Academic Dishonesty and the Internet in Higher Education

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To most educators, the essential element to the success of their mission is academic integrity. It can be said that higher education as well as society will benefit from standards of integrity that pave the way for vibrant academic life, promote scientific progress, and prepare students for responsible citizenship. Despite efforts to uphold such principles, academic dishonesty is a growing concern for most educational institutions. Academic dishonesty has been a problem in schools as long as schools have existed, but over the past decade researchers and teachers have reported a dramatic climb in the occurrence of academic dishonesty especially among students in higher education, seemingly sparked by the rise of the Internet. Although increased technological developments of the last twenty or so years have been critical in creating new aids in research and avenues for faculty to publish their works, the Internet has made it easier for students to plagiarize, fabricate, and tamper with information. Another important factor that can be considered is student confusion over the nature of originality and textual appropriation when it comes to using online resources. Because many students do not know exactly what constitutes cheating and plagiarism through the use of the Internet, it is becoming increasingly more common and acceptable among students to use sources found on the Internet in some way that is not in accordance with higher education institutions. With this, can it be proven that the growth of academic dishonesty been facilitated by the Internet and have the methods in which academic dishonesty is employed changed since is widespread prevalence?

What is Academic Dishonesty?

Academic Dishonesty, “includes ‘cheating,’ ‘fraud,’ and ‘plagiarism,’ the theft of ideas and other forms of intellectual property-whether they are published or not. (). This practice is commonly believe by many to endanger the quality of education and depreciate the authentic achievements of others. There are many different forms of academic dishonesty including plagiarism, cheating, fabrication and falsification, multiple submissions, misuse of academic materials, and complicity in academic dishonesty. Plagiarism is the use of another person’s distinct ideas or words without acknowledgment. On the other hand, cheating involves the possession, communication, or use of any type of information not authorized by the instructor. Fabrication and falsification means to invent or counterfeit information by creating your own results or deliberately altering information in any academic exercise. Another form of academic dishonesty that is often overlooked is that of multiple submissions, meaning submitting academic work for which academic credit has already been earned. Misuse of academic materials includes stealing, destroying, or unauthorized possession/alteration/sale/purchase of any academic materials. Lastly, complicity in academic dishonesty, sometimes overlooked, entails knowingly contributing to another’s acts of academic dishonesty ().

Growth of Academic Dishonesty

The Internet has revolutionized the computer and world of communications like nothing ever before. The invention of the telegraph, telephone, radio and computer, set the stage for the unprecedented integration of capabilities that later arose with the invention of the Internet. It is generally agreed upon that the Internet reached public consciousness in the United States in the mid to late 1990s and with this later came the growth of academic dishonesty. Here are some studies and cases about academic dishonesty that lead to insight about its relation to the Internet:

In a study, “The Impact of Unethical Reasoning On Different Types of Academic Dishonesty: An Exploratory Study,” the authors argue that there is an increase in academic dishonesty in the education system, which is concerning because it is suggested that those who cheat in college are more likely to cheat on the job. The idea that it is likely that students who cheat in academics are more likely to cheat in the business world coupled with the thought that academic dishonesty is on the rise, is problematic for it would seem to create an increasingly corrupt society. This is one of the reasons professors and academic institutions are concerned about this growing problem (Iyer 2008).

“A Campus Fad That’s Being Copied: Internet Plagarism,” is an article about how a study conducted in 2004 on 23 college campuses has found that Internet plagiarism is rising among students. Out of the undergraduate students surveyed said that in the last year they had engaged in some sort of Internet plagiarism without citation. In a similar survey three years earlier than this study, only 10 percent of students had acknowledged such cheating. This study in 2004, by Donald L. McCabe from Rutgers University, surveyed over 18,000 students, 2,6000 faculty members and 650 teaching assistants at large public universities and small private colleges nationwide, not including Ivy Leagues. Professor McCabe says, “There are a lot of students who are growing up with the Internet who are convinced that anything you find on the Internet is public knowledge and doesn’t need to be cited.” This studied revealed that about half the students who participated in the study considered Internet cheating to be trivial plagiarism while only twenty-two percent of undergraduates acknowledged that they have cheated in a “serious” way in the past year. According to the majority opinion of students, the more serious way of cheating is copying from another student on a test, using unauthorized notes or helping someone else to cheat on a test. Most students believe that cheating and plagiarism through the use of the Internet is less serious and therefore students are more likely to partake in this sort of plagiarism. The article also adds that administrators at Princeton have said that many times students as well as parents do not understand why it is wrong to using sections of text for academic word without using citation. The author ends by saying that colleges need to make it clear to their students what defines cheating and that is important to uphold principles of academic integrity in order to stop the growth of academic dishonesty within educational institutions (Rimer 2003).

In the article “Student Online Plagiarism: How Do We Respond?” the author talks about how it has been perceived that Internet plagiarism by college students is on the rise and that professors and administrators are alarmed. It reviews quantitative studies of student plagiarism over the past forty years, as well as how institutions have responded weakly. Lastly it offers strategies for addressing and preventing such plagiarism. The author reveals that quantitative studies based on student self-reports have reported high levels of academic dishonesty over several decades, but vary from 9 to 95 percent of students admitting to some form of academic dishonesty. It is found that Internet plagiarism is highly influenced by peer behavior on students’ decisions to plagiarize and that it is on the rise among high school students. Because of this, it is now even more critical how colleges respond to such dishonesty. In the past, cheating and plagiarism was more time consuming, as it required students to obtain books, read, and copy. Now students can find online resources in a matter of seconds, with just the click of a mouse, which has led to the growth of academic dishonesty (Scanlon 2003).

In the literature review of the study, “It’s Wrong, But Everybody Does it: Academic Dishonesty among High School and College Students,” it is suggested that cheating has increased over the course of the past several decades. “In 1941, Drake found that 23% of college students reported cheating. Goldsen (1960) reported rates of 38% in 1952 and 49% in 1960. By the 1980s, Jendrek (1989) estimated the typical rate between 40 and 60%. By 1992, she found that 74% of college students engaged in cheating (Jendrek, 1992). Even more recently, researchers have reported rates as high as 90% (Graham, Monday, O’Brien, and Steffen, 1994). These rates pertain to college students” This study gives evidence that academic dishonesty has increased since the Internet has become mainstream and continues to become more widely used.

Here are studies and reports of academic dishonesty from 1915-2010:

Methods of Academic Dishonesty through use of the Internet

Although it is commonly accepted that the Internet in general is an easily accessed source in which students take unfair advantage in academia, there are many different ways students obtain information on the web. In an analytical study on where students find unoriginal content on the Internet, “Plagiarism and the Web: Myths and Realities,” close to 40 million college student papers were examined to obtain a glimpse into the resources students use over the Internet. These papers were submitted to Turnitin, which is the leading plagiarism prevention and wiring application for instructors. The results reveal that there were about five different resource categories that students used when it came to plagiarism, although it was reported that some were used more often than others. These five categories are as follows: Social networking and content sharing, homework and academic, news and portals, paper mill and cheat sites, encyclopedias (White Paper).

Social networking and content sharing are sites that rely on user-generate content rather than published professional content. These social networking sites include sites such as Facebook, MySpace, and question and answers on Yahoo Answers and The homework and academic category encompasses websites that are established to help students prepare for tests or give aid in some educational or academic aspect. Most of these sites have .org or .gov domain registrations, but also includes sites such as www.bookrags .com and News and portals include sites that have a traditional published model, such as the New York Times, and the Huffington Post. Sites that profit from students selling and exchanging original student papers are called paper mills or cheat sites. Lastly, encyclopedia web sites are classified into their own category because of its vast and growing popularity, including and and Wikipedia (White Paper).

The results of the study show that plagiarism is going social. One-third of all content matched in the study is from social networks or other question-and-answer sites where users contribute and share information over the web. One-quarter of all matched material is from educational web sites, which is more than double the number coming from paper mills or cheat sites. This means that educational sites are a more popular way students tend to plagiarize, although paper mills and cheat sites are the third most popular category for matched content. With 7 percent of matches, Wikipedia remains the most popular single source for student-matched content. This study also argues that educators who employ the proper tools and technologies can minimize plagiarism. The authors present this argument by giving statistics that institutions with widespread adoption of Turnitin experience a reduction in unoriginal content of 30 to 35 percent in the first year. By the fourth year, many see levels of unoriginality fall up to 70 percent. (White Paper).


With the increasing prevalence of the Internet and advancing technology, students have become more creative and discrete in how they go about cheating. The old standards of cheating, prior to the invention of the Internet, often involved looking over a classmates shoulder during a test, copying homework from another student, or bullying someone into writing a paper. The Internet itself has become a breeding ground for plagiarism as students often just copy and paste information and declare it as their own words and ideas. Although there are many studies and reports that have given evidence that academic dishonesty is on the rise, it cannot be fully proven. It is true, however, that the Internet has allowed for different methods of cheating that were impossible before its widespread popularity, but many people are unaware of what constitutes such cheating. It is unclear whether students have significantly dropped their old methods of cheating and replaced them with techniques involving the Internet, although it is pretty well known that both methods are still in considerable practice. With the rise of the Internet, it has also become easier for professors and educational institutions to detect academic dishonesty, such as plagiarism, from Internet sources through the use of devices that are able to detect unoriginality. It is only until recent years that universities and other academic institutions have been keeping records of academic dishonesty cases. When starting my research project I originally wanted to find out if academic dishonesty has increased at Trinity College since the 1980s, but I found that I was unable to do so. I spoke to Peter Knapp to see if there were any files on such cases in the Watkinson Library, but he told me that there was no pertinent material in the Archives. He told me that the best place for me to go would be the Dean of Students’ Office for this information, but when I told Dean Reuman about my research she told me that there is only data from the last 7 years. Because of this I found it to be impossible to complete my research on this specific matter. It may be that there is a rise in concern over academic dishonesty in recent years and more honor councils are being established to punish cheating and promote academic integrity.

Here are studies and reports of academic dishonesty from 1915-2010:

Works Cited

Rimer, Sara. 2003. “A Campus Fad That’s Being Copied: Internet Plagiarism.” New York Times, 3 Sept.

Scanlon, PM (2003) “Student Online Plagiarism: How Do We Respond?” College Teaching, 51: 161-5. Schon, D. (1983) The Reflective Practitioner. New York: Basic Books.

Iyer R, Eastman JK (2008). The impact of unethical reasoning onacademic dishonesty: Exploring the moderating effect of social desirability. Mark. Educ. Rev., 18(2): 21-33.

Jensen, L. A., Arnett, J. J., Feldman, S. S., & Cauffman, E. (2002). It’s wrong, but everybody does it: Academic dishonesty among high school and college students. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 27, 209 –28. 229 –241.

“White Paper – Plagiarism and the Web: Myths and Realities.” Web. 01 May 2012. <>.

Diekhoff, George M., Emily E. LaBeff, Robert E. Clark, Larry E. Williams, Billy Francis, and Valerie J. Haines. “College Cheating: Ten Years Later.” Research in Higher Education 37.4 (1996): 487-502. Print.

Maramark, S., & Maline, M. B. (1993). Issues in education: Academic dishonesty amongcollege students. Washington,DC: U.S. Department of Education, Office of Educational Research and Improvement.

“An Ethical Dilemma: Talking About Plagiarism and Academic Integrity in the Digital Age More.” An Ethical Dilemma: Talking About Plagiarism and Academic Integrity in the Digital Age (Ebony Elizabeth Thomas). Web. 04 Apr. 2012. <>.

Differing Approaches: Native American Education at Carlisle and Hampton

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The reformation of education for Native Americans was based on ideals of individualism, industry, and the acceptance of Christian doctrine and morality (Wallace Adams 15). The set of European values that were prevalent in American culture saw to it that the Native Americans could never live in harmony due to Euro-centric hegemonic views. In the 19th century it became clear that the Native Americans would either face extermination or “civilization”. In the last two decades of the nineteenth century, Americans built an all-encompassing system of Indian academies. These academies were largely funded by Congress and increasingly controlled from Washington. These schools were primarily residential, boarding institutes. Their goal was to instruct Indian children in white ways or to get rid of native tribal cultures (Fear Segal). This movement to transform native children into American citizens appeared to represent a clear affirmation of faith in the equality and educability of the Indian. Two schools which pioneered the cause of Indian education were Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute, in Virginia, and Carlisle Indian Industrial School, in Pennsylvania. By carefully comparing the policies and philosophies of these two schools we can explain how the Native Americans experienced the “Americanization” process from the 1870s to 1910.

Today, Native Americans are one of the most underrepresented groups in the hierarchy of American culture. In the past they have been viewed as savages and lower level members of society. Attempts to educate the Indians were based on the ideals of assimilation or nothing at all. Policymakers never took into account that Native Americans had their own set of skills and intellect that they could bring to the table. In general, the system of mass education, not only for Native Americans but for other immigrants has been based around deculturation and not integration. This process is successful in creating a mostly unified nation but it fails to account for aspects of ethnic identity that cannot be drawn out and erased. Hampton School and Carlisle School were both somewhat successful in the process of educating the Native Americans during the 19th century.   The attitudes and practices that these two schools shared have a lot common, but the schools have also exhibited significant disagreements which were vitally important at the time and which continue to animate the issue of cultural difference and assimilation today (Fear Segal 325). The ideals found at Hampton were based on a biological theory of social development while the ones found at Carlisle were based around an egalitarian view of society. These differing viewpoints crucially affected the way the students were taught and the way they experienced the American education process. Although the two schools taught the same things Carlisle may have been a better experience because they got the students at a younger age and the school’s underlying theory was based around a belief in universal human capacities.

The 19th century saw the rise of the common school movement, which changed American education forever. The common school movement led to the collective socialization of the American population. Samuel Chapman Armstrong and Richard Henry Pratt, the founders of the two Indian schools we will examine would both become pioneers in the common school movement for their efforts in education of the Indians. Samuel Chapman Armstrong was the founder of Hampton Institute. He was the son of a Hawaiian missionary and was awarded American citizenship after leading an all colored troop in the Civil War. His participation in the platoon of colored men aroused his interest for the welfare of blacks. After his time in the war he felt like colored people had enough mind power and determination and that they were capable of doing well in school and furthering their lives. This interest inspired him so much that he started up Hampton Institute in 1868 to educate freed blacks in the south. In 1878, a party of seventeen Indians was brought from St. Augustine, Florida where they had been prisoners of war. This became the nucleus for the Indian Department at Hampton (Armstrong, M F). The man who brought the Indian prisoners to Hampton was Captain Richard Henry Pratt who would soon become the founder of the Carlisle Institute. During Pratt’s time with the Indian prisoners of war Segal explains, “he used these warriors to develop a simple set of rules for educating Indians and then elaborated a code which he adhered to tenaciously for the rest of his life. (Fear Segal 326)” Segal further explains, “Every step Pratt took to ‘civilize’ the prisoners was guided by his belief that they were essentially no different from whites. (Fear Segal 326)”. Pratt’s belief in equality would provide a more enjoyable experience for Indians in education in the 19th century.

Pratt and Armstrong shared an interest in Native American education. Both agreed that the best answer to the age-old “Indian problem” lay in education (Fear Segal 327). After a lot of collaborative work Pratt began to defer because he didn’t share some of the same ideals as Armstrong. A year after the first Native American program started at Hampton he moved on and started the Carlisle Indian School. Pratt picked the right time to leave because politicians in Washington were looking for something to do with the Indians. By 1885, the United States made a clear effort to try and educate the Native Americans. Hampton Institute reported “120 Indians are provided for by the United States Government” (Armstrong, M F). Carlisle also received grants so that they could start their school in some abandoned military barracks in Pennsylvania.

The two institutions developed a pattern of schooling rooted in a general view of what was needed to convert wild Indians into American citizens (Fear Segal 326). At both Hampton and Carlisle, it was essential to teach the Indians how to work. The division of the day was split into two parts, one part was for study and the other part was for practical work. During these two time periods the children learned their lessons, were taught a trade and concurrently provided most of the goods and services necessary to run the schools. This process kept the costs down and made it easier for the schools to thrive financially. At both schools the students wore uniforms and were taught discipline. It was imperative that the students were taught agricultural work. Hampton particularly taught industry and the necessity of becoming good workers in the capitalist system for both blacks and Native Americans. Hampton was a normal school and it’s goal was to create teachers that would go on to educate minority students about the American values of both hard-work and perseverance that they internalized at Hampton. This process would effectively pass down white American values from generation to generation for both blacks and Indians. It is important to remember that the goal of these schools was to eradicate Indianness so it was vital to teach the students colonial trade. The course load focused on “the fundamentals of political economy and civil government” ( Armstrong, M F). Not only did the schools teach students the American way but they also stripped the students of their culture. The students had their hair cut, were put into American clothes and had their names changed to become assimilated.

Pratt believed that the process of eradicating Indianness could happen in a few years while Armstrong thought that it would take a few generations before change occurred. Particularly at Hampton Armstrong recalls, “For a majority of cases the three years’ Normal course is preceded by a year in the Night School, during which time the students work eight or ten hours daily and study two hours in the evening an arrangement which…weeds out effectually the incapable or unwilling.” Brief glances at Armstrong’s writings on his colored students show a general uncertainty about his colored students. When he says things like “Will Indians study? Can they learn” or “Will Indians work? Can they be broken in to civilized pursuits” it shows that he has a certain negative perception towards these students (Armstrong, M F). In comparison Pratt had a firm belief that the Indians could learn. He compared the situation of the Indians to that of the immigrants in that “they both needed to be absorbed into American society to achieve full participation” (Fear Segal). This positive viewpoint allows for a more liberal education where the Indian would not have to fear being disenfranchised.

Segal cites that Pratt was a Universalist and Armstrong was an evolutionist. For Armstrong, “education was necessary, but it was not sufficient alone (Fear Segal)”.  Segal states that in Armstrong’s opinion “Indians would have to be guided step by step up the evolutionary ladder, from hunter to herder to farmer.” Armstrong didn’t believe that the Native Americans could make any progress on their own or without guidance. It is reasonable to infer that their experience at Hampton wasn’t a polite one. Armstrong’s colleague Helen Ludlow talks about how she visited the Hampton Indians when they went back to Dakota. Her article asks about whether or not it was useful sending students to Hampton and how a good percentage of the students went back to the traditional dress of the Indians after receiving education at Hampton. Her testimony shows that the process was somewhat unsuccessful (Armstrong, M F). Many of the downfalls of Indian education at Hampton might be due to the fact that it was a black school for freedmen. Carlisle didn’t have to deal with this problem because their school was based solely on the education of Indians. Armstrong was uncertain about mixing the two races at Hampton because he believed that their strengths and weaknesses were very different.

In comparison, Carlisle’s procedures were much less focused on race. “At Carlisle he insisted on a set of principles rooted in a fundamentally different attitude to the Indian (Fear Segal 329).” Carlisle’s different structure allowed for a better Indian experience. In this testimonial to the Institutional experience some Indian children expressed excitement in “dressing up like whites” (Wallace Adams 108). “How proud we were with clothes that had pockets and boots that squeaked! We walked the floor nearly all that night. Many of the boys even went to bed with their clothes all on.” (Wallace Adams 108). This testimonial shows a certain positive attitude towards the Indian experience at Carlisle that is partially due to the theory of Universalism that Pratt instilled in the school.

Carlisle was such an open and accompanying campus that it even put together a football team. Pratt wanted to bring Indians into direct competition with Americans and show they could win (Fear Segal). One of their goals was to become one of the best football teams in the country. They aqcuired a good coach and after a while the Carlisle team was known as one of the better teams in the country. Just the fact that Pratt wanted to do this shows a differing approach to the way Carlisle and Hampton went about the Indian experience. Pratt was “utterly opposed to what he called ‘race school'”(Fear Segal). He wanted his students to count as more than just Indians but as equals. In comparison at Hampton, Indian graduates weren’t encouraged to settle amongst white people. At Hampton the most important task was to train “Indian leadership.” This perspective is very significant and it insists upon self-sufficiency amongst the Indians. Armstrong of the Hampton school pushed for segregated environments which in his words would, “afford the best conditions to prepare the red race for citizenship.” (Fear Segal). Hampton Normal may have produced some of the same results as Carlisle Industrial but its methods didn’t provide as gratifying an experience for Indian students.

Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute, in Virginia, and Carlisle Indian Industrial School, in Pennsylvania were the foremost schools in the education of the Native Americans during the 19th century. The founders of the two schools believed in the education of the savages but went about it in very different ways. The approach that Armstrong from the Hampton Institute took was evolutionist and less encompassing. The approach that Pratt at the Carlisle Institute took was based around Universalism and it allowed for a better experience for the Indians.


Armstrong, M. F. Hampton Institute. 1868 to 1885. Its Work for Two Races. Hampton, Va: Normal School Press Print, 1885.

Adams, David Wallace. Education for Extinction: American Indians and the Boarding-school Experience, 1875-1928. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1995.

Fear-Segal, Jacqueline. Nineteenth-Century Indian Education: Universalism Versus Evolutionism. United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press, 1999.

Lindsey, Donal F. Indians at Hampton Institute, 1877-1923. University of Illinois Press, 1995.

Required Community Service in High Schools and Civic Engagement

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Required Community Service in US High Schools

In the United States civic engagement has been a crucial component of society, whether it is through political activism or lending a helping hand to our fellow neighbors. In recent years, youth participation in volunteerism has fluctuated, resulting in a growing number of high schools requiring them to complete a certain number of hours of service in order to graduate. This increase is most notably seen in the late 80s and early 90s when “…[v]olunteer rates among youth ages 16-19 soared from 13.4 to 24.5 percent between 1989-2007”(Clemmitt, 79). There has been a range of reactions regarding the movement of mandatory participation in community service, from lawsuits to enthusiasm, which beckons the question, how has this requirement changed since the 90s and how has it affected their long-term outcomes as citizens? Since the 90s there has been an even greater push for service as a result of federal incentives, thus engaging more students into the community, creating civic minded individuals (which can be dependent on the structure of the mandatory program).

When researching high school graduation requirements of community service, there are several terms that ought to be clarified, as they may be confusing. Civic engagement is an overarching term and is defined as enhancing civic society through the combined use of “knowledge, skills, values and motivation” to achieve social change (NYTimes). This occurs through several means including: volunteerism, community service, and service-learning. Volunteerism is the genuine devotion of time to a cause without receiving compensation, whereas community service is similar on some level, but differs in the sense that some “volunteers” participate because they are required to through an institution, like a school. Service-Learning as defined by the former US Commissioner of Education, Harold Howe II is, “… an educational activity, program, or curriculum that seeks to promote student learning through experiences associated with volunteerism or community service…Service learning emerges from helping others and reflecting how you and they benefited from doing so” (Howe II, iv) These terms are often used interchangeably when discussing youth involvement in their communities. For the purposes of this research, the use of the terms service-learning and community service will be used interchangeably in a general sense of their definitions. The focus of this research will be required community service in US high schools since the 90s.

When engaging in the discourse of service-learning a key figure is philosopher John Dewey. Although he did not directly coin service-learning, he suggested that a significant instrument to education reform is experiencing the benefits of hands-on education that would contribute to social development (Conrad and Heiden, 1991). His words would bear more significance years later when the percentage of youth participation in volunteerism drops to 13.5 in 1989 (Clemmitt, 79). This drastically low percent heightened the urgency for youth civic engagement to increase. Thus individual schools began incorporating service-learning as a part of school curricula. The need for youth to be more civically engaged was acknowledged and solidified in 1990 when the federal government began promoting community service for all in the country while providing incentives for schools.

In the early 90s there were two significant pieces of federal legislature. The first was in 1990 when President Bush signed the National and Community Service Act which addressed the multiple facets of community service (Clemmitt, 79). This act provided $64 million in grants for community service programs like Serve America (now named Learn and Serve America) which works directly with students from the primary level through the tertiary level ( The second piece was the National and Community Trust act of 1993 signed by President Clinton (Wutzdorff and Giles, 108). The law established the Corporation for National Service which promotes service through different organizations like Learn and Serve America (Wutzdorff and Giles, 108). These two efforts kick-started a movement toward greater youth participation in civic life. They allowed schools to pursue steps to receive federal funds for service-learning curricula. Recently, in 2009 President Obama has also encouraged volunteerism through federal legislature. In April of 2009 the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act was passed, granting even more opportunities for service, considering the $1.49 billion budget ( These efforts further legitimized school-based volunteerism which has been steadily increasing.

Although these federal movements are impressive, it does not directly define its significance. What does youth disengagement mean? It is dangerous for youth to go through many years of schooling and not be able to realize the grander scheme of things. Life is more than grade in a class and certainly more than a test score; if students are not interested in anything outside of the realm of academics, we have will have potentially lost citizens that could contribute greatly to society. Sometimes students may not be connected to education whatsoever and may turn to other non-productive routes to fill up time. In order to avoid both of these scenarios, and any other of the like, providing a safe and engaging outlet like community service would not only benefit the youth, but the larger society as well. Some schools have decided to approach this issue of disengagement in a number of ways, which are not always welcomed.

The combination of the need for youth to be civically engaged as well as the opportunities provided by the federal government motivated high schools to incorporate community service/service-learning as a part of the curriculum, sometimes as a high school requirement. As of August 2011, only the state of Maryland and the District of Colombia has adopted community service as a graduation requirement. While this is relatively low, high school districts across 35 states incorporate some level of service learning(whether required community service or granting credit toward graduation) which fares pretty high compared to districts in seven states in 2001 (Education Commission of the States; As a result of an increasing number of schools that have a community service/service-learning component, in the years 2008-2010 33.7 percent of civic engagement in the US was school-based. Although many may see the social gains society and participants receive by being mandated to volunteer, there has been opposition to the high school graduation requirement.

Over the years, there has been an adverse reaction toward the graduation requirement of volunteering in the students’ communities. One such case is that of Steirer v. Bethlehem Area School District in 1993.

The Third U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the argument that a district’s 60- hour service requirement amounted to “involuntary servitude” banned under the 1 3th Amendment outlawing slavery. The amendment bans “forced labor through physical coercion,” not service that is “primarily designed for the students’ own benefit and education” by teaching them about the value of community work”(Clemmitt, 84).

This example, is obviously one of the most extreme reactions, but on some level understandable that one should pursue community service if they please. The Bethlehem case only further exemplifies the challenges schools face when trying to teach their students the value of community investment. One can assume what their immediate perspectives were upon fulfilling their requirement, which is a reflection of many youth: resentment and disdain. Researchers have attributed these attitudes to several factors like disorganization of service projects and imposing on the busy lives of the students. While mandating community service has been challenging in some respects, researchers have shown that it also inspires many students to do so as well.

In a 2005 study researchers studied graduating high school seniors as the required service policy shifted. One group of students were in the graduating cohort that did not require community service (’00) while the 2 following cohorts (’01, ’02) were required to participate in community service. They looked even further into these groups and tracking the change in attitude toward civic engagement from those who were more or less inclined to volunteer. Prior to thecommencement of the study, the researchers Metz and Yuniss surveyed the students about their civic views and activity to establish a baseline. Over the years, they recorded the change in student answers to track any growth. The following table is an example of their findings.

Mean Scores of Civic Engagement–Metz and Youniss

Overall, the less- inclined group of students who were required to participate in community service demonstrated significant growth in their civic engagement. When asked about their likeliness of future voting, the less-inclined group which were required to volunteer showed a .32 standard deviation increase, unlike the less-inclined cohort that were not required. As you can see, they decreased .14 standard deviations. A clearer demonstration of this data is displayed in the graph below:

Graphical display of decision to vote based on the groups of less and more inclined students who were and were not required to volunteer–Metz and Youniss

According to this research project, less-inclined students who are mandated to participate in community service, are generally benefited by furthering their desires to be civically engaged. Interestingly enough, one of the researchers Youniss participated in another relevant research project related to youth participation in community service and its effects in civic engagement. He and the small team of researchers discovered in 2007 that youth are more likely to vote (and participate in civic life through other manners)  as a result to their exposure to community service in high school (Hart, Donnelly, Youniss, Atkins, 2007).

Although this research demonstrated some gains between these set of students there are other variables that need to be examined when determining why community service affects civic engagement. One must consider the factors that lead to successful implementation of community service requirements in high school. Jeffery Bennett of the University of Arizona conducted a study on urban high schools that had the graduation requirement suggested that the strength in the program determines whether or not it effectively promotes civic engagement. In his research he discovers that student opinion on community service and civic engagement was based upon the structure of the program. Mentors, better community relationships and a variety of service opportunities would have greatly influenced the views of the students. What is interesting is that Bennett explains that although that additional support would have been helpful, it would have also been limiting. For this study community service and service-learning are not interchangeable. I declare this because Bennett decides upon completing his research that requiring community service is limiting in the sense that it does not allow time for the students to process, to reflect upon their experiences. This only leaves them with an impression to volunteer some more versus looking at the larger picture and taking social action.

In sum, it is crucial to have youth participate in service learning/community service (mandatory or voluntary)/volunteerism that would expose them to becoming civically engaged. When youth are not involved, whether socially or politically, it puts our society at risk. We need a holistic view of education and citizenship in order to continue functioning as a society. It is therefor vital that we encourage our youth to become involved through federal incentives or even at the idea of personal growth. There is much to be learned outside of the classroom and much to gain as seen in the case studies outlined. There will be a continuous debate on whether or not community service should be required, but I think that we have to find ways to engage students to think beyond the walls of the classroom. Perhaps it will be through class trips, service-learning based curricula, or statewide required participation, whatever the means, we need to continue the efforts in order to maintain (as much as we can) a functioning society.


Clemmitt, Marcia “Youth Volunteerism.” CQ Researcher by CQ Press, n.d.

Dávila, Alberto, and Marie T. Mora. “Civic Engagement and High School Academic Progress: An Analysis Using NELS Data, [Part I of An Assessment of Civic Engagement and Academic Progress.” InUniversity of Maryland, 2007.

“ECS Education Policy Issue Site: Service-Learning.” Education Commission of the States–Helping State Leaders Shape Education Policy. Web. <>.

Hart, Daniel, Thomas M Donnelly, James Youniss, and Robert Atkins. “High School Community Service as a Predictor of Adult Voting and Volunteering.” American Educational Research Journal 44, no. 1 (March 1, 2007): 197–219.

“Impacts and Outcomes of Service-Learning in K-12 Settings: Selected Resources.” National Service-Learning Clearinghouse. <>

Metz, Edward C., and James Youniss. “Longitudinal Gains in Civic Development Through School-Based Required Service.” Political Psychology 26, no. 3 (June 1, 2005): 413–437.

“ Our History and Legislation.” Corporation for National and Community Service. Web. <>.

Stanton, Timothy, Dwight Giles, and Nadinne I. Cruz.Service-learning: A Movement’s Pioneers Reflect on Its Origins, Practice, and Future. San Francisco, Calif: Jossey-Bass Publishers, 1999. Print.

Schine, Joan G. Service Learning. Chicago: NSSE, 1997. Print.

The SAT Optional Movement: Causes and Effects of No Longer Requiring the SAT

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During the 1950’s the use of the SAT grew rapidly in the country as means for colleges to compare students applying from different schools and by 1960 the use of the test had solidified itself across the country.  However in 1970, Bowdoin College made the decision to stop requiring applicants to submit their SAT scores in order to gain admission, deciding to instead judge students based on their academic performance, accomplishments within schools, and the qualities of their personality.  Bates College was the next selective school to follow and joined Bowdoin’s movement in 1984.  Since then, over seven hundred and fifty colleges and universities no longer require students to submit SAT or ACT when applying to college, and many of those do not require and kind of standardized testing to be submitted[1].  The growing movement demonstrates that colleges no longer look at standardized testing with the same weight as they did before 1984 and instead focus on high school achievements and personality as bigger factors.  This is a result of some schools losing faith in the SAT as an effective measure when comparing schools and no longer wanting standardized test scores to hold back qualified students whose standardized test scores are the only part of their applicants that are holding them back, as well as a desire to ensure a growing diversity within the school.  Some administrators believe that the SAT optional approach would be placing more of an emphasis on four years of achievement rather than an afternoon spent in a gymnasium.  Some school administrators now believe that the SAT or other standardized tests made for college entrance inhibit access to higher education rather than open doors for those students.  While the list of SAT optional schools mainly comprises of smaller liberal arts colleges who receive fewer applicants, some larger state schools have joined in this recent trend of making what used to be a major component of the application process into an optional part where students who feel that their standardized test scores could hurt their college matriculation no longer have to send their scores or take any standardized test including the SAT, ACT, and SAT subject tests.  However, some schools still ask that students to submit SAT subject tests and AP exam scores, but this still leaves students with the option of submitting scores in subjects where they feel they can perform strongest.  This list includes a number of schools ranked within the top 100 colleges and universities nationally and includes small liberal arts schools and larger state universities alike.[2] Some of these colleges and universities will only consider standardized testing scores into their decisions when the GPA requirements are not met, or will only use those scores to determine placement and academic advising when a student has gained admittance.  The purpose of the SAT and standardized testing is shifting to give students the largest possible advantage when applying to schools.

Bates decided to implement their policy in 1984 when they felt that students kept telling them that they were more intelligent than their standardized test scores would suggest, and it was their scores alone that were stopping them from going to a school that fit their academic potential.  After the policy was implemented, one of the first students to benefit was a girl who had graduated as valedictorian from her high school and is now at Dartmouth Medical School.  However, when she applied to Bates her combined SAT score was less than 1000.  Since Bates never looked at these scores, she was admitted, and went on to graduate Phi Beta Kappa.  The college has found that since their policy was implemented those who did not submit SAT scores during the admissions process have had nearly identical GPA’s and graduation results to those students who did submit their SAT scores. Other schools have substituted the SAT with the optional supplements that help highlight a student’s personality and passions.  For example, Worcester Polytechnic Institute allows students to submit inventions, Eagle Scout Projects, and graded papers instead of taking the SAT, and Tufts University allows students to submit a one-minute YouTube video about themselves as part of their applications.  The purpose of the standardized testing alternatives is to allow students to replace their weakest part of the application with something that they feel makes them a more attractive applicant during the admissions process, and students who still feel that they want their scores as part of their applications are still allowed to use the alternatives in addition to their standardized testing scores.

