase in the number of students opting out of taking the SAT because of strenuous amount of time it now takes to complete, it takes them up to four or more hours. And if you have accommodations for extra time the test can take up to six hours. This makes it difficult for students to retake the exam multiple times to produce the best score possible. Because of this length and amount of questions on the SAT many SAT tutors have tips and trick on how to get through questions faster without needing to complete the entire exercise. Within the reading comprehension section many students resort to reading only the questions and determining based off of  keywords they see both in the text and in thee question how to answer it correctly. “By chance alone, one would expect students to get 20% of the questions right, since all the questions are five-choice multiple-choice items. For most passages, students were able to answer between 26% and 38% correctly, but for one passage students were able to answer 59% of the items right — about what would be expected if students had actually read the passage first”. 17 This show the extent to which the SAT has continued, even with changes, to fail to predict academic success in college and accurately show students knowledge.

Top colleges are still reluctant to let go of the SAT because of the past reputation of a better education high test scores brought to colleges. Since the 1980s the SAT has slowly been rejected by many colleges but it still remains an important part of admission within the top Ivy League schools in the US that set the standard for the rest of the lower ranking elite colleges. Even despite endless research showing the inability of the SAT to show academic success and the racial and gender inequalities within the test these top colleges continue to hold onto the SAT. Lots of elite colleges that still have the SAT, “are waiting for one of the highest-ranked universities to make a move”. 18 Until that happens the SAT will remain a big part of high education. These Ivy League colleges hold onto the SAT to show their elite status as an academic institution when in reality it shows their inability to progress as a college. Many smaller universities are reluctant to let go of the SAT because they have a “fear of being viewed as academically weak”. 19 Lots of the these elite schools feel pressure from other institutions like when Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine went test optional there were many positive reactions but, “the only strongly negative reaction came from the American Assembly of Collegiate Schools of Business, the agency that certifies business schools. Harvard was pressured by this group to continue to require the exam”. 20 Lots of outside institutions still view the SAT as showing high academic standing for schools. There an extreme amount of research showing the SAT as irrelevant and unfair but these schools still cling to it which causes smaller schools to see the benefit in it as well. They “require the test scores to maintain an aura of selectivity”. 21

Since 1984 when Bates went test optional the reasons surround this shift have stayed constant and so have the schools that refuse to go test optional. The racial scoring gaps has stayed prevalent or even grown since it was first addressed as an issue in the late 80s and the problems surrounding what the test is actually measured have remained in the minds of admissions officers. Even with the extent of research conducted on the SAT and all of the problems surrounding it schools like Ivy Leagues have stuck to using the SAT as a measurement of future academic success. Why? The SAT and other tests have a long reputation of showing elite students that should attend elite higher education. Because of these school’s need to show “an aura of selectivity” and elite standing, schools are stuck with the SAT. As long as schools like the Ivy Leagues stick to using the SAT smaller schools in need of some form of measurement of academic ability will continue to use the SAT. It is a cycle that can only be broken by colleges themselves.


