Politics 147: Education Politics and Policy
Pomona College, Spring 2023
Prof. David Menefee-Libey
Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 11:00-11:50 am
Office: Carnegie 4
In Carnegie 109
Office Hours: Mondays and Thursdays 2:00-4:00 and by appointment. There are signup sheets outside my office door.
(mail sent to either of these ends up in the same account)
Access a live version of this syllabus online at https://DML.sites.pomona.edu/Education.html
Table of Contents for This Syllabus:
Go to Course Description and Goals
Go to Course Requirements, Evaluations, and Deadlines
Go to Class Schedule and Assignments
Go to Education-related Links
Course Description and Goals
This advanced course is about elementary and secondary education (often called "K-12," for kindergarten through 12th grade) in the United States, the political debate about its quality, and competing strategies for its improvement. Often, the course will focus on California, where Pomona College is and where more than one-tenth of all US children live and go to school.
Since the publication of A Nation at Risk in 1983, Americans have dedicated tremendous attention, effort, and resources to reforming and improving public schools.
Those reforms have continued to evolve amid deep, ongoing conflicts and disagreements among Americans about what children should learn and how, how schools should best be organized and governed, what schools children should attend, how much schooling should cost and who should pay it, and how to evaluate schools (or teachers, or students, or learning).
This course will consider both the politics and the policy of schooling. On the political side, we will explore the debate over the purposes of education. We will especially focus on four of the most important competing purposes commonly advocated by large numbers of Americans: preparing all children for the opportunities and responsibilities of democratic citizenship, preparing all children for self-sufficient and productive participation in the global economy, helping all individual children compete with their fellow Americans (and humans!) for wealth and
status, and (for a large minority of Americans) helping to support white supremacy and patriarchy. We will also focus on the way "the education establishment" of schools, districts and state education departments is organized, and current challenges to those institutional arrangements
such as private schools, vouchers, and especially charter schools. Finally, we will focus on the individuals, groups and organizations who compete to control schools, and
investigate how and where they seek to advance their interests and values.
On the policy side, we will explore what schools actually do. We will do that in traditional academic ways: reading, discussing and writing about research on curriculum, instruction, teaching, school organization, and some of the myriad programs that schools provide to American children.
You will also do some research of your own, identifying, researching, and writing about an elementary or secondary school in the Southern California region. We will discuss your case studies, in part to see whether and how your findings relate to what we read in our assignments and elsewhere.
We will also explore policy making for educational reform: who enacts those policies, how they go about doing it, and what happens when policies enter schools and classrooms.
This is primarily a social science class. I will
expect you to learn several empirical theories about how the politics of education policy actually works in the real world. Further, I will expect you to develop your ability to derive and test empirical hypotheses from those theories with observations and data about the real world. Social science is also a normative field: I will expect you to learn some normative theories about what is valuable and important in education policy, and to develop your ability to apply those theories rigorously to the observations and
data you encounter this semester. Our policy discussions will often rely heavily on quantitative and qualitative data gathered by researchers and your fellow students, and I presume that all enrolled students will comfortably
and carefully analyze such data in a disciplined way. You should demonstrate a low tolerance for BS, even BS you find comforting or that you'd like to agree with. Conversely, you should show respect for reliable data you find discomforting or that you'd like to disagree with. If you do not want to do that, you shouldn't take the class.
This course also fulfills the Pomona College General Education Breadth Requirement for Analyzing Difference. As the college Catalog says, "Analyzing Difference courses are primarily focused on a sustained analysis of the causes and effects of structured inequality and discrimination, and their relation to U.S. society. Such courses will make use of analyses that emphasize intersecting categories of
difference." Throughout this semester, we will learn about ways that American elementary and secondary schooling is deeply embedded in our society, cultures, and economy. Schooling in America can and does build, reproduce, sustain, and sometimes challenge discrimination and inequality on many dimensions. We will primarily focus on white supremacy
as a major driver of education politics and policy in the United States, but we will also consider other issues of race, income and class, as well as language and immigration status,
in our discussions of difference and inequality. By the end of the semester, you should have much greater sophistication using tools from the field of political science to analyze difference systematically and rigorously.