The factors leading to the “anti-SAT movement” come from a desire to schools to help students who claim that their standardized testing scores do not live up to their actual intelligence and academic achievement.   SAT optional schools do so with the intent to make a student body more diverse in a variety of ways and to give each student more attention when observing their applications.  The movement made the most headway when in 2001 when the president of the University of California, the world’s largest and most influential SAT client, announced that his schools would no longer require students to submit the SAT I or the ACT as part of their application, claiming that he wanted to judge applicants on their achievement and not their aptitude, and accused the SAT of distorting academic priorities.[3] At the time this was the most significant anti-SAT movement in the history of the test.  Wanting to keep one of their biggest clients, the SAT redesigned their test so that it could test achievement instead of just aptitude.  The redesign was announced in 2002 and occurred once in 2003 and again in 2005, these changes included a critical reading section within the verbal section, and a new writing section of the test.  However, the reading design was not completely effective in stopping the anti-SAT movement.  While maintaining the University of California as a client, schools continued to stop requiring students to submit their scores, telling them that they should submit them only if their score was high enough to give them a greater chance of admission.  Each school that joined the movement was given a large amount of media attention, and after the most recent test went into use it was decided that all scholarships based solely on SAT scores would be banned.

Some defenders of the SAT suggest that schools will see a drop in academic quality if they continue to make the SAT an optional part of the admissions process and the College Board suggests that the movement should only pertain to vocational schools or schools that accept all of their applicants.  Claiming that this movement would only be possible in liberal arts schools and that the test and other standardized admissions tests are still the most effective and efficient way for schools to determine which students are worthy of gaining admission to the country’s most prestigious schools, when the range of strength of high schools is so diverse.  However, their adjustments to the test in 2003 and 2005 show that they had a legitimate fear when a large, prestigious family of universities claimed that they would no longer the test.  The fear was that if more schools followed the University of California’s lead, then high school students would begin to realize that the test mattered less, and more would make the decision to not even take the test during their high school years if the anti-SAT movement gained too much momentum.  One critique of the SAT optional policy actually accuses these schools not of trying to help students who were being held back by standardized testing, but by artificially increasing the number of incoming applications and being able to display a higher average SAT score, thus making the school seem more selective.[4] They also argue that the idea of removing one part of application process seems inconsistent and unfair to those applicants who may test higher than their GPA would suggest.  Those students may prefer to withhold their grades from the selection process and just submit their test scores and their high school achievements from outside of the classroom, but no school has even contemplated using this approach.

Despite alterations to the test, the anti-SAT movement continued to grow, and the addition of Wake Forest University in 2008 is one of the most significant allies to the movement within the last five years.  Wake Forest did not only add another large university to the list of college that no longer required the SAT, but placed at least one SAT-optional school within every major region of the country[5].  Wake Forest’s decision to become SAT optional is back by the opinion that the SAT is not a reliable predictor of college success or measure of academic achievement prior to college.  Wake Forest will face a challenge when making this change due to the large amount of applicants they receive each year and without the SAT to more easily separate these students, they will have to, as they have promised, give more individual attention to each applicant.  However, even with the extra work that will be added to the admissions process, Wake Forest wanted to make sure that SAT scores would not prevent the school from becoming more diverse.

The fear that there is potential for a college admissions process without an SAT seems to be the only potential repercussion of a more colleges and universities becoming SAT optional.  It now seems more possible that more selective and larger universities will become SAT optional.  However, schools have found that for the most part students who choose not to submit their SAT scores have similar GPA’s in high school and college as their counterparts who chose to submit standardized test scores[6].  There has also been no date suggesting that the quality of any school has suffered as a result of the anti-SAT movement.  For those schools that have chosen to make the SAT and standardized testing optional, they have found that the schools and students entering benefit from this movement and the only people that suffer as a result of going optional are the College Board from losing clients, and students who have lower GPA’s and higher standardized testing scores, even though those students still have the right to submit their scores if they feel that it will benefit their chances of admittance.  The colleges become more selective by attracting a larger, more diverse pool of applicants and attract more qualified applicants by being allowed to artificially post a higher average SAT score in their admissions statistics.  In fact, colleges claim that their applicant pool increases by as much as thirty percent in the years following the decision to go SAT optional[7].  The College Board will continue to advocate their test to maintain their large client base, and have shown that they will make whatever adjustments necessary to do so while still keeping the main purpose of the test intact.

The anti-SAT movement is not inevitable for the future of college admissions, as there are still many more schools that have not made the switch.  However, the growth in schools who have decided to join the anti-SAT movement, especially within the last ten years and since the SAT was restructured, show that this number could continue to increase and will continue to increase if the results from this action lead to more applicants, more qualified applicants, and a more diverse student body.  While the original intent of the movement was to open doors in the academic world that were being shut solely due to standardized test scores, administrators have begun to realize the advantages that going SAT optional will do to their universities.  When schools begin to see the administrative advantages of the anti-SAT movement , more could continue to follow in that path to the point where the SAT does not have enough clients to maintain itself.  This could lead to more changes in the test, but unless the SAT can continue to adjust there could be a point where colleges not longer consider the test an integral part of the admissions process.

[1] Epstein, Jonathan P. “Behand the SAT-Optional Movement.”Http:// Web. 3 May 2012.

[2] Fairtest. “SAT/ACT Optional 4-Year Universities.” The National Center for Fair & Open Testing. 2010. Web. 03 May 2012.

[3] Epstein, Jonathan P. “Behand the SAT-Optional Movement.”Http:// Web. 3 May 2012.

[4] Epstein, Jonathan P. “Behand the SAT-Optional Movement.”Http:// Web. 3 May 2012.

[5] Jaschik, Scott. “Another First for SAT-Optional Movement | Inside Higher Ed.” Inside Higher Ed. 27 May 2008. Web. 03 May 2012.

[6] Hess, William C. “Optional SAT’s at Bates: 17 Years and Not Counting.” The Chronicle Review. 26 Oct. 2001. Web. 03 May 2012. <>.

[7] Epstein, Jonathan P. “Behand the SAT-Optional Movement.”Http:// Web. 3 May 2012.


Epstein, Jonathan P. “Behand the SAT-Optional Movement.”Http:// Web. 3 May 2012.

Fairtest. “SAT/ACT Optional 4-Year Universities.” The National Center for Fair & Open Testing. 2010. Web. 03 May 2012.

Hess, William C. “Optional SAT’s at Bates: 17 Years and Not Counting.” The Chronicle Review. 26 Oct. 2001. Web. 03 May 2012. <>.

Jaschik, Scott. “Another First for SAT-Optional Movement | Inside Higher Ed.” Inside Higher Ed. 27 May 2008. Web. 03 May 2012.

Tracing the Relationship between Gifted Education and the Needs of a Country

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Richelle Benjamin
Professor Jack Dougherty
EDUC 300
3 May 2012

Tracing the Relationship between Gifted Education and the Needs of a Country


The gifted child in American education is the child who exhibits a high level of intelligence and creativity. Gifted education in the United States exists to foster the abilities of these exceptional students in order to cultivate the skills they posses. These gifted programs cater to the needs of gifted students, providing a challenging curriculum instead of holding the child back with a curriculum catering to average or below-average students. This recognition of the need to distinguish the education of gifted students from other students has existed since the turn of the twentieth century. However, the gifted education provided in today’s public schools is definitely not the same type of education provided then.  An examination of the history of gifted education will show that the goals and methods of gifted programs have changed throughout the years. No doubt the goals, or the anticipated outcomes of gifted education programs, and the methods, or the ways in which gifted programs are being implemented, have changed since gifted education first started emerging within the United States. What this essay seeks to explore is how gifted education has progressed in the American school system… and why. How have the goals and methods of gifted education within the American public school system changed from the 1920s to the 1970s? What do these goals and methods say about the intended purpose of gifted education?

The answer to how and why the goals and methods of gifted education have shifted throughout its history relies on a broader history of the United States. The argument is that gifted education does not exist solely to benefit those children exhibiting exceptional qualities. Gifted education adapts to meet certain economic and political demands. It is not only about providing the gifted with an accelerated education, but about producing future Americans to rise to these economic and political challenges. The proof is in the academic literature—the books and articles produced for administrators and educators. These sources lay out how to educate a gifted child. They express concerns and share advice for how to go about providing the gifted child with a positive academic experience. Through these methods, the researcher gains a better picture of why gifted education does what it does. The goals and methods expressed in this literature speak to larger economic and political issues. The goals and methods of gifted education do, in fact, change to accommodate the overarching demands of the country, with the intended purpose of gifted education to produce citizens to meet these demands.


One of the first demands on gifted and talented education came as a result of the two major World Wars. World War I and World War II brought the United States into the forefront of international turmoil and affairs. In addition, the “involvement of the United States as a force and defender of persons… forced our leaders to seek other leaders” (Imbeau). Seeing how important good leaders were during these two wars, current leaders knew that their children had to be well educated in order to secure the safety and global dominance of the United States. Politicians and educators, therefore, looked to gifted education to prepare the minds of students who had already shown the incredible capability of becoming these leaders. The goals of gifted education during this time were to develop intelligent and globally aware young citizens who would later grow up to use their skills for the betterment of human kind, both within the United States and in the international world, especially when conflicts arose.

Another major historical event changing the goals of gifted education, even more so than the two World Wars, occurred in the year 1957 when Russia launched Sputnik into outer space. This event “caused an uproar because political leaders of the U.S. realized that this country had been upstaged by a potential global adversary” and that “educators who had been berating an educational system that drastically failed to meet the instructional needs… of our brightest youth… were correct after all” (Haenesly). Russia had beaten the United States in a contest of intelligence, and politicians saw that the best way to combat this was to promote the education of America’s gifted. Therefore, the goals of gifted education during the late 50s and early 60s began to focus on producing students who were globally competitive. The country needed youth with the ability to win the intellectual battle against its adversaries. Especially, “the fields of math and science were seen as the means of making sure we had the talent to lead the world in our exploration of space” (Imbeau). As a result, a greater emphasis on the subjects that would produce future space engineers had begun. Gifted education revolved around the need to send America outside the atmosphere.

Evidence of Sputnik and the Cold War’s impact on the goals and methods of gifted education may be uncovered in a comparison of literature produced before and after the event. In the year prior, 1956, D.A. Worcester published a book entitled The Education of Children of Above-Average Mentality. As stated in the introduction, and according to the author, “Science, industry, business and government are desperately looking for individuals of high intelligence and sound training to occupy positions of leadership” (Worcester 3)—the same positions of leadership required during the time of the World Wars. Worcester’s book illustrates the goal of gifted education as creating good future leaders. The proposed methods, however, are still lacking. Worcester’s is a small tome, only 65 pages. The suggestions on how to accommodate for gifted children are few a vague. The author himself admits that “we have no good studies which reliably compare the merits of various methods of caring for the needs of the gifted” (49). However, some methods are still suggested. These include allowing gifted children to accelerate, either by enrolling in programs which allow them to make rapid progress or by skipping a grade, and become enriched through experiences “for which the average of below-average child lacks either the time, the interest or the ability to understand” (39). The source proves that, prior to the launch of Sputnik, the ideas about how to educate gifted students were still very much underdeveloped.

Guides for teachers published after Sputnik, however, show to be drastically different from earlier versions. A book by Joseph French—published in 1959, just two short years after Russia launched its satellite—gives a different goal for gifted education and provides significantly more suggestions on how this education can be carried out. In its introduction, Educating the Gifted makes several claims that indicate the direct influence Sputnik and the Cold War has had on the author’s work. First, French says, “The United States wastes much of its talent, primarily because many of its brightest youth do not secure the education that would enable them to work at levels for which they are potentially qualified” (French 2). The specific use of the words “United States” contrasts with Worcester’s book, who does not mention his county so explicitly. The use of the name indicates a certain amount of pride as well as duty to the country—sentiments which have no doubt grown out of a need to compete with another major world power. As he continues, French writes, “The United States Central Intelligence Agency has estimated that the Soviet Union is producing four trained technicians to our three” (3). If the first quote does not convey an awareness of America’s competition with Russia, the second definitely does. In this way, French declares that the goal of gifted education is to prepare America to be more globally competitive.

The methods French chooses to discuss are revealed through several selected readings. These methods, unlike those of Worcester, are explained at much greater detail. One, in an article by Walter B. Barbe and Dorothy Norris, describes a “major work program” in which “gifted children, grouped together in classes, are not pushed though subject matter at a more rapid rate, but are allowed to delve more deeply into material and find out more about the subject matter taught at the same grade level” (221). This method encourages enrichment—providing children with a richer experience than the average student has access to. The aims of this method is to develop “initiative and creative power”, “critical thinking”, and “leadership” (221), just to name a few. The program seeks to create independent and invested learners. This is what educators also hope will foster a sense of global competition. By allowing students to discover their own interest in a task, they can master it further. In the fields where math and science are concerned, this offers a direct threat to students in Russia.

Another program highlighted in an article by A. Harry Passow discusses the development of a science program for gifted students. This is a direct product of Sputnik and the Cold War. Passow stresses the importance of focusing on “ideas, concepts, and relationships” (253) within science and offering students with something more advanced than the memorization of scientific facts. This program, the article argues, can and should be implemented at the elementary school level. The author argues that “science need not be confined to nature study and watered-down experiments… rapid learners are capable of projects and independent study” (255). Passow stresses that laboratory work for elementary school children, not demonstrations, are what is needed for a successful science program. Clearly, the purpose of this method is to introduce advanced science to students at a young age, to spark their interest in the subject, and provide the necessary groundwork for allowing them to further delve into the subject.


Unlike the World Wars and Sputnik, where the purpose was to create leaders to protect and compete on an international scale, the Civil Rights Movement changed gifted education in a different way. Says Imbeau, the Civil Rights Movement “forces us to reconsider all groups in whom talent may be found” (Imbeau). The movement opened education to minorities in America, and as a result, the definition of the gifted student changed to accommodate those who were non-white. The goal of gifted education changed to offer better equality within the school system. It rose to meet growing demands for integration and better opportunity. The new purpose of gifted education was to challenge the old purpose—to redefine what gifted education was and how it could help students achieve.

Ogilvie’s book, Gifted Children in Primary Schools, was published in 1973—nine years after the passing of the Civil Rights Act in 1964. While it does not mention race specifically, Ogilvie’s work does offer alternative definitions of gifted students and gifted teaching, broadening the definitions to offer a wider range of methods for teaching gifted students. These are definitions which did not exist before. The book, unlike previous ones mentioned, pays special attention to two types of giftedness: general and specific. It also lays out instruction strategies for all subjects, even those for art and physical education. The book then takes the analysis a step further by discussing individualized education. Topics like “Styles of learning”, “Parental attitudes and home background”, and “Teacher personality” (Ogilvie 125) are also factored into the consideration of gifted learning. No doubt, this is the most comprehensive source of the three discussed thus far, proof that the Civil Rights Movement inspired a closer look at the child’s inclusion in a positive and opportunistic educational experience.


Gifted Education in the United States experienced a vast number of changes between the 1920s and 1970s. All these changes become apparent in the way writers chose to inform educators on how to properly implement gifted education within their own schools. The way in which methods for gifted education are written about becomes more specific, more comprehensive, and more inclusive as time progresses. This, however, is no coincidence. A look at major historical events and an alignment of these events with the biggest shifts in gifted education show that gifted education does not exist on its own. Instead, as the goals of gifted education shift to accommodate major economic and political events, such as the two World Wars, the Russian launch of Sputnik, and the Civil Rights Movement, the purpose of gifted education become clear. Gifted education does more than foster the exceptional talents of youth. It rises to meet the challenges that international and internal turmoil place on the country. It works to provide future leaders—both in the international and national realm.

Works Cited

French, Joseph L. Educating the Gifted, a Book of Readings. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1964. Print.

Haensly, Patricia A. “My View of the ‘top 10’ Events That Have Influenced the Field of Gifted Education During the Past Century.” Gifted Child Today Magazine 22.6 (1999): 33–37. Print.

Imbeau, Marcia B. “A Century of Gifted Education: a Reflection of Who and What Made a Difference.” Gifted Child Today Magazine 22.6 (1999): 40–43. Print.

Ogilvie, Eric. Gifted Children in Primary Schools. Macmillan Education, 1975. Print.

Worcester, Dean A. The Education of Children of Above-average Mentality. University of Nebraska, 1956. Print.

From Chalkboards to Smart Boards? Has technology changed the way teachers teach?

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Technology is becoming more and more advanced. Items that are faster and sleeker are replacing items that we once used. These are anything, from things that are in our homes to things that are in our schools. Many schools have new technology that teachers use. This might sound great, that most schools have this advanced technology, but when we look deeper do we see any change over time? More specifically, do we see any change over time in the way teachers teach?

In this research paper, I will show what author, Larry Cuban, feels about teaching and the implementation of technology over time. I will look at a couple of his books The Classroom Use of Technology Since 1920 and Oversold and Underused: Computers in the Classroom where he says that how teachers teach has stayed the same over time and how he believes that more time can aid development and make teachers more comfortable with technology. I will then go on to look at a pretty recent addition to the innovative technology family, interactive white boards, also called Smart Boards, and show that teaching has also stayed constant with its presence in classrooms. Some of the evidence used is that teachers are still the most important part of teaching and that some teachers are more comfortable using old ways than new innovative technological ways of teaching.

Larry Cuban was a former teacher and wrote about teaching in articles and books. Cuban has shown interest in school reform as well as teaching and technology. Many of his works show this interest. (About).

In Larry Cuban’s book, The Classroom Use of Technology Since 1920, he begins by telling us what teaching was like in the Progressive Era. Cuban describes teaching as something that challenges students to think. According to Cuban, “The teacher’s role was to be coach and advisor, not drill sergeant.” Cuban also states that teachers and students used to work collaborate on certain projects. (Cuban 210). This was what teaching was like many years ago. Does Cuban see a change in the way teachers teach with the introduction of technology?

Cuban first looks at the technological innovation of film. After film was introduced to schools, it was not used as much as it could have been. In this section of Cuban’s book he does not say much about the effect of film on teaching. Cuban mentioned a limited amount of evidence, one of which was a 1946 survey in which superintendents from urban and rural districts were asked about the use of films in schools. It was found that senior high schools were less likely to use film while elementary schools were more likely to use film (Cuban 214). Then in 1954, urban superintendents took the survey and it was found that, again, secondary schools were less likely to use films (Cuban 216). This suggests that the difference in school levels might contribute to the frequency of film use, back when it was first introduced in schools.

Cuban’s book then goes onto the radio, which was introduced in the 1920s. (Cuban 219). Similar to film, Cuban argues that radios were not used in school as much as they could have been.  A 1941 survey in Ohio found that elementary schools did not use radios much because of issues like price, and secondary schools did not use radio as much because of issues like scheduling. (Cuban 225). Even though schools did not use radio much, Cuban mentions that radios were more available than film because it was easier to get the hardware for radio ( Cuban 222).  Unlike the sparse information Cuban found about film and teaching, he does mention that in 1924 teachers and students would prepare weekly talks with the radio. ( Cuban 220). Cuban also mentions that radio was sometimes used as supplement to teaching. (Cuban 222). From this information we see that technological innovations have differences as well as similarities.

Getting more advanced with technology, we come to the 1950s, when some schools started using TV (Cuban 229). Similar to both film and radio, Cuban states that TV was not used as much by teachers. Cuban himself did a randomized study and found that of the 317 teachers he observed, only 2% used the TV. (Cuban 241). Of the teachers that did use them, Cuban stated that the teachers prepared the class to watch TV. After the class was prepared, the students would watch the TV while the teacher supervised. Then the teacher would welcome a discussion and give an assignment. According to Cuban, this shows that the teacher still has the dominant role with the addition of the TV (Cuban 229). There were also teachers that used the TV but for a different purpose; Cuban stated that some teachers used TV in the afternoon so that they, themselves, could rest (Cuban 247). Cuban concluded, “Television has been and continues to be used as an accessory to rather than the primary vehicle for basic instruction” (Cuban 249). What Cuban concluded about the TV in schools is similar to what was said about the radio being the supplement to teaching. (Cuban 249). Then there were teachers who did not use the TV at all; they were teachers who were comfortable with the rudimentary textbook and chalkboard. (Cuban 238). Again, we see similarities and differences between the technology used in the classroom.

To answer the question, Does Cuban see a change in the way teaches teach with the introduction of technology? we can see that Cuban answers, no. To conclude what he has to say about film, radio and TV, Cuban states that teachers’ teaching methods were the same. Cuban also summarized that in looking at the 3 different technologies, elementary schools were likely to use them than higher grade levels were. (Cuban 263). Cuban explains this by saying that teachers in higher grades had to follow more stringent lesson plans and so did not have enough time to use different technological innovations than elementary schools. (Cuban 67). These points summarize what Cuban feels about teaching and technology.

Larry Cuban also wrote a book solely on computers and teaching called Over Sold and Under Used: Computers in the Classroom. In this book, Cuban compares the use of computers from preschools to college. Cuban found that in preschools, computers are used a lot. According to Cuban, “The computes are left on all day, and they are in constant use by one or two preschoolers” (Cuban 138). The computers are used so that the students can play games and learn to read (Cuban 147). Cuban found that the teachers felt they’re teaching methods have changed (Cuban 157). However, Cuban said that teaching has not changed that much; he stated that “…  teachers have adapted an innovation to existing ways of teaching.” Cuban believed this because the preschools already had a certain system in the classroom and that when the computer was added, the system still maintained. (Cuban 158). This shows that Cuban’s argument still holds.

Cuban than looked at higher grade levels, like senior high. Similar to his first book that looked at film, radio and TV, in this book about computers Cuban states that teachers could not use computers as much as they wanted because they did not have enough time with the schedules that had to follow. What wasn’t mentioned much in the first book, however, was training. In this book, Cuban states that if teachers were not trained in using computers there were more likely not to use them (Cuban 197). Also, similar to the first book where we learned that teachers used instructional TV so that the teachers could rest, for this second book we see that teachers used computers for things like a word processor. ( Cuban 172). In both cases we see that teachers did not think outside the box.

Cuban also looked at professors in universities. Similar to some of the innovative technology in Cuban’s first book, Cuban found that not a lot of research was done on professors. ( Cuban 1115). Cuban also points out that professors did not use computers a lot because they did not have enough time. Professors not having enough time corresponds to doing their own research. ( Cuban 1121, 122). This again shows the similarities of innovative technology over the years.

Cuban then tries to make sense of what he found. Cuban states that teaching with technology will not change as long as teachers keep doing certain things, like putting information from the textbook into the innovative technology. ( Cuban 1196). Cuban found that computers were added to the classroom so that the schooling would move from teacher centered to student centered. ( Cuban 1134). Even though Cuban believes that has not happened, Cuban did state that in time more teachers will use the technology. According to Cuban, “Technology will not go away, and educators have to come to terms with it as an educational tool.” ( Cuban 1194).  Therefore, Cuban is saying more time will lead to more knowledge about technology.

It is beneficial to look at technology from the past, so that it can be compared to technology from the present. A recent technological innovation is the interactive white board or the Smart Board. Many sources showed revealed the positive attitudes teachers felt towards the boards. In the article “Whiteboard’s Impact on Teaching Seen as Uneven” many of the teachers felt that these white boards were “cool” and attracted students to learning.  In “Using Smart Boards to Enhance Student Learning” we see teachers praising these boards because they can be used in different ways ( Bates, 48). In “Why I Use Interactive Whiteboards” the author states how good these boards are for archiving and accuracy (Picciotto, 251,252). “Teachers Hold the Real Keys to Whiteboard Effectiveness” talks about a teacher who uses the board for multiple-choice questions. The article goes on to say how now the teacher knows the rate at which the students are answering, which allows the teacher to look at the questions that the students were taking the most time on, so the teacher can go back and explain those questions. (O’Connor, S15). These are all positive feelings teachers have towards interactive white boards.

Math teacher Lonnise Gilley uses an interactive whiteboard at Kent County High in Chestertown, Md. —Christopher Powers/Digital Directions

We must not, however, overlook studies that show us another side to whiteboards. In “Teaching with Interactive Whiteboards” the study found that better results when white boards were not used (Marzano, 80). Some reasons for this are that   some teachers speed through the material on these boards without explaining them in detail or at all. Another reason is that some teachers put a plethora of  visuals on the boards without distinguishing them-the important ones from the unimportant ones. (Marzano, 81). In “How is the Interactive Whiteboard Being Used in the Primary School and How Does This Affect Teachers and Teaching?” a study was done that showed teachers who used the boards found that the interactive white boards and the black boards are similar (Cogill,34). There was also a teacher who said after using the board she garnered more skills, but she was still a good teacher before. (Cogill, 35). There is also “ Teacher’s Perspectives on Interactive Whiteboards as a Motivational Factor in Upstate NY County” in which interviews were conducted finding that teachers think that the whiteboards are motivational factors, but that the motivation is coming from the teacher. These studies show that teaching methods have not changed with the implementation of interactive white boards.

Larry Cuban’s argument, that teaching has stayed constant over the years with the introduction of technology, holds for a recent innovative technology, interactive whiteboards. We have seen a good amount of explanation that supports this claim. It would be good to continue research on this topic to see if this claim holds in the coming years or decades.


“About | Larry Cuban on School Reform and Classroom Practice.” Word Press, May 3, 2012.

Bates, Christi, Hopkins, Amy, Kratcoski, Annette. “Using Smart Boards to Enhance Student Learning.” Journal of the Research Center for Educational Technology.

3.2 (2007):  47-49. May 3, 2012.

Briggs, Josh, Daniels, Derrick, Jeror, Tracy, Scherhaufer, Katie. “ Teacher’s Perspectives on Interactive Whiteboards as a Motivational Factor in Upstate NY County.” May 3, 2012.

Cogill, Julie. “How is the Interactive Whiteboard Being Used in the Primary School and How Does this Affect Teachers and Teaching?” 1-48. May 3, 2012.

Cuban, Larry1. Oversold and Underused: Computers in the Classroom. Harvard

College: President and Fellows. 2001. Print.

Cuban, Larry2. Teachers and Machines: The Classroom Use of Technology Since 1920.

New York: Teachers College Press. 1986. Print.

Manzo, Kathleen. “Education Week: Whiteboard’s Impact on Teaching Seen as Uneven.” Education Week, n.d.

May 3, 2012.

Marzano, Robert J. “Teaching With Interactive White Boards.” Educational Leadership. 2009. May 3, 2012.

O’Connor, Mary Catherine. “Teachers Hold the Real Keys to Whiteboard Effectiveness.”

Education Week. June 15, 2011. May 3, 2012.

Picciotto, Henri. “Why I Use Interactive Whiteboards.” Math Education Page. 104.4 (2010). 250-253. May 3, 2012.

The Quest to Racially Integrate: African Americans and Higher Education

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The relationship between people of color and institutions of higher learning has undergone several stages since the 1950’s. White colleges and universities upheld standards and morals that created reputations of very prestigious places of higher learning.  Colleges began their admissions process by simply accepting students who could financially afford to attend their institutions, sometimes regardless of their racial make-up. Although some schools had no policy against the admission of students of color, it was very rare they would attend college or that which was composed of mainly Caucasian students. Essentially banned from all-white institutions, African Americans had to resort to other methods and techniques of ensuring they would obtain an education. Historically Black Colleges and Universities became a venue for African Americans to better themselves and push for the same opportunities their White counterparts had. With the results of the Civil Rights Movement and landmark case Brown v. Board of Education, admissions policies began to change, opening up more opportunities for African Americans to attend all-white institutions.

Examining the relationship between African Americans and institutions of higher learning leads to the question: How have relations between African Americans and institutions of higher learning in America changed from the 1950’s to 2000? Was the change beneficial to African Americans? Although African Americans desired a school system that would provide an equal opportunity to equal education for all children regardless of their race, racial integration in institutions of higher learning did not prove beneficial to African Americans. This paper will focus on the transition African Americans underwent from attending mainly Historically Black Colleges and Universities to predominantly white institutions through either their own means or through access programs like QuestBridge and the Posse Foundation. In addition, it will also prove how such a shift is not beneficial to African American students.

Historically Black Colleges and Universities and the 1950’s

Because very few were able to attend all-white institutions in the 1950’s, African Americans went to Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Historically Black Colleges and Universities (“HBCU’s”) were originally created in 1837 as the Institute for Colored Youth with hopes of training African Americans to become teachers (Coleman, par. 3). Since then, the institutions have evolved into a chain of schools that are geared towards providing quality education for African American students who might not otherwise attend college due to socio-economic disadvantages, academic disadvantages, and effects of segregation policy in the United States. In the 1950’s this meant students attended HBCU’s in hopes of achieving their version of the American Dream by defeating well enforced stereotypes. Well known figures that attended and graduated from HBCU’s include Civil Rights lawyer Thurgood Marshall, Martin Luther King Jr. and Alice Walker. Virtually no African Americans have been able to attend all white institutions in the 1950’s and the few that did were able to do so because they had the financial means – something very few African Americans were able to do.

First Day of Desegregation at Fort Myer Elementary School

With the landmark Supreme Court case Brown v. Board of Education in 1954, the pattern of African American attendance in college institutions began to drastically change. In the case, the Supreme Court ruled that separate public schools for African American children were unconstitutional because the facilities for white and black students were substantially unequal. Although the case only applied to American public schools, colleges and universities around the nation felt the pressure to racially integrate through such cases and other efforts of the Civil Rights Movement. For instance, liberal arts institution Trinity College began its efforts to accept more African American students after student activists began requesting the school provide more opportunities for them to attend. They introduced in 1967 their Freshmen-Sophomore Honors Scholar Program to help pool more qualified students of color from disadvantaged backgrounds adjust to the academic pace (Knapp, 340).

The Issue of Scholarship

Although Brown v Board of Education created more opportunities for African Americans to have more of an equal standing with Caucasian students in education, they were at a disadvantaged level that presented obstacles for students who wished to attend college with their white counterparts. African Americans faced many restrictions through employment and housing discrimination practices that limited the level of income one could acquire as well as which neighborhood he or she could reside in. A lot of this discrimination arose even more due to the fact that African Americans began migrating to the north and other parts of the nation from the south after World War II.  Their shift in location was also accompanied with a shift of upward mobility. African Americans began their attempt to break out of their current place in society where they work as maids or factory workers.

Then and even in the early 2000’s, African Americans who want to attend an institution of higher learning find it difficult to do so because of financial disabilities. It has been decades since the end of Jim Crow Segregation in both the economical and educational aspects of American society and yet African Americans suffer because of its affects. Hard work and determination were now not enough to allow students of color to attend high ranked institutions that would give them the tools to achieve their American Dream. Realizing this, predominantly white colleges and institutions began partnering with access programs to ensure that African Americans and other students of color would be able to attend their and other institutions. The prominent access program s that allowed students of color to go to top predominantly white colleges in the country began showing up starting the 1980’s. Such programs include that like The Posse Foundation , A Better Chance and QuestBridge.

Is Racial Integration in Higher Education Beneficial?

Although African Americans succeeded in gaining a place in predominantly white institutions, racial integrating in higher learning does not serve as a psychological benefit. In his piece The Color of Success, Walter R. Allen compared African American students in predominantly white institutions with those in HBCU’s and found that psychological differences. Like their white counterparts, African American students have similar or higher aspirations, but unfortunately they are unable to achieve them as much as their white classmates do; generally African American students perform lower than white students (Allen, 29). In addition to performing lower than their white counterparts, African American students in predominantly white institutions have to deal with explicit and implicit displays of racism and bigotry. For instance, African American students at Trinity College held a “Zero Tolerance” rally in response to the increased racial attacks on minorities on the campus (Trinity College). Those students, and many others on campuses around the nation, have to deal with being students at prestigious colleges, maintaining and/or raising their grade point averages, developing their own self brands and combating racism. On the other hand, African American students who attend HBCU’s tend to have more “positive self-images, strong racial pride, and high aspirations” (Allen, 29). They are also in an environment in which they can receive an excellent education, perform well academically, and develop their own self brands without the hassle of combating daily racism on the same scale as their African American counterparts in predominantly white colleges and universities.


Allen, Walter R. “The Color of Success: African-American College Student Outcomes at Predominantly White and Historically Black Public Colleges and Universities.”Symposium: Minority Participation in Higher Education (1992). Harvard Educational Review. President and Fellows of Harvard College. Web. 1 May 2012. <>.

Coleman, David C. “HBCU History – The History of Historically Black Colleges.” HBCU CONNECT., 2011. Web. 03 May 2012 <>.

Knapp, Peter J., and Anne H. Knapp. Trinity College in the Twentieth Century: A History. Hartford, CT: Trinity College, 2000. Print.

Trinity College. “Students, Faculty Rally Around the Cause of Justice, Equality and Tolerance.” Trinity College, 28 Apr. 2011. Web. 03 May 2012. <,-Faculty-Rally-Around-the-Cause-of-Justice,-Equality-and-Tolerance.aspx>.