  1. “The Growing List of Colleges That Have Rejected the Use of the SAT.” The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education, no. 50 (2005): 45-46. Accessed February 4, 2016. http://www.jstor.org.ezproxy.trincoll.edu/stable/25073366.
  2. Amy Allina, “Beyond Standardized Testing: Admissions Alternatives That Work,” The Staff of the National Center for Fair and Open Testing, November 1987,[Page 11], http://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED292812.
  3. Allina, Amy. “Beyond Standardized Testing: Admissions Alternatives That Work.” The Staff of the National Center for Fair and Open Testing, November 1987. http://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED292812.
  4. Allina, “Beyond Standardized Testing: Admissions,” [Page 6].
  5. Allina, “Beyond Standardized Testing: Admissions,” [Page 10].
  6. Edward B. Fiske, “Some Colleges Question Usefulness of SAT’s,” New York Times, October 9, 1984.
  7. “The Growing List of Colleges That Have Rejected the Use of the SAT.” The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education, no. 50 (2005): 45-46. Accessed February 4, 2016. http://www.jstor.org.ezproxy.trincoll.edu/stable/25073366.
  8.  Sigal Alon, “Racial Differences in Test Preparation Strategies: A Commentary on Shadow Education, American Style: Test Preparation, the SAT and College Enrollment,” Oxford University Press 89, no. 2 (November 2010): [Page 463], http://www.jstor.org.ezproxy.trincoll.edu/stable/40984541.
  9. “Will the Nation’s Leading Colleges Sound the Death Knell for the SAT?,” The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education, no. 53 (2006): [Page #], accessed February 4, 2016, http://www.jstor.org.ezproxy.trincoll.edu/stable/25073522.
  10. “How Changes in the SAT Will Affect College-Bound Blacks,” The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education, [Page 12], accessed July 2002, http://www.jstor.org/stable/3133904.
  11. “How Changes in the SAT Will Affect College-Bound Blacks,” The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education, [Page 12], accessed July 2002, http://www.jstor.org/stable/3133904.
  12. Ernest Boyer, College: The Undergraduate Experience in America (Princeton, NJ: Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, 1986), [Page 34].
  13. William C. Hiss and Kate M. Doria, “Defining Promise: Twenty Five Years of Optional Testing at Bates College,” Bates College, last modified 2009, http://www.bates.edu/admission/optional-testing/.
  14. Allina, “Beyond Standardized Testing: Admissions,” [Page 1].
  15. Allina, “Beyond Standardized Testing: Admissions,” [Page 18].
  16. “Will the Nation’s Leading,” [Page 15].
  17. Bracey W. Gerald, “‘Reading’ Test Questions,” Phi Delta Kappan, [Page 1], http://search.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.trincoll.edu/login.aspx?direct=true&db=eft&AN=503354020&site=ehost-live&scope=site.
  18. The Growing List of Colleges,” [Page 46].
  19. The Growing List of Colleges,” [Page 46].
  20. Allina, “Beyond Standardized Testing: Admissions,” [Page 4].
  21. Allina, “Beyond Standardized Testing: Admissions,” [Page 1].

Learning the Challenges: Leading a Charter

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The original charter schools were developed in the early 1990’s with a goal to act as a place where new educational ideas and practices could be experimented (Khalenberg & Potter 2014, 175). However the number of charter schools has tripled since the 1990’s and we know that they are not just a phase but here to stay (Khalenberg & Potter 2014, 15). More students are now in charters and we know a student’s educational outcome is linked to a principal’s leadership ability (Bickmore & Dowell 2015, 1).The school principal is an instrument for implementation, effectiveness and school results. The principal has an important role in facilitating management of students, teachers, parents and other stakeholders in education. A study to analyze charter school principal’s leadership is crucial to understanding lessons both for traditional schools and for bettering existing charter schools. Since the creation of charter schools in the 1990’s, what unique challenges have charter school principals faced as leaders and what has been done over time to address those challenges?

Charter schools have nearly tripled in size from 2000 to 2013. (NCESdata.gov)
Charter schools have nearly tripled in size from 2000 to 2013. (NCESdata.gov)


This paper will evaluate and identify charter school principals to understand who is serving the principal leadership position. I will also analyze the attempts of charter school advocates to implement professional development for charter school principals. While I cannot over generalize about charter schools given the variation, there are some patterns that educational stakeholders should be aware of. Since the 1990’s, and to this day, charter school principals must balance two very different jobs of educational leadership and financial management leadership (Campbell & Gross 2008, 29) . Overall, charter school principals come from backgrounds that foster one type of leadership and are in need of professional development to further other skills as a successful, holistic charter school leaders (Campbell & Gross 2008, 29). In this paper, I will argue that charter school leaders have always been, in general, a passionate, but inexperienced group, but since the early 2000’s, more professional development has been available for charter school principals to become more well rounded leaders. Although there has been little change in the type of individual serving as principals, the resources available for professional development have grown since the early 2000’s. Many of the programs offered for professional development are provided by charter networks that have grown since the early 2000’s. This growth in support and professional development resulted from a better understanding of the unique challenges charter school principals face, as well as the growth of the charter school movement in general. Although charter networks are providing leadership, there are other opportunities for leadership training for non-network principals.