Finally, the class will be somewhat reading intensive. I want you to continue to develop your ability to read critically as you work through the assignments and your own investigations. This will require that you read "with the grain," that you read to understand what the authors are trying to say and how their work relates to others you encounter. It will also require that you read "against the grain," to rigorously assess the strengths and weaknesses of authors' work and to consider what arguments or data might challenge them. I expect we will all bring such diverse readings to our discussions and writing.
I should note that this course is always a work in progress. I will be developing some of its specific content as the semester unfolds, and I will continue to change and/or add new readings to this syllabus as I (or you) find them. I will do my best to call your attention to changes as I make them.
I have not ordered any textbooks for this course. Instead, I have built the syllabus around resources available online and materials I have posted in the Resources folder of this course's Sakai site. Further, I will expect that you at least skim Education Week
and a good daily newspaper (I suggest The Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, the Washington Post, or The Wall Street Journal. If you don't already know how to, you should learn how to access all of these publications free when you are logged into the Claremont Colleges Library page.) You should also do research and reading on the internet, both through links that I provide at the end of this syllabus and links you will find in your own research.
Back to Table of Contents
Politics 147: Education Politics and Policy
Pomona College, Spring 2023
Prof. David Menefee-Libey
Requirements, Evaluations, and Deadlines
Assignments and Grading: You will have many different kinds of assignments.
This course includes a variety of assignments, and I will do my best to give you some individual feedback on each of these dimensions:
1. Class participation (ungraded). You will get far more out of the course if you do the readings and prepare yourself to discuss them in class, and I hope you will talk with your fellow students both in and out of the classroom about the substance and ideas of this course. I believe that being a student in a liberal arts college means you have a responsibility not only to learn for yourself, but to engage and teach each other through observation, questions, comments, constructive criticism and analysis. I will therefore especially value contributions to our discussions which:
- demonstrate respect for your colleagues (when you're responding to something another student has said, refer to them by name!) and what we're working on;
- show clear and reflective understanding of the readings and subject at hand;
- help us make connections among ideas or readings under consideration, or in some other way focus our thinking about the topic under discussion; or
- help to get us unstuck.
In other words, we all need to talk, but don't just talk for the sake of talking. Though I will not grade you on this dimension of the course, I do pay attention to who engages in the classroom. Think about what you and others in the class are saying.
Also, please note: you may bring a laptop, tablet, or smart phone to the classroom, but I ask that you use it only for taking notes or accessing the texts we're discussing that day. I understand and share the temptation to be distracted with a device in front of me, but I want you to try hard to avoid distracting yourself and the students around you. Please also turn off messaging and notifications during class time.
2. Sakai Forum postings (20%). For every day the class meets, post a very brief (one- or two-sentence) observation or reflection about the day's reading on the Sakai Forum by midnight before class. Your classmates and I will read them as we prepare for class discussion that day. Forum postings cannot be made up after unexcused absences (because no one will see them), but I will excuse students for legitimate reasons.
3. A school case study (30%) Students will join in groups of three or four to do collaborative case studies of a school in Claremont or another nearby school district. You can find instructions for the case study at this link: https://DML.sites.pomona.edu/EducationCase.html.
4. Paper 2: Annotated bibliography and explanatory essay (25%). I'll give you a detailed assignment sheet for this and the next assignment as well.
5. Paper 3: a claim-based essay (25%)
All papers must be submitted in your Sakai "dropbox" by 5:00 pm on the dates below. (Please don't email them to me or ask Sakai to send me an email notifying me of your submission! I struggle with email.) Important: the file name of your the paper matters when you post it to Sakai. Title it like this: Education.Paper#.LastName.docx, as in Education.Paper1.Floyd.docx. This may seem picky and trivial, but I download hundreds of papers each semester and I lose track of papers that aren't named this way. Also, please only submit papers as MS Word-compatible documents or pdfs (not Apple Pages or Google Docs) so I can insert comments into the document file. Any word processor you use will let you save your file in one or both of these formats.
