Last spring I taught a course called Social Justice and Contemporary American Education. The class followed issues of access in U.S. education. Here is the description:
The course will explore issues related to access in U.S. education. Some themes related to access of education likely to be discussed include race, economic inequality, and ableism. The first half of the class will focus on K-12 education while the second half will focus on post-secondary education. The class is meant to be relevant to students in any major as there will be space to explore a topic of their own interest related to social justice and U.S. education.
I admit that I threw this course together semi-haphazardly, but I was ultimately proud of it. More importantly, I was very proud in the growth and learning I witnessed from my students.
I’m in the process of redesigning aspects of the class, particularly the topics and readings. I covered more ground than I probably should have last year and would like to make the content tighter. One comment from student feedback was that they wished I covered more nuanced aspects of educational access. I want to push myself to do more of this, while keeping in mind that it is a 200-level course and needs to cover introductory ideas and concepts. (Note: The focus of this course is civic engagement, but does not currently incorporate service or community-based learning.)
I have an idea to center the K-12 portion of my course around the reporting of NPR and Education Week on Ron Brown College Preparatory High School in DC. There’s a lot to unpack in this series, and most of the ideas and concepts are already in my syllabus.
I’d love to hear your ideas on issues of access in American education, recommended reading, watching, or listening, etc. All content must be open access or available via the library’s resources. I tried to pair a traditional scholarly source with a popular source for each class meeting.
Here’s what I covered and what we read last year:
Note: I know there are some gross omissions including special education, students with disabilities, and ELL students. Many students focused on these issues for their final projects.
Access Issues (General)
- Students were randomly assigned 2 TedTalks to watch based on the broader topic
- Boyles, Deron, et al. “Historical and Critical Interpretations of Social Justice.” Handbook of Social Justice in Education, edited by William Ayers et al., Routledge, 2009, pp. 30–42.
Education & Citizenry
- “The Democratic Conception in Education” from Dewey, John. Democracy and Education: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Education. Free Press, 1997.
- Strauss, Valerie. “What’s the Purpose of Education in the 21st Century?” Washington Post, 12 Feb. 2015
- Slapik, Magdalena. “The Purpose of Education—According to Students.” The Atlantic, Oct. 2017
- Wong, Alia. “History Class and the Fictions About Race in America.” The Atlantic, Oct. 2015
- Perlmutter, David D. “Manufacturing Visions of Society and History in Textbooks.” Journal of Communication, vol. 47, no. 3, Sept. 1997, pp. 68–81.
- Dewey, John. “Letter to the Editor.” The New York Times, 11 May 1940, n.p.
- Educate – “History of Civil Rights Movement Gets Short Shrift in Mississippi Classrooms” [Podcast]
- “This Curriculum is Multicultural . . . Isn’t It?” from Sleeter, Christine E. Multicultural Education as Social Activism. State University of New York Press, 1996.
- Price, Heather E. “Does No Child Left Behind Really Capture School Quality? Evidence From an Urban School District.” Educational Policy, vol. 24, no. 5, Sept. 2010, pp. 779–814.
- Waiting for Superman [Documentary]
- Vergari, Sandra. “Charter School Policy Issues and Research Questions.” Handbook of Education Policy Research, edited by David Nathan Plank et al., Routledge, 2009, pp. 478–490.
- Prothero, Arianna. “The Evolution of the ‘Chartered School.’” Education Week, vol. 35, no. 34, June 2016, pp. 1–16.
- Turner, Cory. “The Promise And Peril Of School Vouchers,” NPR Ed, May 12, 2017
- Kamentez, Amy. “For Families With Special Needs, Vouchers Bring Choices, Not Guarantees,” NPR Ed, May 17, 2017
- Sanchez, Claudio. “Lessons From The Nation’s Oldest Voucher Program,” NPR Ed, May 19, 2017
- Kamentez, Amy and Cory Turner. “Why It’s So Hard To Know Whether School Choice Is Working,” NPR Ed, May 21, 2017
- Food Research & Action Center. School Breakfast Scorecard: School Year 2015-2016. Feb. 2017, pp. 1–21.
Rural vs. Urban Schools
- Theobald, Paul. “Urban and Rural Schools: Overcoming Lingering Obstacles.” Phi Delta Kappa, vol. 87, no. 2, Oct. 2005, pp. 116–122
- Tieken, Mara Casey. “The Spatialization of Racial Inequity and Educational Opportunity: Rethinking the Rural/Urban Divide.” Peabody Journal of Education, vol. 92, no. 3, May 2017, pp. 385–404
School Resource Officers
- Sneed, Tierney. “School Resource Officers: Safety Priority or Part of the Problem?” US News & World Report, 30 Jan. 2015
- Theriot, Matthew T.. “The Impact of School Resource Officer Interaction on Students’ Feelings About School and School Police.” Crime & Delinquency, vol. 62, no. 4, Apr. 2016, pp. 446–469.
School to Prison Pipeline
- Hannah-Jones, Nikole. The Problem We All Live With – Part One. 562, https://www.thisamericanlife.org/562/the-problem-we-all-live-with-part-one.