It is impossible to generalize charter schools as well as their principals. However, some statistics of overall charter school leadership help to highlight some key components to leadership abilities. One major finding is that the overall charter school principals have less experience and are often in their first three years in a leadership position (Sun & Ni 2015, 17). Many charter schools are serving smaller student sizes and and are being paid significantly less than traditional public school principals (Sun & Ni 2015, 25). One misconception of charter school leadership is that principals come from the outside of the educational world (Campbell, Gross & Lake, 2008). Although many principals are educational professionals, they often make a direct jump from teacher to principal and at a very young age (Sun & Ni 2015, 27). This jump results in a lack of overall experience and can result in struggles for both financial and educational leadership.

Although charter school principals are characteristically young, inexperienced and underpaid, they take the challenge of a charter school principal because of their passion for the job. Charter school principals are inspired and drawn to the leadership position because of the mission-oriented practices of the school (Sun & Ni 2015, 4). Charter schools are driven by specific missions and a target group of students that educational leaders identify as in need of change (Campbell, Gross & Lake, 2008). In a study done by Campbell and Gross (2008), 94% of charter school principals surveyed said they were confident in their ability to “Engage staff to work toward a common vision”. This mission driven model of charter schools is oriented for passionate educators to introduce themselves to the schooling model. The specificity of missions and target groups created a strong “buy-in” factor for a principal to take a challenging position. This “buy in” factor leads to principals becoming more willing to take pay cuts and to work extremely long hours for seven days a week (Campbell & Gross 2008, 14).  

Many charter schools lack a central office that can operate the financial management of a school system (Allen & Gawlik 2009, 5). The central office of a traditional school handles facilities, teacher and student recruitment, and other system structures. Therefore, charter school principals find themselves thinly spread across the management of the everyday educational leadership of managing teachers and students, while also struggling to guarantee facilities, money, and structures for the coming school years (Campbell, Gross & Lake, 2008). Budget, operations, and strategic management are all daunting tasks for a young  and inexperienced charter school principal, and additional support is not the one-stop fix. Campbell and Gross (2008) didn’t find a statistically significant difference between confidence in the financial management between principals with a charter management organization in place. This result illustrates that, with or without a central office, charter school principals still have high expectations to properly manage financial budgets, but have limited experience or confidence to achieve those goals (Campbell & Gross 2008, 26). Therefore regardless of a central office or network support, charter school principals are still facing unique financial and educational management challenges. These school level changes make the charter school principal a unique leader that must juggle day to day operations with looming big picture items that can impact the survival of a school.

Professional development for charter school principals engages the storied problem leaders face of time management. With the two decades of documentation of the stresses and daily routines of charter schools and its leaders, a better understanding has been developed for what is plaguing principals today. Since the early 1990’s—and even still today—charter schools are glorified for their youthful passion and drive for success (Campell & Gross 2008, 18). In one study by Bickmore and Dowell (2015), nearly all the teachers were alternatively certified teachers and had left the school within the time of study for different reasons. How does a charter school principal manage the inexperience and turnover of teachers?

What was once and sometimes still is the glory of charter schools, is the freedom from tenure and teachers unions, which has its downsides, such as how principals often are left to face inexperienced struggling teachers. Although professional development has been defined in the scope of finances, there are clear educational issues that charter school principals need the skills and background to address. Managing and organizing young, inexperienced teachers to serve a historically low-performing community presents many challenges. The combination of financial and educational struggles a principal faces in a charter school became prominent at the turn of the century. The influence and power of charter school networks also created new resources that were not present in the 1990’s.