Paper 1: School case studies and essays: Monday, February 27
Paper 2: Annotated bibliography and explanatory essay: Monday, April 3
SENIORS' Paper 3: Claim-based essay: Wednesday, May 3
NON-SENIORS' Paper 3: Claim-based essay: Friday, May 12
Extensions and Grace Days: These deadlines are real and I will penalize late papers one grade per day unless I announce otherwise in class. I am, however, generous with extensions, which I will only grant in advance, so if you need an extension, ask for one. Beyond that, you have three grace days this semester. That is, you have three unconditional extension days (including weekend and break days) to use at any time you want during the term (except for seniors' Paper 3). These will operate on an honor system: I will trust you to let me know when you are taking one or more grace days on an assignment, that you will make a note about it at the top of the paper you submit, and that you will keep track yourself of how many you have used.
Academic collaboration and academic honesty: I hope you study with other people in the class, and discuss the substance of the course with them. As you do that, I encourage you to read each other's paper drafts and to give advice to each other. When you do that, acknowledge in a footnote those who have helped you. If you draw on a specific idea from someone else (or from me!), cite them specifically in a footnote, just as you would cite any source you find helpful.
I also encourage you to read Pomona College's Academic Honesty Policy, which you learned about in your ID1 class and which you can find online in the college catalog. We actually do have an honor code, and it's important. Note that #1 on this list is "In projects and assignments prepared independently, students never represent the ideas or the language of others as their own." This applies to the new Artificial Intelligence (AI) -driven ChatGPT, which you may know is available online at https://chat.openai.com/chat. It's a fascinating tool that we'll talk about in class, but you should know that it's dumb as a brick about American politics.
1. Research links. I have included a set of education-related research links at the bottom of this syllabus. You can use these in working on your case studies, your annotated bibliographies, or any other research you do on K-12 education. The links are live in the on-line version of this syllabus. As always with links pages, though I do my best to keep them up to date, some of them may be stale or dead. If you find a bad one, please send me a note via a Sakai message so I have a list all in one place when I go back to repair them.
2. Sunday Afternoon Study Space: I have reserved Carnegie 110 from 2:00 to 4:00 on Sunday afternoons for the whole semester. Partly, it's just a supportive study space: students are welcome to stay any or all of that time to work on their projects and classes with other PPA and Politics students. Partly, it's a help session for one-on-one conversations with students about their papers, research, thesis projects, and internship issues. I do those first-come, first-served and don't make appointments for them in advance. We can usually move to 109 for a conversation if you want.
3. The Library: Though most students do most of their research online alone and unassisted, the Claremont Colleges actually has a library with amazing resources and a staff of trained research librarians who can be of tremendous assistance to you in your work. One of these librarians, Mary Martin, has kindly created an entire resource page on U.S. government at
https://libguides.libraries.claremont.edu/government. Dieter Mackenbach, another librarian there, has created one resource page on public policy at
https://libguides.libraries.claremont.edu/PublicPolicyAnalysis, and another for political science courses at
If you're every interested in doing research on US politics, I urge you to start there, and to make an individual appointment with Ms. Martin, Mr. Mackenbach, or one of their colleagues. They can help you find things you would never otherwise find, and they can save you countless hours of unnecessary wandering on the Internet. Librarians can also help you with Zotero and with citation challenges.
4. Zotero: Zotero is free, open-source, public domain bibliographic and citation software that works in most browsers and word processing programs. You download it from https://zotero.org, where you can also find links to instructional videos, faqs, problem-solving threads, and access to free cloud storage for your own bibliographic archive. If you haven't already installed Zotero on your own computer and started using it for research projects and papers, I'd urge you to do it immediately. It will help you immensely with writing papers for this and every other class you take.