Kindergarten: The Changes from Play to Work

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Kindergarten: The Changes from Play to Work

From building houses out of blocks to being expected to know how to read, kindergarten has transformed in the last century. Kindergarten today is a “world away from the play-centered programs many adults remember” and a more academically rigorous place (Hardy 2009, 8). Friedrich Froebel, a German pedagogue, created kindergarten in 1837 and the concept arrived in the United States in the 1850s (Dombkowski 2001). Since kindergarten’s founding here in the U.S., it has developed into something Froebel did not intend. How do the purposes, learning goals and curriculum of kindergarten classrooms differ from the early 1900s to today, and why have they changed?

I argue that kindergarten has changed from encouraging play in the classrooms, to instead, encouraging work. When the kindergarten model was adopted in the United States, kindergarten’s purpose was to prepare children for their academic future and to promote their natural development. Today, the kindergarten model has shifted and promotes academic learning, as a result of our economy and the emphasis of education. Because of the state of our economy, education is seen as the key to success. Preschools are becoming a popular solution for childcare for families, and a helpful way to force academics into kindergarten. In addition to this, the federal government and parents are pressuring schools to start children’s academic future sooner. By pushing work into kindergarten, schools are gaining an extra year in instruction to pass the state tests, while the parents are getting their children ahead for their educational career.

Before kindergarten transformed to being academic-focused, kindergarten’s curriculum was based on the teacher’s discretion. The classrooms were play-focused because children learn the most through playing with their peers; in Froebel’s opinion, what children learn when they are playing is vital for their natural development and success later in school (Jeynes 2006). One important thing children learn through playing is self-discipline, such as learning to not hit one another if something doesn’t go their way (Curwood 2007). In addition to self-discipline, kindergarteners learn how to socialize when they play. Through their interactions, kindergarteners learn how to make friends, solve conflicts, empathize and rely on others for help (Jeynes 2006). Children also expand their knowledge and vocabulary by using their own language, asking questions, and using words that they’ve heard other people use (Hardy 2009). In games such as hide and go seek, children learn about following rules and respecting each other, and in games such as house, children learn how to take on different roles (Curwood 2007). In addition, kindergarteners learn how to “make sense of the world around them- and lay the critical groundwork for understanding words and numbers (Curwood 2007, 30). In play, children as well learn self-reliance, problem solving and spatial thinking (Curwood 2007, 30). One of the most important places play takes place is during recess. Through this break in their day, they can let their mind be free and be creative in the games they play. Running around for children is important for them to stay healthy and those “children who are physically active are more likely to do well academically” (Jeynes 2006, 1940).  Play, to scholars and to Froebel, is necessary for children at this age so they can develop naturally and be able to succeed in school.

Although what kindergarteners learn through play is most important, what they learn in the classroom is also crucial. While children are taught how to write, color within the lines, paint, and cut with scissors, they additionally learn how to interact with people older than them (Hatch 1988). In their interactions with their teachers, children learn the “importance of positive social reinforcement, emotional support, modeling, identification and expectations” (Jeynes 2006, 1943). They also learn how to be patient, respect authority, follow directions and obey classroom rules (Jeynes 2006). Through classroom instruction and interactions with their teachers, children are learning lessons that will help them later on in their schooling.

The reason why Froebel emphasized play in kindergarten was because children would then develop naturally and build self-confidence for their academic futures. Kindergarten, to him, is viewed as a year to prepare children, especially since children at this age are quite immature to deal with the stress of academics (Jeynes 2006, 1940). Since many children come knowing different things, if kindergarten is work-focused, children who are not ready for academics could be “damaged all through their education” (Hatch 1988, 146). According to Froebel, the reason for this is because children this age need to develop self-confidence before they really start learning. In a work-focused kindergarten, children will not be gaining self-confidence like they would be in a play-focused kindergarten (Hatch 1988).  If academics are pressured too much, and too early, frustration in these children could end up leading to academic failure throughout schooling (Dombkowski 2001). Other than Froebel, scholars and researchers also support a play-like kindergarten; in their opinions, the standards of academic kindergarten may be “developmentally inappropriate” for children this age (Hardy 2009, 8).  For children to have academic success, “they must be physiologically, psychologically and intellectually ‘ready’”, which many of these children are not (Dombkowski 2001, 533). Additionally, experts are skeptical of an academic kindergarten because, in their eyes, the earlier academics are pressured, the earlier these children lose their childhoods (Dombkowski 2001, 542).  Specialists believe children at this age “should explore, play, experience the joys of learning, and understand the basics of cognitive skills” (Jeynes 2006, 1945). While the purpose of the traditional model of kindergarten was to encourage children’s “natural desire to learn and explore” it nevertheless has become academically focused (Jeynes 2006, 1946).

From having a simple curriculum, kindergarten has changed to a complex curriculum with standards that need to be met. While only 15 percent of kindergarteners were reading a decade ago, today “90 percent of kindergarteners passed an end-of-year reading test” in Maryland’s Montgomery County (Curwood 2007, 30). The measures have dramatically changed; kindergarteners must be able to do things such as count to 100, predict, estimate, “match all consonant and short-vowel sounds to appropriate letters” and “use concrete objects to determine the answers to addition and subtraction problems” (Russell 2011, 253-6).  In places like California, kindergarteners are expected to master 195 skills before first grade, and other states are following the same trends (Russell 2011, 253). Kindergarten is seen as the new first grade because many of the standards have moved from first grade into kindergarten (Curwood 2007). But how is this beneficial for children this age?

In some people’s opinions, having kindergarten be work-focused helps them get ahead later on. Kindergarteners will be able to read, know how to take tests, and know crucial math and literacy skills for the testing that counts in fourth grade. Whereas some argue that kindergartners aren’t ready for these pressures of academics, others argue that they are; studies have been done that say early learning is beneficial and that starting at this age is the right time to learn how to read (Curwood 2007, 30).

While people argue between a play-focused and work-focused kindergarten, it nevertheless has changed as a result to the emphasis of education and the state of the economy in our society. More families have both parents work, which has caused preschools to become more common and a chosen choice of childcare. As the number of children in preschool, and the number of preschools increase, children are being exposed to skills that they would have typically learned in the traditional model of kindergarten, such as learning how to use scissors or write (Hatch 1988, 147). Preschoolers are even learning how to write their alphabet and how to read, therefore, making it unnecessary for kindergarten to remain play-focused and forced to be academically focused (Hardy 2009, 8). By putting their children in preschools, parents are helping their children’s academic future; it has been reported that “children who attend quality preschools score higher on kindergarten readiness screening tests” and “school performance continues to remain higher for those students who attended preschool” (Plevyak, 2002, 25). School is the way to success in our economy; therefore, by starting academics earlier, children are getting ahead. Preschool has created this push for academics to start in kindergarten, which will help them later on when it comes to competition for admission into colleges and getting jobs.

As kindergarten is feeling pressure from preschools to be academic, it is also feeling pressure from standardize testing. With an emphasis of education in our society, testing has become increasingly common. Between 1963 and 1980, SAT scores declined, which pushed the government to create the “back to basics” movement in 1981. This movement emphasized the importance of reading and mathematics so the SAT scores would be raised (Jeynes 2006, 1950).  In 1993, testing began in the elementary schools after Clinton“called for voluntary nationwide standardized reading tests for fourth graders and math tests in eighth grade” (Jeynes 2006, 1951). In 2001, George W. Bush continued Clinton’s work by creating the No Child Left Behind” act, “which warns schools that incessant failure to give adequate instruction will result in the loss of federal funding” (Jeynes 2006, 1951). Therefore, if schools did not meet the state standards, they would lose money.

Because of No Child Left Behind, testing is starting earlier to keep up with the state standards and therefore pushing academics into kindergarten. Although official testing begins in fourth grades, students start to take practice tests in third grade. With starting a year younger, there’s more pressure in the younger grades for the students to be ready. The federal government is stressing “that schools be accountable and guarantee that they offer quality education.” Since schools are scared that they will lose money, they are pushing children to be more knowledgeable at younger ages (Jeynes 2006, 1939). According to Jen Scott Curwood, “by beginning the first grade reading curriculum in kindergarten, schools have effectively gained an extra year of instruction (Curwood 2007, 30). Because there’s such an emphasis on schools preforming well on tests, there is more competition between schools to see who is better, and between students to see who is better (Jeynes 2006, 1946).

By the federal government pressuring schools to be accountable, they are emphasizing the importance of education in our society. The main reason why the federal government is pushing for schools to be held responsible is because education is the key to success. In our economy, to be successful you must have an education, and the more education you have, the better you will do. Thus, by starting academic learning in kindergarten, children are becoming more knowledgeable earlier and thus getting ahead. However, schools are not only feeling pressure from the federal government to start school earlier; they are feeling pressure from the parents too.

With the stance of our economy, parents want to do anything and everything for their children to be smarter and better than everyone else. There is competition to be the best because being successful in school will help with admissions into colleges and jobs after college. Parents worry about their children’s future, especially since it is so difficult today to find jobs. Because education is seen as the way to a promising future, mother’s of kindergartners are “”demanding that their five-year-olds be taught to read”” (Russell 2011, 250). Other parents are delaying kindergarteners by keeping them in preschool a year longer; these parents do not feel that their children are ready for academics and by holding them back, they hope it will increase “future scholastic competitiveness” (Russell 2011, 250). In addition to this, upper class parents believe that by starting their children at younger ages, their children will have more of an advantage ““in a race to Harvard,” a reference to starting early in preparation for elite university admissions” (Russell 2011, 250). While parents find it important for their children to be children, they much rather “see results from educational expenditures” and therefore “a rise in test scores” (Dombkowski 2001, 545). Parents will do whatever it takes for their children to be ahead, especially so they’ll have an easier time in their futures.

Kindergarten in the last century has transformed and this is because of our economy and the emphasis of education. Kindergarten was developed to help children get ready for their futures in school, but has progressed into being the start of their academic future. There are expectations and standards to meet so kindergarteners can go onto the first grade. Because many families have two parents working today, preschool has become more common and the chosen childcare option. By putting children in preschool, parents are emphasizing the importance of education, and forcing kindergarten to shift to a work-like curriculum since much of preschool is play-like. In addition to this, standardize testing and pressures from parents have pushed kindergarten to become work-like. In conclusion, because of the pressures from the economy and the emphasis of education in our society, kindergarten has transformed from encouraging children’s natural development, to encouraging academic learning.


Curwood, Jen Scott. “What Happened to Kindergarten?” Instructor 117, no. 1 (2007):


Dombkowski, Kristen. “Will the Real Kindergarten Please Stand up?: Defining and

Redefining the Twentieth-century US Kindergarten.” History of Education 30,

no. 6 (November 2001): 527–545.

Hardy, Lawrence. “Q & A with Edward Miller, on the Importance of Play”, November


Hatch, J. Amos, and Freeman, Evelyn B.“Who’s Pushing Whom? Stress and

Kindergarten.” Phi Delta Kappan 70 (October 1988): 145–147.

Jeynes, William H. “Standardized Tests and Froebel’s Original Kindergarten Model.”

Teachers College Record 108, no. 10 (October 2, 2006): 1937–1959.

Plevyak, Linda H., and Kathy Morris. “Why Is Kindergarten an Endangered Species?”

Education Digest 67, no. 7 (March 2002): 23–26.

Russell, Jennifer Lin. “From Child’s Garden to Academic Press: The Role of Shifting

Institutional Logics in Redefining Kindergarten Education.” American Educational Research Journal 48, no. 2 (April 2011): 236–267.

Global, Historical Influences from 1940 through the 1980s on the Addition of Departments and Programs at Trinity College

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If someone were to compare the curriculum of Trinity College from 1900 to its curriculum now in 2012, he or she would see few similarities.  In the 1900 curriculum he or she may see a department of Hygiene but such a department would not be found in the 2012 curriculum, and in 2012 he or she may see Women, Gender, and Sexuality but the curriculum from 1900 surely would not have mentioned such a program.  Over time, higher education curricula change to adapt to the growing and changing world surrounding it, and oftentimes curricula reflect social and historical influences and changes.  But each institution is affected differently by different historical happenings.  Throughout the history of Trinity College, what global, historical influences have influenced the addition of departments at programs at Trinity?

From 1940 through the 1980s there were a number of major global, historical happenings which influenced the addition or subtraction of departments and programs at Trinity College.  The major historical happenings which had the greatest effects on Trinity departments and programs were World War II and US relations with the Soviet Union, but the Vietnam and Korean Wars also had influence.  These historical happenings had such a profound influence on the US and its international relations that Trinity College made ample change to adapt.

World War II (1939-1945) had both immediate and delayed impacts on Trinity’s departments and programs.  The first departmental impact the war had on Trinity was experienced while the war was still in progress. In the 1942-43 academic year at Trinity, Trinity introduced the International Relations department[i].  This department, which examined “World Affairs”, demonstrates how a historical happening such as a war can immediately influence higher education curriculum.  A few years later, in 1948, Trinity split up the previous “History and Political Science” department into the two separate departments of History and Political Science.[ii] In Peter Knapp’s book Trinity College in the Twentieth Century, Knapp explains, “A desire to effect the separation [of history and political science] had been evident for several years prior to World War II, but in the late 1940s, it became clear that gradual changes in the subject matter of the two disciplines and a new emphasis on the importance of the study of political science in relation to the world scene made such a division necessary and timely.”[iii] Trinity’s students, faculty, and administration noted the impact war had on America and they changed Trinity’s curriculum to keep up with the changing United States.  World War II not only affected the implementation of departments and programs at Trinity, but their alteration as well.

While the war was still in progression, Trinity added a program simultaneously with the International Relations department known as the Navy V-12 College Training Program.  During the war the U.S. Navy, having supported a large shipbuilding program, had a shortage of naval officers.  In order to supplement that need, The Navy created the V-12 program[iv] which was implemented in 131 colleges and universities nationwide.[v] The program prepared its student-participants to become officers for the Navy as well as the Marine Corps, and on July 1st, 1943 the Navy V-12 program was implemented at Trinity.[vi] The program called for a basic curriculum which was determined by the Navy and which had to be completed within four semesters.[vii] The program also called for courses which were not so “basic” such as celestial navigation and a number of other mathematics courses.[viii]

After the war’s end in 1945, the Navy V-12 program ended at Trinity,[ix] but the presence of the military certainly was gone.  In 1944, the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act was passed.  This act, better known as the GI Bill, gave money to World War II veterans for a variety of uses, one of which was tuition to college.[x] In the end, 3.5 million students utilized this provision of the bill, sending 3.5 million veterans to colleges and universities across the nation,[xi] and allowing for an influx of students at Trinity in the subsequent years of the bill’s passage[xii], enough for Trinity to implement an office of veteran affairs.[xiii] The influx of veterans on Trinity’s campus incited change in Trinity’s curriculum.  In the 1946-47 academic year, Trinity added a program called “Preparation for American Foreign Service”[xiv] and soon after added “Preparation for Government Service”.[xv] Trinity also added a department titled “Military Science” in 1949, but this department only lasted for one year.[xvi]

The combination of the termination of the Navy V-12 program and the influx of war veterans was a problem on Trinity’s campus.  “Although the College’s experience with the military had ended with the disbandment of the V-12 unit in 1945, the hundreds of veterans who attended Trinity had done much to keep the spirit of service alive.”[xvii] Fortunately for the patriots on Trinity’s campus, shortly after the end of World War II, then chief of staff of the War Department Dwight D. Eisenhower signed General Order No. 124.  This order established Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps (AFROTC) units across the country.[xviii] In 1948 Trinity College established its own AFROTC unit[xix] which constituted the establishment of the new department Air Science and Tactics in 1950.[xx]

Separate from direct military influences on Trinity’s curriculum, there were less-obvious influences of World War II on Trinity’s departments and programs.  World War II saw dramatic innovations in the worlds of science and engineering, earning the World War II era the title of “the Birth of Big Science”.[xxi] After the war’s end, politicians and researchers feared that advancement in these fields would halt.  In order to ensure that the fields of science and engineering continued to grow and advance, the federal government established the National Science Foundation (NSF) in 1950.[xxii] In the 1950s and 1960s the NSF along with the U.S. Office of Education funded curriculum projects in all levels of education.[xxiii] In 1960 alone, the federal government gave $462 million to colleges and universities for research and development purposes.[xxiv] This funding led to an increase of focus on science and engineering programs in higher education throughout the country, so much so that throughout the 1960s Trinity classified its engineering program under the “Special Programs” section of its bulletin instead of grouping it with the rest of Trinity’s majors.[xxv]

The NSF continued to push science advancement in higher education (and is still intact today) which led to the addition of several new science departments at Trinity.  These departments included Astronomy, implemented in the 1964-65 academic year; Physical Sciences, implemented in 1966-67; Biochemistry, implemented in 1972-73; and most-importantly a Computing Coordinate major, implemented in 1975-76.[xxvi] The computing coordinate major became extremely successful and eventually turning into the “Engineering and Computer Science” major in 1985-86[xxvii] and then strictly “Computer Science”.  But what made this department so important was its permeation throughout the rest of the curriculum.  In the 1970s, computer incorporation throughout Trinity’s whole curriculum was so prevalent that by the end of the decade the NSF “hailed Trinity as a model for other colleges and universities.”[xxviii] World War II had a significant impact on Trinity’s science curriculum as well as its national accreditation.

In addition to the influences of World War II on Trinity’s addition of departments and programs, the US’s relations with the Soviet Union influenced these additions as well.  One of the first influences our relations with The USSR has on Trinity’s curriculum occurred during the 1965-66 academic year.  Starting in 1957 with the USSR’s launch of Sputnik, the US and the USSR entered the “Space Race” which was the era from 1957-1969 in which the US and the USSR competed to be the first country to have a man land on the moon.[xxix] Throughout the first part of the Space Race, Trinity’s Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps department was named Air Science and Tactics, but in the 1965-66 academic year, the departments name was changed to Aerospace Studies which incorporated traditional air science with the science of outer space.[xxx] In addition to other factors, which will be discussed later, the end of the Space Race led to the termination of the Aerospace Studies department, which also constituted the end of the AFROTC program at Trinity.  In 1969, the US successfully had landed Neil Armstrong on the moon and one could therefore say the US “won” the Space Race.  One year after this feat occurred and the Space Race was over, in the 1970-1971 academic year, Trinity had its last year of the Aerospace Studies department and therefore its last year of the AFROTC program.[xxxi]

The Space Race had another profound impact on education.  The Soviet launch of Sputnik sent a panic wave through political America.  America had to be better than the USSR and also had to be prepared for whatever the Soviets could do if they controlled outer space.  The launch of Sputnik became a catalyst for the formulation and passage of the National Defense Education Act of 1958.[xxxii] This act aimed at “providing aid to education in the United States at all levels, public and private. NDEA was instituted primarily to stimulate the advancement of education in science, mathematics, and modern foreign languages” as well as other areas.[xxxiii] Although one would think this act would have had a heavy influence on Trinity’s curriculum, that proved not to be the case.  Because science was already being pushed by the Trinity administration due to the NSF, we cannot say for sure whether the NDEA had an influence on the science curriculum at Trinity.  But in the other areas of mathematics and modern languages little advances were made.  No new math department was added and the modern language department already existed at Trinity prior to the passage of the act.  The one difference that was made was the addition of a Russian department in 1959 which strictly taught language courses at the time.[xxxiv] Any other effects of the act were not felt until much later and are doubtful.

The Russian department became part of the modern languages department at Trinity and stayed there for another twenty years.  However in the 1980-81 academic year, Trinity added a Russian and Soviet Studies department.[xxxv] This department not only taught language courses but history and culture courses as well.   During this time, around 1980, the US and the USSR were not at ease with one another.  For a number of years, the US and the USSR entered a state of détente, but during the Cold War in 1979, that détente ended when the USSR invaded Afghanistan during the Carter presidency.[xxxvi] This combined with the knowledge of Soviet nuclear weapons created a Soviet scare throughout America.  This scare led to the addition of the Russian and Soviet Studies department at Trinity.  You need to know your enemy, right?

In addition to US-Soviet relations and World War II, the Vietnam and Korean wars impacted departments and programs at Trinity, but they did so on a much smaller scale.  In fact, the Vietnam and Korean wars did not inspire the addition of any departments or programs at Trinity.  However, they did end one.  When the Vietnam War and Korean War each began, Trinity’s AFROTC program was still in effect.  But after the end of the Korean War, student interest in the program declined.  By the end of the 1960s, the program was the target of student protests on campus.[xxxvii] By the 1970s, during the Vietnam War, interest in the program was scarce because the view of the military during that time was so negative.[xxxviii] In the fall of 1970 it was agreed upon by both Trinity’s trustees and the Air Force personnel that the program would end in July of 1971.[xxxix] Although the Korean and Vietnam Wars were not influential in adding Trinity departments and programs, they still were influential in what departments and programs lived at Trinity.

From 1940 through the 1980s Trinity College embraced the global happenings which surrounded it.  These historical happenings rocked America and rocked college campuses as well.  These happenings were too big to ignore.  The effects World War II had on the addition of departments and programs at Trinity were so profound that they shaped a large portion of the Trinity curriculum today in the sciences and other fields such as politics with the addition of political science and international relations courses.  US relations with the Soviet Union also will have lasting impressions on the Trinity curriculum, and the Vietnam and Korean Wars will also have influenced Trinity’s history.  It is safe to say that every department and program that arrives at Trinity or was erased from Trinity arrived or left there for a specific reason.    By looking at the historical context in which a department is placed, we can gain excellent insight as to the department/program’s roots, especially ‘neath the elms.  Trinity always has been and always will be affected by the world outside of its campus.  Who knows what departments we will see next?

[i] “Trinity College Hartford, Connecticut Bulletin”, 1942-1943

[ii] Bulletin, 1948

[iii] Knapp, Peter J., and Anne H. Knapp. 2000. Trinity College in the twentieth century: a history. Hartford, Conn: Trinity College., 142

[iv] “University History–Navy V-12.” University of Richmond, 2009.

[v] Knapp, 98

[vi] Knapp, 98

[vii] Knapp, 98

[viii] Knapp, 99

[ix] Knapp, 100

[x] Kennedy, David M., Lizabeth Cohen, and Thomas A. Bailey. The American Pageant. 13th ed. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2006., 853

[xi] DeVane, Willian Clyde. Higher Education in Twentieth-Century America. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1965., 124

[xii] Knapp, 121

[xiii] Bulletin, 1948

[xiv] Bulletin, 1946-47

[xv] Bulletin, 1949

[xvi] Bulletin, 1949

[xvii] Knapp, 143

[xviii] “Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps Factsheet.” U.S. Air Force, November 23, 2010.

[xix] Knapp, 143

[xx] Bulletin, 1950

[xxi] Rudolph, John L. “From World War to Woods Hole: The Use of Wartime Research Models for Curriculum Reform.” Teachers College Record 104, no. 2 (March 2002): 212–241.

[xxii] “National Science Foundation History.” National Science Foundation, February 24, 2012.

[xxiii] Rudolph

[xxiv] DeVane, 126

[xxv] Bulletins 1961-1972

[xxvi] Bulletins 1964-1965,19 66-1967, 1972-1973,19 75-1976

[xxvii] Bulletin 1985-86

[xxviii] Knapp, 412

[xxix] “The Space Race.” The History Channel Website, 2012.

[xxx] Bulletin 1965-66

[xxxi] Bulletin 1970-1971

[xxxii] Sufrin, Sidney C. Administering the National Defense Education Act. The Economics and Politics of Public Education Series 8. Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 1963., 2

[xxxiii] “National Defense Education Act —” Infoplease, 2005.

[xxxiv] Bulletin 1959

[xxxv] Bulletin 1980-1981

[xxxvi] Kennedy, 964

[xxxvii] Knapp, 387

[xxxviii] Knapp, 143

[xxxix] Knapp, 387

The Education for All Handicapped Children Act: A Faltering Step Towards Integration

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Before 1975, public schools had few obligations to children with disabilities. The vast majority of children, especially those with severe disabilities, were kept out of the public schools and even those who did attend were largely segregated from their non-disabled peers. However, in 1975 this changed with the passage of The Education for All Handicapped Children Act (P.L. 94-142), which required all schools receiving federal funding to provide handicapped children equal access to education and mandated that they be placed in the least restrictive educational environment possible. This drastic change in federal policy towards disabled children raises the question: what factors led to the passage of the 1975 Education for All Handicapped Children Act and what was its immediate impact on the educational experiences of disabled children in America?

It is important to recognize that the Act did not come out of nowhere. It was the logical result of a wave of activism that started after world war two and picked up steam during the 1960s and 70s. Though the civil right movement is mostly remembered for the rights that it brought racial minorities and women, it also created a movement demanding rights for those with disabilities. The act was brought on not just by public support, but also by legal pressure. Cases such as Pennsylvania Association for Retarded Citizens v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and Mills v. Board of Education of the District of Columbia forced the government’s hand. These Fourteenth Amendment cases affirmed the right of children with disabilities to have access to an education. However, while the Education for all handicapped children act was groundbreaking in terms of what it promised, even President Ford in his statement on the signing of the act acknowledged that; “this bill promises more than the Federal Government can deliver” (Ford). Indeed, the years immediately following the passage of the act were fraught with problems. While some advancements were made, there were problems with funding, conflicting state and federal regulations, and a general confusion over who was in charge of implementing the policies laid out in the act. In the years immediately following the passage of the act, disabled students did gain greater access to more inclusive education; they just did not receive all that the act promised to them.

The situation for children with disabilities before the passage of the act in 1975 was mixed but generally negative. The Federal government placed no requirements on schools to educate those with disabilities. In addition, until the mid 1970’s no state provided protections for all students with disabilities. In most states, school districts were allowed to refuse an education to any student deemed to be “uneducable” (Martin p.26). For example, New York State deemed all children with IQ quotients below 50 uneducable and simply permitted, but did not require, school boards to institute special classes for these children at their own discretion (Harrison). Students were also deemed to be uneducable for a wide variety of reasons not connected to their IQ such as blindness and mobility limitations. Students who were denied a public education were left with relatively few options. Some were lucky enough to be placed in specialized private schools. These institutions, many of which were charities, provided students with varying degrees of educational opportunities in a segregated environment. Many other children remained at home and received no education at all. Other children, especially those with more severe mental disabilities were institutionalized. (Winzer p.375-81). Even those disabled students that were admitted into public schools faced difficult circumstances. Schools that admitted these students generally followed one of two strategies. The first of these methods involved placing students in regular classrooms with no special assistance or accommodations. Unsurprisingly, most students struggled in this situation. A second strategy involved the creation of segregated special education classes that isolated disabled students from their able-bodied peers. These classrooms were widely criticized for a variety of reasons. They were commonly characterized by untrained teachers and substandard facilities. Many worried that these classrooms served only to isolate and stigmatize students, not to offer them the remedial support that they needed. Multiple studies found theses programs to be ineffective (Winzer p.379). The magnitude of problems facing America’s disabled students was fully realized in 1972 when a Congressional investigation revealed that 1.75 million children with disabilities were receiving no education, 200,000 were institutionalized, and an additional 2.5 million were receiving a substandard education (Chambers).

In 1975, Congress passed the Education for All Handicapped Children Act with the goal of remedying the serious educational inequalities represented by these numbers. The central principle of the act mandated that all states receiving federal education funding must create a “policy that assures all handicapped children the right to a free appropriate public education” (Bill Summary & Status). In addition, the act stipulated that all disabled students must undergo an individual evaluation leading to an Individualized Education Program (IEP) designed to create a personalized plan to best fit the educational needs of each student (Ibid). In addition, the act required that students be integrated into regular classrooms to the greatest degree possible and that they be placed in the least restrictive environment while at the same time being granted access to the extra help and services that they would need. Parents were also granted an avenue to dispute decisions made about their children’s educational placement. (Ibid). A quick comparison of what the act promised and the situation that existed at the time of its passage shows that what it proposed was extremely ambitious. By 1977, states were required to completely change the way that they approached handicapped children. If implemented as promised, the lives of these children would be transformed from isolation and neglect to inclusion and education.

This ambitious act did not come out of nowhere. In fact, it was the result of years of activism and legal action focused on improving the lives of disabled children. The movement towards the inclusion of disabled children and disabled adults is general picked up momentum after world war two. The war effort forced more disabled people into the workforce. This engagement with society at large increased the visibility of disabled people and changed public perceptions about their place. As a result, many prominent people began to push for better education for disabled children (Winzer p.375). However, it was the civil rights movement of the 1960s and 70s that provided the final push that led to public education for the disabled. While it is largely remembered as a movement that brought rights to African Americans and women, the civil rights movement advanced the rights of almost all oppressed minority groups. Margret Winzer writes that:

“The fervent egalitarianism and humanism of the 1960s created a wholly new climate for exceptionality. The deprived and oppressed, and those who saw themselves that way, became more militant, and the civil rights movement brought decisive action to improve the lot of blacks, of Chicanos, of women, and of the disabled” (Ibid p.376)

Though disabled people had been oppressed and denied an education for centuries, it was the 1960s that finally created a serious movement to change this practice. This movement was led by a variety of groups most notably the American Association on Mental Deficiency (AAMD) The association for Retarded Citizens (ARC) and the Association for Children with Learning Disabilities. These groups, often led by the parents of children with disabilities, led a strong push for equal education (Ibid p.376-78). The movement was also helped tremendously by President John F. Kennedy whose interest in confronting the problems faced by disabled children was in large part driven by the fact that he had a mentally disabled sister (Ibid p.376). In 1963, Kennedy established the Division of Handicapped Children and Youth and revitalized the Bureau of Education for the Handicapped. He sent missions to study international programs for disabled children and pushed for greater rights for the disabled, especially those with mental disabilities. Grassroots movements were instrumental in creating awareness of the inequalities facing the disabled but the movement also benefited greatly by having someone of Kennedy’s stature behind it.

Though the civil rights movement brought changes in public perceptions, the fight for equal educational rights saw its greatest victories in Federal court rather than the court of public opinion. In 1954, in Brown v. Board of Education, the Court had asserted the principle that all children deserve equal quality education. However, 15 years later, this principle had not been applied to the handicapped. However, in the early 1970s, a series of court opinions invalidated the practice of denying handicapped children of an education and, in a sense, forced Congress to Act.  One of the most important cases in this regard was Pennsylvania Association for Retarded Citizens v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania 343 F. Supp 279 (1972). This case challenged a Pennsylvania statute that required that all children attending Pennsylvania Public Schools to perform at a certain level. Those who did not perform at this level were deemed “unable to profit from… public school attendance” () and were not permitted to either start or continue to attend public schools. The plaintiffs in this case challenged the constitutionality of this statute on Fourteenth Amendment Grounds claiming that it denied disabled children of equal protection under the law. The case was settled with a consent agreement that schools may not “terminate or in any way deny access to a free public program of education and training to any mentally retarded child” (Pennsylvania Association for Retarded Citizens v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania p.27). This decision was later reinforced in a Federal jurisdiction in Mills v. Board of Education of the District of Columbia 348 F. Supp. 866 (D.D.C. 1972). Therefore Congress was left with little choice but to pass this type of legislation. Despite all of the advocacy, it was legal judgments that finally led to the passage of such an act.

Even before the Act went into place, many expressed doubts that it could really deliver handicapped children the type of educational experience that it promised. Teachers unions were among the groups to voice the strongest opposition due to a mix of concerns. In a 1977 advertisement column in the New York Times taken out by the United Federation of Teachers, Albert Shanker, the president of the group, voiced displeasure with several aspects of the act. After giving general support for the principle that all students should receive an education, Shanker sought to explain to readers just how disabled some of the students that would soon be integrated were. In doing so, he highlighted some of the extreme examples such as: “Hydrocephalic children who were born with holes in their hearts, who turn blue periodically and have water on the brain and tubes in their heads which drain off the excess water” and “Children who still             need to be taught toilet training, self feeding and so forth” (Shanker). Shanker is certainly motivated to a certain extent by selfish reasons (the presence of disabled students does burden teachers to an extent) but he also anticipates the real challenges lying ahead. He then goes on to question the wisdom behind several key aspects of the act, especially that disabled students should be integrated to the greatest degree possible and that parents should be able to challenge their children’s placements: “No doubt many handicapped children belong in regular classes, but many do not. Under this law, almost all teachers will have handicapped children in their classes, but few have been trained to work with these children. Should the handicapped be taught by teachers who have not had such special training? Should the decision of the parent prevail over that of psychologists, the school principle, or previous teachers?” (Ibid). Shanker’s article, though self interested, rightly predicted that there would be problems implementing the act in such a short time, especially with the current funding and teacher training provided to local school districts.

In 1981, four years after implementation of the act began, the U.S Department of Education conducted a study of the implementation and impact of the act at the state level. The study sought to explain “why certain Federal and Congressional expectations are not being met” (United States p.2). The study found that many states were struggling to implement the mandates of the act. It found that State Education Agencies (SEA’s) were struggling mightily in there attempts to implement the supervisor provision of the law which required them to evaluate all programs for the deaf, blind and mentally retarded. The study found that attempts at implementation had resulted in “the allocation of a relatively high proportion of SEA resources, time, and effort which were only marginally effective in implementing the provision” (United States p.11). This ineffectiveness presented a clear issue. Not only were SEA’s spending a great deal of resources on trying to supervise and evaluate programs for disabled students; they were also doing a poor job. This meant that while many programs were being created, they were largely going unsupervised. This lack of supervision predictably led to uneven enforcement of the act and in many cases disabled children paid the price for this disorganization.