Since their creation, identifying how charter school principals have generally been young, inexperienced passionate leaders shows that professional development is vital to a successful charter school. The growth of charter schools over the last two decades has created a large group of leaders that are either lacking in financial or educational leadership (Allen & Gawlik 2009, 5). Many principles come from an educational background and are not trained in managing buildings, hiring teachers, and fundraising (Superville 2015, 1). The other group comes as passionate outsiders with business or management experience, but that does guarantee they can facilitate teacher, student and parental relationships (Campbell & Gross 2008, 24). Both groups have certain skills, but no traditional training can address and educate principals of the specific needs and struggles of leading a charter school (Sun & Ni 2015, 8).

In the early creation of charter schools, new leaders relied on mentors to help guide them through a new but exciting process (Maxwell 2008, 1). David Levin and Mike Feinberg, the founders of the KIPP (Knowledge is Power Program) charter schools, originally would rely on veteran teachers to best learn modern practices (Guggenheim 2010, 1:15). However, in 2000, the KIPP Foundation began training charter school principals (Robelen 2008, 3). This year-long program incorporates summer coursework, residencies at KIPP schools, and individualized tutelage from KIPP staff (Robelen, 2008, 3). Charter school leaders always looked for mentors, but in the 1990s, it was an informal process, as training programs began to provide mentors and leaders to learn from.

David Levin and Mike Feinberg explain the veteran leaders they turned to in Waiting for Superman (Guggenheim 2010, 1:14). (Note: Jump to 1:14:50 if your browser does not automatically allow.)

KIPP’s programs are just one example of charter school networks providing professional development services. In the 1990s, many schools were alone in establishing themselves, but the creation of large networks in the 2000s also created professional development opportunities. In 2010, New Leaders for New Schools created a partnership with Perspectives Charter School Network in Chicago (Sloan et al 2010, 3). This program, like KIPP, provided veteran mentors and seminars that fostered charter leadership, but also explored what other challenges that principals faced (Sloan et al. 2010, 5). The report done by Sloan et al. (2010) reveals the growing support charter networks have been able to foster—especially the need for mentor principals to learn from. Many charter school leaders feel that their best opportunity is not from a lecture, but from “hands on”  experiences other professionals in the same position can provide.

Charter school leaders still look for mentors when taking over as principal, much like Levin and Feinberg did in the 1990s. However, for many principals with mentors, the process has become much more systematic. One example are two principals, Hardrick and Sanders, trained by New Leaders for New Schools program, who were recruited to leave their jobs in Memphis to start a new school in New Orleans (Maxwell 2008, 2). The two trained principals went to start the school, but not without guidance. Hardrick and Sanders both had the same veteran mentor that was given to them through New Leaders for New Schools, the same program that partnered with the Chicago network (Maxwell 2008, 2). New Leaders for New Schools was also created in 2000 as networks were forming and the demand for leadership training grew (Newleaders.org). New Leaders for New Schools has played a pivotal role in providing the needs of charter school principals, and as a result, more programs are learning from this model.

Professional development is offered in an array of possibilities which can meet the challenging schedules and demands of the charter school principal (Robelen 2008, 1). Charter school principals work around the clock to guarantee that the many needs of students, parents, facilities, and donors are met at all times (Sun & Ni 2015, 8). With limited time, professional development has to be offered in a time and place that meets the needs of aspiring and current charter school principals. Summer institutes, part time programs, and online courses are available for current charter school principals with already hectic schedules (Robelen 2008, 1). Additionally, full-time programs, such as masters programs, now specifically concentrated in charter school leadership prepare those in an intensive one-to-two year program (Robelen 2008, 1).

Most charter school leadership programs report that they stay away from purely lecturing and focus of “field observations, project and task based learned and discussion” (Robelen 2008, 2). This professional development has grown in the 2000s as a response for the growing number of principals that have trouble grasping the business and managerial aspects of running a charter school (Aarons 2008, 1). The Center for School Change created a program in Minnesota, which was focused on a business-first model of training (Aarons 2008, 1). Like many other programs, participants were paired with both a business executive and a veteran education leader (Aarons 2008, 1). Again, this systems approach of new leaders learning and growing from veterans has come out of an understanding of the needs charter school leaders have.