5. From the Center for Speaking, Writing, and the Image (formerly The Writing Center): "We open at full capacity after the second week of the semester, but we will be holding limited appointments and drop-in hours as soon as classes begin. Writing and Speaking Partners meet one-on-one with students to talk about their work and provide feedback at any stage of their preparation process. Trained to think deeply about written, oral, and visual rhetoric and communication, these student peers facilitate conversations about everything from ID1 papers to senior theses, lab reports to creative writing, giving presentations to developing strategies for reading and engaging more deeply and confidently in class discussion. Jenny Thomas, Asst. Director of College Writing and Language Diversity, offers specialized writing and speaking support for multilingual students navigating English as an additional language. To make an appointment with a Writing or Speaking Partner, please log onto the Portal and go to Academics - Writing Center or contact us at email@example.com. We offer both in-person and virtual appointments, and we have regular drop-in hours in SCC 148.
6. The Quantitative Skills Center: Like the Writing Center, the QSC can be very helpful to PPA students. QSC peer tutors can help students across projects that involve data gathering and statistical analysis. They can help with many aspects of your project: research design, methodological issues, data sets, data analysis, and presentations of data through visuals, in writing, and in presentations.
7. Accommodations: I welcome every student into my classes, and am committed to the full inclusion of anyone who may need an accommodation based on the impact of disability including mental health, chronic or temporary medical conditions. I recognize that the challenges facing students are different and student accommodation needs may change. I encourage Pomona students who may need some accommodation in order to fully participate in this class to contact Pomona College's Accesibility Resources and Services office, or call the Dean of Students office at (909) 621-8017. (Students from the other Claremont Colleges should contact their home college's disability resources officer.) The Dean will review your concerns and determine, with you, what accommodations are necessary and appropriate. All discussions, information, and documentation of disability are confidential.
Back to Table of Contents
Politics 147: Education Politics and Policy
Pomona College, Spring 2023
Prof. David Menefee-Libey
Class Schedule and Assignments
Note 1: Readings for each day are listed after the date.
Note 2: Readings with an *asterisk are posted on the course Sakai site. Refereed journal articles should be accessed through the Claremont Colleges Library web pages, where you should download them (and enter them into your Zotero bibliographic database!).
Note 3: I may modify this schedule as we go along. If I do, I will post updates online, so you should always check the online syllabus before you start reading.
Back to Table of Contents
- Week 1: January 18-20
Wednesday: Overview of the course and requirements
- » Readings: this syllabus and "Big Ideas" handout
Friday: Introductions and syllabus exercise
- » Reading: this syllabus
- Week 2: January 23-27
- » *Bartholomae & Petrosky, "Reading With and Against the Grain" Adapted from David Bartholomae and Anthony Petrosky, eds., Ways of Reading, 8th ed. Boston: Bedford/St. Martins, 2008, pp. 10-12.
- » *DML, Class discussion norm sheet
Wednesday: Assignments for this course, and how to do successful work.
- » Readings: this syllabus
- » (I'll post the assignments for Papers 1 (the school case study) and 2 (the annotated bibliography) by today.
Friday: Your school case studies: forming groups and choosing schools.
- » Details of the assignment are online here: https://DML.sites.pomona.edu/EducationCase.html.
- » Paper 1 will be due Monday, February 27, and groups will present their findings during the week before Spring Break.
- Week 3: January 30 - February 3
Monday: COVID-19 and the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP)
- » *Mervosh, Sarah. 2022. “The Pandemic Erased Two Decades of Progress in Math and Reading.” The New York Times, September 1, 2022. Available online at https://www.nytimes.com/2022/09/01/us/national-test-scores-math-reading-pandemic.html.
- » Cashdollar, Sarah, Mariana Baragan, and Meg Bates. 2022. “3 Misconceptions About Pandemic-Related Learning Loss.” The 74, November 21, 2022. Available online at: https://www.the74million.org/article/3-misconceptions-about-pandemic-related-learning-loss/.
- » Shakeel, M. Danish, and Paul E. Peterson. 2022. “A Half Century of Student Progress Nationwide.” Education Next, Summer 2022. Available online at
Monday: What do Americans think of schools?
- » Romano, Andrew. 2022. “New Poll Shows Stark Partisan Divide When It Comes to Americans’ View of Schools.” Yahoo News, December 21, 2022. Available online at https://news.yahoo.com/new-poll-shows-stark-partisan-divide-when-it-comes-to-americans-view-of-schools-132510314.html
- » Houston, David M. 2022. “Partisan Rifts Widen, Perceptions of School Quality Decline.” Education Next (blog). August 16, 2022. Availabl online at https://www.educationnext.org/partisan-rifts-widen-perceptions-school-quality-decline-results-2022-education-next-survey-public-opinion/.