The fact that school systems were failing to meet the needs of disabled students was highlighted in 1980 by a report by the Education Advocates Coalition on Federal Compliance Activities to Implement the Education for All Handicapped Children Act. This report found that many students simply were not receiving the education promised to them by the Act. Most shockingly, according to the report, many children were in the exact same position they had been in before the passage of the act. It found that many handicapped children were still not receiving educational services and that of those that were, a large number had not received individualized evaluation or an individualized education program (IEP). In addition, many students were found to be unnecessarily segregated and those in regular classes were often without the extra services promised to them by the act (Education Advocates Coalition p.4-5).  The situations outlined in the report presented a major disappointment to disabled education advocates. Five years after the passage of the act, the lives of many handicapped children remained basically unchanged. The authors of the report deemed this situation to be:

“a national disgrace — a disgrace to the nation’s millions of handicapped children and their parents who rely on enforcement of PL 94-142 to provide for their children the opportunity to become independent, self-sufficient adults. It is also a violation of the trust of the United States Congress… And it is an affront to the nation’s taxpayers who will ultimately bear the expense of these children’s dependence and lack of skills”(Ibid p.5-6)

Despite these failures, many students did receive some benefits from the act. Though many disabled students did not receive all of the services promised to them, a large number did begin to move into public schooling and integrate into regular classrooms. According to the United States Department of Education, by 1984 fewer than 7 percent of all disabled students in the United States were being educated outside of public schools and two thirds of disabled children in public schools received at least part of their education in normal classrooms (Winzer p.382). This does not mean that all students were receiving individualized education programs or receiving all of the extra services that they needed. In fact, the individual situations of many disabled students may have changed for the worse as the moved away from specialized private learning environments into public school systems not fully prepared to teach them.

Today, though funding is still a major issue (Idea Reauthorization Quick Facts), public education is a given for all disabled students. The work of disability education advocates in the 1970s started a movement that completely changed the prospects for disabled children in America. Before the passage of the Education for All Handicapped Children Act in 1975, the majority of disabled children had no hope of receiving a free and appropriate education. Parents and other advocates of the rights of disabled students who fought against segregation and isolation in court could hardly have imagined the environment that is currently in place. However, that is not to say that the transition was seamless. The immediate impact of the bill was mixed. As many reports cited here indicate, implementing such an ambitious bill proved difficult and student experiences did not necessarily improve in the short term. However, the 1975 bill paved the way for important changes for millions of children. Though the mandates of the act were not immediately met, they provided goals that states could work towards achieving. By passing the Act, America stated its commitment to righting the educational inequalities facing the disabled. After that point, there was no going back to the dark past of isolation and exclusion.

Works Cited

“Bill Summary & Status  94th Congress (1975 – 1976) – S.6 – All Information –

THOMAS (Library of Congress)”, n.d.|TOM:/bss/d094query.html|.

Chambers, Ellen. “Special Education: Rights and Reality.” SPED. July 2010. Web. 30

Apr. 2012. <>.

Education Advocates Coalition. “REPORT BY THE EDUCATION ADVOCATES


Ford, Gerald. “President Gerald R. Ford’s Statement on Signing the

Education for All Handicapped ChildrenAct of 1975.” Gerald Ford Presidential Library, 2 Dec. 1975. Web. 18 Apr. 2012. <>.


Not Be Only for Those of Plus-50 I.Q., Legislators Are Told”. New York, N.Y., November 25, 1958.

“IDEA Reauthorization Quick Facts.” Politics And Legislation. California Teachers

Association, Apr. 2003. Web. 02 May 2012. <>.

Martin, Edwin, Reed Martin, and Donna Terman. “The Legislative and Litigation History

of Special Education.” The Future of Children: Special Education for Students with Disabilities 1st ser. 6 (1996): 25-39. Print.

Pennsylvania Association for Retarded Citizens v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania 343

F. Supp 279 (1972).

Shanker, Albert. “Display Ad 456 — No Title”. New York, N.Y., March 20, 1977, sec.

Leisure – Garden Planning.

United States. Department of Education. P.L. 94-142: A Study of the

Implementation and Impact at the State Level. Volume I. Final Report. By Charles Blaschke. Washington D.C: Education Turnkey Systems, 1981. Print.

Winzer, Margret. The History of Special Education: From Isolation to Integration. 1st ed.

Gallaudet University Press, 1993.

Was Hurricane Katrina good for the education of students in New Orleans?

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Caroline Harris


Hurricane Katrina was the second most intense hurricane to make landfall on United States soil and most costly natural disaster in US history.  Hurricane Katrina formed over the Bahamas on August 23, 2005 and crossed southern Florida and then strengthened rapidly in the Gulf of Mexico.  Hurricane Katrina made its way along the Gulf coast from central Florida to Texas causing some damage ultimately hitting New Orleans, Louisiana fast and furiously on August 29th 2005, wreaking havoc on lives and property.  On August 28th, 2005 the National Weather Service sent out a warning under the heading of ‘Devastating Damage expected” to the city of New Orleans saying, “Most of the area will be uninhabitable for weeks, perhaps longer…” (McCallum and Heming, 2111).  Almost 80% of New Orleans citizens evacuated from their homes in hopes of finding shelter in a safer location.  When Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, immense flooding occurred because massive storm surges triggered the breaches in the levees on 17th Canal Street, to break.  “This was quickly followed by a total of three levee breaches, resulting in 80% of the city being under water…”(McCallum and Heming, 2105) with some parts of the city under twenty feet of water.  Katrina severely destroyed 47 of the 128 New Orleans public schools and 38 more schools had moderate damage.  “…many of the…schools inspected were in various states of disrepair or had numerous life and safety code violations, some of which had preexisting problems that were not going to be covered under the mandates of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).  These preexisting problems included fire code violations, boarded up windows, peeling paint…The Katrina-related problems in the various inspected schools included such things as blown out or broken windows, water damage, roof damage, fallen ceiling tiles, and moisture and mold in ceilings and tiles…” (Karen A. Johnson 433).  With all of this destruction, the people of New Orleans thought that maybe this could be a chance for change within the New Orleans school system.

New Orleans underwater after Katrina (

On August 29th, 2005 when Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, the state government of Louisiana thought that this could be a chance to rehabilitate the education system.  Prior to Katrina, the state of Louisiana invested very little money in the predominately minority-attended public schools in New Orleans.  The state spent less money per student compared to national average spending and the student to teacher ratio was also above the national average.  From 1996-2005 the Orleans Parish School District had nine interim superintendents, which undermined the ability of educators to develop and sustain school improvement strategies.  New Orleans was known as the lowest performing school district in Louisiana and many of the teachers and students had lost hope and sight of a good education.  Many of the school buildings were over 50 years old and in disrepair from a lack of capital spending by the city and state.  They would most likely have had to be substantially repaired or even demolished had Katrina not forced the issue.   In 2003, the Louisiana State Board of Education declared the Orleans Parish School Board to be in “Academic Crisis” and they asked the Recovery School District (RSD) to take control of five of the failing public schools.  The RSD is a school districted created in 2003 by Louisiana legislation and is designed to transform underperforming schools.  After the storm hit in 2005, Louisiana’s governor Kathleen Blanco and the state legislature voted to overhaul a majority of New Orleans’ public schools and placed most of them under the RSD’s control. The Katrina Era of New Orleans brought about the rapid expansion of the RSD, did away with school attendance zones, brought about the rise of charter schools and a large group of teachers and administrators.  The question is: did these changes actually bring about a better education for the struggling students of New Orleans?  The people of New Orleans had hoped that this substantial effort in the wake of Katrina would bring about a drastic change in the education system.  The government hyped up the thought that since the hurricane destroyed so much of the infrastructure, it would be a fresh start for the city and it would be the perfect time to rebuild the education system.  The government was wrong and the rapid expansion of the RSD brought ushered in many unsupplied classrooms and inexperienced teachers.  The removal of school attendance zone caused confusion among parents and there were few transportation options for students to get to their school of “choice.”   It is true that Katrina made the country aware of how many underprivileged citizens lived in the city of New Orleans, and the poor state of its education system.   Unfortunately, this awareness and the best hopes and efforts by the state and the people of New Orleans that followed in the wake of Katrina did not substantial improve the quality of education being delivered to the students of New Orleans.

After Katrina hit New Orleans, government officials felt as though the New Orleans public schools need to be placed under state control, therefore many of the schools were put in the hands of the RSD.  This seemed like a positive step in the eyes of New Orleans citizens. .  The education system in New Orleans was split up into five different groups.  The Orleans Parish School Board (traditional public schools) made up 7% of the school system, OPSB charter schools made up another 20%, the RSD traditional public schools made up 36% of the system, RSD chapter schools made up 34% of the system and the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) made up a small 2% of the educational system.  So the RSD, both traditional and charter schools made up more than half of New Orleans new education system.  The government passed Act 35, “…which requires lawmakers to (a) expand the state’s authority to take over failing schools in OPSD, (b) redefine failing to include many New Orleans public schools that previously had not met the definition of failing, and (c) expand the state-run RSD in New Orleans and allow the RSD to operate alongside the Orleans Parish School Board as a dual state-run and city-run school system,” (Karen A. Johnson, 436).  This act sounds very securing to the citizens of New Orleans.  It made the people of New Orleans feel as though the government was making changes to improve the education of students.  Although the government did try to get the education system back on track, there were many failures to the RSD plan initially.

Although the RSD tried to increase the standards of teaching in their schools, the teachers that they hired were unqualified or unprepared for the conditions in the New Orleans classroom.  When Katrina landed on New Orleans doorstep, the OPSB put many of the teachers and administrators on “disaster leave” and told them that they should look for jobs elsewhere because at first the government did not believe there would be any school facilities remaining or available for an extended period.  The RSD started its hiring process of teachers a little late in the game.  The RSD required teachers to pass a skills assessment test in addition to having an interview with a RSD official.  Many of the teachers that had previously worked in the New Orleans public schools had found jobs at other schools, some of them had retired and others did not want to deal with the skills assessment tests.  This left the RSD with only a few qualified teachers and many unqualified ones.  Many of these teachers did not know what they were getting into when they started working in the New Orleans classrooms.  Even now, in 2011, students reported that 70% of their teachers couldn’t effectively manage the classroom environment (Huynh).  The supplies they were given and the state of the school buildings were enough to cause many of the teachers to quit within the first week of school starting.  When teachers began at the new RSD schools, they realized how hard it was going to be to teach their students due to the students’ years of poor education and the unpreparedness of the school facilities.

In addition to hiring the RSD teachers too late, the RSD also started ordering the supplies for their classrooms very late after Hurricane Katrina.  In the fall of 2006, when the RSD had planned to open new schools, most were substantial short of supplies and in 2011, 70% of students reported not having enough textbooks in their classrooms (Huynh).  To the citizens of New Orleans it looked promising to see that the RSD was quickly opening schools, but once the students were inside the classroom they realized that these schools were not in good condition.  “RSD opened seventeen schools in the fall of 2006-schools that were inadequately staffed (many still have only a minority of certified teachers); that lacked books, food services, and other infrastructural necessities; and that started the year in school buildings that had either not been improved at all or were in the middle of reconstruction,” (Adamo 5).  As mentioned above in the introduction, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) would only cover the repairs for things that were caused by the hurricane, so preexisting problems in the schools were not fixed and New Orleans did not have any extra money for these repairs.  Things like fire code violations, old boarded up windows and peeling paint were not the top priority for the state so many of these classrooms were not in the safest or nicest of conditions.  The RSD also incorporated school choice for the existing families in New Orleans.

Before Katrina, most public schools in New Orleans had attendance zones that determined where students would attend school.  After Katrina, the RSD and OPSB ended the attendance zones, which allowed parents and students to have a choice in where they wanted to attend school.  The abolishment of the attendance zones sounded like a positive step to a better education to the students and parents of New Orleans because they could now pick a higher-quality school if their local school was low performing.  Although this plan sounded promising, it turned out to be an unsuccessful.  The application process for parents was a difficult one so the RSD made a guide for the parents to follow to help them locate the proper school for their child.  The guide was made up of sixty-eight pages of information to help parents learn about what each school had to offer to their children.  The guide also explained how to set up visits to tour the school, observe classes, and meet with principals.  If the student matches up to the standards of the school they can apply, but there were application deadlines.  The system of applying was hard for lower income parents because they did not have a surplus of time to take their children to these schools and most of them did not have readily accessible transportation.  Also in a 2011 study, 75% of students from limited-English proficient families reported that parents had insufficient information on school options and programs (Huynh).  Kristen Buras writes in her article, “While open enrollment may refer to schools that do not rely on traditional neighborhood attendance boundaries for student admission but instead admit students citywide, this does not mean that such schools are necessarily open access with respect to admissions policies,” (Kristen L. Buras, 317).  The idea of open enrollment gave New Orleans parents hope that they would start seeing better results in their child’s education because of better schooling options, but it was a false hope.  If their child did not get into one of the better schools, and many did not, they would be placed in one of the schools directly run by RSD.  Another problem with the choice policy was that the state did not factor in transportation costs, so there were no buses provided and few public transportation options to carry students to their new schools.   And, very few of the families had a car available at the times needed to get to and from school.

In addition to the teachers and the classroom conditions being unprepared and poor, the schools could not handle the number of students returning to New Orleans to go to school.  Since over 200,000 students from Louisiana evacuated after Katrina hit, the New Orleans government officials didn’t predict the influx of students in such a short period of time after Katrina but many families came back shortly after Katrina to try to get their lives back together.  As this realization gripped the RSD, it pushed to open more schools quickly, which only exacerbated the problem of ill-equipped facilities and unprepared or unqualified teachers.  One student, Linda Tran, who graduated from Abramson Science and Technology Charter School in 2011 stated, “I’m worried about going to college and not knowing anything, and then flunking out. I’m already too far behind.  Now, I just hope my sisters and brothers don’t have to go to a bad high school.  I don’t want them to experience what I had to experience,” (Huynh).  The quality of education six years after Katrina still hasn’t reached the same standard of the state average of Louisiana.  In a 2011 study of the state of Louisiana versus New Orleans, 33% of the state’s students were “college ready” while only 7% of the students in New Orleans were college ready.  The parents of New Orleans were yet again let down by their city and state, and their children once more were left wallowing in a grossly substandard school system.

Although Hurricane Katrina brought about a great sense of hope to the families and students of New Orleans, many of these hopeful feelings were crushed when realities set in.  While the RSD made the people of New Orleans feel confident by quickly opening schools and making changes in the way the education system worked, there were many immediate failures that came along with the RSD.  The unfinished and unsupplied classrooms made teachers and students’ teaching and learning experiences unpleasant.  In many cases it was a hazardous for students and teachers to be inside the classroom. While the RSD amended the attendance zones and improved some schools, many underprivileged families could not afford to get their children to far away schools, so they were forced once again to go to the worst schools in New Orleans.


Adamo, Ralph. “Squeezing Public Education: History and Ideology Gang Up in New Orleans.” Dissent Magazine. Web. 20 Apr. 2012. <>.

Buras, Kristen L. “Race, Charter Schools, and Conscious Capitalism.” Harvard Educational Review. 2nd ed. Vol. 81. Harvard Education. 296-20. Web. 22 Apr. 2012.

“Hurricane Katrina and the New Orleans Built Environment.” Hurricane Katrina and the New Orleans Built Environment. Web. 28 May 2012. <>.

Huynh, Dan. “Six Years After Katrina, New Orleans Youth Release Report on Deficiencies at Six Public High Schools.” UNAVSA ». Sept. 2011. Web. 03 May 2012. <>.

Hill, Paul, and Jane Hannaway. “The Future of Public Education in New Orleans.” The Urban Institute, Jan. 2006. Web. 24 July 2012.

Johnson, Karen A. “Hope for an Uncertain Future.” Urban Education. July 2008. Web. 18 Apr. 2012. <>.

Liu, Amy. “Chapter 3.” Resilience and Opportunity: Lessons from the U.S. Gulf Coast after Katrina and Rita. Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution, 2011.

McCallum, Ewen and Heming, Julian. Philosophical Transactions: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences, Vol. 364, No. 1845, Extreme Natural Hazards (Aug. 15, 2006), pp. 2099-2115

“The Equity Report.” Recovery School District. 2012. Web. 1 May 2012. <>.

The Process of Co-Education at Amherst College and Trinity College

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Throughout the history of our time women have been educated. Some women have been educated by governesses, others at primary or catholic schools, some at all women’s colleges, and others at co-educational colleges. However, it was not until the late 1900’s that women had the option to study at co-educational colleges. Trinity College and Amherst College were two New England colleges that decided to allow women the opportunity to attend. The decision by both these colleges to make this huge change intrigues many individuals. Thus, one finds themselves wondering, what factors led to the decision to co-educate at Trinity (in fall 1969) and Amherst (in fall 1975), and how were the first generation of women students treated at these two colleges? The answers to these questions are, Trinity College decided to co-educate due to financial reasons; it needed the support financially that admitting men as well as women could offer. Amherst College’s decision to co-educate came at a later period of time, and came from a desire to keep up competitively with all the other colleges in the area that were taking steps to co-educate. Thus, neither college strove to admit women on the basis of equal opportunity for all, but for personal advancement and competitive reasons. At both colleges the first generation of women to attend met a large amount of resistance and harassment, both in the academic and social sector, as fellow students and faculty grappled with the changes of co-education in a traditionally male dominant school.

Trinity College’s decision to co-educate came from the need to enhance the institutions financial resources. Co-education had been discussed among the faculty, students, and trustees for a few years prior to the decision to co-educate. Faculty member Professor Donald D. Hook who worked in the modern language department expressed the sentiment that supported co-education. Hook stated “If the college were to become co-educational it would be the first private men’s college (of quality) in New England to do this and would thereby create a unique institution for an area extending from north jersey to Boston and west” (Knapp 365). Thus, Hook expresses the sentiment that most proponents of coeducation at the college advocated. Many employees of the college wanted to co-educate because it would give them an advantage over the other New England schools and increase the amount of applicants that they received. That was part of Dr. Robert W. Fuller, Dean of Faculty’s case in support of co-education. Fuller noted that many colleges with which Trinity competed academically were beginning to admit female students.  These colleges were Williams, Colgate, Hamilton, Union, Yale, Princeton, Dartmouth, and Wesleyan, and in order to keep up competitively with them and attain the applicant pool that the college desired it would be wise to co-educate. In the past few years before co-education Trinity’s applicant pool had been declining and did not contain the most competitive students. Thus, Fuller stated that by co-educating the school would have ten times the applicants, comprising of more talented students. Fuller thought it best to act immediately, presenting the opportunity for women to attend Trinity before other colleges of similar standing did so; thus, Trinity could latch onto the type of students that it so desired before anyone else had the chance to. As displayed above the first motives for Trinity College to co-educate came from a desire to advance the status of the college financially and academically. However, the impetus to co-educate also came from the similar actions of colleges in the surrounding area. Trinity College wanted to keep up with the modern social trends. In order to maintain status as an elite college, no one wanted it to fall behind.

The decision to co-educate was also very financially based, and that is summed up in the Trinity Tripod’s statement saying, “Co-education had become a matter of Trinity’s survival”. However as the push for co-education grew stronger the new argument to further the quick enactment of the process, was that Trinity had to be responsible to a society in which more women were attending graduate school and entering the professional world. Also promoting the advancement of a co-educational college, President Lockwood selected a committee specifically dealing with the issue. In January 1969 the committee produced a report stating the reasons why it would benefit Trinity to become co-educational. The committee suggested that it would be better to have women in the classroom in order to have both female and male perspectives on classroom topics. The committee also stated that it would improve the quality and diversity of those applying to Trinity as well as improve campus life. Furthermore, other departments, such as the science department, would more likely become stronger because the college would draw more students who were interested in majoring in a wide variety of subjects. The board believed that the inclusion of women into the college would increase its reputation nationally. Since the college had the space to accommodate female students, the board suggested that the ratio of males to females be 3:2, with the number of male students not falling below 1000. The plan was gradually to expand the college, starting with admitting women in the fall of 1969. The hope was that the undergraduate student body would consist of 1,600 students by 1973. Therefore, on January 11th, 1969 based on positive consensus from the student body and from the committee’s recommendations, the board of Trustees voted to make Trinity co-educational starting in the fall of 1969.

The decision for Amherst to co-educate came from a similar sentiment as Trinity’s. As previously stated Trinity made the move to co-educate for financial reasons, as well as to maintain a competitive edge over other similar schools.  Amherst College was similar in that the administration decided to make the college co-educational to ensure its standing as a successful and competitive liberal arts college. The college began this process by admitting women for the academic year of 1976-1977. The plan was to gradually expand the college from 1,300 students to 1,500 students as the college slowly accepted female transfer students and began the complete process to co-educate. This would not only put Amherst on the same level as other small liberal arts colleges that were making the same transition, but it would also boost the college financially as they would be receiving and accepting more applicants. A New York Times article captured the essence behind the decision to transition into a co-ed college by the statement, “ The overwhelming desire-really the compelling desire was to have Amherst maintain its preeminent spot as an institution of higher education in this country” (New York Times). This statement once again furthers the point that the decision to co-educate was purely for advancement of the college, and not in the interest of offering more educational opportunities to women. In this case, it appears that Amherst did not want to fall behind the rest of the small liberal arts colleges, and wished to maintain its reputation nationally.

The women of Trinity College and Amherst College had to face an extreme amount of adversity upon their integration into the previously all male schools. In a 1990 survey of female alumnae conducted by Noreen Channels, a Professor in the Sociology Department at Trinity College, she found that when deciding where to attend college 93 percent of women said that attending a co-educational institute was important to them. Thus, these women wanted to integrate and participate in the educational opportunities that were previously left to men. However, once they embarked on their endeavor the first women to enter the school were faced with adversity that may not have been initially expected. Yet, these women felt that most of the difficulty that they faced came from the social aspect of the college and not the academic aspect. When addressing the social harassment the women felt that they endured, many women spoke specifically about the fraternity scene on campus. Several women said that they felt like a piece of meat when they attended fraternity parties, while other women remember being harassed and scorned when they rejected male advances.  One alumna stated, “In classrooms and academics I felt equally treated by faculty and the administration. In socializing with other students, I sometimes did not feel equally treated, ie. fraternity/sorority situations” (Channels 23). Another alumna from 1980-1984 said, “I recall being highly disturbed at the sexism of the social scene at Trinity. Fraternity parties were prime areas for the devaluation of women” (Channels 27).  Many women felt like objects in the fraternities and did not feel safe attending such parties where older guys constantly attempted bring them home. Several women also felt that the fraternities fostered exclusivity and were the only social outlet on campus. An alumna from 1980-1984 stated, “Fraternities were the most sacred of all. Questioning the fraternities meant that you were “militant” or weird. Certainly you would be isolated and, of course, you were socially ugly” (Channels 28). Thus, women felt that fraternities perpetuated the social scene, yet they were denied membership to them and were not treated like actual people at them.

As previously stated the social scene was a big proponent of why women felt hardship when they entered the college. However, the further problem was that many women felt that the administration furthered the dominant fraternity mentality. An alumna who attended Trinity from 1980-1984, remembered a horrible incident that occurred during her time at the college. She stated, “I remember a crow “gang bang” as the students referred to it. I guess that is rather indicative of the administration and student tolerance of sexual discrimination. I felt ashamed and threatened by the lack of concern and by the angered outcry by the students when Crow was threatened with being shut down” (Channels 24). Many women in the Channels survey mentioned the Crow incident and were outraged at the administration, because the boy’s family paid enough money to “put it under the table”. Another student from 1980-1984 stated, “The social scene (fraternities etc.) is very destructive of young women. The mentality is encouraged and perpetuated by the administration and the faculty” (Channels 25). This statement aids to the overall consensus by many women at the college that the administration extended the fraternity mentality. Overall, women at the college felt that the most adversity they faced was related to the social scene, specifically surrounding the fraternities, yet it was not as severe in the classroom.

In the academic sector of the college, many female students did feel discriminated against because of their gender. However, that is not to say that all female students felt discriminated against, in fact many women felt that being a female encouraged them to work harder. One female alumna from 1975-1979 stated, “Trinity’s liberal academic policies made it very easy to get to know the professors…My male professors were interested in me as a student, and I never felt discrimination” (Channels 23).  Another student from 1985-1987 stated, “I didn’t feel discriminated against. In a classroom students are judged on merit” (Channels 28). Numerous female alumnae shared the same sentiment as these two women and believed that the faculty attempted to encourage the female students to pursue their interests and talents. Female alumnae also recognized the importance of having female professors. One student from 1985-1987 stated, “I cannot emphasize enough how important it was for me to have women professors. Not only to me, but I also felt that they conveyed abstract concepts to me more clearly than their male colleagues…It was also important to me as a woman student to see how these women faculty members were able to balance having challenging careers and having a family” (Channels 24). Many women at the college viewed the female professors as role models who instilled confidence and aspirations of success in them; and thus they found it ideal to be in classes with these professors.

From the opposite point of view, countless women felt that the male as well as female faculty treated them very poorly. A few female alumnae stated that they felt like they always had to compete with men in classes. Others mentioned that they were asked for the “female perspective” on certain class issues and topics. Some women noted that there were various male professors that felt that refused to acknowledge women in the classroom, or felt that they did not belong there and should return back home. One student who attended from 1980-1984 sums up the bitterness male faculty had towards the female students in her comment, “I remember, when discussing women’s issues with an older male professor, being informed that a great deal of resentment existed among the male faculty (in his discipline) towards co-education/women at Trinity” (Channels 26). The most adversity that many female students felt they faced was from old-fashioned male faculty members who believed in a traditionally male dominate school and were not ready to acknowledge the modern day phenomena of females attending these colleges. The statement of one female alumna who attended the college from 1970-1974 encapsulated the sentiment of the majority of females who attended the college when she said, “ I felt discrimination against women by the faculty in the classroom—absolutely. Must clarify—that as one of only 40 women on campus and virtually only woman in my classes, it was inevitable—we were the first” (Channels 26). The positive comments about the lack of discrimination in the classroom were mostly from the later years after Trinity had been co-ed for a few years. Likewise, the negative comments about male professors and the discrimination in the classroom were from students who attended the college in the very early days of co-education, such as in the 1970’s. Therefore the extent to which students endured hardship in the classroom correlated with the year they had attended the college. In fact, it was found in a survey done by Channels, that only 34 percent of women who attended the college from 1970-1974 felt that Trinity did a good job in preparing them to obtain a job. However, 52 percent of women who attended the college in the late 1980’s felt that the college did prepare them for a job (Channels 2).

The women of Amherst College had to deal with the college’s decision to co-educate in all aspects of the process. Not only did this decision have a dramatic impact on academics at the college, but it also affected residential life, social life, such as fraternities, athletics, and relationships among the students. By reading compiled interviews by Auban Haydel and Kit Lasher, two female Amherst graduates, one can deduct that the transition from an exclusively male school to a co-educational school was challenging for all involved; especially the females. When asked about the transition from a single sex to a co-educational college, many of the first women to attend the college do not have extremely pleasant comments to say about their experience. That is not to say that they did not like the college or enjoy their experience there, many of them very well did. However, although they may have enjoyed their experience the adversity they faced was not enjoyable. A few women who attended Amherst in the early days of co-education mentioned that a few males came up to them and asked them how it felt having ruined Amherst with their presence. These comments as well as others were the kind that Amherst women faced daily. Another huge issue that women experienced was harassment, by professors and male students alike. One graduate, Alissa Revness class of 1981, stated that her professor made a pass at her. Another graduate, Dorthea Dickerman class of 1980, described how an Amherst male student attempted to trick her in order to get her to come into his room with him. These types of social interactions were the types of interactions that many Amherst women faced upon their entrance. However as Alissa Revness points out, social and cultural interactions were not what the administration had focused on upon their decision to co-educate. The administration viewed co-education from a purely academic standpoint, which may have been part of the reason social and cultural integration was more challenging. Shree White class of 1987 agrees with this view stating, “I think that the root of the trouble was the administration’s failure to consider the differences between the sexes”(Haydel and Lasher 9). It was because the administration was so fixed on quotas of female acceptance that they completely forgot to focus on all the aspects of this transition. In essence, the adversity the first few female students felt can be attributed to the administrations lack of attention to aiding a smooth social and cultural transition between the two genders. It can also be attributed to the resentment that many men faced when being forced with the task of accepting a woman as an equal in the classroom.

Two other aspects of Amherst College that were very large parts of the transition to a co-educational college were the social and academic life. Many female students felt that they experienced more derogatory behavior towards women in terms of the social scene rather than in the classroom. The Amherst social scene was based mostly upon drinking. Several females felt that drinking fostered offensive behavior towards themselves and other women. Catherine Cugell, a 1998 Amherst graduate recalls one party she attended in which she heard her fellow male classmates chanting “Beat Women! Beat Women!” Another woman who attended the college stated, “ I count myself lucky to have never been date raped. Many friends of mine were. I began to really question the way the football culture at Amherst condones getting women, especially freshman women, drunk in order to get sex” (Lasher and Haydel 106). Many women felt that the culture at Amherst was too centered on drinking, and that there was not enough sober situations in which males and females could meet.

Although numerous amounts of Amherst women felt objectified at fraternity parties and out in the social scene, graduates also stated that since colleges such as Smith and Mount Holyoke were so near by, hoards of women came to spend the weekend at Amherst. Various female graduates felt that it was “taboo” for Amherst males and females to inter-mingle. Alice Lawrenz from the class of 1987 stated, “I felt that I had friendships with my male classmates that were different from the experiences that women at Smith or Mount Holyoke had with them. We had daily ongoing friendships, not weekend courtships”. (Haydel and Lasher 102). Various female alumnae felt that they were more respected by Amherst men than Smith and Mount Holyoke women were, due to the fact that those women came to the school just to obtain men. However with the opposite point of view, numerous female alumnae felt that Amherst women were excluded from social events and replaced with women from the all girls’ schools in the surrounding area. Although the social life was not ideal for many Amherst women, they did not feel harassed by men in the fraternities as much as the women at Trinity College did. Nevertheless, the social arena was one place in which Amherst women experienced tension and adversity.

In terms of women in the classroom at Amherst, female students had a pretty balanced view of the discrimination they felt in the classroom. While some women felt very strongly the effects of gender bias and sexism, others felt little to no discrimination at all. Carol Wilson class of 1981, stated, “ Academically I felt that the professors treated me equally” (Haydel and Lasher 34). Another student, Kwai Kendall-Grove, class of 1989, shared the same view as Wilson and felt that academically Amherst was very equal. She said, “I was a psychology major and the guidance and mentorship I received from my professors has had an enormous impact on my career decision and path” (Haydel and Lasher 32). Like the women at Trinity, Amherst women also recognized the importance and advantage of relationships with female professors. Amherst alum shared the same feeling as Trinity women in the fact that they believed that female professors could serve as role models in their personal and professional lives. However, from the opposite point of view, various Amherst women stated that they did feel gender discrimination and sexist attitudes in the classroom. Carrie van Doren class of 1997, said, “There was a prime example of a professor in the biology department who was a negative influence on females and minorities. He taught an introductory class, and he dissuaded so many people from following any science curriculum” (Haydel and Lasher 36). On top of bad professors, some women also felt intimidated in the classroom, as they were one of the few females in a room full of men. Other females mentioned how men in the classroom went silent when it came to discussing gender related issues. Overall, there seemed to be a pretty even split of positive and negative opinions regarding co-education from the female Amherst graduates. However, what cannot be denied is that many women did face difficult experiences during the transition.

In conclusion, co-education at these two colleges was not put into place on the basis of equality and advancement for women. It was also not a decision made voluntarily, but one made out of necessity for financial and reputation reasons. The women at both these colleges faced extreme adversity in the academic and social aspects of the college, yet, that is almost to be expected. The history of our society since colonial times has taught us that women belong at home, unemployed and behind a stove taking care of their husbands and families. However, those that dared to venture out from “behind the stove” and attempt higher education were scorned for their lack of respect for traditional gender roles. That is why the decision for many colleges to co-educate was so shocking and received with a lot of negative opinion. The women that decided to pave the way and attend these colleges in their early days endured adversity and harassment because they were competing with years of sexism, male prejudice, and social norms.

Works Cited

“Amherst College to Admit Women in 75′ .” The New York Times 3 Nov. 1974: n.

pag. ProQuest Historical Newspapers. Web. 27 Apr. 2012. <


Channels, Noreen L. “Comments on Fraternities and Sororities and Comments on Education.” Survey of the Trinity College Alumnae Conducted Spring, 1990 (1990 )n. pag. Print.

Haydel, Auban, and Kit Lasher. The Fairest College? Twenty Years of Women at Amherst. N.p.: n.p., 1997. Print.

Knapp, Peter J., and Anne H. Knapp. Trinity College in the Twentieth Century. Hartford : n.p., 2000. Print.

Community Colleges and the Consequences of Change

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The community college is an integral part of the equation in the American pursuit for education to function as societies’ great equalizer. It has a mission of open access for all, and the affordability of its programs supports this mission. While this might seem an ideal formula for providing upward socio-economic mobility for America’s students, the community colleges have evolved into institutions that support social class reproduction. The efficacy of these institutions needs to be examined to support the seven million students they currently educate. Inspection of the changes these institutions have made over the last fifty years must be considered in this evaluation. In order for an assessment to proceed, the question we must ask is: What factors caused the decline of social mobility among community college graduates since the 1960s?

Over the last century, the demographics of student populations at community colleges have changed drastically. Community colleges have responded to this demographic shift by transforming their curricula offerings. This has resulted in an increase in vocational, remedial, and business oriented certificate programs, and has reduced focus on Liberal Arts and Humanities transfer programs. A reduction of Liberal Arts and Humanities transfer programs limits baccalaureate attainment for community colleges students. The best course to promote socio-economic mobility of students is through attainment of a baccalaureate degree. Community colleges have become sponsors of social class reproduction for many of their students due to the increase in vocational, certificate, and remedial courses which limit opportunities for socio-economic mobility.