There have been many lessons learned since the creation the first charter school in 1990. The charter school principal has been forced to handle students, teachers, philanthropists, and legislators. Each come with their own distinct set of challenges that no individual is fully equipped to naturally handle without any specialized training. Yet, for the first time in a decade of charter school implementation, principals were expected to be the great change “agents” that could handle everything and anything required of them due to their passion and grit (Campbell, Gross, & Lake 2008, 4). Now, as charter schools have become more mainstream, there is a better understanding that the charter school leadership qualities are not inherent, but gained through professional development. By using the systems perspective proposed by Allen and Gawlik (2009), we can begin to work towards a holistic approach of professional development. Traditional leadership programs fail to prepare and train individuals for charter schools because it does not address the multiple variables of financial and educational challenges. The formation of charter school networks have created a foundation for professional development programs. Although these networks are providing training to some, it is limited to the network operating and not to the other principals in need of support. For many principals without a network, they must find their own professional development, but programs such as NewLeaders.org are expanding and trying to fill the gap between principal expectations and abilitiies.

Overall, since the creation of the first charter schools, there is a better understanding of the unique challenges principals face, and now, in the last decade and a half, training has been provided to help address those challenges. Finding better ways to not only reach principals and train them as leaders of students and communities, but also as leaders in a financial system, will be both challenging and necessary if we want kids to receive the best possible education. Charter school principals are passionate and should embrace that they are the foundation to a successful school by engaging in professional development. The creation of networks in the 2000s helped to evaluate the lessons from the first charter schools in the 1990s and to introduce strategies for young, inexperienced principals forced to take of financial and educational management. Networks and other stakeholders are producing more effective and confident leaders, but more can be done to foster better leadership from charter school principals regardless if they are part of a network or not. Charter schools are growing each year, and embracing the challenges that principals face will pave the way for professional development opportunities. Although there has been an effort in recent years, more can be done to strengthen and grow the charter school principals financial and educational management.



Works Cited:

Aarons, Dakarai. “Business Lessons Guide Training for Charter Leaders.” Education Week 28, no. 4 (December 2, 2008): 7.
Allen, Ann, and Marytza Gawlik. “Preparing District and Charter School Leaders: A Systems Perspective.” The Connexions Project, June 2, 2009. http://cnx.org/contents/137a3572-0ac9-456f-b1ba-cb50935d1abb%401.
Bickmore, Dana L., and Margaret-Mary Sulentic Dowell. “A Case Study of Middle Grades Leadership in a Conversion Charter School.” NASSP Bulletin 99, no. 1 (March 1, 2015): 43–69.
Campbell, Christine, and Bethany Gross. “Working Without a Safety Net.” Center on Reinventing Public Education, September 2008. http://www.crpe.org/sites/default/files/ICS_Highwire_Inside_Sep08_0.pdf.
Campbell, Christine, Bethany Gross, and Robin Lake. “The High-Wire Job of Charter School Leadership.” Education Week 28, no. 3 (September 8, 2008): 6–8.
Guggenheim, Davis. Waiting for “Superman.” 2010. Film.
Maxwell Lesli. “Open a School Draws on All of Founders’ Skills.” Education Week 28, no. 3 (September 8, 2008): S10–15.

New Leaders for New Schools (2016)  


Ni, Yongmei, Min Sun, and Andrea Rorrer. “Principal Turnover: Upheaval and Uncertainty in Charter Schools?” Educational Administration Quarterly 51, no. 3 (August 1, 2015): 409–37.
Robelen, Erik. “Preperation Programs Can’t Match Demand.” Education Week 28, no. 3 (September 8, 2008).
Sloan, Kay, Maura Pereira-Leon, and Michelle Honeyford. “Investigating the Impact of EPIC Professional Development on Perspectives Charter School Principals. An Evaluation of the EPIC Professional Learning Model. Evaluation Brief.” Education. MetLife Foundation, September 2010. http://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED531756.
Sparks, Sarah. “School Climate: Missing Link in Principal Training.” Education Week 32, no. 23 (March 5, 2013): 8.
Sun, Min, and Yongmei Ni. “Work Environments and Labor Markets: Explaining Principal Turnover Gap between Charter Schools and Traditional Public Schools.” Educational Administration Quarterly 52, no. 1 (February 1, 2016): 144–83.
Superville, Dennis. “Principals Go to School to Learn Management Savvy.” Education Week 35, no. 11 (November 3, 2015): 1,14.