- » Hess, Frederick M. 2022. “Democrats Have Lost Public Confidence on Education, But the GOP Hasn’t Gained It.” AEI. April 2022. Available online at https://www.aei.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/Democrats-Have-Lost-Public-Confidence-on-Education.pdf.
Friday: What is a "good" school? An organizational view
- » *Penny Bender Sebring, et al, The Essential Supports for School
Improvement (Chicago, IL: Consortium on Chicago School Research, 2006), available
Week 4: February 6-10
Monday:Continuing with Sebring
- » no additional readings assigned
Wednesday: What is education politics about? Competing educational goals? Competing political coalitions? Both?
- » *David Labaree, "Public Goods, Private Goods: The American Struggle Over Educational Goals," American Educational Research Journal 34:1 (1997), pp. 39-59.
- » (Optional: More from Labaree, if you're interested, on why so many missions for schools:) *David F. Labaree, "The Winning Ways of a Losing Strategy: Educationalizing Social Problems in the United States," Educational Theory, Vol. 58, no. 4 (2008), pp. 447-460.
Friday: Political coalitions supporting diverse educational goals: some history
- » *Labaree, "Public Goods, Private Goods," pp. 59-end.
- Week 5: Februay 13-17
Monday: White supremacy and anti-blackness as an often unacknowledged goal of education policy in the United States.
- » *Sojoyner, Damien M. "By All Means Possible: The Historical Struggle over Black Education," chapter 5 of First Strike: Educational Enclosures in Black Los Angeles. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 2016, pp. 147-188.
- » *Dumas, Michael J. “Against the Dark: Antiblackness in Education Policy and Discourse.” Theory Into Practice 55, no. 1 (January 2, 2016): 11–19. https://doi.org/10.1080/00405841.2016.1116852.
Wednesday: An overview of the policy system.
- » *Peters, B. Guy. "The Structure of Policy Making in American Government." Chapter 2 of American Public Policy: Promise and Performance. 11th ed. Los Angeles, CA: SAGE/CQ Press, 2018.
Friday: Dimensions of K-12 Education in the United States
- » I'll talk you through the PowerPoint presentation with that name posted on Sakai.
Week 6: February 20-24
Monday: Political power: three dimensions
- » *Fowler, Frances C. "Power and Education Policy." Chapter 2 of Policy Studies for Educational Leaders: An Introduction. 4th ed. Pearson, 2013.
- » [optional, because it's five 45-minute episodes] Joffe-Walt, Chana. “Nice White Parents.” Podcast first posted July 20, 2020. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/30/podcasts/nice-white-parents-serial.html.
Wednesday: Thinking about education politics as strategic: people solving problems or seeking goals (but pay attention to *which* people!)
- » *Schattschneider, E. E. 1975. “The Contagiousness of Conflict.” In The Semisovereign People: A Realist’s View of Democracy in America, 1–19. Hinsdale, Ill: Dryden Press. [If you want more, chapter 4, "The Displacement of Conflicts," is also famous.]
- » *López, Gerardo R. 2003. “The (Racially Neutral) Politics of Education: A Critical Race Theory Perspective.” Educational Administration Quarterly 39 (1).
Friday: What is a "theory of action" for school reform?
- » *Hill, Paul T., and Mary Beth Celio. 1998. Fixing Urban Schools. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution Press, chapters 1-3.
Week 7: February 27 - March 3
Monday: How to do the Annotated Bibliography assignment
- » Bring your copy of the guide to class.
- » Paper 1 (your case study) due to be uploaded to your Sakai Dropbox by the end of the day today.
Wednesday: A little bit of history: school reform in the 20th century
- » *Loveless, Tom. 2021. “Rising Expectations,Competing Ideas.” In Between the State and the Schoolhouse: Understanding the Failure of Common Core, 33–48. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Education Press.