- Joffe-Walt, Chana. The Problem We All Live With – Part Two. 563, https://www.thisamericanlife.org/563/the-problem-we-all-live-with-part-two.
- Nelson, Libby, and Dara Lind. “The School to Prison Pipeline, Explained.” Justice Policy Institute, 24 Feb. 2015, http://www.justicepolicy.org/news/8775.
- Mallett, Christopher A. “The School-to-Prison Pipeline: Disproportionate Impact on Vulnerable Children and Adolescents.” Education and Urban Society, vol. 49, no. 6, July 2017, pp. 563–592.
- Grant Duwe, and Valerie Clark. “The Effects of Prison-Based Educational Programming on Recidivism and Employment.” The Prison Journal, vol. 94, no. 4, Dec. 2014, pp. 454–478.
- Pod Save the People – “Put Your Plan Together” (from the 42:40 minute through the end) [Podcast]
- CrashCourse. Affirmative Action: Crash Course Government and Politics #32. 2015. [Video]
- Massie, Victoria M. “White Women Benefit Most from Affirmative Action — and Are Among Its Fiercest Opponents.” Vox, 23 June 2016.
- Bastedo, Michael N., et al. “Holistic Admissions After Affirmative Action: Does ‘Maximizing’ the High School Curriculum Matter?” Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, vol. 38, no. 2, June 2016, pp. 389–409. SAGE Journals, doi:10.3102/0162373716642407.
- Terriquez, Veronica. “Dreams Delayed: Barriers to Degree Completion among Undocumented Community College Students.” Journal of Ethnic & Migration Studies, vol. 41, no. 8, July 2015, pp. 1302–23. doi:10.1080/1369183X.2014.968534.
- Dickerson, Caitlin. “What Is DACA? Who Are the Dreamers? Here Are Some Answers.” The New York Times, 23 Jan. 2018.
- Educate– “Shadow Class: College Dreamers in Trump’s America” [Podcast]
- Gonzales, Roberto G., et al. “Taking Giant Leaps Forward.” Center for American Progress, 22 June 2017.
- A news article to be determined after March 5, 2018
First Generation Students
- Cushman, Kathleen. “Facing the Culture Shock of College.” Educational Leadership, vol. 64, no. 7, Apr. 2007, pp. 44–47
- Padgett, Ryan D., et al. “First-Generation Undergraduate Students and the Impacts of the First Year of College: Additional Evidence.” Journal of College Student Development, vol. 53, no. 2, Apr. 2012, pp. 243–66
- Educate – “Rural Students Are the Least Likely to Go to College” [Podcast]
- Kahlenberg, Richard D. “A New Call to End Legacy Admissions.” The Atlantic, Feb. 14, 2018
- Collins, Donald Earl. “Why Making College Free Isn’t Enough for First-Generation Students.” The Atlantic, Sept. 5, 2016
Cost of College
- Fuller, Matthew. “A History of Financial Aid to Students.” Journal of Student Financial Aid, vol. 44, no. 1, July 2014
- Webber, Doug. “Fancy Dorms Aren’t The Main Reason Tuition Is Skyrocketing.” FiveThirtyEight, 13 Sept. 2016
- Long, Bridget Terry, and Erin Riley. “Financial Aid: A Broken Bridge to College Access?” Harvard Educational Review, vol. 77, no. 1, Spring 2007, p. 39–63, 127.
- Freakonomics – “Freakonomics Goes to College, Part 2,” August 16, 2012 [Podcast
- PBS – SciTech Now. Eliminating the Digital Divide. January 29, 2018. https://www.pbs.org/video/eliminating-digital-divide-ihdcln/
- Rowsell, Jennifer, et al. “Confronting the Digital Divide: Debunking Brave New World Discourses.” Reading Teacher, vol. 71, no. 2, Sept. 2017, pp. 157–65
Final Topics Voted on By the Class:
- Sexual Assault on College Campuses
- McMahon, Sarah, and Kate Stepleton. “Undergraduate Exposure to Messages About Campus Sexual Assault: Awareness of Campus Resources.” Journal of College Student Development, vol. 59, no. 1, Jan. 2018, pp. 110–15
- Kitchener, Caroline. “How Campus Sexual Assault Became So Politicized.” The Atlantic, Sept. 2017. The Atlantic
- School Uniforms and Dress Codes
- Underwood, Julie. “School Uniforms, Dress Codes, and Free Expression: What’s the Balance?” Phi Delta Kappan, vol. 99, no. 6, Mar. 2018, pp. 74–75
- Gentile, Elisabetta, and Scott A. Imberman. “Dressed for Success? The Effect of School Uniforms on Student Achievement and Behavior.” Journal of Urban Economics, vol. 71, no. 1, Jan. 2012, pp. 1–17
- Jones, Nathan D., and Barbara Schneider. “Social Stratification and Educational Opportunity.” Handbook of Education Policy Research, edited by David Nathan Plank et al., Routledge, 2009, pp. 889–900
Please comment, email, or tweet me with your suggestions!