How Have “No Excuses Schools” Appeared and Changed Over Time in the US?

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“No excuses” strategies have long been a method of teaching in many schools in America. The phrase “no excuses schools” refers to predominantly charter schools that concentrate on raising test scores of children of low-income and minority parents in a strict, orderly, and intentionally regimented setting. High academic standards are set for students because these schools promote a college-going culture. Not only is high academic achievement expected of students but also they have to attend school for longer hours and adhere to strict rules. Students who are lower performers have to take extra hours during the weekend because there is no excuse to lag behind. The concept behind this model reflects the idea that “every student, no matter what his or her background, is capable of high academic achievement and success in life” (Thernstrom). There are many schools in the US that are referred to as “no excuses schools,” therefore, the following questions could be addressed: why did “no excuses schools” appear? How and when did the phrase “no excuses schools” arise in the US? Has negative and/or positive connotations of the term changed over time?

The reason why “no excuses schools” developed in the United States in the 1990s can be traced back to the accountability movement and A Nation at Risk report. Despite the fact that “no excuses schools” existed since the 1990s, the phrase “no excuses schools” only appeared in 2000. In the 1990s and the 2000s, “no excuses schools” had rather positive connotations, whereas today it is more associated with unhappy children and ineffectiveness.

“No excuses schools” developed in the United States in the 1990s due to the accountability movement, and A Nation at Risk report. After the Brown v. Board of Education (1954) decision that made segregation illegal in schools in the US, another issue was addressed: major gaps between the academic performance of white students and minority students existed. This led to the Elementary and Secondary School Act of 1965, which claimed that schools in disadvantaged neighborhoods would get the necessary resources to provide an adequate education to the students. In order to monitor whether these objectives were met, school district became accountable for meeting academic standards. Ever since this era, school accountability has increased and made the achievement gap more apparent, and reached its peak in 1983 when one of the most significant and influential documents was issued by the government: A Nation at Risk report.

A Nation at Risk: The Imperative for Educational Reform played a significant role in the development of “no excuses schools” (Goldstein 118). A Nation at Risk was a report, which was produced by President Ronald Reagan’s National Commission on Excellence in Education, marking a significant turning point in the American educational system because it confirmed that American public schools were failing. It stated that the average SAT scores dropped over 50 points in the oral section and 40 points in math between 1963-1980. Not only did the report highlight the underachievement of American students but it also harshly criticized American teachers (Nation at Risk). Therefore, “no excuses schools” became necessary to address this problem and try to reduce the achievement gap. There were a significant number of charter schools in the United States that adopted the “no excuses” strategies. Some of the most prominent and successful “no excuses schools” besides KIPP Academy are Promise Academy, YES Prep, Uncommon School, Achievement First, and Aspire charter schools (Angrist 15).