Friday: The "education crisis" that began in the 1980s and never ended
- » *National Commission on Excellence in Education [NCEE], "A Nation at Risk" (April 1983). (Available online at http://www.ed.gov/pubs/NatAtRisk.)
- » *Gene Glass, "Transforming Education: Ordo Ab Chao [Order Out of Chaos]", ch. 2 of Fertilizers, Pills, and Magnetic Strips: The Fate of Public Education in America (Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing, 2008), pp. 19-55.
- Week 8: March 6-10
Monday: Case study presentations
Wednesday: Case study presentations
Friday: Case study presentations
Spring Break: March 11 - 19
- Week 9: March 20-24
Monday: A little more history: are we ending the time when school politics was separate from other kinds of politics?
- » *Henig, Jeffrey R. 2013. “Education and Single-Purpose Governance.” In The End of Exceptionalism in American Education: The Changing Politics of School Reform, 1–32. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Education Press.
Wednesday: "Systemic Reform"
- » *Polikoff, Morgan S. 2021. Beyond Standards: The Fragmentation of Education Governance and the Promise of Education Reform. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Education Press, first two chapters: "The Best Laid Plans," and "Thirty Years of Disappointment."
Friday: How did we get Common Core, and how was it supposed to work?
- » Benson, David J. “The Standards-Based Education Teaching/Learning Cycle.” Denver, CO: Colorado Coalition for Standards-Based Education, May 2012. Available online at: http://staffweb.psdschools.org/RTI_Website/Resources/StandardsBasedTeachingLearningCyclepdf.pdf
- » Whitman, David. “The Surprising Roots of the Common Core: How Conservatives Gave Rise to ‘Obamacore’” Brown Center on Education Policy, September 2015. Online at: https://www.brookings.edu/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/Surprising-Conservative-Roots-of-the-Common-Core_FINAL.pdf
- » *Layton, Lyndsey. “How Bill Gates Pulled Off the Swift Common Core Revolution.” The Washington Post, June 7, 2014. Online at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/how-bill-gates-pulled-off-the-swift-common-core-revolution/2014/06/07/a830e32e-ec34-11e3-9f5c-9075d5508f0a_story.html.
- Week 10: March 27-31
Monday: *What* should be taught? A curriculum standards exemplar
- » California's required state K-12 curriculum for every subject is posted online at https://www.cde.ca.gov/be/st/ss/. In class, we'll discuss the state's high school civics standards, "History–Social Science Content Standards for California Public Schools, Kindergarten Through Grade Twelve," adopted in 1998 and posted here:
Wednesday: Teaching and teachers in the world of standards-based education
- » *Pak, Katie, Morgan S. Polikoff, Laura M. Desimone, and Erica Saldívar García. “The Adaptive Challenges of Curriculum Implementation: Insights for Educational Leaders Driving Standards-Based Reform.” AERA Open 6, no. 2 (April 2020): 233285842093282. https://doi.org/10.1177/2332858420932828
- » [optional] *Torres, A. Chris. “‘Are We Architects or Construction Workers?’ Re-Examining Teacher Autonomy and Turnover in Charter Schools.” Education Policy Analysis Archives, December 22, 2014. Online at: https://doi.org/10.14507/epaa.v22.1614.
Friday: Cesar Chavez Day: no class meeting
- » Go read about Cesar Chavez and the United Farm Workers.
- Week 11: April 3-7
Monday: Teacher unions: what do they do?
- » *Strunk, Katharine O., Joshua M. Cowen, Dan Goldhaber, Bradley D. Marianno, Tara Kilbride, and Roddy Theobald. “It Is in the Contract: How the Policies Set in Teachers’ Unions’ Collective Bargaining Agreements Vary Across States and Districts.” Educational Policy 32, no. 2 (March 2018): 280–312. Online at: https://doi.org/10.1177/0895904817741546.
- » Bradford, Derrell, "A Rolling National Teacher Strike Is Why Schools Are Closed," Education Next, February 2021. Online at: https://www.educationnext.org/rolling-national-teacher-strike-is-why-schools-are-closed/
Wednesday: *How do we know* what students have learned? Testing and assessment
- » *Koretz, Daniel M. Chapter 1, "What is a Test?" and chapter 2, "The Evolution of Test-Based 'Reform'" from The Testing Charade: Pretending to Make Schools Better. Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press, 2017.