A shift in the demographics of students attending community colleges began in the 1960s and proceeded through the 1970s. Prior to this demographic shift, and the ensuing curricula changes, community colleges sustained programs for socio-economic mobility of their students.  J.M. Beach Gateway to Opportunity clarifies, “the students who enrolled in community colleges in the first half of the twentieth century were middle-class high school graduates who wanted to earn their bachelor’s degree and enter a white collar profession.” 1 Many factors contributed to this demographic shift. By the 1970s, when compared to the student populations at four year institutions, student populations at community colleges were disproportionally of low-income and minority students. 2 The suggestions of Beach, and others imply two important things about the changes that occurred in community colleges around the 1970s and into the twenty-first century.

It first infers that the original students of community colleges focused on an academic curriculum that facilitated transfer to four-year institutions. It suggests that the students who were attending community college in the first half of the twentieth century came prepared for college level course work. The role of community colleges as a stepping-stone to four-year institutions also suggests that the degrees awarded at community colleges were not constructed to be the only degree obtained by the students.

Brint and Karabel’s account examining the increase in enrollment of economically disadvantaged students allows for a second inference to be made about this changing demographic. Compared to the white middle class students that attended community college in previous generations, a disadvantaged student population represents students who need education to facilitate socio-economic mobility. This change was facilitated by the increased access to federal financial aid with the Higher Education Act of 1965 and the amendments to that act in 1972. This legislation was designed to improve access to higher education for low-income students and to promote mobility. The results were an inflation of low-income students at open-access institutions like community colleges.

Brint and Karabel confirm the existence of a demographic shift in The Diverted Dream. Their interpretation of the shifting demographic of community colleges and the reasons for its occurrence support the argument of open access policies and an increase availability of student aid.  According to Brint and Karabel,

These funds, [federal student loans] combined with the growing number of open-door institutions located in or within easy access to minority populations, greatly increased the number of minority students in the nations community colleges… By the late 1970s, the major subordinate racial minorities, including blacks, were disproportionately concentrated in two-year institutions. 3

This increased access to higher education for low-income minority students is crucial to facilitating socio-economic mobility for marginalized populations. The change in community college curricula that follows contributes to the social class reproduction and is not a means of mobility for the students.

Community College Enrollment Demographics for 2006-2007 retrieved from the American Association of Community Colleges, "Fast Fact Sheet 2012"


In 1972 The American Association of Community and Junior Colleges (AACJC) released an annual assembly report, which demonstrates their acknowledgement of shifting student demographics and their changes in curriculum offerings in light of this shift. The report states that community and junior colleges should develop programs that:

  1. Aim for the goal of equipping all their students for personal fulfillment, immediate gainful employment, or for transferability to a four-year college
  2. Provide working students … access to instruction at times and places convenient to them… consider using external degree life experiences
  3. Improve Faculty-Staff-community-student relationships
  4. Give equal status to vocational, transfer and general education, student personnel and community services
  5. Development of occupational educational programs linked to business, industry, labor, and government
  6. Utilize new concepts of education through a learning center, personalizing, if not individualizing the instructional process
  7. Be flexible to change, in a continuing effort to provide more effective educational services
  8. Define and integrate programs in terms of specific student and societal needs. For example: Bilingual and bicultural programs. 4

In light of the changing demographics, community colleges were forced to retool their offerings, but how could any single institution achieve everything on the above list? The introduction of the many responsibilities outlined by the AACJA led to an explosion of many documented curricula changes at community colleges.

In the 1970s, as a result of an escalation in disadvantaged students attending community college, an increase in remedial education courses began. 5 Remedial education typically involves courses in Mathematics and English that are below college level. While the need for remedial education at community colleges highlights a problem in K-12 education, the community colleges rose to their changing student needs. They developed programs based on the missions of the AACJC and the needs of their student populations. While remedial offerings seem necessary, they do not contribute to the mobility of the students at community colleges. Today, Complete College America reports that for every ten students seeking an Associates degree, five will require remedial education, and fewer than one of those ten will graduate in three years. 6

Graphic retrieved from, May 2012

Brint and Karabel submit another curriculum change that occurred during the 1970s and into the 1980s. They describe that as a response to the countries’ fiscal crisis during the mid-1970s, community colleges began to make stronger ties to businesses with an increase in occupational and vocational programs. 7 This furthers the case that community colleges contribute to class reproduction instead of upward mobility. The increase in vocational programs, at a time when baccalaureate credentials were needed to enter the professional managerial class, affected the socio-economic gains provided by community college completion in the 1970s and 1980s.

In the 1980s, Fred L. Pincus “The False Promise of Community Colleges: Class Conflict and Vocational Education” further criticized the increase in vocational offerings. Pincus suggested that vocational offerings to community college students were an additional educational tracking mechanism that assured economic class reproduction of their students. 8 For disadvantaged, part-time, students, the quick track of vocational education may be glamorous, but is nonetheless a program that will assure working-class students become vocationally trained working-class adults. If community colleges promote and increase vocational offerings they are not adequately contributing to the upward mobility of their students. Instead, they are acting as vehicles of social class reproduction.

Kevin Dougherty, associate professor at Teachers Colleges of Columbia University is quoted by The Chronicle, echoing earlier sentiments of Pincus.

Community colleges and state systems increasingly take steps to make vocational programs seem more attractive, to ease prejudice against them — by building new vocational-program facilities, and by claiming in their publicity materials that graduates can make as much money coming out of vocational programs as they could by completing a baccalaureate degree. That may be true in some instances, but on average it is not. 9

Vocational education is not the correct route to socio-economic advancement, especially in a country of limited vocational employment opportunities. The Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce projection reporting suggests that by 2018, 62% of employment will require some college education with more than half of that requiring a bachelors degree. 10

The late 1990s saw an introduction of yet another program offering at community colleges: contract training. Beach explains that contract training was a response to the increasing use of technology in business. The community college took on the role of training students for specific job placement opportunities that utilized technology. According to Beach, contract training may contribute to an increase in non-credit courses and a decrease in resources for the liberal arts. 11 Non-credit course work does not contribute to obtaining a bachelors degree. The argument can also be made that non-credit course work is terminal; it leads students to believe they are progressing towards higher education when the truth is they have not even begun educational advancement.


The expansive curricula development at community colleges over the last half-century has resulted in three major problems for community colleges. The first is the offering of extensive remedial education programs. Statistics suggest that very few students who begin in remedial programs are not likely to complete community college. One could speculate that this is due to the time required to complete a program if semesters in non-college courses are necessary prior to entering a credit-gaining program. Furthermore, students who enter remedial education classes may never be proficient enough for college level course work.

Excluding remedial education programs jeopardizes the open access mission of community colleges. Students who require remedial education have no higher education opportunity other than access to community colleges. Three Rivers Community College (TRCC), Norwich, Connecticut is an example of the overabundance and inflated importance of remedial course offerings. For their Fall 2012 semester TRCC is offering one hundred and four classes with an ENGL distinction. Forty-five of these courses are courses that are pre-college level and only seven of the course offerings are of a 200 level distinction. 12 TRCC has placed a focus on remedial education.  This does not support courses that teach and promote the higher-order thinking needed to transfer to four-year institutions.  Remedial education can and will deviate attention away from Liberal Arts and Humanities transfer programs. It creates bottom heavy institutions of higher education that are not educating at a level higher than what is offered in high school.

The second problem is that massive amounts of program offerings have inevitably resulted in a reduced focus on Liberal Arts and Humanities transfer programs. These transfer programs are what will assist students in obtaining baccalaureate credentials. Brint and Karabel further analyze the decline of Liberal Arts at community colleges. They quote 1979 findings of Cohen and Lombardi who state, “except for U.S. history, Western civilization, American and State government introduction to literature and Spanish, little in the humanities remain.” 13 Strong transfer programs into baccalaureate level institutions are necessary for community colleges to provide socio-economic mobility for their students. Limiting these programs inevitably keeps disadvantaged students in the underclass.

The mission constructed by the AACJC in 1972 outlines multiple directions of curricula and program development, which have led to a disorganized system. Thomas Baily and Vanessa Smith Morest “Defending the Community College Equity Agenda” suggest, “the public community college was so overloaded with diverse missions that it was impossible to do any of them well.” 14 Community colleges do a disservice to their students by offering too much, and not excelling at enough.

The third problem inhibiting socio-economic mobility for the students of community colleges is the increase in promotion and funding of vocational and occupational programs. The Contradictory College concludes that community colleges, “were just ineffective, non-encouraging, anti-academic, low performing, and overly vocationalized.” 15  Additionally, an ethnographic study conducted in 1990 determined, “vocational education reinforced class inequalities.” 16 While there may be a place for vocational education, where the correct place is, is undetermined.

Vocational education funding has recently been seen as an easy fix to the problems associated with creating education opportunities’ for all. Recent legislation that first went to congress as a twelve billion dollar plan to increase graduation rates and transfer prospects for community college students known as the American Graduation Plan was changed in house negotiations. The end result was a two billion dollar plan to support career training. 17 Although the country values and rewards baccalaureate attainment and has an existing system that the first half of bachelors could be completed by many Americans it does not fund it.


As previous projection statistics have shown, employment opportunity requiring a bachelor’s degree is growing. When examining this change over time from the 1960s to the present, Statistical Abstract Census data is representative of this phenomenon. It suggests that changes made from 1964 to 2010, including the increase in remedial course offerings, vocational education, and a reduction in humanities transfer courses has stagnated financial gains for associate degree completion.

Utilizing the median income figures by degree holding, a graph was constructed to highlight the occurrence of deteriorated economic growth by associate degree graduates.  In 1970 the graph shows that the median income of a person holding an associates degree began to rise slightly above the income of a person who had only obtained a high school degree. By the end of the 1970s and into the 1980s the graph shows that there is little difference in the median incomes between persons with high school completion and associates degree. This clarifies that in the 1970s and 1980s there was little socio-economic mobility for community college students. 18

The graph was constructed by compiling data from the Statistical Abstract provided by the United States Census every seven years from 1964 to 2010.

The graph illustrates a second important finding. It highlights the significant economic advantage of completing a baccalaureate degree. Today, the associate’s degree shows some economic advantage over a high school degree, but a bachelor’s holds twice that economic advantage. This would allow students to build income-producing assets. Pathways that allow for transfers opportunities to four-year institutions must be created in community colleges to assist in the socio-economic mobility of the students. Contradictory programs like vocational education contribute to the class reproduction of already disadvantaged populations.

Table Retrieved from the National Center for Education Statistics “Special Analysis, Figure 4: Total Fall Enrollment in Degree-granting Institutions, by Control and Type of Institution: 1963 Through 2006”

Despite the limited economic gains of completing an associate degree community college  institutional expansion is still on the rise and enrollment continues to sore . According to Brint and Karabel, “by 1980, over 90 percent of the population was within commuting distance of one of the nations 900 community college.” 19 This growth shows a commitment to educational access and opportunity in America, although is commitment enough to improve the economic trajectory of community college students?

An assessment of the drastic changes community colleges have made over the last fifty years illustrates a story that is contradictory to the institutions popularity. This expository focuses on how community colleges act as an additional public institution, participating in the cycle of social class reproduction. Their offerings while extensive, divert resources and attention away from the best course for socio-economic mobility. Today only thirty percent of the students enrolled in community college will complete their degree in one hundred and fifty percent of the time required to finish an associate’s degree. 20 The open access has resulted in education for all and mobility for only a few.

  1. Beach, J. M. Gateway to Opportunity: A History of the Community College in the United States. Stylus Publishing, 2011.
  2. Brint, Steven, and Jerome Karabel. The Diverted Dream: Community Colleges and the Promise of Educational Opportunity in America, 1900-1985. Oxford University Press, USA, 1991.
  3. Brint, Steven, and Jerome Karabel. The Diverted Dream: Community Colleges and the Promise of Educational Opportunity in America, 1900-1985. Oxford University Press, USA, 1991.
  4. Colleges, American Association of Community and Junior. American Association of American Community and Junior Colleges Assembly Report 1972. American Association of Community and Junior Colleges, April 1972.
  5. Lombardi, John. “The Decline of Transfer Education. Topical Paper Number 70. – ERIC – ProQuest.” Report ED179273 (1979): 37.
  6.   “Complete College America”, 2011.
  7. Brint, Steven, and Jerome Karabel. The Diverted Dream: Community Colleges and the Promise of Educational Opportunity in America, 1900-1985. Oxford University Press, USA, 1991.
  8. Pincus, Fred. “The False Promises of Community College – Class Conflict and Vocational Education.” Harvard Educational Review 50, no. 3 (1980): 332–361.
  9. Monaghan, Peter. “Educators Urged to Help Vocational Students at 2-Year Colleges Move on to Bachelor’s Degrees.” The Chronicle of Higher Education, April 12, 2001, sec. Archives.
  10. “Complete College America”, 2011.
  11. Beach, J. M. Gateway to Opportunity: A History of the Community College in the United States. Stylus Publishing, 2011.
  12. “Connecticut Community College Course Search”, n.d.
  13. Brint, Steven, and Jerome Karabel. The Diverted Dream: Community Colleges and the Promise of Educational Opportunity in America, 1900-1985. Oxford University Press, USA, 1991.
  14. Bailey, Thomas, and Vanessa Smith Morest, eds. Defending the Community College Equity Agenda. 1st ed. The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2006.
  15. Dougherty, Kevin J. The Contradictory College: The Conflict Origins, Impacts, and Futures of the Community College (Suny Series in Frontiers in Education). State University of New York Press, 1994.
  16. Claus, Jeff. “JSTOR: Curriculum Inquiry, Vol. 20, No. 1 (Spring, 1990), Pp. 7-39.” Curriculum Inquiry 20, no. 1 (Spring 1990): 7–39.
  17. Gonzalez, Jennifer. “Obama Praises Community Colleges Amid Doubts About His Commitment.” The Chronicle of Higher Education, October 10, 2010, sec. Government.
  18. Division, Systems Support. “US Census Bureau The 2012 Statistical Abstract: Earlier Editions”, n.d.
  19. Brint, Steven, and Jerome Karabel. The Diverted Dream: Community Colleges and the Promise of Educational Opportunity in America, 1900-1985. Oxford University Press, USA, 1991.
  20. “Digest of Education Statistics, 2010”, n.d.

Who Chooses Homeschooling and Why?

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Homeschooling in the United States is estimated to be at about 1.5 – 2 million students today. While this is a small percentage (3-4 %) of the total estimated 55,000,000 American students in grades PK-12, it is still a significant number of people, and that number is increasing 7-15% each year. They have above average family income and educational background. They are mostly two-parent families with the mother dedicated to be in charge of the schooling. The children seem to do as well or even better academically and socially than their peers in the public schools (Mackey 2011). Also, parents choosing homeschooling are mostly Christian (94%), and white (77%). This paper will address two questions: what factors have caused an increase in elementary and secondary level homeschooling in the United States in recent years; and what subgroups have become more attracted to this option over this period of time?

There have been two major subgroups attracted to homeschooling, one concerned with maintaining family moral and religious values, the other concerned with traditional schools not meeting their academic expectations; but environmental safety has grown to become a third major subgroup. Other factors causing increased homeschooling are travel distance, mobility, education of women, special needs, and internet communication.  These subgroups follow a long history of homeschooling. Homeschooling is not a new idea in the United States. It began as a movement in the late 1970’s and 1980’s, but it had existed in the country much earlier. Homeschooling in the early days was done mostly out of necessity (travel distance, etc.) Even though all the colonies had set up public schools, not all children could or did attend. Several well known early Americans, such as George Washington, Patrick Henry, John Quincy Adams, and Mark Twain had much of their education at home (Winters 2001). Not only did the colonies establish schools, they also made attendance compulsory. The first compulsory education law was passed in Massachusetts in 1642. That law made education a state responsibility. In 1647 a law was passed requiring the establishment of schools (Gelbrich 1999). The passing of required education laws moved from the colonies to the states, and by 1852 all states had these laws. Public schooling was generally accepted for everyone who could attend. The laws were not the same in all states however, with differences reflecting residents’ views on how much school or whether to go to private schools.

It was not long before the federal government established its Department of Education in 1867, whose purpose was to “assist the states in establishing effective school systems”, mainly by collecting and distributing information on education ( Over the years the Department expanded its role to providing financial support to different educational institutions and activities. However, there were always some who did not fit into the school system, so there was always some homeschooling mainly for practical reasons such as population spreading (some schools were just too far away).

In the 1960s and 70s, major cultural and social changes set the stage for a greater role for homeschooling. These include dissatisfaction with the growing school bureaucracy (complex, inflexible departments in the school administration) and distrust of a growing lack of religious and moral instruction. Also the growth of the suburbs, mobility and political activism (especially by women), and more widespread women’s education led to a greater number of more independent and capable mothers who were living in good sized suburban homes. Some of these were willing to act on their dissatisfaction and take on the task of schooling their children themselves (Gaither 2009).

Laws were passed legalizing homeschooling making it a more legitimate option for families to choose. For a long time the states’ education laws were vague or non-existent regarding homeschooling, but they began to change. As early as 1950, there was a ruling by the Illinois Supreme Court declaring home schools to be classed as private schools, and therefore lawful. Ohio, Nevada and Utah were the first three states in the U.S. (in 1983) that legally permitted homeschooling, but they required that parents have a “current state teacher’s certification” (Winters 2001). By 1985 thirteen states had passed legislation supporting homeschooling, and only eight years later, by 1993, every state had legalized it, as the numbers of homeschooled students grew. While these laws did not require parents to have a teaching certificate, they were not the same either, and parents had to be sure to observe the particular laws in their state. Educators neither understood homeschooling or supported it.

In recent years homeschooling has become a recognized part of American education and is an increasingly attractive alternative to conventional education. “The modern homeschool movement actually began in the early 1980’s with about 60,000 to 125,000 children receiving home based education”. Not many people were aware of homeschooling before the 1980’s (Winters 2001). However, by this time there was at least one small organization of homeschooling parents, and those groups have grown over time. For those dissatisfied with the public schools, there were a variety of private schools available, especially for the religious groups. However, some parents, especially conservative Christians, did not favor private schooling because “some families couldn’t afford the tuition; some disagreed with the theology their local school(s) espoused; some had negative experiences with principals or teachers; some, especially those with special needs children, felt that the private school couldn’t adequately address their child’s individual circumstances; some believed that the Bible gave responsibility for education to parents only; and some, especially mothers, simply wanted to spend more time with their children” (Gaither 2009).

In 1983, a lawyer named Michael Farris formed the Home Schooling Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), which was active in both promoting and defending homeschooling around the country. This was an effective organization, and it was helpful in leading a movement that already was growing. This organization is still very active today. In addition to the HSLDA, two well respected educational figures became leaders for the movement. In the late 1970s there was John Holt, who had been a vocal critic of the school system since the 1960s. His concern was that the schools limited the learning process by trying to teach everyone the same things in the same way. He wrote several books on children’s education, including How Children Fail and How Children Learn, and in 1977 he started publishing a magazine Growing Without Schooling which was the first national magazine to focus on homeschooling. The other was Raymond Moore and his wife Dorothy, Seventh Day Adventists and educators, who in the early 1980s became the voice of the conservative Christians who did not like the complex structure of the public schools and lack of religious values. They disliked the institutional approach of the schools, and spoke out about the successes of homeschooled children. Both Holt and Moore led support groups for homeschooling, and “these groups usually accepted all comers regardless of religious affiliation or pedagogical philosophy” (Gaither 2008). Both men had strong Christian values however. It took time for the country to accept these ideas. At first “Americans recoiled against the notion of children being kept out of school, but as they listened to Holt describing how schools destroy the native curiosity of children, or to Moore citing scores of studies supposedly showing that early institutionalization damages children, and as they saw that many homeschooled children were excelling academically, attitudes and laws shifted” (Gaither 2008).

Studies of families in Oregon and Utah identified multiple reasons for homeschooling: religious, academic, social development, and New Age consciousness. Parents expressed their desire for control and protection, their children’s realization of goals, and family closeness.  Among these families, two major themes can be identified. First, that it was the parents’ responsibility to educate their children. These people took their responsibility seriously, and valued family unity and relationships. “The desire to control the ideological content of their children’s education oriented these families to homeschooling, while enhancing family relationships, maintaining family bonds, and strengthening family ties were their desired objectives” (Mayberry 1989). Second, there was dissatisfaction with the public school system. These parents thought they could teach their children better than the schools could, and protect them from the secular environment. “By transmitting to their children their own ideological views they hoped to protect their children from “undesired” ideologies or social influences that could potentially fragment the family’s values and system of beliefs” (Mayberry 1989). In general these parents “were not united by any particular world view, but believed that they, as parents, were better able than schools to provide their children with positive and nurturing learning experiences” (Mayberry 1989).

Homeschooling was not for everyone, however, despite how attractive it might appear to be. The typical family has two parents, a decent income, and an educated mother willing to give up a career and educate her children. “Homeschooling is nearly impossible without at least one full-time houseparent, and the conservative Protestant celebration of the stay-at-home mom gave it a far larger population of possible recruits than more liberal orientations, which tend to sanction public roles for women” (Gaither 2009).

A question always asked about homeschooling is whether it is effective. How well do the children do on academic testing, how do they do socially, and how do they compare to public school children? National standardized test results from 1998 show that home schooled children do significantly better than their public school counterparts, by as much as 30 percentile points across multiple test categories and multiple grade levels (Rudner 1999). Even students from lower income groups with less educated parents still perform significantly better than average, and these students do not usually do better than the national public school testing norms (Farris 2000).

Although there were always multiple reasons for parents choosing homeschooling, the main theme seemed to be moral and religious values. Conservative Christian Protestants were a major part of the movement and still are. Surveys from 2003-5 show about 92-94% of homeschool parents classify themselves as Christian. They are mostly white, but over the years the minority percentage has grown to about 23% (Mackey 2011). Of these, African Americans and Hispanics dominate, but other groups such as Native Americans, Orthodox Jews, Catholics, Mormons, and Muslims participate as well (Gaither 2009).

While religious, moral, and academic concerns were the main factors influencing the choice of homeschooling until recently, the 2003 surveys show that school environment (safety, drugs, negative peer pressure) was the most mentioned concern (Mackey 2011). It turns out that as the homeschooling movement was growing, so was school violence, due in part to the racial tensions brought about by the forced bussing of students starting in the 1960s. The bussing issue was serious, as “court-ordered bussing to racially integrated public schools was for many the last straw” (Gaither 2008).

Gallup polls from the early 1970s found that the public thought school safety, called “discipline”, was the number one problem of the school systems (Warner 1999). While the degree of violence seemed to level off by the 1990s, the issue remained. Feelings of the public was not helped by some extreme cases like the shootings at Columbine High School in 1999. The 2003 survey results highlighting public school environment could be indicating that school safety will be the major factor driving the choice of homeschooling from now on. The link below shows a table from the National Center for Education Statistics entitled “Reasons for Homeschooling”. This table shows data supporting my thesis that the dominant subgroups continue to be parents concerned with religious and moral issues, academics, and the school environment (safety) (NCES 2003).

Table: Reasons for Homeschooling

Additional reasons families find homeschooling desirable are because their child has special talents that need much time each day to develop, and some have children with special needs (such as autism) where public school placement would be inappropriate. “Many families with children in time-consuming activities such as music or dance programs, sports, acting, or modeling have turned to homeschooling for its flexible scheduling. Parents with children who have special needs of all sorts, from autism to peanut allergies, are finding home-based education a more convenient and comfortable approach for their child’s needs. Some families are attracted to home schooling to accommodate their traveling lifestyle” (Gaither 2008). These parents seem to be a small percentage of the total families however.

Student social development has been questioned as a possible issue for home schoolers, but evidence available seems to show no lack of social skills. These children often interact socially with a variety of people in their community, many who will be adults. “All objective evidence indicates that homeschooled children are well-adjusted members of society. To the extent that homeschooled children are different from others, it appears to be a socially positive difference” (Farris 2000). Such findings encourage homeschooling as a choice.

A new development in education related to home schooling is the virtual charter school, which is an online combination of public, charter, and homeschooling. As of 2008, there were almost 150 of these schools across the country providing new curricula and enjoying some public funding. A national company “K-12 Company” founded in 1999 is a leader in providing the curriculum, computers, and support staff to virtual charter schools around the country. This is an interesting development, because it has William Bennett, former Secretary of Education, as chairman of the board. It claims to offer a world-class curriculum for everyone covering math, language arts, science, history, art, and music. It uses the Core Knowledge Sequence developed by E. D. Hirsch in 1999. Over 2000 students have studied under this system in California through 2005. Family characteristics of these students are similar to those of homeschool families – predominantly white, above average income, educated parents, and Christian. (Klein 2008)

For many, homeschooling is becoming increasingly attractive with educated mothers as teachers. It is able to focus on children with special needs by giving them more personal attention than would be offered in most public or private schooling. Family moral and religious values can be instilled without the influence of school curriculum. In addition, safety concerns are avoided, travel is not necessary (although many are doing it by choice), and computers make possible the sharing of academic information.

A family friend from Newton, MA has a daughter being home schooled. The mother calls her personally designed program a “traveling school”. Her daughter started out at the prestigious Park School (a private school in Brookline, MA), leaving after the second grade. The nine year old does online CTY, a course designed for talented youth by John Hopkins University, does a two-hour reading group in Cambridge with Maureen Carey, a well known home school educator, does online reading and blogging with other students, has an English tutor for reading and writing, goes to the Russian Math School in Newton, MA on Saturday mornings, has a private math tutor, does CTY (talented youth) math through Stanford University online, goes to Habitat in Belmont, MA for science, and has a Latin tutor. She belongs to an orchestra and chorus. There are many free laboratories offered (MIT), and the Museum of Fine Arts has classes and art projects for home schoolers for $8.50 per week. Homeschool parents share many free opportunities by posting online. They share driving children to different places and tutoring skills. They also share what they find out about the many free homeschool opportunities.

On the other end of the special needs spectrum is my ten-year old nephew who has been diagnosed with autism. A classroom situation was too overwhelming and upsetting for him. He is homeschooled with specialists (speech therapists, occupational therapists, and an academic tutor trained to work with children like him).  Two of the five days he is tutored along with another boy on the spectrum, but they had to be well matched. They are taken on field trips and to gymnasiums to have a good time and socialize with other children. Unfortunately, this is very costly. Most families with children on the spectrum cannot afford these individually designed programs for special needs children. Some school systems are providing money to assist these families however.

Online web classes, both inexpensive and free, are becoming increasingly available. These can be used together with home schooling. For some students, being able to repeat a video, a lecture, or lab online may be a helpful way to learn. This may further attract more people to the academic subgroup needing to go at its own pace, some rapid, some slow. Also, for the subgroup concerned with moral content, courses meeting family values can be chosen and monitored. Harvard University and MIT have announced a partnership to provide free college level web classes. This worldwide sharing of educational information seems to be rapidly growing. I do not see a change in the subgroups interested in home schooling, but I do see an increase in the numbers of people joining these subgroups.


Farris, M. P., & Woodruff, S. A. The Future of Home Schooling. Peabody Journal of Education, 75(1/2), 233-255.  2000.

Gaither, M. Why Homeschooling Happened. Educational Horizons, 86(4), 226-237. 2008.

Gaither, M. Homeschooling in the USA: Past, Present and Future. Theory and Research in Education, 7(3), 331-346. 2009.

Gelbrich, Judy. Education in America, Part I. Colonial America. Oregon State University. 1999.

Klein, Carol, Poplin, Mary. Families Home Schooling in a Virtual Charter School System.  Marriage and Family Review. 43:3-4, 369-395. 2008.

Lyman, Elizabeth  “Homeschooling: Back to the Future” Cato Institute – Cato Policy Analysis No. 924.  January 7, 1998.

Mackey, B. W., Reese, K., & Mackey, W.C. Demographics of Home Schoolers: A Regional Analysis within the National Parameters. Education, 132(1), 133-140. 2011.

Mayberry, Maralee, and Knowles, J. Gary. “Family Unity Objectives of Parents Who Teach Their Children: Ideological and Pedagogical Orientations to Home Schooling.” The Urban Review 21, no. 4: 209–225. 1989.

Rudner, Lawrence M. Scholastic Achievement and Demographic Characteristics of Home School Students in 1998. Education Policy Analysis Archives, v7 n8. 1999.

U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Parent and Family Involvement in Education Survey of the 2003 National Household Education Surveys Program (NHES). 2003.

Warner, Beth, Weist, Mark, Krulak, Amy. Risk Factors for School Violence. Urban Education. 34:52 doi: 10/1177/0042085999341004. 1999.

Winters, Donald K. There’s No Place Like Home: The Modern Home School Movement, 1980-Present. American Educational History Journal, 2001. No. 28.

To Teach or Not to Teach

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To Teach, Or Not To Teach

RQ: Was the practice of “teaching to the test” a problem in education before the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, and to what extent did the law make it more prevalent?

The drive to make teachers more accountable for their students is a trend spreading across the nation like wildfire. While there are positives to accountability and standardized testing there are also many negative aspects to go alongside. I believe that teachers should be accountable, but to what degree? At what point is teaching to the test more important than development and learning. Although the phrase and the concern are hardly new, many observers blame the No Child Left Behind act for escalating teaching to the test from a problem into an epidemic. President Bush created the No Child Left Behind act in 2001 immediately after taking office.  NCLB supports standards based educational reform based on the premise that setting high standards and establishing measurable goals can improve individual outcomes in education. The Act requires states to develop assessments in basic skills. States must give these assessments to all students at select grade levels in order to receive federal school funding. Over the past decade we have seen the entire idea of education change due to the No Child Left Behind program. The question that I wish to explore is whether or not NCLB created teaching to the test or just shed light on the problem. I believe that teaching to the test was a consistent problem decades before NCLB was a law, however the implementation of NCLB has made teaching to the test much more prevalent in the media as well as in teaching methods. It has always been around but it never got the attention it deserved until 2001-2002 when NCLB was created. Test scores are one way to evaluate students, teachers, and schools, but cannot be the only way. It is important to remember that tests are more than just numbers and scores. One of the biggest problems with teaching to the test is the pressure placed on teachers. Their superiors on the school board apply pressure, but the media places the most pressure upon them. Test scores are rising, but for the absolute wrong reasons.

NCLB was a provision instituted by George Bush in 2001. NCLB is a reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, which included Title I, the government’s flagship aid program for disadvantaged students. NCLB supports standards-based education reform based on the premise that setting high standards and establishing measurable goals can improve individual outcomes in education. The Act requires states to develop assessments in basic skills. States must give these assessments to all students at select grade levels in order to receive federal school funding. I wanted to show the how NCLB has changed teaching and its methods. I began to compile a few articles about post NCLB teaching. For the next step in the process I used the New York Times Database as well as, Google Ngram Viewer to compare the relevance of Teaching to the Test in the news and in books. I broke down the search topics relevance before 2001 when NCLB was started, and after 2001 in the new test based era. The problem is not the fact that NCLB has caused testing to be taken so seriously, the problem is that after its implementation in 2001 schools will do anything to achieve their goal. NCLB has skyrocketed accountability and the prevalence of testing which is not something to be overlooked.

While conducting further research I began to drift towards the argument that, NCLB did not create the method of teaching to the test, but it did have a serious effect on its prevalence in the American school system, especially throughout time. While reviewing the New York Times historical database, I noticed that my assumptions towards the topic were very similar to the reality of Teaching to the Test.


The graph above shows the number of articles about Teaching to the Test from the years 1965-2012. The table shows a serious jump in between the years of 1999 & 2000. Due to this, I decided that more in depth measures must be shown when observing the data on the graph. I constructed a data table using excel in order to fully demonstrate how Teaching to the Test altered education in the beginning of the 21rst century.

After making this table and looking into different articles I concluded that Teaching to the Test has been around in the news since 1965, but was not an issue in the publics eyes until testing became synonymous with accountability. While conducting this research I began to drift towards the argument that, NCLB may not have created the method of teaching to the test, but it most certainly did have an effect on its prevalence in the American school system as well as in the news. The concept has been around in the news for decades, but it wasn’t anywhere near as prevalent until the years 2000 – 2012. From the years 1965-2012 many things may have changed but teaching to the test is a practice that has stayed consistent throughout.

The year 1965 was very crucial for education, especially in regards to testing. On April 11 1965 Lyndon B. Johnson created the Elementary and Secondary Schools Act. The ESEA was a bill created in response to the war on poverty. More importantly, it also emphasizes equal access to education and establishes high standards and accountability. In addition, the bill aims to shorten the achievement gaps between students by providing each child with fair and equal opportunities to achieve an exceptional education. Another milestone came in the year 1965 when the New York Times ran its first and only article of the year in which the term “Teaching to the Test” was used. The article, titled Confetti, was run initially on Wednesday April 25 in Chicago’s Daily Defender. The writer, Lillian S. Calhoun discusses the problems with testing in Chicago. Her main problem is with the teachers and their lack of proper teaching methods. She discusses a situation that is very similar to what our teacher’s today face in education, teaching for testing. She goes on to say, “There is no way to tell if teachers hoke up the scores here by allowing children too much time on time based tests, or if teachers are teaching to the test” (4). At this point in education there is no teacher accountability, there are no bonuses for higher scores, and there is most certainly no NCLB law. It is apparent at this point that teaching to the test has been around way before NCLB was enacted, just at a much less severe level.