“No excuses schools” existed way before the term “no excuses schools” was developed, and only after Samuel Casey Carter labeled them as “no excuses schools” in 2000 when they started to be perceived as “no excuses schools.” Dana Goldstein, journalist and the author of the New York Times bestseller The Teacher Wars: A History of America’s Most Embattled Profession, claims that “no excuses schools” arose at the same time as Teach for America in 1989 and “no excuses” teaching became popular and gained prominence in the mid-1990s. Despite the criticism that is directed to “no excuses schools,” these strategies are still fairly dominant according to Goldstein (141). However, the phrase “no excuses schools” first appeared in 2000. Despite the fact that educational reformers started to use the phrase “no excuses” in connection with closing the achievement gap between low-income students and middle-class students, the phrase “no excuses schools” was first used by Carter in his book No Excuses: 21 High-Performing, High-Poverty Schools. Based on searching for the phrase “no excuses schools” in Ebsco, JSTOR, Google Scholar, and ProQuest News, I found that articles, essays, and reports were written by scholars, educators, journalists since 1989 stating that no matter the circumstances, all American students’ scores have to be improved: no excuses (Wasserman 30, “No Excuses for Failure,” “No Excuses”). However, only after Carter listed some schools referring to them as “no excuses schools” when this phrase became popularized. The first time the phrase appeared in a newspaper was in 2001 when Richard Rothstein wrote a review about Carter’s book in The New York Times .according to ProQuest News.


In No Excuses: 21 High-Performing, High-Poverty Schools, Carter gave credit to schools where educators insisted on academic excellence and they did not accept failure. Students attending these schools scored better than the national average in math and reading despite the fact that they were children of predominantly low-income minority parents (Carter 3).  Many charter schools that embody the ideas of “no excuses” strategies are now called as “no excuses schools.” The phrase had very positive connotation at this time.

There are many scholars, journalists and researchers who claimed that “no excuses schools” are effective, even more effective than schools that do not use the “no excuses” model. In 2003, Thernstrom and Thernstrom wrote about “no excuses schools” as “excellent schools” (Thernstrom 272) that score well on statewide tests (Thernstrom and Thernstrom 43) in No Excuses: Closing the Racial Gap in Learning. In 2015, a meta-analysis about “no excuses schools” showed that these schools have positive and significant impacts on student academic achievement. Cheng et al. found that both the oversubscribed “no excuses schools” and charter schools produce better results on math and ELA tests compared to the national average. In addition, the results showed that “the estimated grand effect size for the sample of No Excuse charter schools are consistently higher than those estimated for the more general sample of random assignment charter school studies (Cheng et al. 21).” Based on their meta-analysis, Cheng et. al found that “no excuses schools” increased student achievement by “0.25 and 0.16 deviations in math and literacy, respectively, net of the typical annual growth that students experience.” Furthermore, Promise Academy in the Harlem Children’s Zone showed that their students gain 0.229 standard deviations in math per year and 0.047 standard deviations in reading that meant that the school closed the achievement gap in math in four years and halved it in reading (Fryer 2).

Despite the fact that “no excuses schools” had been perceived well and successful since their foundations due to their improved test scores, there has been a growing amount of literature that criticizes these schools.  Goldstein claimed that “there has been little convincing evidence done on those “no excuses” teaching strategies: incentive systems (pizza for good behavior and high test scores)…Yet this type of teaching has exploded in prominence since the mid-1990s” (141). In an article “At Success Academy Charter Schools, High Scores and Polarizing Tactics,” Kate Taylor pointed out that Success Academy Charter Schools had “a system driven by relentless pursuit of better results, one that can be exhilarating for teachers and students who keep up with its demands and agonizing for those who do not.” By highlighting that “no excuses schools” are demanding, Taylor criticized the system that it might not be beneficial for all children who are enrolled in those schools. For example, at Success Academy Charter Schools, students’ academic achievement is not a private matter but one that is displayed on colored charts and those who are failing are in the red zone—a reminder every day that you are a failure (Taylor). Furthermore, these students who are behind and do not perform as well as they should are made to feel “misery.” Moreover, some students wet themselves during practice tests because teachers did not give them permission to go to the bathrooms. In addition, Taylor quoted a student attending one of the Success Academy Charter Schools saying “What I don’t like is I have to go to school on Saturdays, so I feel like I don’t get rest, and I get a lot of stress in my neck because I got to go like this all the time” [hunching forward as if he was taking a test] (Taylor).