Friday: Charter Schools
- » *Henig, Jeffrey R. "Charter Schools in a Changing Political Landscape," from Iris C. Rotberg & Joshua L. Glazer, eds., Choosing Charters: Better Schools or More Segregation? (Teachers College Press, 2018).
- » [Optional, for some partisan history] Rachel Cohen, "The Untold History of Charter Schools," The Journal of Democracy, April 27, 2017. Available online at
- Week 12: April 10-14
- Monday: Do charter schools lead to academic outcomes different from traditional public schools?
- » Shakeel, M.D., and Peterson, P.E. (2020). Changes in the Performance of Students in Charter and District Sectors of U.S. Education: An Analysis of Nationwide Trends. The Program on Education Policy and Governance Working Papers Series. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Kennedy School. Available online at https://www.hks.harvard.edu/sites/default/files/Taubman/PEPG/research/PEPG20_04.pdf
- » Ni, Y. and Han, E. (2020). "NEPC Review: Changes in the Performance of Students in Charter and District Sectors of U.S. Education: An Analysis of Nationwide Trends." Boulder, CO: National Education Policy Center. Available online at http://nepc.colorado.edu/thinktank/charter-district-schools.
- » Hand out Paper 3 prompt. Papers will be due Monday, May 10 by 5:00 pm.
Wednesday: Fixing education by fixing how schools are governed
- » *Marsh, Julie A., Taylor N. Allbright, Danica R. Brown, Katrina E. Bulkley, Katharine O. Strunk, and Douglas N. Harris. “The Process and Politics of Educational Governance Change in New Orleans, Los Angeles, and Denver.” American Educational Research Journal 58, no. 1 (February 2021): 107–59. Online at: https://doi.org/10.3102/0002831220921475.
Friday: School segregation
- » Erica Frankenberg, Gary Orfield, Jongyeon Ee, and Jennifer B. Ayscue, "Harming Our Common Future: America's Segregated Schools 65 Years after Brown" (Civil Rights Project / Proyecto Derechos Civiles, UCLA, May 2019). Available online at https://civilrightsproject.ucla.edu/research/k-12-education/integration-and-diversity/harming-our-common-future-americas-segregated-schools-65-years-after-brown/Brown-65-050919v4-final.pdf
- » [Optional, with much more detail and explanation. The Executive Summary will give you the core.] Gary Orfield, John Kuecsera, and Genevieve Siegel-Hawley, "E Pluribus... Separation: Deepening Double Segregation for More Students," (Civil Rights Project / Proyecto Derechos Civiles, UCLA, September 2012). Available online at https://civilrightsproject.ucla.edu/research/k-12-education/integration-and-diversity/mlk-national/e-pluribus...separation-deepening-double-segregation-for-more-students.
Week 13: April 17-21
Monday: Pushing back against conventional thinking about school integration
- » *Horsford, Sonya Douglass. “School Integration in the New Jim Crow: Opportunity or Oxymoron?” Educational Policy 33, no. 1 (January 2019): 257–75. Online at: https://doi.org/10.1177/0895904818810526.
Wednesday: Covid and race: parents choosing whether to send their kids back into schools
- » *Posey-Maddux, Linn, Maxine McKinney de Royston, Alea R. Holman, Raquel M. Rall, and Rachel A. Johnson. “No Choice Is the ‘Right’ Choice: Black Parents’ Educational Decision-Making in Their Search for a ‘Good’ School. Harvard Educational Review 91, no. 1 (April 2021).