In the 1970’s, teaching to the test was beginning to make its way into the papers. Throughout the decade we saw only 10 total articles in regards to teaching to the test. This is undoubtedly an increase from the prior decade but averaging 1 article per year can’t be very worrisome for educators as well as parents at the time. In an article titled What the Kids Scores Mean by the Kiplinger Washington Editors we see an evolution in the severity of teaching to the test as well as in reactions to it. The article stresses the importance, as a parent; of understanding the tests ones children are taking. It discusses the many positives that come with testing, but also discusses the “uses, abuses, and criticisms” that accompany standardized testing. Although standardized testing is widely used, its merits are not universal. In fact, at the time, there is a great deal of controversy surrounding the institution of standardized testing. At the time of this article the National Education Association, the Association for Childhood Education International, and the NAACP all have called for an end to standardized tests until the test methods could be revised and universalized. While there are problems engulfed in the institution of standardized test there are also serious pressures that teachers are beginning to feel towards their students performance. At this point in time teachers are beginning to realize and voice how unfair standardized testing is to them. The article states, “As parents and school administrators insist on higher and higher test scores from schools, pressure increases on teachers to “teach to the test”. This, teachers say, dictates what they can do in the classroom and substitutes outside judgments for what should be local educational decisions.” (5). It is at this time in U.S history where we see the birth of teacher accountability. At this time in history, teachers who refuse to teach to the test or those whose students aren’t equipped to do well on standardized tests stand in danger of having their performance evaluations downgraded. Due to this teachers began to be especially opposed to having standardized test results appear in their teacher performance assessments. It is apparent at this point that NCLB did not create teaching to the test. Teaching to the test has been around with pretty much the same problems for 40 years, NCLB only created a frenzy of media coverage on the topic.

Over the years there is a clear rise in articles related to teaching to the test. In the decade from 1980-1989 the amount of articles more than doubles from 10 in the 1970’s to 25 in the 80’s. In an article titled: An Update on School Performance Reforms Could Promote Real Change in Public Education, by John Tagg of the LA Times, educational reform is discussed. One of the topics under scrutiny is teaching to the test in the state of California. The state of California is evaluated by the California Assessment Program, or CAP. The CAP tests are not used to evaluate individual students but to evaluate the performance of schools. They form the basis of grades for schools and influence the amount of revenue a given district receives from the state. This brings about a great deal of pressure on schools and teachers to teach to the test and to let the test determine the goals and set the priorities for teaching. This may be all to the good when the test is an honest evaluator of the skills that should be taught. But when the test is based off of illogical standards the results for both the teachers and students are negative. Beth Breneman, a CAP consultant, had this to say about teaching to the test: “Multiple-choice testing leads to multiple-choice teaching.”(6). Multiple choice testing is not really testing at all to many educational reformers. Problems arise when individuals are generalized in order to perform well on standardized tests. Individual education requires reflection and instruction, not memorization. Instructional time is hindered when teachers teach to the test and to hinder a child’s education is to be an ineffective teacher. These problems would continue to be persistent within educational reform during the 90’s and lead to teaching to the test to become much more relevant.

1990 is the last decade before NCLB was made into law. Teaching to the test was beginning to gain more relevance especially in the media. Between 1990 and 1999 there were 112 articles, which referred to teaching to the test, a severe increase from last decades 25. As the years have continued to pass there has been no change with the problem, only increased attention. Education is one of the most widely disputed topics of the decade, especially because teaching to the test has become a norm within classrooms. Education has become a serious issue and the only real point of unanimity is that everybody wants teachers to do it better. Ironically, the first president to propose universal education was President Bush. President Bush’s campaign to strengthen American education would begin by defining education and focus a national consensus on what children should know and what they should be able to accomplish. The study in response to this was called Standardized Test Scores: Voodoo Statistics? by Edward B. Fisk. Its focus is on a town called Lake Wobegon where Chester E. Finn Jr., the assistant United States Secretary of Education was in charge of research. What Mr. Finn found was entitled the “Lake Wobegon effect”. Finn described the “Lake Wobegon effect” as a correlation between grades as well as scores. He noticed a trend of teenagers becoming depressed as well as having low self-esteem depending on their recent grades. He formed a non-profit organization called Friends for Education Inc in hopes of changing the obsession with test based teaching. In their search for answers they noticed the major steps that teachers take in order to keep up with the norms of achievement. First, definitions of average are no longer what they used to be. Major tests are based on norms that have been changed multiple times throughout the years. Schools have gotten much better at teaching to the test in order take the below average testers into the above average category. The article states, “Testers say that schools have gotten better and the average has been rising. Consequently, many students who might otherwise now be scored “below average” are still “above average” compared with the early 1980’s sample groups. “ (1). Testing has become the basis for achievement especially in the year 1999. 31 of the 112 articles contesting teaching to the test were based in 1999 most likely because the news of reform has become much more relevant. The choice between good instructional teaching and good test scores is really no choice at all, teaching to the test has become the norm within education and NCLB has not even been placed into law.

2001 was a year where many changes occurred. In the beginning of the year George W. Bush was elected as the 43rd president of the United States. With his election came one of the most controversial educational reforms ever enacted into law. President Bush put the No Child Left Behind act of 2001 into motion immediately after taking office.  NCLB supports standards based educational reform based on the premise that setting high standards and establishing measurable goals can improve individual outcomes in education. The Act requires states to develop assessments in basic skills. States must give these assessments to all students at select grade levels in order to receive federal school funding. It has become an academic dog eat dog type scenario for teachers today. In an article by Marc Fisher titled, Test or Teach? The Answer Is Obvious, we see the frustration teachers and students endure. “Parents want accountability, but it’s gone too far, my child has to spend time every day learning how to take a test. Teachers now are being told to teach in a certain way instead of having the freedom to teach how they teach best.”(7) said Kelly Eskin, a middle school parent who was interviewed. Although the phrase and the concern are hardly new, many observers blame the No Child Left Behind act for escalating teaching to the test from a problem into an epidemic. Throughout the decade there were 533 articles that referred to teaching to the test, the highest number there has ever been. NCLB was the sparkplug that was needed to make the common practice a universal trend. Test based accountability and fear based teaching have taken the place of facilitating development. NCLB seems to be saying, teach to the test or else. If students didn’t perform, schools lost funding. If schools lost funding, than teachers responsible would lose pay or possibly lose their jobs. Due to NCLB teaching has forever been changed and in my opinion, not for the better.

It is undeniable that NCLB has increased the prevalence of teaching to the test. Prior to 2001 the amount of articles combined regarding the practice do not come close to how many there are today. Test scores are one way to evaluate students, teachers, and schools, but cannot be the only way. It is important to remember that education is much more than just numbers and scores. One of the biggest problems with teaching to the test is the pressure placed on teachers. Their superiors on the school board apply pressure, but the media places the most pressure upon them especially in an era post NCLB. Test scores have risen, but for the absolute wrong reasons. The problem is not the fact that NCLB has caused testing to be taken so seriously, the problem is that after its implementation in 2001 schools will do anything to achieve their goal. NCLB has skyrocketed accountability and the prevalence of teaching to the test. Teaching to the test has been a problem within education practice for decades, but now that it is practically the norm within schooling those who wish to educate are forced to teach to the test, or else.

Works Cited

1. Hamilton, R. A. (1996, Jan 12). Schools analyzing state test scores. New York Times (1923-Current File), pp. CN22-CN22.

2. HARTOCOLLIS, A. (2000, Nov 21). Study links rises in school financing and test scores. New York Times (1923-Current File), pp. B4-B4.

3. By, E. B. (1988, Feb 17). Standardized test scores: Voodoo statistics? New York Times (1923-Current File), pp. B9.

4. Calhoun, L. S. (1965, Apr 28). CONFETTi. Chicago Daily Defender (Daily Edition) (1960-1973), pp. 4-4.

5. What the kids test scores mean. (1978). Changing Times (Pre-1986), 32(1), 13-13.

6. Tagg, J. (1986, Oct 10). An update on school performance reforms could promote real change in public education. Los Angeles Times (Pre-1997 Fulltext), pp. 10-10.

7. Fisher, M. (2000, Jun 03). Test or teach? the answer is obvious. The Washington Post, pp. B.01-B.1.

8. “Search “Teach to the test”- ProQuest.” Search “Teach to the test”- ProQuest. N.p., n.d. Web. 3 May 2012.

Caribbean Immigrants and African-Americans in U.S Colleges

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Prior to the 1960’s educational opportunities for African-Americans were virtually nonexistent due to De Facto and De Jure segregation. After the Civil Rights Act of 1964 banned discrimination in education, educational opportunities for Blacks in the United States transcended. To ensure change, President Lyndon B. Johnson initiated various “Affirmative Actions” to increase black enrollment into the education system. President Johnson reasoning for this initiative was restitution for Nation’s past failures to accommodate for African-American’s needs and desires (Waters 1999).  However, data over the years has shown that immigrants, especially Caribbean immigrants, are disproportionately more represented than native blacks in the most selective U.S Colleges and Universities. Below is a pie chart of the origins of black immigrants enrolled in selective U.S colleges and universities,

Taken from 2007 American Journal of Education article Black Immigrants in U.S Colleges and Universities

Are African-Americans still benefiting from Affirmative Action? Was this really the intent of the Civil Rights Act? Maybe not, but current statistics have proven it to be the current trend across the Nation. Over the past few decades many theories have been proposed to provide an explanation for this phenomenon. Mary C. waters, John Ogbu, and Debra Viadero explanation for this phenomenon in the 90’s focused on more indirect rudimentary reasons, such as residential location and internal motivation. Articles that have been published in more recent years by authors Pamela R. Bennett, Amy Lutz, Douglas Massey and his colleagues have a similar argument as authors in the 90’s, but their theories include more simpler reasons, such as Admissions officers favoring Caribbean Immigrants over African Americans because studies have shown they are easier to get along with.

Loosening of Immigration Laws

After the implementation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 many other policies were introduced that rectified the educational system. Amongst these policies was the loosening of immigrant restrictions after 1965. Due to this alteration the number of black immigrants more than doubled between the 1980’s to 1990’s. Specifically speaking Afro-Caribbean’s accounted for 70% of the foreign black population, consisting of 2.1 million (Massey et al., 2007). This leniency in immigration laws allowed more blacks to infiltrate into selective U.S colleges and universities. Douglas Massey along with his colleagues Margarita Mooney, Kimberly C. Torres, and Camille Charles conducted an analysis of the National Longitudinal Survey of Freshmen (NLSF) to observe the discrepancies between Black Immigrants and Black Natives attending selective colleges and universities in the United States. This study observed 1,028 blacks, 959 whites, 998 Asians, and 916 Latinos over a course of four years starting in the fall of their freshmen year in 1999 and ended with a post-graduation follow-up in the spring of 2004 (Massey et al. 2007). Through their research they were able to gather substantial data that allowed them to frame plausible explanations for why Caribbean Immigrants are represented more in U.S colleges and universities than African Americans. Of all their explanations these three were the most popular; admissions officers might target immigrants for recruitment because they understand that Caribbean Students are more motivated, driven, and likely to succeed, and/or because they possess objective characteristics such as higher grades or better test scores, and/or admission officers consider documented information about how whites generally feel more comfortable with black immigrants as opposed to black natives (Massey et al. 2007).

Mary C. Waters

Mary C. Waters is a professor of sociology at Harvard University who specializes in studying the different aspects of immigration. Her research specifically focuses on inter-group relations, the formation of racial and ethnic identity among the children of immigrants, and challenges of measuring race and ethnicity. She is also the author of a well written book titled Black Identities: West Indian Immigrants Dreams and American Realities. In this book she utilizes testimonies from West Indian teachers, American teachers and legislators, and West Indian Students to formulate her ideology that the location of where West Indian Immigrants decide to live once they arrive to the U.S influences their educational achievement. A thirty-seven year old Jamaican teacher, who has lived in the U.S for seven years, expressed that she would rather live in a neighborhood where the population was racially balanced between whites and minorities primarily because her child will be more comfortable and there would be more educational opportunities for them to explore (Waters 1999). Another major factor that Waters mentioned as contributing to this shift in enrollments of Caribbean immigrants is the change in importance of schooling amongst parents of West Indian children due to the change in the economy. The parents of West Indian children did not mind doing someone’s housework or being a nurse’s aide when they were adolescents (Waters 1999). Therefore, they were not particularly motivated to go to college and receive formal education.  On the contrary, West Indian children of this generation do not want jobs of that caliber. They are more interested in professional careers such as doctor, lawyer, or teacher. These are jobs that require a college education, so in order to fulfill their dreams they must enroll into a good college or university.

John Ogbu

John Ogbu was a Nigerian-American anthropologist and professor best known for his creation of the concept “Involuntary and Voluntary Minorities”. Although he died in 2003, his legacy has persevered.  His findings have been utilized by many educationalists to interpret the relationship between immigrant minority students and native born minorities in the education system.  “Involuntary minorities are less economically successful than voluntary minorities, usually experience greater and more persistent cultural and language difficulties, and do less well in school” (Ogbu 1998). According to Ogbu children of immigrant minorities are also classified as voluntary minorities, although they were born in the U.S and had no say in whether or not they live in the U.S (Ogbu 1998). Through his research Ogbu was able to identify that many Africans and Caribbean’s have assimilated with nonimmigrant minorities and adapted their sense of peoplehood. Role models within the voluntary minority communities are usually people who have fully acculturated, attained a higher education, and achieved economic success. In the following quote Ogbu provides a contrast between the two ethnic groups:

“They are hard workers who have played by the rules of the system and succeeded. Voluntary minorities are less conflicted about accommodating to white society, so their role models include people who fully adopt white ways and language….Involuntary minorities’ role models include conventional categories-entertainer, athletes, professionals, and the wealthy–as well as nonconventional types–rebels against white society and people of exceptional courage. Unlike voluntary minorities who admire conventional role models (e.g., minority doctors, engineers, executives, lawyers) for working their way up from the inside and playing by the rules, involuntary minorities tend to criticize minority professionals as ‘unconventional’ (from a minority perspective), rule-breakers, people who achieved success because they worked twice as hard, were twice as smart, twice as strong, and sometimes were just lucky” (Ogbu 1998).

Ogbu’s conclusion can be used to formulate another reason for why Caribbean students have become more represented in U.S colleges and Universities than Native African Americans in the last few decades. Since Caribbean students are more likely to perceive minorities in the corporate field as role models, they hypothetically should want to acquire jobs of that similar caliber once of age. Therefore, they are more internally motivated to go to college and obtain a quality education.

Debra Viadero

Debra Viadero is an assistant managing editor for the national newspaper Education Week. Through her research she discovered similar findings as John Ogbu to explain why there is a discrepancy in the representation of African Americans and Caribbean immigrants in U.S colleges and universities. Her explanation is founded off the ideology that Caribbean immigrants are more internally motivated to pursue an education than African Americans. She uses a quote from a professor at Michigan State University, Ruben G. Rumbaut, to support her belief; “‘They take what they’re doing more seriously, and they generally appreciate the fact that, for them, education is the ticket to social mobility’” (Viadero 1998). To further validate her theory, Viadero also mentioned that a study conducted in 1992 stated that a higher percentage of immigrant students in comparison to American students, including African Americans and whites, desired a college degree or higher. Another fact that she included was that over a four year span from 1992 there was a percentage increase in the number of immigrants who preferred speaking English instead of their native languages. These children have an understanding that in order to achieve their goal of academic success they must perfect the English language.

Douglas Massey

Douglas Massey is an American sociologist who is currently a professor of Sociology at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University as well as a professor of Sociology at the University of Pennsylvania (“Douglas”). Massey is specifically interested in the sociology of immigration. In 2007 Massey wrote an article analyzing the data obtained from the National Longitudinal Survey of Freshmen. The explanations that Massey and his colleagues have postulated to account for the phenomenon between Caribbean immigrants and African Americans resemble that of John Ogbu and Debra Viadero. Massey et al. use ideas from researchers in 1997 to 2003 to form a conclusion that stressing the importance of respecting authority and family solidarity characteristics of immigrant families as well as their status as voluntary minorities fosters a positive perception of education and social of mobility (Massey et al. 2007). Massey also notes that prior to arriving in the U.S, Jamaican immigrants are usually members of the skilled middle class and have exhausted all their occupational opportunities (Massey et al. 1998). This is the case for many other immigrants who migrate to the U.S as well. The reputation of U.S colleges and the countless opportunities offered in the United States attracts the most prestigious immigrants, which can account for their high motivation level. Statistical data has shown that some admission officers deliberately choose to admit black immigrants over descendants of American slaves. “This scenario represents an example of ‘statistical discrimination,’ in which admissions officers have nothing against native blacks per se but nonetheless use foreign origin as a proxy for other characteristics they find attractive” (Blank et al. 2004). This is directly linked to the stereotype that researchers have discovered over the years that whites feel more comfortable with black immigrants in comparison to black natives. Whites see black immigrants as “more polite, less hostile, more solicitous, and ‘easier to get along with’” than black natives (Massey et al. 2007).

Amy Lutz and Pamela Bennett

Amy Lutz is an associate professor of sociology at Maxwell School of Syracuse University. Her colleague Pamela Bennett is an assistant professor of the sociology department. Lutz and Bennett teamed up to investigate blacks in U.S colleges. Their interest in this subject was sparked from a comment made from Harvard professors Lani Guinier and Henry Gates, Jr. who observed at a 2004 reunion that more than half the black students at Harvard were West Indian and African immigrants. These two authors use data from the 1988 National Education Longitudinal Study to conduct an analysis of Black students who attend college in the United States. Their research led them to discover that 56.9% of immigrant black freshmen come from two-parent families opposed to 51.4% natives blacks. They also were able to find that 70% of immigrant blacks’ fathers have a college degree, when only 55.2% of native blacks’ fathers have a college degree (Bennett and Lutz 2009). Lutz and Bennett used these statistics to suggest that black immigrants have a relatively significant advantage to succeed academically than native blacks. This is the basis of their argument to support why Caribbean immigrants are represented more in colleges than native blacks.


Should this topic even be up for debate? If Caribbean immigrants meet the criteria to attend a prestigious college in the U.S, then why does it matter that they weren’t born in the United States. Colleges are competitive institutions and should not lower their standards to accommodate for individuals who do not meet their qualifications, whether they were born in the United States or not. This does not mean, however, that admissions officers are allowed to use discriminatory tactics to select individuals based off of their own preferences rather than off the student’s merits. The similarity in answers from authors over the last two decades to the question of why Caribbean immigrants are more represented in U.S colleges than native blacks, has demonstrated that native blacks have the opportunity to obtain a college degree, but they lack the internal motivation that most Caribbean immigrants possess.


Waters, Mary. Black Identities: West Indian Immigrant Dream and American Realities. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1999.

Massey, Douglas, Margarita Mooney, Kimberly Torres, and Camille Charles.  “Black Immigrants and Black Natives Attending Selective College and Universities in the United States.” American Journal of Education 113, no. 0195–6744 (February 2007).

Ogbu, J. U. and Simons, H. D. (1998), “Voluntary and Involuntary Minorities: A Cultural-Ecological Theory of School Performance with Some Implications for Education.” Anthropology & Education Quarterly, 29: 155–188. doi: 10.1525/aeq.1998.29.2.155

Viadero, Debra. “Immigrant Children Succeed Despite Barriers, Report Says.” Education Week, April 1, 1998.

Bennett, Pamela R., and Amy Lutz. “How African American Is the Net Black Advantage? Differences in College Attendance Among Immigrant Blacks, Native Blacks, and Whites.” Sociology of Education 82, no. 1 (January 1, 2009): 70–100.

“Douglas Massey.” Facebook, n.d.

The Effect of Student Activism on Trinity College Policy

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Trinity College in 2012

Whether performed on a small undergraduate campus or demonstrated on the streets in a global context, student activism is prominent in all realms of the world. Private liberal arts colleges, such as Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut, have the opportunities and extensive networking outreach to assemble in an intimate setting in which students are valued and given the prospect of bright futures. This kind of environment provides the student population with an ample amount of social engagement and the opportunity to express concern and opposition to existing policies. Trinity College has undergone a significant amount of amendments to its jurisdiction since it’s founding in 1823, and within the last few decades, the acknowledgement of student involvement has led to effectual change in policy. This leads to the question: how have changes in Trinity policy been influenced by student activism since the 1960s?

Specifically race, alcohol, and fraternities have largely been the subjects of dispute on undergraduate campuses. Each of these controversial topics has been assessed periodically throughout the course of Trinity history due to the ever-changing standards of society and generational growth. The relationship between the administration and the student body contains a mutual respect for one another. Trinity’s mission statement represents their overall view on the students’ role:

“Our students take increasing responsibility for shaping their education as they progress through the curriculum, and recognize that becoming liberally educated is a lifelong process of learning and discovery, An attractive, secure, and supportive campus community that provides students with myriad opportunities for interaction with their peers as well as with the faculty” (Trinity College, 2012).

Thus it seems that students are given the responsibility to motivate the wanted change necessary for communal satisfaction. Although faculty and trustees possess the administrative power, the immediate and rapid response time that the college administration delivered over policy changes is due solely to the influence of student activism and protest. There are a variety of factors that produced each effectual change in policy at Trinity, and the most outstanding contributor has been student activism, involvement, and influence, particularly concerning controversial policy change about race, alcohol, and fraternities, since the 1960s.

Historical Background

Trinity migrated from a local all men’s collegiate establishment to a regional coeducational institution broadened by global access due to the implementation of study abroad programs. This transformation exemplifies the multitude of periodical changes that have been made over the course of Trinity’s historical background. Among the variety of demonstrations, protests, and activist movements that took place, students were dedicated to protecting their community and in effect became the forefront initiators of the policy changes that occurred. Undergraduate students have been agents of social change since the beginning of the 20th century. The 1960s in particular sparked a significant increase in student involvement wherein students became politically substantial activists. Dr. Theodore Lockwood was appointed as the fifteenth president of Trinity College in 1968, which began the progressive decade that student activism peaked. In his inaugural speech, he communicated that the duty of the college was to permit and tolerate student expression:

“If the independent college is to serve society effectively, it must retain its privilege…to examine society, and freely to question its assumptions and practices…[In addition,] a college must play an active role in helping to resolve, not simply to identify, issues off campus” (Knapp, 2000).

Lockwood’s promotion of social engagement established a new-found standard for student involvement in the community. With President Lockwood’s encouragement and the lack of control that students felt because of the turmoil in the world around them, students were motivated to make a difference in their internal and external communities. Student immersion and involvement in national and global controversies provoked campus discourse and opposition to authority. Occurrences such as the Bay of Pigs, the bombing of North Vietnam, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and the death of Malcolm X, became prominent societal turbulence particularly affecting those graduating into the reality of adulthood. Peter and Anne Knapp (2000) identified this increase in activism in Trinity College in the Twentieth Century:

“The 1960s were a time of extremes in the country, and energized by intellectual vitality and moral fervor, college students nationwide sought to counter the pervasive forces of gloom and devastation that were present on the national and international front, and whose manifestations were being reported daily in the press as well as on radio and television. Trinity students looked beyond the campus to engage in a host of local activities” (Knapp, 2000).

By experiencing the world in crisis, students began to formulate a democracy within their community and the intimate nature of Trinity’s small enrollment allowed this to occur. The Trinity College chapter of the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) alliance was founded in 1966, which advocated for “the establishment of social democracy in the United States, and a humanist view of the rest of the world” (Knapp, 2000). The national SDS evolved from the Intercollegiate Socialist Society (ISS) that was founded in 1905, which promoted world peace with a concentration on civil policies and rights. It became the foremost organization for student expression throughout undergraduate college campuses.

With a solidified outlet for social movement, students were entitled to release their frustrations, objections, and beliefs while gaining the ability to challenge the authority that they resided under. However the 1969 separation of the national SDS diminished the allure of such an organization to Trinity students by means of deterring the interest of urgent matters to much broader concerns students knew could not be confronted. Demonstrations and protests across the board also became increasingly violent and the efforts of students failed to provide any sufficient outcomes. The SDS chapter was eliminated in 1970. Thus student expression peaked around 1970 and significantly decreased thereafter.

While global dysfunction continued to encumber the lives of students, Trinity’s internal community encountered its own share of acute political conflicts. Controversial topics such as attacks of racism, alcohol restrictions, and fraternity reign, were notorious and continue to subsist amid the student population. It is important to note that in the social movements discussed, the response of the Trinity administration and further change in policy reflects the impact of student activism.


Racial discrimination in particular drove students to perform an unprecedented act of social change. The topic of racism is generally excluded from the discourse due to its sensitivity and subjectivity, however The Civil Rights Movement that occurred in the early 1960s “heightened undergraduate awareness of race relations and the status of blacks in America, and promoted many Trinity students to ask why more blacks were not being admitted to the College” (Knapp, 2000). This immense battle for racial equality aggravated the Trinity community and led to the infamous “lock-in” in 1968 in which “168 students occupied the Downes and Williams administration buildings in an effort to force the trustees to consider the Senate’s proposal concerning scholarships for black students” (Knapp, 2000).

Trinity College "Lock-in" Hartford Times, 1968

The incident lasted for approximately thirty-two hours, and the trustees were held captive in their meeting room as students surrounded the proximate areas. A petition was signed by almost 14 percent of the entire student body in order to prevent disciplinary action against the original six that spearheaded the protest. The president at the time, Albert C. Jacobs, claimed that the “lock-in” resulted in a lack of victory on both sides, however the college administration immediately responded consequently leading to the promise of a $30,000 scholarship fund for Negro students as well as momentum to enroll disadvantaged students in the future. Unfortunately, the issue of racism in the Trinity community has remained prevalent. In April 2011, racist remarks and acts of discriminatory vandalism were reported across the campus and a “No Tolerance” or “Zero Tolerance” policy was demanded by the student body in a protest that took place in front of Mather Hall. An unspecified professor took a stand, “we demand to live in a culture that is civilized” (Provost, 2011).

"No Tolerance" Policy Demanded by Students, Mather Hall 2011

Approximately three weeks after this demonstration occurred, and thirty or so students conducted a sit-in at the Dean of Students office, the Trinity administration delivered a sufficient response to the student activism:

“The Dean of Students Office and the SGA have agreed to work through the Campus Climate Committee to create a new policy on bias-related harassment that is more explicit in conveying that the College community does not tolerate such acts and that individuals who are found by the College judicial process to have committed targeted acts of harassment based on race, sexual identity, gender, or other forms of bias will face serious consequences up to and including expulsion from the College” (Provost, 2011).

This addition to Trinity policy transpired because of the resilient student activism and because of “a response they felt was appropriate given what they perceived to be a trend of racism and homophobia on campus. Conversely, others argued that the incident was an isolated event, and not symptomatic of a larger intolerant campus climate” (College Archives, 2011). Regardless of subjective remarks, the attacks of racism provoked the student body to contest the lack of policy on discriminatory behavior resulting in the administration’s acknowledgement of its consequences and an implementation of a policy to prevent it in the future.

Alcohol and Fraternities

In addition to the persistent issues regarding racial discrimination, alcohol and fraternity reign have been considered widely renowned subjects of controversy in terms of student protest to policies and regulations. In October of 1964, President Albert C. Jacobs announced, “no alcoholic beverages will be permitted at any function of the college, including functions at the several fraternities, attended by any undergraduate regardless of age” (New York Times, 1964) that instigated a student demonstration of about 300 participants to storm out in front of his home only two hours later. Students chanted the black freedom song “We Shall Overcome” and marched to the State Capitol later that evening. One day later, President Jacobs remarked, “if students submitted reasonable, responsible, and workable plans, those over 21 years old would be permitted beverages in their quarters” (New York Times, 1964), consequently revoking his original statement and enabling the student body to disregard his authority.

The 1964 ban on alcohol in fraternities was never erased from Trinity policy yet it wasn’t until January of 2012, almost fifty years later, that an enforcement and alteration in the policy was mandated. This so-called ‘new’ Social Policy was announced by means of email to the student body over their winter vacation, preventing student protest and outrage from occurring on the campus: “[the policy was] implemented by the Dean of Students to curb excessive party culture and self-destructive alcohol consumption at Trinity” (Laws, 2012). Regardless, the student community was not enthused about the new list of regulations that prevented their previous habits of free reign from continuing and when second semester commenced, student opposition was ignited. The momentous uproar that this new policy caused was like wildfire across the community, heard by faculty, trustees, and even the caterers at the dining halls. A four-hour forum was hosted by the administration at the Vernon Social Center, to allow student input and expression in which approximately 500 to 1000 students attended. The overwhelming response led to an email from the Dean of Students: only one weekend after the event took place. The email entailed a request for a Student Task Force “to produce recommendations for changes to the social policy” (Laws, 2012). In the few weeks that followed, the Student Government Association (SGA) hosted a forum for students to address their concerns and complaints that gave the newly installed Student Task Force a foundation of recommendations to negotiate policy review with the administration. The tremendous hostility towards this new policy created bad blood between the student body and the administration, and students became defensive: “Several students emphasized that the school wide uproar is not simply an effort to fight for the ‘right to party,’ as it has often be stated, but it is a call to change many of the existing problems at Trinity” (Mehraban, 2012). In an interview with President James F. Jones, he encouraged students to understand the balance of academia and social engagement that the new policy attempted to uphold by stating, “what do you think your diploma stands for?” (Ragosta, 2012) In the end, the SGA Task Force and the administration negotiated to create a new draft of the policy: “This new draft reflects the voices of the student body and addresses the abrupt and exclusive nature of the previous policy, and features various compromises that the Task Force has reached with members of the administration” (Kim, 2012). Furthermore, the administration promised to “provide at least two weeks notice to the student body before making any policy changes, unless a legal mandate or clear and present danger compels immediate action by the College” (Kim, 2012). Conclusively, the reformed social host policy was a direct result of the student opposition and activism and was implemented only a few weeks after the opposition began.


The outcomes associated with student social movements over time have been acknowledged and reflect successful persuasion. Accordingly, the responsibility of the student body is to motivate change in Trinity policy. Key policies were changed immediately or shortly after student protests, thus it is student activism and influence on the college administration that has lead Trinity progressively forward. If student activism had not been prevalent, Trinity College would not have reached the tremendous growth and achievement that it represents today. According to Trinity student Bryan Farb ‘14, “if we can cultivate a sense of unity, that’s going to go a long way towards battling some of the existing social ills” (Mehraban, 2012). The speedy response time that the college administration has delivered over opposition to policies is because of the vast influence of student activism and protest. Trinity Action Films produced a video on YouTube that explicated student expressions on the social policy as well as prompt conversation between students for future controversies: “We hope that all students will watch the video, and we hope to stimulate much needed conversation on campus, not only about the Social Policy, but about the full spectrum of interconnected issues we’re facing this year as a College community” (YouTube, 2012). The new Social Policy has provoked a new era of student activism, which will hopefully be maintained by all aspects of the community for generations to come.


About the Author: Louise Balsmeyer is a sophomore educational studies and child psychology major at Trinity College in Hartford, CT.


Works Cited

Kim, Bomina. (2012). Policy Changes Attained by Task Force. The Trinity Tripod.

Knapp, Peter J., and Anne H. Knapp. (2000). Trinity College in the Twentieth Century. Hartford: n.p.

Laws, Joesph. (2012). Social Policy Combats Discrimination at Trinity. The Trinity Tripod.

Matesky, Edwin. (1968). Trinity Fund Pledge Ends Sit-in. Hartford Times.

Mehraban, Alexa. (2012). Task Force Selected to Attack Policy. The Trinity Tripod.

Mission Statement. (n.d.). Trinity College. Retrieved May 3, 2012, from

(2011). Protesting Hate at Trinity College, April 2011. College Archives.

Provost, Kerri. (2011). Trinity Students Protest Hate on Campus. From>

Ragosta, Peter. (2012). An Interview with President Jones on Academics and the New Social Policy. The Trinity Tripod.

Special to The New York Times. (1964). Trinity college ban on liquor arouses a student protest. New York Times, pp. 49-49.

Trinity College Social Policy Review. (2012). YouTube. Retrieved May 3, 2012, from

Change in Evaluation of Teach For America

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“Teach for America Welcomes and seeks out rigorous independent evaluations as a means of measuring our impact and continuously improving our program.”

Six years ago, on October 5th, 2006, this quote appeared on the Teach For America website promoting the importance of continuous improvement and change in order to ensure the maximum efficiency of this still developing program. Today, six years later, hard evidence and research is entirely omitted from the website with the emphasis on personal testimonies of corps members and inspirational quotes and statements. This pattern is not solely apparent within the Teach for America (TFA) website, it is also apparent among multiple different studies conducted over time among TFA advocates. Beginning in the early 1990’s, the first evidence reflecting the impacts of Teach for America began to be produced by scholars and TFA advocates. Multiple criticisms appeared, ranging from inadequate training of corps members prior to their placements to a lack of improvement on reading scores in the classrooms. However, improvements were acknowledgeable, specifically in regards to math due to the statistically significant positive impact TFA corps members had on students’ math scores. Continuing through the early 2000’s, studies and advocates continued to analyze TFA based on statistics; however, results were beginning to appear negative than the beginning years of the program. Recently, a drastic shift in scholarly articles, mainly from former TFA members or advocates of TFA, analyzing the effectiveness of TFA has begun to occur. Five years ago, TFA advocates emphasized and encouraged reform in response to numerous scholarly studies evaluating the statistical impact of the program, but present-day materials from advocates focus on testimonials and inspirational quotes instead. This change over time on the part of advocates is due to the difficulty in providing a reliable nation-wide statistical evaluation of TFA, whereas anecdotal evidence is concrete and unequivocal.

TFA, only a twenty-two year old program, originated in 1989 at Princeton University when Wendy Kopp wrote her senior thesis on the achievement gap in America. She was determined to create a program that would help to bridge this gap and provide students with the quality teachers they deserved from some of the most elite universities in the country. She was initially faced with the difficulty of receiving adequate funding to support her new endeavor but with a $500,000 grant from H. Ross Perot, Kopp’s hopes to create an impact through a revolutionary program quickly became a reality. TFA began in 1990, a year after Kopp’s graduation from Princeton, with a small group of 500 corps members. These members underwent training at the Los Angeles summer institute prior to being placed in their schools. TFA initially began as a small-scale grassroots organization educating 35,000 students across six different regions in the United States. Remarkably, the most recent data from 2010 shows that TFA now consists of 8,200 corps members who are educating over 500,000 students (Teach for America: A Timeline, 2011). In addition to TFA’s drastic expansion within the United States, in 2007 Kopp launched Teach For All in order “to support development of [the Teach For America] model in other countries” (TFA Website, 2012).