success sdemy kids
Nicole Bengiveno/The New York Times

Despite the fact that Taylor’s depiction of these “no excuses schools” are somewhat neutral, it can be argued that there are many elements in the “no excuses” model that are questionable in terms of its psychological effects on students. Furthermore, in “The Paradox of Success at a No-Excuses School,” Joanne Golann claimed that “as students learn to monitor themselves, hold back their opinions, and defer to authority, they are not encouraged to develop the proactive skills needed to navigate the more flexible expectations of college and the workplace…No-excuses schools thus promote academic achievement while reinforcing inequality in cultural skills. These findings suggest that what works for academic achievement may not coincide with what works for students’ success in later life stages” (115). By questioning the skills these students acquire, Golann points out that “no excuses schools” only focus on how to close the achievement gap while students are in schools but they do not consider long-term consequences and job opportunities (116). From these sources, it can be seen that critics of “no excuses schools” look beyond test scores, and question the effectiveness of “no excuses” strategies and their consequences for students later in their lives.

In conclusion, “no excuses schools” arose in the 1990s in the US primarily because the accountability movement and A Nation at Risk showing that public schools were failing and there was a significant achievement gap between middle-class white students and students of low-income and minority parents. They aimed at closing that gap by applying “no excuses” strategies, which became highly popular in the US because these “no excuses schools” generated better test scores. Many people advocated “no excuse schools” due to their improved scores, however, from the 2000s, more and more criticism had been addressed questioning the long-term effects of the “no excuses” model. It is not just simply a critique of the strict teaching methods and environment that are implemented in such schools but also a critique of standardized testing and the way how money is distributed among public schools. Further questions can be proposed: why are there still advocates of “no excuses schools” despite the fact that most of the literature on these schools criticize the “no excuses” model and there is no evidence for long-term success?



Angrist, Joshua D., Pathak, Parag A., Walters, Christopher R. “Explaining Charter School Effectiveness.” American Economic Journal: Applied Economics. 5:4 (2013): 1-127. Web March 31 2016.<http://www.jstor.org/stable/43189451>.

Carter, Samuel Casey. No Excuses: Lessons from 21 High- Performing, High-Poverty Schools. Washington, DC: Heritage Foundation. 2000. Print.

Cheng, Albert, Collin, Hitt, Kisida, Brian. “No Excuses Charter Schools: A Meta-Analysis of the Experimental Evidence on Student Achievement.” Education Research Alliance for New Orleans. (2015): 1-27.

Dana Goldstein, The Teacher Wars: A History of America’s Most Embattled Profession (New York: Anchor, 2015). ISBN 978-0-345-80362-7.

Fryer, Roland G. Jr. “Creating “No Excuses” (Traditional) Public Schools: Preliminary Evidence from an Experiment in Houston.” National Bureau of Economic Research. 2011. Web April 25 2016.

Golann, Joanne W. “The Paradox of Success at a No-Excuses School.” Sociology of Education. 88:2 (2015): 103-119. Web March 31 2016.

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Lack, Brian. “No Excuses: A Critique of the Knowledge Is Power Program (KIPP) within Charter Schools in the USA.” Journal for Critical Education Policy Studies. 7:2 (2015): 127-153.

McKenzie, William, Kress, Sandy. “The Big Idea of School Accountability.” The Bush Institute at the George W. Bush Presidential Center. 2015. Web. April 20 2016.<http://www.bushcenter.org/essays/bigidea/>.

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Paul Tough, Whatever It Takes: Geoffrey Canada’s Quest to Change Harlem and America (Boston: Mariner Books, 2009). ISBN 978-0-547-24796-0.

Taylor, Kate. “At Success Academy Charter Schools, High Scores and Polarizing Tactics.” The New York Times. April 6, 2015. Web 10 April 2016.

Thernstrom, A., Thernstrom, S. No Excuses: Closing the Racial Gap In Learning. New Work: Simon and Schuster. 2003. Print.

United States. A Nation at Risk: The Imperative for Educational Reform. Washington, D.C.: The National Commission on Excellence in Education, 1983. Print.

Wasserman, Joanne. “‘No Excuses’ Policy a Winning Formula.” New York Daily News: 30. June 11 1999. ProQuest. Web. 18 April 2016.