Friday: No class - annual PPA Senior Thesis Conference in SCC 201 from 9:00am - 4:00pm
- Week 14: April 24-28
Monday: School finance
- » *Lafortune, Julien, and Joseph Herrera. “Understanding the Effects of School Funding.” Public Policy Institute of California, May 2022. Available online at https://www.ppic.org/?show-pdf=true&docraptor=true&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.ppic.org%2Fpublication%2Funderstanding-the-effects-of-school-funding%2F
Wednesday: Culture wars and book bans
- » *Perez, Jr., Juan. “Why GOP Culture Warriors Lost Big in School Board Races This Month.” Politico, April 17, 2023. Available online at https://www.politico.com/news/2023/04/17/gop-school-board-races-midwest-00092232.
- » *Pendharkar, Eesha. “Book Challenges Doubled in 2022 and Became More Organized.” Education Week, March 29, 2023. Available online at https://www.edweek.org/teaching-learning/book-challenges-doubled-in-2022-and-became-more-organized/2023/03.
- » *Blanco-Rico, Nova. “Textbook Said to Include Critical Race Theory Rejected by Murrieta School Board.” Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, April 21, 2023. Available online at https://www.dailybulletin.com/2023/04/21/textbook-said-to-include-critical-race-theory-rejected-by-murrieta-school-board.
- » *Frick, Melissa. “‘Gender Queer’ – the Most Banned Book in America – Removed from Library by West Michigan School Board.” MLive: Michigan Live, October 18, 2022. Available online at https://www.mlive.com/news/grand-rapids/2022/10/gender-queer-the-most-banned-book-in-america-removed-from-library-by-west-michigan-school-board.html.
Friday: School vouchers
- » *Schneider, Jack, and Jennifer C. Berkshire. “Robbing From the Poor to Educate the Rich,” The Nation, February 13, 2023. Available online at https://www.thenation.com/article/society/vouchers-attack-public-education/ (Also note the list of links from the article at the end of the pdf version).
- Week 15: May 1-3
Monday: We can talk about whatever you want today
- » No readings assigned.
- » Do course evaluations today.
Wednesday: Reflecting on the course, lessons for next time
- » Readings: this syllabus
- » Seniors: Paper 3 due by the end of the day today.
- Paper 3 due by the end of the day Friday, May 12.
The U.S. Department of Education:
Department home page
(check out the "most requested items" list)
The National Center for
Education Statistics (all kinds of data, current and historical)
of Education annual reports (the best overview of K-12 schooling data)
of Education Sciences
of Education -- Publications catalogue
National research and data centers
The U.S. Census Bureau
Abstract of the United States (Census and other data in summary form)
The Regional Educational Laboratories (public research and program shops, each with a different focus)
The RAND Corporation
The Urban Institute
Mathematica Policy Research
American Institutes for Research (AIR)
The Consortium for Policy Research in Education (CPRE)
The Wisconsin Center for Education Research (WCER)
The Center for Reinventing Public Education (CRPE)
Education Commission of the States
Council of the Great City Schools (a coalition of urban school districts)
Center for the Future of Teaching and Learning
The Education Trust
Charter School links
The U.S. Department of Education's National
Charter School Resource Center
The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools
KIPP, the largest Charter Managment Organization (CMO) in the U.S. (nationwide)
California Department of Education's home page on charter schools in the state
The California Charter Schools Association
National education-related media and journals:
[note: you can access many paywalled sites free by logging in to the Claremont Colleges Library page]
(the definitive national education newspaper)
Washington Post's Education Review
The Hechinger Report
"Latest Education News" from the Education Writers Association (EWA)
Phi Delta Kappan (focused more on teachers and teaching)
The Teachers College
Record (Columbia University)
California government sources:
California education data-gathering
government links page on education policy
Home page for the
CA Department of Education
of Public Instruction (a statewide elected office)
Board of Education (policy-making body appointed by Governor)
California research organizations with
education policy interests
The Public Policy Institute of California, in San Francisco
Policy Analysis for California Education, at UCBerkeley, UC Davis, UCLA, Stanford, and USC
WestEd, the Regional Educational Laboratory for the Southwestern United States
Los Angeles government sources:
Los Angeles County Office
Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) home page
The Office of Data and Accountability, LAUSD's
page to LAUSD departments and offices
California and Los Angeles media with
education policy interests
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Last modified: April 22, 2023
Rough and Tumble, a
California politics and policy daily news aggregator
Capital & Main