One of the most influential changes, in regards to advocates of TFA, that has occurred over the past half a decade is mainly notable through the evaluation of the TFA website. In 2006, as stated above, the TFA website clearly encouraged outside scholars to conduct research and provide feedback in regards to the progress of the program:

“Teach For America - Home”, October 5, 2006.

In 2006, a study conducted by Decker, Mayer, & Glazerman (2004), was advertised proudly on the TFA website, as shown in the screenshot above, to indicate the gains they had made in regards to math score achievement. This study was a national evaluation of TFA, based on the Baltimore, Chicago, Los Angeles, Houston, New Orleans, and Mississippi regions. This national study provided a comparison of control group teachers and TFA teachers. Control group teachers referred to any teachers that had no affiliation with TFA and TFA teachers referred to TFA corps members still participating in their first two years of teaching required by TFA and former corps members that were still teaching despite their completion of their two required years. It was concluded that “about 25 percent of TFA teachers had either a bachelor’s or a master’s degree in education compared with 55 percent of control group teachers overall” (Decker et al., 2004). Similarly, 51 percent of TFA teachers had earned their teacher certification whereas 67 percent of the control group had earned their teacher certification.

Even with this discrepancy in certification and achievement levels in schooling towards degrees involving education among TFA teachers and control teachers, Decker et al. found that TFA teachers still had a statistically significant positive impact on their students in regards to achievement on math scores but not in regards to reading scores. The graph below represents this relationship shown in Decker et al.’s study:

Decker, P. T, D. P Mayer, S. Glazerman, and University of Wisconsin–Madison. Institute for Research on Poverty. The Effects of Teach for America on Students: Findings from a National Evaluation. University of Wisconsin–Madison, Institute for Research on Poverty, 2004.

Similarly, a study conducted in 2005 by Darling-Hammond, Holtzman, Gatlin, & Heilig provided an excellent statistical analysis of the impacts TFA has had based on a large sample of students from Houston Texas. The study compared TFA corps members to certified teachers with similar amounts of experience from 1995-2002. As stated earlier, all TFA members underwent a brief training period prior to entering their schools, but many have not participated in state certification programs that can take years to complete. This study examines the differences between TFA members with their teacher certification, TFA members without their teacher certification, teachers in the Houston school systems that were not TFA members with their certification, and Houston teachers that had not received their teacher certification.

It was found that from 1996-1999 there were significantly more certified TFA members than certified non-TFA members, however, from the 1999-2000 school year and on, this relationship was completely reversed and significantly more non-TFA members were certified than TFA members (Darling-Hammond et al., 2005). This relationship can be shown by the graph below:

Darling-Hammond, L. “Does Teacher Preparation Matter? Evidence About Teacher Certification, Teach for America, and Teacher Effectiveness Linda Darling-Hammond, Deborah J. Holtzman, Su Jin Gatlin, and Julian Vasquez Heilig.” Education Policy Analysis Archives 13, no. 42 (2005): 2.

This decrease in the certification of TFA corps members over time has caused an overall negative effect on the program in Houston. In the earlier years of this study, when TFA members were more likely to be certified than Houston teachers that were not TFA members, the impact of their teaching was positive, specifically in regards to the Texas Assessment of Academic Skills (TAAS) math test. However, in the early 2000’s, when the number of certified TFA members declined, the impacts were found to be non-significant, or even negative, in regards to improvements on scores (Darling-Hammond et al., 2005).

In response to this data, the TFA website intelligently chose to advertise the positive outcomes resulting from these studies when declaring, in regards to Decker et al.’s study that TFA teacher’s students “attain greater gains in math than other teachers in the study, even when compared only to certified teachers and veteran teachers” (TFA Website). However, advocates are not seeking to ignore the other statistics, especially when articles have been written by TFA advocates proposing reform and improvement to the flaws emerging from scholarly studies. In 2008, Hopkins, a former TFA corps member, wrote an article in response to data from earlier studies on TFA. Due to concrete statistics in regards to what was beneficial for the program and what was detrimental, Hopkins was able to suggest reform efforts to TFA that could have the potential to make a significant impact on improving an incredibly promising program. She suggests three alterations, “1) extend the TFA commitment to three years; 2) convert that first year of teaching to a residency training year, offering classroom training with expert veteran teachers while corps members also complete coursework toward certification; and 3) offer incentives for corps members to teach longer than three years” (Hopkins, 721). These suggested reforms may not be the only answer, but they were an attempt by a dedicated former member of TFA to address some of the more prominent issues the program struggles with and are challenged on by critics.

The acknowledgement of numerical analysis provided by studies over a decade after the implementation of TFA, by advocates, allowed for the hope of incredibly beneficial reform to this still developing program. The data produced in the early to mid 2000’s suggested both positive and negative impacts the program had made on school systems and both former corps members and employees of TFA were receptive to this data and willing to publicly advertise it. Recently, in the past few years, advocates of TFA have taken a different approach, eliminating the focus on statistical research and relying heavily on testimonial evidence.

Studies from 2011 and 2012 impeccably mirror the more recent changes to the TFA website over the past six years. As shown through Decker et al.’s study, statistics in regards to mathematics scores are in favor of TFA, however, TFA has made little to no impact on reading scores. Also, Darling-Hammond et al. provides evidence that the statistics favoring TFA are slowly declining over time. More recent studies have chosen to avoid these findings and instead propose testimonial explanations for TFA’s success, mainly due to the contradictory statistics produced at local and national levels in regards to the effects of TFA.

The most notable change, since 2006, occurred within the TFA website. Six years ago clearly on the bottom of the web site appeared the link “researchers”:

“Teach For America - Home”, October 5, 2006.

Today there are still similar links such as, “how to apply” and “donate” but instead of options to view research there are links such as “where we work,” due to the expansion of the program and the numerous site options, and “committed individuals” among others. One of the first images seen when entering the website is, “What Role Will You Play?” with the caption below the question stating, “We know it’s possible to provide a great education for all kids. Hear from corps members who are leading their students to success.” The website has shifted from promoting and advertising the program in a fact based manner to utilizing, as said before, personal testimonies that evoke emotion and inspiration among possible future participants.

This shift over time has been reflected not solely on the TFA website but also among studies written in the past two years by other advocates of TFA. These studies claim that  “more influential in the policy world are the anecdotal stories surrounding TFA, which range from portrayals of dismal schools where TFA teachers worked diligently in the interests of oppressed youth (e.g., Foote, 2008; Johnston, 2002), to testimonials supporting TFA’s impact on students’ lives” (Téllez, 2011). Téllez presents an entire case study based on “Stephen,” a pseudonym for a former corps member, and his story of entering education, his TFA experience, and his continued path in the field of education after TFA. Téllez claims that studies like Stephen’s “could help to move us past the indeterminacies of the quantitative research as well as providing a more objective analysis of TFA than the descriptive literature” (Téllez, 2011). As Stephen has continued on to become the principle of an Urban Charter school, his personal testimony emphasizes that TFA’s undeniable support and optimistic outlook on his ability to make a difference among his students at his placement school is what led him to succeed. He would not have gained motivation from observing favorable statistics for TFA. He gained confidence in his abilities from the support and belief instilled in him by TFA members and Téllez’s study seeks to portray that same message through his qualitative study.

Initially, with the emergence of Teach for America, advocates were eager to publicize and view statistics in regards to the impact of the program. These findings, on a local and national level, produced analogous data in some respects but with such an expanding program and many confounding variables it was found that it is hard to evaluate the impact of the program accurately. Therefore, a shift in present day materials produced by TFA advocates has occurred in order to avoid the ambiguity of certain statistics. The statistical data should not be ignored and is worth acknowledging and considering for the proposal of improvements to the growing program, but analysis of testimonies and promotion of these personal achievements is an effective and precise portrayal of the program and the impact it is making on its members as well as their students.


Darling-Hammond, L. “Does Teacher Preparation Matter? Evidence About Teacher Certification, Teach for America, and Teacher Effectiveness Linda Darling-Hammond, Deborah J. Holtzman, Su Jin Gatlin, and Julian Vasquez Heilig.” Education Policy Analysis Archives 13, no. 42 (2005): 2.

Decker, P. T, D. P Mayer, S. Glazerman, and University of Wisconsin–Madison. Institute for Research on Poverty. The Effects of Teach for America on Students: Findings from a National Evaluation. University of Wisconsin–Madison, Institute for Research on Poverty, 2004.

“Home”, n.d.

Hopkins, Megan. “Training The Next Teachers For America: A Proposal for Reconceptualizing Teach for America.” Phi Delta Kappan 89, no. 10 (June 2008): 721–725.

“Teach for America: A Timeline.” Education Week 30, no. 24 (March 16, 2011): 24.

“Teach For America – Home”, October 5, 2006.

Téllez, Kip. “A Case Study of a Career in Education That Began with ‘Teach for America’.” Teaching Education 22, no. 1 (2011): 15–38.

Coeducation in Colleges

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Having officially accepted women to their undergraduate program in 1837, Oberlin College was the first university postsecondary institution to become coeducational. Following Oberlin, other colleges across the United States began to open their doors to female undergraduates. However there were some universities that stayed single-sex, such as the Seven Sister schools, which praised all-female education, and found that their students would thrive separated from men.  In her book, Separate by Degree: Women’s Students’ Experiences in Single-Sex and Coeducational Colleges, Leslie Miller-Bernal states, “women’s colleges have always lived under a banner of controversy…as they developed and became an important part of American higher education, stereotypes have often been used to describe them…but they have also been damaging in their ability to obscure the educational value of women’s colleges and to confuse, if not terrify, potential applicants” (Miller-Bernal p. xv).  This banner of controversy that Miller-Bernal goes on to describe is one of the many reasons why single-sex colleges merged to become coeducational institutions, to avoid some negative connotations that might have been associated with their schools, as well as to attract more potential applicants who might have been more interested in the school had it been coeducational. Coeducation, while it plays a large part in how men and women were, and are currently, educated, also affects in what ways the students are educated. In coeducational institutions, the gender demographics affect campus climate outside of the classroom, as well as inside of it; it is important to investigate how coeducation of women affected the gender demographics of student majors, by potentially further developing female-dominated majors, or bridging the gap to male-dominated fields.

Waiting over 100 years to co-educate after Oberlin College, Trinity College officially became a mixed-sex college in 1969. The reasons for Trinity’s acceptance of women were a mutually beneficial decision for both the college and the students; the dean of faculty, Robert Fuller, proposed said reasons to President Lockwood, to explain how Trinity would benefit from accepting women[1]. Fuller explained that studies suggested that men and women educated separately may be at a disadvantage, because they would not be fully prepared for the world after college in which they did not have the option of only working with people of their own sex. At the time at which Dean Fuller was writing this memo he addressed the falling number of applications that Trinity received, and declared that it was because men, at the time, wanted to go to mixed-sex colleges. Therefore, because the number of applications was decreasing, Dean Fuller suggests that the number of talented students at the college was shrinking because there was not as large of a set to choose from.  Fuller subsequently gave the President gave three key reasons as to why Trinity could only succeed if it decided to accept women. The first reason present was to accept women would cause Trinity to draw a more talented group of applicants, therefore Trinity would have more talented students; the college could replace less talented men with more talented women. Second, the distraction associated with having a mixed-sex classroom would rapidly diminish with a constant presence of women. Lastly, admitting women would “be continuing [Trinity’s] tradition of undertaking whatever actions are necessary to protect its excellence;” this final piece of logical reasoning, as well as with those previously stated, shows that Dean Fuller truly was focused on protecting the excellence of Trinity, and proved himself right when one year after his memo was read by President Lockwood women were accepted to Trinity College, and the college’s coeducation was official.

Presently, it has come to the attention of colleges and universities just how large of an impact that the coeducation of women has had on the nation’s higher learning institutions.  From an article in the New York Times: “Department of Education statistics show that men, whatever their race or socioeconomic group, are less likely than women to get bachelor’s degrees – and among those who do, fewer complete their degrees in four or five years. Men also get worse grades than women…faced with applications and enrollment numbers that tilt toward women, some selective private colleges are giving men a slight boost in admissions”[2]. This present-day divide is the ironic inversion of what coeducation was like in the 1900s. When women began at mixed-sex institutions they remained in a passive state, letting men remain dominant in fields that stereotypically were not appropriate for women, such as the sciences or the humanities like political science or economics. This dominance has slowly diminished, and has allowed women to find equality in the gender demographics regarding student majors.

According to The Princeton Review, there are ten majors that are the most popular in the entire United States: Business Administration, Psychology, Nursing, Biology, Education, English/Literature, Economics, Communications, Political Science, and Computer Science.[3] While these majors span both the liberal arts and large university education offerings, it is worthwhile to look further into how this list might compare to the preferred majors of each gender. In a study from 2010, performed by Forbes, the ten most popular majors for male and female students we comprised into two lists.[4] The number of students who received a degree in that specific major, while compared by percentage of each gender in the major, is how Forbes chose t. As reported by Forbes, the most popular majors for women in 2010 were Business, Health Professions, Social Sciences, Education, Psychology, Visual and Performing Arts, Communications, Biology, English/Literature, and Liberal Arts. Comparatively, for men the most popular majors were Business, Social Sciences, Engineering, Visual and Performing Arts, Computer Science, Biology, Communications, Education, Psychology, and Security and Protective Services. What is particularly interesting about these lists is the percentage of men to women that are in these “popular” majors. For example, the majors listed for women all have predominantly more women than men, with the exception of Business and Social Sciences which have percentages that are slightly smaller than half. Conversely, the majors for the men are somewhat more skewed. While some of the more popular majors are shared with women, those that are shared have less men to women in the program. The programs that have the most men are those that are not listed for women: Engineering, Computer Science, and Security and Protective Services. These dichotomy between majors, while it shows signs of advancement for women who share popular majors with men, also shows that there is still separation between the male and female spheres in college education on the national scale.

On the smaller scale that refers directly to Trinity College, the dichotomy between majors is one that still thrives somewhat. When looking at the data of major statistics from the past 22 years one can see how the popularity of certain majors have either progressed or digressed.[5] For example, the English major has decreased from having a total of 70 students in 1989 to just 43 in 2011, however what is most notable is that 67% of that decrease is accounted for by men who stopped majoring in English, allowing the major to become predominantly female. In opposition to the English major’s decrease of male students, over the past 22 years, men have accounted for 92% of the increase in the Economics department. Furthermore, the major that women have consistently majored in more than men, with no variation, is Women, Gender, and Sexuality (WMGS). In the past 8 years – the major was introduced to the graduating class of 2003, 36 out of the 38 students who have received a WMGS degree have been women. Though this statistic is the least surprising, it is probably the most telling because when comparing it to the other majors offered by the college, most majors have showed equalization between the genders or at minimum a progression to equalization. Majors that were once male-dominated are slowly becoming equalized, however the majors that were female-dominated in 1989 are still female-dominated today, which suggests a possible hesitance for men to extend into the female sphere while it is not as threatening for women to force themselves to extend into the male sphere since they already had to do that when coeducation began.

The differences in majors may be associated with the way that colleges were taught about how their institution can support its women.[6] Schools in the New England Small College Athletic Conference were influenced by Hamilton College and Middlebury College who followed the rule that a “way a college can support its women students is by having courses on women’s issues, such as women and the arts, or the sociology of women.” This idea of supporting female students through appealing to what is perceived to be interests to them was then pressed upon the women, who were in turn given little opportunity to explore other subjects.6 Evidence for this can be found in how colleges enrolled their students in courses, and who they allowed to enroll in courses. The influence that institutions played on their students is what once separated the spheres of male-dominant and female-dominant majors; it was not until after coeducation had been enacted for years that institutions stopped influencing their students.

Women’s integration into the male sphere is an action that is continuous in the United States. Throughout history women have had to fight for equality in the workplace, because at one point it was solely the “man’s job” to work and be economically responsible for the household. However, the integration of women into all-male schools has helped to alleviate the separation of men and women in the workplace. Though women are still earning 81 cents to the man’s dollar, this gap has shrunk in recent years. Today, the largest gaps in income are seen in the highest-paying professions, which happen to be mainly male-dominated. Comparing the most popular male majors to the list of highest earning Bachelor Degrees can make this inference: Engineering and Computer Science are the two highest-earning degrees.

However, as noted, the percentage difference between male and female earnings is at maximum 3%, which shows signs of improvement from the once 10% difference.[7] So while Forbes reports that Engineering and Computer Science are popular majors for men, and men dominate those fields, the women that do choose to earn their Bachelors Degrees in those fields reap the rewards of doing so. The classroom competition that goes along with coeducation is what seems to be the motivation for women to succeed after college.  At Trinity College, the Engineering and Computer Science programs have both grown in regards to their female students, so it appears as though the women of the college are taking note of the rewards that are at stake for crossing into a male-dominated field.

While women are now moving into the world of male-dominated fields, it is important to note the progress made at Trinity College specifically. In a New York Times article, the writer states, “Whether the male advantage will persist even as women’s academic achievement soars is an open question.” This “open question” is one that may find its answer in Trinity College. From the data seen above, it is visible that Trinity women are focusing more attention on what interests them, rather than what is expected of them, hence the movement into equalizing male-dominated fields. Evaluating the Trinity major statistics to the Forbes study, and finally to the income comparison chart shows that Trinity women have greatly benefited from the coeducation of the college. However, one cannot neglect the road to which Trinity followed to arrive at where it is today. Without the competition from their male peers, Trinity women would not have branched out to fields that were once completely dominated by men. While there are some majors today that have more men than women, it is how the proportions of men to women has slowly shrunk over the past 20 years that gives hope that one day every field will be about even, which would show that there are no dominant fields, but only fields shared by both male and female students who are interested in pursuing a career in which they can find success.

[1] Fuller, Robert. “The Admission of Women Undergraduates to Trinity College.” Print.

[2] Lewin, Tamar. “At Colleges, Women Are Leaving Men in the Dust.” New York Times. 9 July 2006. Web. <>.

[3] “Top 10 College Majors.” Test Prep: GMAT, GRE, LSAT, MCAT, SAT, ACT, and More. Web. 04 Apr. 2012. <>.

[4] Gordreau, Jenna. “Most Popular College Majors for Women.” Forbes. Forbes Magazine, 10 Aug. 2010. Web. 03 Apr. 2012. <>.

[5] Hughes, James. Trinity College Major Statistics 1989-2011. Raw data. Trinity College, Hartford.

[6] Miller-Bernal, Leslie. Separate by Degree: Women Students’ Experiences in Single-sex and Coeducational Colleges. New York: P. Lang, 2000. Print.

[7] Rampell, Catherine. “College Majors That Put Women on Equal Footing With Men.”Economix Blog. The New York Times, 15 Feb. 2012. Web. 04 Apr. 2012. <>.

Two-Way Immersion

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Today, there are a growing number of students in the United States whose first, or home language is a language other than English. Many of these students have limited English proficiency when they are enrolled in school. In an effort to help these students improve English proficiency, schools offer bilingual education and have implemented various programs that provide instruction in English as a second language (ESL). Although there are various bilingual and ESL programs, there is a distinct difference between the two. In ESL education, programs are designed to teach English to students whose native language is not English. ESL classrooms may consist of students who have different language backgrounds and does not require the teacher to know the native languages of all students. Instruction and content in ESL is taught only in English. In many cases, these students are forced to lose a part of their heritage when their primary language is suppressed. In bilingual education, all non-native English speakers have the same language background and instruction is given in both English and the second language. Bilingual education is more helpful and beneficial for non-native English speakers while it uses their primary language as a resource when learning English. Unlike ESL, some bilingual programs also serve English native speakers as they learn the primary language of the non-native English speakers. These programs are known as two-way immersion (TWI) or dual language bilingual programs. When determining the success of such programs and the impact they have on student lives, one must ask: how have these programs grown over time, what common characteristics do they share, how have schools implemented different variations of the model and what are the long-term effects?

Over the past decade, TWI programs have been steadily increasing. In the implementation of these programs there is considerable variability, including the population of students to be served, the ratio of Spanish instruction to English instruction in the primary grades, the content areas taught in each language, and the integration of students, staffing and instructional approaches  (Howard & Sugarman, 13; Christian, 1996). These variations are generally based on logistical, pedagogical, or political concerns, and any number of variations can be successful in a given context (Howard & Sugarman, 13). Drawing on multiple case studies for common long-term effects of TWI programs, I also use four schools to yield a better understanding of what factors appear to be the most influential for success. Alicia Chacon International School in El Paso, Texas, Barbieri Elementary in Framingham, Massachusetts, Inter-American Magnet School in Chicago, Illinois and Francis Scott Key Elementary School in Arlington, Virginia have all shown successful student language and literacy outcomes in multiple research studies. These four schools were also a part of a 7-year study of TWI programs by the Center for Applied Linguistics. When promoting bilingualism and biliteracy, all four programs highlight intellectualism, equity and leadership as key factors that lead to their success and effectiveness. Long term effects of TWI programs include language, reading and writing proficiency in English and the targeted language, an increase in academic achievement specifically in reading and math, and positive attitudes towards schooling. The TWI model represents one of the best teaching practices available to address the cultural, ethnic and linguistic diversity in today’s classrooms (Lindholm-Leary, 59).

Two-way Immersion Programs

Bilingual education attempts to promote bilingualism and biliteracy through a number of programs that serve different goals. Different from TWI, transitional and maintenance programs are two frequently used programs in bilingual education. On the one hand, the goal of maintenance programs is to acquire a second language while students preserve and enhance their skills their native language. On the other hand, the goal of transitional programs is to help students transition to mainstream English classrooms. Both programs only serve language minority students. Unique in its model, TWI programs integrate native English speakers and native speakers of a different language for academic instruction through both languages. Two-way bilingual immersion education has great potential to promote skills that students will need for the changing global job market and to help eradicate the achievement gap between native English-speaking and English language-learning students (Lindholm-Leary, 56). The major goals of TWI programs are for students to develop high levels of oral language skills and literacy both English and the non-English language, attain academic achievement at or above grade level as measured in both languages, hold positive attitudes toward school and themselves, and exhibit knowledge about positive attitudes toward other cultures (Lindholm-Leary, 57). Even though most of the programs revolve around the Spanish/English language, other programs include French, Chinese, Korean, Navajo and Portuguese.

According to James Crawford, one of the earliest two-way immersion programs was initiated in 1971 at the Oyster Elementary School in Washington D.C. Adopting a fully bilingual curriculum for grades K through 6, Oyster Elementary wanted to avoid the segregation of Spanish-speaking students and hoped to turn the school’s linguistic diversity into an enrichment experience for all students (Crawford, 168). Similar in its pedagogical approach to many bilingual programs today, Oyster is unique in having both a Spanish-speaking and English-speaking teacher in each classroom instead of one bilingual teacher. The results of the program which initially started as an experiment were favorable to the school. By the third grade, children at Oyster were reading two years above national norms in English. In 1987 they ranked at the 90th percentile in language and the 95th percentile in mathematics on the Comprehensive Test of basic skills (Crawford, 168). Today, Oyster continues to serve as a bilingual school changing its name to Oyster-Adams Bilingual School.

Since then, the number of TWI programs has been constantly increasing. According to national experts, the numbers of dual-language immersion programs have been steadily growing in public schools over the past decade or so, rising to more than 2,000 in 2011-2012 (Maxwell, Education Week 2012). According to Elizabeth Howard and Julie Sugarman, researchers for the Center of Applied Linguistics, the number of schools offering TWI programs has grown from 30 schools in the late 1980s to 330 schools in 2006 and even more schools today. The growth of these schools have been motivated by multiple factors including the documented success of the program model, increased attention to the low academic performance and high dropout rate of Hispanic students and increasing interest in developing multilingualism in American students to help them success in the global economy (Howard & Sugarman, 4). That growth has come even as the numbers of transitional-bilingual-education programs shrank in the aftermath of heated, politically charged ballot initiatives pushing English immersion in states like Arizona, Massachusetts, and California (Maxwell, Education Week 2012).

The Four Focal Schools: Intellectualism, Equity & Leadership

Conclusions of the 7-year study show that highly effective TWI programs like those in Alicia Chacon, Barbieri Elementary, the Inter-American Magnet School and Francis Scott Key Elementary promote bilingualism and biliteracy through cultures of intellectualism, equity and leadership. A culture of intellectualism is defined by a key factor in any context that supports learning, that of both the adults and the students in the building (Howard & Sugarman, 61). All four schools demonstrate this culture through a number of ways. First, they share a commitment to ongoing learning. The school’s environments are highly reflective as students and adults continually examine how things are going and brainstorm ideas for improvement. Mistakes are not viewed negatively and instead are OK to make since they allow students to learn from themselves and one another. It is encouraged for everyone to share high expectations of themselves and others and for students to reflect on their work in order to make any changes if necessary. Second, teachers in all schools collaborate with each other and often exchange ideas. They may plan together or share any challenges and successes that they have encountered. Also, students are encouraged to collaborate with one another by working in pairs or cooperative groups. Third, independence is valued. Teachers are allowed to choose or self-initiate curriculum designs and instructional activities. They also teach students strategies that will them work independently. In classrooms, students are allowed to choose their topics and study and approached to accomplishing a task. Lastly, all schools promote higher order thinking by meeting regularly to discuss issues within the program and how to solve them. They also foster critical thinking through a variety of activities, such as project-based instruction and open-ended questions (Howard & Sugarman, 83).

Like intellectualism, a culture of equity was demonstrated in many ways. First, all schools valued and protected time for the partner language and its associated cultures. All languages and cultures in the classroom are integrated within the curriculum. These schools attempt to have equal numbers of students from each language background and conduct assessments in both languages. Second, bilingualism is also promoted for students with special needs. These schools allow students with special needs to enroll in the program and provide any support needed for students with special learning needs. Third, they balance the needs of native English speakers and native Spanish speakers. One way to do this is by attending to balance and appropriate implementation of language arts in two languages. Fourth, all four schools foster an appreciation for multiculturalism. Unlike most public schools where classrooms and curriculums are Eurocentric, these schools promote awareness and pride in the multiple cultures represented within the program. They also promote integration of language and content instruction through cultural themes (Howard & Sugarman, 104).

When promoting bilingualism and biliteracy, a culture of leadership is key. Again, all four schools demonstrate this culture though a number of ways. First, they promote both students and teachers to take initiative. They promote agency by allowing students to make choices about who they work with, what topics they investigate, and how they go about accomplishing a given task (Howard & Sugarman, 120). Second, teachers and students are encouraged to and do conduct public presentations. Teachers may present effective instructional strategies at local and national conferences while students are encouraged to present their work to the class to motivate them to their best work and take risks with their second language (Howard & Sugarman, 120). Third, all schools demonstrate that teachers and students often respond to the needs of others. They promote collaboration or mentoring among teachers and support the use and development of the second language through peer editing and other cooperative activities (Howard & Sugarman, 120). Although all four programs successfully manage to foster cultures of intellectualism, equity and leadership, they all share differences in implementation.

Variations in Implementation

All striving for dual language proficiency and academic achievement, schools have implemented different variations of two-way bilingual immersion programs. There are differences in language, student population and enrollment, and program features and designs. In TWI programs, there are two common instructional designs: 50:50 and 90:10. In the 50:50 model, instructional time is evenly divided between the two languages across all grade levels. Usually in the first or second year of instruction, in the 90:10 model, students spend 90 percent of their instructional day with content delivered through the partner language. Over the course of primary grades, instruction in the second language decreases while instruction in English increases. For both the 90:10 model and the 50:50 model, the content area taught in each language depend on the available curriculum and resource materials and on particular needs at each school site (Lindholm-Leary, 57). Although the 50:50 and the 90:10 models are the two common models for instructional design, the precise ratio may vary from school to school.

Although Spanish is the most prevalent second language, programs differ in target languages and in the proportion of students who speak both languages. Ideally, these programs work best when the numbers of language majority and language minority students are balanced. There are different implementations of this model that may or may not maintain this balance amongst the students. For example, programs with a first come, first served policy does not guarantee this balance because it may enroll more language majority than language minority students or vice versa.

Programs also differ in how they enroll students. Some may consider language background and proficiency while others may screen students for other characteristics like learning disabilities. Many of these programs set an upper limit and prevent newcomers from joining the program at upper level grades. Neighborhood based programs and magnet schools attract specifics groups of students. While neighborhood based programs only enroll students from the local neighborhood, magnet schools enroll students throughout the district. Other variable features stemming from local policy or budget decisions include staffing, special resources, summer sessions and language classes for parents (Christian, 70). Amongst all differences, programs vary in design choices and can be grouped as either allocation of languages or student integration. The allocation of languages design focuses on the distribution of both languages while the student integration design focuses on integrating language majority and language minority students rather than separating them.

Although the four schools in the CAL study share common characteristics, there are differences. At the Alicia Chacon International School, enrolled students are selected by lottery from all over the district. Alicia Chacon’s program model is unusual in that it includes a third language component – Mandarin Chinese, German, Japanese, or Russian – for 10% of the school day at all grade levels from K-8 (Howard & Sugarman, 7). Because the school is predominately Latino, in early grades, 80% of the instruction is in Spanish while the remaining 10% is in English. The ratio of English-to-Spanish instruction gradually increases until roughly equal proportions of instructional time are provided in each of the two languages by fifth grade (Howard & Sugarman, 7).

Serving half White and half Latino students, Barbieri Elementary does not use either of the 50:50 or 90:10 models. Instead, the TWI program gives different amounts of Spanish instruction to students depending on their native language. This “differentiated” program model at Barbieri separates students by native language for some language arts and content instruction (Howard & Sugarman, 8). Math is taught in English while Science and Social Studies alternate languages by unit.

Housing one of the oldest TWI programs (1975), the Inter-American Magnet School has a multiracial student body. It began as a 50:50 program but later changed to an 80:20 program in which students receive 80% of their instruction in Spanish in the early grades, with English instruction increasing each year until a 50/50 ratio is reached by sixth grade (Howard & Sugarman, 8). Because of a desegregation court ruling, the program is mandated to conduct its enrollment lottery by race/ethnicity rather than by native language, so there tend to be more native English speakers than native Spanish speakers (Howard & Sugarman, 8).

Francis Scott Key Elementary fosters a TWI program that follows the 50:50 model at all grade levels and integrates native Spanish and English speakers 100% of the time. Like Barbieri and the Inter-American Magnet School, Spanish is the second language of instruction. Also similar to the Inter-American Magnet School, there are slightly more native English speakers than native Spanish speakers. I am not clear on Key Elementary’s enrollment process for students. The TWI programs at Francis Scott Key, Alicia Chacon, and the Inter-American Magnet School are all whole-school programs, while the TWI in Barbieri is only a strand within the school. Despite different implementation models, all four schools shelter cultures of intellectualism, equity and leadership which make these exemplary models of TWI programs.

Long-term Effects

Emerging results from program evaluations around the country point to their effectiveness in promoting academic achievement for minority and majority students, along with high levels of bilingual proficiency for both groups (Christian, 72). In a study of school districts in California using two-way immersion, Lindholm and Gavlek (1994) found that in four schools where the program operates through at least fifth or sixth grade, 75% to 92% of the non-native-English speaking fifth or sixth graders were rated as fluent in English on a teacher rating instrument called the Student Oral Language Observation Matrix or SOLOM (Christian, 72).

There have been many studies conducted to analyze the achievement test scores of students in TWI programs. The results demonstrated large gains over time in the reading and math achievement test scores of both English language learners and native English speakers. By middle school, both groups scored at or well above grade level in reading and math when measured in both languages (Lindholm-Leary, 58). by 5th grade, both groups showed academic achievement at comparable or superior levels to the achievement of peers who spoke the same native language but had not gone through a bilingual immersion program (Lindholm-Leary, 58).

Students who study in these programs have expressed positive attitudes toward school and their program. These programs also challenged them more, gave them more confidence, and gave them a better education than a standard school model would have done (Lindholm-Leary, 58). Today, Latino students have the highest dropout rate in the United States. In one study of Latino high school students, many credited the program with keeping them in school. Although these long-term effects have been studied and reported, there remains concern for different program implementations and factors responsible for variations in student outcome (Christian, 73).


With a peak of TWI programs within the last decade, the demand for these programs in schools continue grow. Although there is variation in implementation, many programs still succeed in promoting bilingualism and biliteracy. Fostering high levels of bilingualism and biliteracy among all students can be challenging but as seen through the examples of TWI in the four schools mentioned above, it is possible when committed teachers, administrators and parents come together to support student learning in an environment that empowers everyone through the cultures of intellectualism, equity and leadership (Howard & Sugarman, 150). These programs turn a landscape of inequality for English language learners and frustration for many teachers into a win-win situation for both schools and students (Lindholm-Leary, 59). Not only is academic achievement boosted for all, but U.S. students also gain skills to survive and thrive in a country of many cultures (Lindholm-Leary, 59).

Works Cited

  • Christian, Donna. “Two‐Way Immersion Education: Students Learning Through Two Languages.” The Modern Language Journal 80, no. 1 (March 1, 1996): 66–76.
  • Crawford, James. Bilingual Education: History, Politics, Theory, and Practice. 4th ed. Bilingual Education Serv, 1995.
  • Howard, Elizabeth R., and Julie Sugarman. Realizing the Vision of Two-Way Immersion: Fostering Effective Programs and Classrooms. Center for Applied Linguistics and Delta Publishing Company, 2007.
  • Lindholm-Leary, Kathryn J. “The Rich Promise of Two-Way Immersion.” Educational Leadership 62, no. 4: 56–59.
  • Maxwell, Lesli A. “Momentum Builds for Dual-Language Learning.” Education Week, March 28, 2012.
  • Senesac, Barbara V. Kirk. “Two-Way Bilingual Immersion: A Portrait of Quality Schooling.” Bilingual Research Journal 26, no. 1 (2002).

Sex Education: Defining Gender Roles During the Sexual Revolution and Today

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When discussing sex education in the United States, there are a number of reasons as to why it is a controversial subject taught in schools. Differences in religion, questions of age appropriateness, and varying opinions in regards to whether co-ed or single sex education is more effective, all plague the integration of successful sex education programs into schools across the nation. Sexual boundaries in the 1950’s in the United States were very clearly defined: there was no pre-marital sex, and the path to marriage began with friendship, moved to courtship and “going steady”, and ended with a heterosexual marriage and children. These societal understandings influenced the types of sex education taught in schools beginning in the elementary years. Activities and lessons taught students that men were breadwinners, broadly meaning that men had the job that supported themselves and their families, were in charge of finances within the family, had their main responsibilities outside of the home. The same lessons taught students that women  were homemakers: women were expected to keep a clean home for their husbands’, supported their husbands’, and gave birth and raised their children to grow up and accept these same gender roles. My research asks the following questions: how were male and female gender roles portrayed in U.S. sex education materials before the sexual revolution in the 1950’s, and during the sexual revolution of the 1960’s. Also, how do the gender roles presented in 1960’s materials differ from those presented in sex education materials today?

I argue that although one would expect sex education materials during the sexual revolution in the 60’s to have changed due to a society’s changing acceptance of appropriate gender roles, in reality, they looked very similar to, if not unchanged, from sex education materials in the 50’s. When looking at sex education from the 60’s to today, however, there are dramatic changes regarding redefining gender roles within society. More specifically, sex education curricula that are widely used throughout the nation, such as the SexEd Library 1 , and many others, include full lesson plans to discuss with students the current gender roles within society and how to confront situations where one feels uncomfortable in the role that they are placed in.

The 1950’s represent a time where people were expected to live their lives within the confines of acceptable social behavior, which embodied a moral, heterosexual way of life. The definition of sex education in the 1950’s and 1960’s remained the same according to H. Frederick Kilander’s book “Sex Education in the Schools.” It was defined as:

“[including] all educational measures which in any way may help young people prepare to meet the problems of life that have their center in the sex instinct and inevitably come in some form into the experience of every normal human being.” 2

Despite changing beliefs of what a “normal human being” experience was in the transition from the 1950’s to the 1960’s, this definition remained a standard for sex education courses. The 1950’s sex education materials depicted an image of stereotypical men and women in society, which pressured young students to adhere to these presupposed roles.

Source: YouTube 3

Source: YouTube 4

These two films are examples of lessons taught in sex education classrooms in the 50’s before the sexual revolution began. There are many obvious examples of stereotypically defining gender, and elementary and secondary school-aged students were absorbing these values and understandings. At this very vulnerable and influential time of life, students were understanding of the roles of men and women in society, and were expected by their teachers to mimic their actions.  These same values and lessons taught within sex education courses can be found in “Sex Education in the Public Schools” by G.G. Wetherill. This book describes a sex education curriculum from the 1950’s in San Diego, California with an extremely strong emphasis on the differences between boys and girls both physically and in relationships, family lives, etc. 5 In a report on the book written by G.G. Wetherill himself, he mentions one lesson that is responsible for the discussion of “strengthening right attitudes toward sex and growing up, boy-girl relationships, and moral and spiritual values.” 6  In the same curriculum, Wetherill describes one of the ultimate goals of the lessons as being to “encourage good home teaching, interpret masculine and feminine roles in society…” 7 The focus on a traditional family life with a mother that is at home raising the children and keeping the household functional, and a father who is working throughout the day and making an income to support the family is emphasized in this program, and can be seen in Jeffery Moran’s “When Sex Goes to School.” Moran interprets Wetherill’s curriculum in the following way: “In short, family life education had become the remedy for almost all the problems that plagued individuals or communities at midcentury.” 8  To look at the way stereotypical gender roles were more specifically inserted into sex education materials in the 50’s, Esther Schulz and Sally Williams’ “Family Life and Sex Education: Curriculum and Instruction” includes a section called “The Physical Aspects of Necking and Petting” from a 1959 curriculum in New York. This lesson is directed towards a girl who is out on her first date with a young boy who she would like to “go steady” with. The entire story is extremely emotional and sensitive, with sentences such as “the emotions that this kind of kiss stirs are not simple and straight-forward and uncomplicated. This kiss evokes more than a simple exchange of pleasant thoughts.” 9 The very sensitive way of describing this big step in an adolescent’s life is stereotypical of all sex education lessons for girls in the 50’s.  As the lesson continues, there is more discussion of what a girl learns from her parents about cheating: “in grade school you learned not to cheat, and you didn’t cheat, because your parents and the teacher said not to.” 10 Finally, the lesson strongly advises the girl not to have premarital sex because it ruins her reputation as a moral young woman and causes various other problems in her life:

“pregnancy outside of marriage is a mistake because it hurts you and the child, your family, and the man who is the father of the child. Only a very irresponsible or immature person can ignore these responsibilities.” 11

The end of the 1950’s came with drastic changes in the way women and men viewed themselves and their gender roles in society, however, sex education lessons and materials did not change to accommodate the nation’s changing perceptions.

As the 1960’s approached and the U.S. began to experience a change in the perception of sexuality and appropriate sexual behavior, older generations were shocked. Young women were presenting themselves as what society believed to be immoral by proudly exclaiming that they have had multiple sexual partners before marriage. Moran’s book showed the media portraying young women making statements such as, “we’ve discarded the idea that the loss of virginity is related to degeneracy.” 12 Kristin Luker’s “When Sex Goes to School” interpreted the 1960’s in the following way: “sex, gender, marriage, and authority were all enmeshed in the sixties, and the sexual revolution represented them all.” 13 As changes like this continued to occur and the media played an integral role in presenting women as increasingly powerful outside of the home in a working environment, very few changes were being made in sex education materials to teach young America that the stereotypical gender roles were no longer the norm. According to Kilander,

“Industry and business have been removing adults, especially mothers, from the routine of the home, in which important educational influences formerly accompanied normal family life. Families have become smaller. And more and more, children and youth are segregated outside of the home into groups about the same age.” 14

The 1967 Anaheim, California “Sex Education Course Outline for Grades Seven through Twelve” notes the same changes in society in the U.S. and even states an effort to create a sex education course that coincides with these changes. Parents and teachers in a citizens advisory committee met, and after “a very thoughtful and thorough study of the whole problem of sex education” devised a revamped program for teaching their students about sex. 15 This school took on a “positive, objective approach” for sex education, and emphasized “developing effective interpersonal relations and attitudes to serve as a specific basis for making meaningful moral judgments.” 16  The planning and preparation behind sex education curricula played a major role in the actual implementation of programs within schools. Not only does Kilander map objectives of both Family Life Education and Sex Education, but he does so beginning as early as preschool. He defends his position of this early-age sex education plan with the top three reasons: “sex education is not as emotional a problem at this age level…” “the child is most likely already beginning to pick up inaccurate information…” “the child accepts sex education more readily and naturally at this age level.” 17  Kilander’s curriculum planning at the preschool age level revolves around the two most popular questions that seem to plague this age group: “What is the difference between boys and girls?” and “how do babies get born?” 18 The first of these two questions shows the beginning of a definite line showing that there is a significant difference between boys and girls.

Kilander continues to point out with the aims of sex education in the early elementary years, that it is important for curricula to emphasize the roles of boys and girls. For example, Kilander writes as his number two aim for sex education in elementary school: “give direction toward male or female role in adult life.” 19 As the years continue in elementary school, more gender-specific goals are defined by the lessons in sex education, like “appreciate efforts of mother and father for family members,” 20 which puts young students in the position to define the differences in the roles that the most influential people in their lives play. In the curriculum for sex education, role-play is often times an integral part in the growth of students and their understanding of specific topics. Kilander writes, “Some of these might pertain to family roles of mothers and fathers, to simple courtesies or ‘manners’ displayed by family members toward one another and by boys and girls toward each other in the classroom, cafeteria, etc.” 21 When speaking of “desirable attitudes,” Kilander discusses examples such as how girls would help “care for a new baby,” for example. Some of the concepts that sex education is meant to make clear for younger students include gender role stereotyping topics. For example, the curriculum emphasizes that “every person needs to have a feeling of belonging,” 22 which is true, and with the lessons in 1960’s sex education classes, the students belong to either a stereotypical male group, or stereotypical female group. Within the lessons of 60’s sex education, there is an extreme emphasis on the differences of boys and girls, their role in the family, and where each individual student belongs in these groups that are defined by a gender stereotyping society.

In 1960’s secondary sex education, the objectives become far more detailed and advanced. Students are expected to learn about sexual intercourse, marriage, “boy-girl and man-woman relationships of the right kind,” and many others. 23  In the Anaheim, California sex education curriculum, the same morals are emphasized. This source specifically focuses on the values of marriage and the more traditional views of dating, sex, and relationships. A great example of this is Appendix III on page 4 with the “Dating Ladder.” It begins at the bottom rung with “children playing together,” and ends with the highest rung and “engagement and marriage.” 24   Learning activities in secondary school sex education classes can range from as simple as finding where body organs are located, to the discussion of making appropriate life decisions.  In a test of “attitudes” of the students in the sex education class, some of the questions that students must respond to include “A girl should remember that she is a lady, and should never participate in vigorous sports,” and “A boy could not get serious with a girl who has a reputation of being promiscuous.” 25 Both of these examples give students the opportunity to believe that either of these options are something to agree with, or disagree with.  In today’s society, the response would clearly be ‘disagree’ for both of these examples, however, with the lessons of sex education in the 1960’s, all of the emphasis of acceptable gender roles in society led students to agree with both of these statements due to the fact that society was acceptable of the idea that men were bread-winners and women were home-makers.  This general idea that was a result of sex education classes during the 60’s is not any different from the perception of gender roles in society through sex education materials in the 1950’s.

When looking at the changes that occurred between sex education materials from the 1960’s to today, the most significant differences can be seen beginning as early as the late 1990’s. Luker interprets these changes through statistics of women in the working environment: “between 1960 and 1998, the number of ‘high-powered’ professional women leapt from just under 5 percent to over 25 percent.” 26 This dramatic change can also be seen in changes to sex education materials between the 1960’s and today. The Department of Curriculum and Instruction in Montgomery County Public Schools, Rockville, Maryland 8th Grade Health Curriculum from 2005 clearly shows the emphasis in redefining gender roles and no longer only accepting the stereotypical male-female roles. For example, the teaching topics have expanded from only how to act appropriately on a date, to mental health discussions such as “managing stress” to “risk-taking.” 27  The most significant differences between 1960’s sex education materials and today’s materials is the inclusion of an entire lesson dedicated to “gender roles” and “gender identities.” The Maryland 8th Grade Health Curriculum has various examples defining what a stereotypical gender role may be. For example, on page 11, the curriculum defines gender role stereotyping in ways such as “girls are better at English, boys are better at science” or “boys don’t cry, girls do.” The lesson plan then asks students to discuss how these stereotypes are “destructive to the community” and can hinder “the ability of people to accept and respect diversity.” 28  Another main source for teachers of sex education courses today is the website “SexEd Library.” This website shows lesson plans and teacher notes for how to discuss the very sensitive issues of sex and health in 2012. Similar to the Rockville, Maryland curriculum, the SexEd Library has an entire lesson devoted to the understanding and acceptance of various definitions of gender and gender roles. A Society and Culture unit has a lesson called “gender roles”, which is summarized as a:

“lesson [that] helps young people explore the sources of gender role beliefs, learn the similarities and differences between the expectations of each gender, recognize that a person’s beliefs about roles can influence his or her decisions.” 29

Source: SexEd Library 30
Examples of specific lessons that combat the stereotypical gender role identification include having young students list activities that boys and men do next to a list of activities done by girls and women. The examples shown in the lesson include boys and men “can box, wrestle without being teased”, etc., and girls and women “can have babies, wear skirts and dresses without being teased”, etc. 31  Worksheets for these lessons include filling out famous men and women who are artists, astronauts, explorers, musicians, etc.

These lessons are seen throughout the nation in 21st century sex education materials and in comparing them to 1960’s materials, the most significant change is the inclusion of entire lessons devoted to the discussion of the roles of men and women within society. Due to the beginning of the sexual revolution in the 1960’s, one would expect sex education materials for young students to have changed in regards to what gender roles are acceptable and expected in society. Research shows, however, that that was not the case and many of the same values and gender role expectations remained in sex education materials from the 1950’s to the 1960’s. The most significant changes that one can see in these materials are between the 1960’s and today in the 21st century. Sex education materials are more sensitive towards the changing understanding in society that women are not expected to stay home and raise children for their adult lives, but rather they can have extremely successful careers as well. At the same time, sex education materials today show that men are able to manage a household and raise children without being criticized by society. This redefinition of acceptable gender roles in society is the most significant change in sex education between the 1960’s and today. As the nation continues to change and the acceptance of various definitions of gender and sexual orientation become more widely known, sex education materials will continue to change, and discussions between teachers and students about these topics will become more necessary.

About The Author: Ashley Ardinger is a senior at Trinity College in Hartford, CT and will be graduating this month with a major in Educational Studies and a minor in Music.  In Ashley’s near future she will be attending the Columbia Teachers College and getting her Masters in Inclusive Secondary Special Education.  Ashley loves to sing and is the director of the Trinity Pipes A Capella group on campus, and is looking forward to beginning a new learning chapter in New York City.

  1. “Gender Roles,” SexEd Library, 2012,
  2. H. Frederick Kilander, Sex Education in the Schools (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1970), 3.
  3. “1950’s Sex Education Video,” YouTube video, 1:36, November 17, 2007,
  4. “Sex Education for Girls Part 2,” YouTube video, 7:24, March 1, 2007,
  5. G.G. Wetherill, “Sex Education in the Public Schools,” The Journal of School Health, The American School Health Association XXXI, No. 7 (September, 1961).
  6. G.G. Wetherill, “Sex Education in the Public Schools,” The Journal of School Health, The American School Health Association XXXI, No. 7 (September, 1961): 237.
  7. G.G. Wetherill, “Sex Education in the Public Schools,” The Journal of School Health, The American School Health Association XXXI, No. 7 (September, 1961): 239.
  8. Jeffrey P. Moran, Teaching Sex: The Shaping of Adolescence in the 20th Century (Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 2000), 61.
  9. Esther D. Schulz, Sally R. Williams, Family Life and Sex Education: Curriculum and Instruction (New York: Harcourt, Brace and World, 1969), 146.
  10. Esther D. Schulz, Sally R. Williams, Family Life and Sex Education: Curriculum and Instruction (New York: Harcourt, Brace and World, 1969), 147.
  11. Esther D. Schulz, Sally R. Williams, Family Life and Sex Education: Curriculum and Instruction (New York: Harcourt, Brace and World, 1969), 149.
  12. Jeffrey P. Moran, Teaching Sex: The Shaping of Adolescence in the 20th Century (Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 2000), 159.
  13. Kristin Luker, When Sex Goes to School: Warring Views on Sex and Sex Education Since the Sixties (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2006), 68.
  14. H. Frederick Kilander, Sex Education in the Schools (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1970), 7.
  15. Anaheim Union High School, “Family Life and Sex Education Course Outline: Grades Seven Through Twelve”. Anaheim Union High School District, June 1967, ii.
  16. Anaheim Union High School, “Family Life and Sex Education Course Outline: Grades Seven Through Twelve”. Anaheim Union High School District, June 1967, iv.
  17. H. Frederick Kilander, Sex Education in the Schools (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1970), 51.
  18. H. Frederick Kilander, Sex Education in the Schools (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1970), 52.
  19. H. Frederick Kilander, Sex Education in the Schools (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1970), 56.
  20. H. Frederick Kilander, Sex Education in the Schools (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1970), 56.
  21. H. Frederick Kilander, Sex Education in the Schools (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1970), 60.
  22. H. Frederick Kilander, Sex Education in the Schools (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1970), 61.
  23. H. Frederick Kilander, Sex Education in the Schools (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1970), 73.
  24. Anaheim Union High School, “Family Life and Sex Education Course Outline: Grades Seven Through Twelve”. Anaheim Union High School District, June 1967, 4.
  25. H. Frederick Kilander, Sex Education in the Schools (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1970), 155.
  26. Kristin Luker, When Sex Goes to School: Warring Views on Sex and Sex Education Since the Sixties (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2006), 75.
  27. Department of Curriculum and Instruction: Montgomery County Public Schools, Rockville, Maryland, “Grade 8 Health Education Curriculum,” TeachTheFacts, 2005,, 5.
  28. Department of Curriculum and Instruction: Montgomery County Public Schools, Rockville, Maryland, “Grade 8 Health Education Curriculum,” TeachTheFacts, 2005,, 11.
  29. “Gender Roles,” SexEd Library, 2012,
  30. “Gender Roles,” SexEd Library, 2012,”
  31. “Gender Roles,” SexEd Library, 2012,, 4-3

School Funding, School Choice and the Establishment Clause

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Question:  What caused the narrative of the Supreme Court’s doctrine with regard to school choice and voucher programs to change from its initial ruling in Everson v. Board of Education (1947) to Zelman v. Simmons-Harris (2002)?

As the nature of the public school system is rapidly changing in the 21st century, school choice plans have become more and more commonplace.  These programs naturally impact those religious academies (predominantly being Catholic schools) that served as the traditional counterpart to the public school system, and the Court has articulated a series of changing arguments with regard to how the government can and cannot aid religious academies.  The triangle of public schools, religious academies and government funding has always created establishment clause concerns, and the Supreme Court has been called upon to resolve these constitutional questions, beginning in 1947 with its landmark incorporation of the establishment clause to the states in Everson v. Board of Education of Ewing, NJ (330 U.S. 1).  The narrative of the court’s doctrine has changed over time with regard to school choice, and investigating the stimuli behind the court’s changing views with regard to voucher programs, school choice, reimbursement programs, etc. and religious academies can show why the court has granted increase deference to educational policymakers in the 21st century.  When evaluating programs of school choice, the Court must weigh facilitating the individual freedom of parents to decide how to educate their children with the constitutional prohibition of government directly aiding or meddling with religion and religious organizations (Minnow 816).  Looking at the full text of the court’s opinions and dissents, along with a discussion of changes in educational policy, can show why the court has increasingly ruled to uphold programs of school choice, even when squared against the establishment clause.  In the 21st century as problems associated with the nation’s public school system grew increasingly pressing, the court has granted greater leeway to policymakers in using religious academies as parts of voucher or school choice programs.  The increasingly compelling state interest in ameliorating public schools have certainly resulted in the Court granting increased deference to educational policymakers, but the partisan shifts to the right on the nation’s highest legal bench from Everson to Zelman v. Simmons-Harris (2002) have been the deciding factor in changing the narrative of the Court’s legal doctrine.  While grating greater policymaking “slack” to those in the educational field may be an auxiliary factor, the dominant factor has been the addition of justices who envision the “wall of separation” between church and state as being shorter than some of their colleagues from the mid-to-late of the 20th century.  In the end, some regard indirect aid to religious institutions as unconstitutional, while other jurists see indirect as a matter of private choice.

The court first began asserting the establishment clause with regard to such programs in Everson, when the court held that Ewing, NJ’s use of township monies to compensate the transportation costs for parents who send their kids to religious academies did not constitute a 1st Amendment violation.  The opinion of the court, written by Justice Hugo Black – an ex-Klansmen appointed by Franklin Delano Roosevelt who would become one of the constitution’s strongest textural defenders – incorporated the Establishment Clause to the states and used Thomas Jefferson’s metaphor of a “wall of separation between church and state” to guide future cases concerning government establishment of religion (330 U.S. 15, Feldman 65).  Black believed that the government had a compelling interest in using taxpayer monies to provide fire and police protection, sewer lines and other services to religious organizations and schools, and that remunerating student transportation costs served the interest of student safety and was analogous to the aforementioned programs (330 U.S. 17-20).  Furthermore, since the township’s compensation program gave the reimbursement to parents and not the religious organizations themselves, the aid to religion was even more indirect than police protection, sewer lines, etc.  The first dissent in the case, written by Justice Robert Jackson, stated that the program itself did not pass Black’s own “wall of separation” standard, and that taxpayers only assume the responsibility of paying for public schools.  Justice Rutledge’s separate dissent stated famously that “Certainly the fire department must not stand idly by while the church burns (330 U.S. 61). Nor is this reason why the state should pay the expense of transportation or other items of the cost of religious education.”  The case was decided by a divisive 5-4 vote, and the dissents proved to be more influential in later cases like Lemon v. Kurtzman and Flast v. Cohen.  In Everson, the court upheld the transportation compensation program as indirect aid to religious organizations, and as being within the compelling interest of the state to provide for public safety.  The most influential aspect of Everson however, was its incorporation of the establishment clause to the states, which would allow for future judicial review of state programs that might offend the 1st amendment (330 U.S. 18).

After the Court’s ruling in Everson, state governments and Congress began initiating programs that were seen as indirectly aiding religious academies, or aiding them in a secular manner.  Such was the intent behind Pennsylvania’s Nonpublic Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1968, a statute which used taxpayer dollars to supplement salaries for teachers of secular subjects within private schools, including religious academies (403 U.S. 606-612).  The Court had changed too, with the addition of liberal justices William Brennan, Byron White, Thurgood Marshall and Harry Blackmun to the high bench.  Alton J. Lemon, a resident of Pennsylvania sued challenging the statute as violating the establishment clause.  When the case, Lemon v. Kurtzman, reached the high court in 1971, it was consolidated with a case challenging the constitutionality of a similar program in Rhode Island.  Almost a quarter-century had passed from the court’s landmark ruling in Everson, and the nation’s educational system, while not perfect by any means, was not yet suffering from the salient problems that would later drive considerable media, legal and constitutional attention.  When the court issued its ruling in Lemon, it struck down the Pennsylvania and Rhode Island statutes as violating the establishment clause.  The opinion of the court, written by Chief Justice Warren Burger, a Richard Nixon appointee and conservative jurist, articulated a three-pronged standard that still guides Supreme Court doctrine.  Quoting from Chief Justice Burger’s opinion, “First, the statute must have a secular legislative purpose; second, its principal or primary effect must be one that neither advances nor inhibits religion…finally, the statute must not foster ‘an excessive government entanglement with religion’” (403 U.S. 602 612-613).  If a statute failed any of the three prongs, it would be invalidated.  Burger stated that the Pennsylvania and Rhode Island statutes served secular interests in promoting the teaching of secular subjects, and were offered to all private academies regardless of what faith they aligned with, so it satisfied the religious neutrality prong of the test.  What created the establishment clause violation Burger stated, was that government would have to monitor whether the funds went only to the teaching of secular subjects, so it violated the famous “excessive entanglement” prong of the test.

The two legislatures, however, have also recognized that church-related elementary and secondary schools have a significant religious mission, and that a substantial portion of their activities is religiously oriented. They have therefore sought to create statutory restrictions designed to guarantee the separation between secular and religious educational functions, and to ensure that State financial aid supports only the former. All these provisions are precautions taken in candid recognition that these programs approached, even if they did not intrude upon, the forbidden areas under the Religion Clauses. We need not decide whether these legislative precautions restrict the principal or primary effect of the programs to the point where they do not offend the Religion [p614] Clauses, for we conclude that the cumulative impact of the entire relationship arising under the statutes in each State involves excessive entanglement between government and religion” (403 U.S. 602 613-614)

While what was or was not “excessive entanglement”, or what kind of entanglement could be defined as “excessive” made the Lemon Standard an inherently vague piece of legal doctrine, but it has held sway in establishment clause cases from its birth in 1971 to present day cases like Hosanna-Tabor v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (2012).  What distinguished the case from Everson however, was what Justice Brennan called in his concurring opinion a “case of direct subsidy” since the monies went directly to the religious institutions in question (403 U.S. 653).  Since the funds went directly to the religious organizations, the government would have to “foster an excessive entanglement” to make sure that they did not advance any sort of religious teaching.  While the government may have been able to aid secular subjects in a separate hypothetical situation where it would be easy to monitor the strictly secular use of the funds, the facts of the case distinguished it enough for the two statutes to be invalidated by an 8-0 vote (with Justice Marshall abstaining).  Ultimately, the “excessive entanglement” prong would prove vague in future Court doctrine, but here it provided a clear legal impetus for the invalidation of the programs in question.  The addition of liberal justices to the Court from Everson to Lemon certainly served as an important factor in the invalidation of the statutes.  While the conservative Chief Justice Warren Burger authored the standard in Lemon, the clear and impactful support of left-leaning jurists like Justice Brennan surely had a strong impact on the resolution of the case.  Ultimately, Justice White set the stage for the future in his partial concurrence, stating

“Our prior cases have recognized the dual role of parochial schools in American society: they perform both religious and secular functions. See Board of Education v. Allen, supra, at 248. Our cases also recognize that legislation having a secular purpose and extending governmental assistance to sectarian schools in the performance of their secular functions does not constitute “law[s] respecting an establishment of religion” forbidden by the First Amendment merely because a secular program may incidentally benefit a church in fulfilling its religious mission. That religion may indirectly benefit from governmental aid to the secular activities of churches does not convert that aid into an impermissible establishment of religion.” (403 U.S. 663-664)

The impact of Justice White’s concurrence cannot be understated.  The notion that religion can indirectly benefit from government aid may not seem like anything outlandish.  After all, it is the logical conclusion of Justice Black’s opinion in Everson.  While the program in Lemon benefited secular and religious schools equally, the aid was seen as more direct, which would require the sort of “excessive entanglement” the Court feared.  Ultimately, the Court did not attack the notion of indirect benefits to religious institutions not being unconstitutional, and precedent set in Everson in that regard would rear its head in future decisions.

After Lemon, Chief Justice Burger’s three-pronged standard faced tough tests in several cases, but was still used as the legal maxim as late as 2000 in Santa Fe Independent School District v. Doe.  Earlier in 1997 however, the Court had stated that the third prong of the test, “excessive entanglement” did not apply to school funding programs.  The case, Agnostini v. Felton (521 U.S. 203), invalidated the third prong and further strengthened the case for the constitutionality of programs that indirectly aid religious institutions.  While Agnostini can be considered a landmark case in its own right, its use as precedent in the Court’s 2000 decision in Mitchell v. Helms (530 U.S. 793), is extremely important.  The opinion of the Court in Mitchell, written by conservative Justice Clarence Thomas, upheld a program that loaned school materials (like textbooks) to secular and sectarian institutions because the aid went to serve the needs of students, as opposed to schools.  Since where their children went to school was determined “only as a result of the genuinely independent and private choices of individuals.” – citing Agnostini in affirming the statement – the aid to religious academies was indirect, and ergo constitutional, even when squared with the Establishment Clause (530 U.S. 810).  The doctrine regarding indirect impacts on religious institutions, first detailed by Justice Black, had been amplified by the addition of Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, Anthony Kennedy, Sandra Day O’Connor and the elevation of William Rehnquist to Chief Justice.  In the twenty-one years following Lemon, four conservative justices were appointed the Court, and the Court’s doctrine changed in a variety of fields of law, including school choice and the Establishment Clause.  Mitchell is an important case in its own right, just as Agnostini certainly is, but it served an important role as a legal facilitator for the Court’s landmark foray into efforts to reform the nation’s failing schools in 2002.

The Court’s monumentally important decision in Zelman v. Simmons Harris (536 U.S. 639), the most important Establishment Clause case of the Rehnquist Court era, was saw the affirmation an important legal doctrines.  The opinion of the Court, written by Chief Justice Rehnquist, stated that the final destination of government aid does not impact a program’s constitutionality if citizens make “true private choice[s]” in determining how the assistance (monetary or otherwise) is used (536 U.S. 650).  The case divided the court along ideological lines, with the five conservative justices (Rehnquist, Thomas, Kennedy, O’Connor and Scalia) opposing the weakened liberal wing composed of Justices David Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, John Paul Stevens and Stephen Breyer.  The Court in Zelman set a new five-pronged test to further weigh programs of school choice or others that indirectly aided religious institutions against the Establishment Clause.  Following the Lemon Test, the Chief Justice articulated the “True Private Choice” standard, which stated that programs must have a legitimate secular purpose, benefit a wide range of persons, be religiously neutral, include adequate secular alternatives and provide the aid to parents as opposed to the institutions themselves.  The background facts for Zelman only serve to cloud the test.  Cleveland’s urban schools were among the worst in the nation, and the state of Ohio, with the city of Cleveland, implemented a voucher program that allowed parents to send their children to sectarian institutions – which do a remarkably good job educating inner-city minority students – or private secular institutions if they were below the federal poverty line (Ravitch 116-125).  Certainly there was a legitimate secular purpose in ameliorating the city’s failing schools and it did benefit a wide range of impoverished families in Cleveland, but the remaining three prongs divided the court.  For one, the liberal justices disagreed with the notion that indirect aid to religious was automatically constitutional, as seen in the dissenting opinions in Agnostini, Mitchell, and Zelman.  Secondly, the program in question gave vouchers that amounted to less money than the state gave to public schools on a per-student basis.  It almost seemed as if the program was designed specifically to benefit religious institutions.  As for the religious neutrality prong of the test, the government aid could certainly find its way to a wide variety of religious institutions as noted by the majority of the Court, but it did have a disproportionate impact on Catholic institutions, a point noted by Justice Breyer in his dissent (538 U.S. 639).  Moving to the adequate secular alternatives prong, the justices again remained divided.  Justice Souter wrote in his dissent that more than 95% of the participating voucher schools were private, religious academies, which muddled the implementation of the prong.  As previously stated, public schools in Cleveland had little incentive to participate, and secular private schools asked for far greater amounts in tuition money than the voucher offered, and few had open seats available (539 U.S. 639).  While the conservative wing of the court believed there were adequate nonreligious options, the liberal justices aptly countered by noting, again, that more than 95% of the participating schools were religious schools.  The last prong of the test, concerning indirect aid, similarly divided the Court.  While there are specific liberal/conservative differences in opinion regarding indirect aid, the vouchers were given to parents, but the money itself was given directly to religious institutions.  The conservative justices likened it to a tax credit, if a citizen receives money back on their taxes and donates some to his church, it should not be an Establishment Clause violation.  The liberal justices however, were concerned with the fact that the vouchers were given to schools by the parents, but the money itself was given directly from taxpayer funds to the institutions themselves.

Ultimately, the Court’s opinion in Zelman v. Simmons-Harris was highly divisive.  In addition to the fact that the programs were upheld by a 5-4 vote, the case produced six separate opinions, further evidence that the Court’s membership could not agree on a single legal conclusion regarding the constitutionality of the voucher program.  The end result of Zelman however, was the affirmation of the principles outlined by Hugo Black in Everson.  When the government indirectly aids religious schools, and when parents make private choices in where and how that aid is used, the programs are upheld.  It is clear from the opinions of the Court’s conservative justices however, that these programs are being upheld not as an act of deferring to local and state educational policymakers, but rather because they see Thomas Jefferson’s “wall of separation” as being far shorter than their liberal colleagues.  In an alternate metaphor, programs of “true private choice” that give indirect harm can also be seen as a door allowing the Court to uphold them.

The problems plaguing the nation’s public schools are great in number, size and scope, and the Court’s decision in Zelman certainly enlarged the toolbox available to policymakers, but the motivation behind the Court’s ruling does not lie in aiding educational policymakers.  Instead, it is simply a side effect of the Supreme Court’s ideological shift to the right, especially in the eras of the Burger and Rehnquist Courts.  There is no evidence in the Court’s many opinions in these cases to support a the conclusion that the Court has lowered the wall with the express purpose of aiding educational policymakers.  The Court’s lowering of the wall of separation is primarily driven by an ideological interpretation of the Establishment Clause that tolerates government aid to religious schools, institutions and affairs.  The key factor behind the changes in Court doctrine lie in the changes in its membership.  From Everson to Lemon, five liberal and two conservative justices were added to the Court (joining two liberal justices who remained on the high bench), and from Lemon to Agnostini, Mitchell and Zelman, five conservative and four liberal justices were added.  Ultimately, the narrative of the Court’s doctrine regarding school funding, voucher programs and school choice has been parabolic, moving to uphold such programs in Everson, striking them down in the Lemon era, and again moving to keep them in place as the Court shifted to the right in the late 20th and early 21st century.  The primary cause of the parabolic nature of the Court’s doctrine however was not a desire by the Court to give education policymakers greater deference, but rather was caused by shifts to the political right among its membership.

Works Cited

330 U.S. 1 (1947) Everson v. Board of Education of Ewing, NJ

403 U.S. 602 (1971) Lemon v. Kurtzman

521 U.S. 203 (1997) Agnostini v. Felton

530 U.S. 793 (2000) Mitchell v. Helms

539 U.S. 639 (2002) Zelman v. Simmons-Harris

Feldman, Noah. Scorpions: The Battles and Triumphs of FDR’s Great Supreme Court Justices. New York: Twelve, 2010. Print.

Minow, Martha. “Confronting the Seduction of Choice: Law, Education, and American

Pluralism.” Yale Law Journal 120 (2011): 814-48. The Yale Law Journal Online.

Yale University, Jan. 2011. Web. 2 Apr. 2012. <,-education,-and-american-pluralism/>.

Ravitch, Diane. The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing

and Choice Are Undermining Education. New York: Basic, 2010. Print.