EDF 3604.602F14, Social Foundations of Education

Wednesday, 2:00 to 4:50 pm, COQ 212


Larry Johnson

COQ 236D




Office Hours:  Wednesday, 11 am to noon or by appointment.


No books are required this term


Please include course & section number in email subject line.  Use your regular USF email rather than the Canvas email function.


The Course Guide contains more detail than this Syllabus.  Please keep in mind that the Syllabus and Course Guide are merely guides; I may change them during the semester. 


We will use Canvas to store readings and assignments, to host discussion boards, provide a place for you to post your work, and do a variety of other things.  If you are unable to get into Canvas, contact the help center ASAP at help@usf.edu or call 974-1222 in the Tampa area or 1-866-974-1222 statewide.  If links in the syllabus or in Canvas don’t work, let me know so I can fix them.


Purpose of the Class

            This course examines the social foundations of education.  Our aim will be to further our understanding of the ways in which education is related to and influenced by aspects of the larger society and culture.  We live in a society stratified by race, gender, and social class; that is, wealth, income, status, power, and other goods are distributed unequally depending on race, class, and gender.  We will examine how stratification affects school and how school in turn may actually create inequality or make it worse.  Every teacher needs to develop a pedagogy—a theory or philosophy of education—that is sensitive to the needs and interests of girls and young women, students of color, and working class students (as well as others who are oppressed, marginalized or disenfranchised).  However, we need to be aware of arguments that schools cannot serve all students unless fundamental changes are made in US society.  We will raise critical questions about current educational ideals and the way schools are organized to realize them.  For example, why do we have a highly feminized teaching force, why are schools organized hierarchically, and why do so many political and business leaders argue that schools’ primary goal is to help U.S. corporations compete globally?  We will examine how these things came about, the beliefs and values that underlie them, and alternatives to them. 

            The readings, lectures, and discussions have been planned to heighten your awareness that educational policies have been constructed to achieve a variety of economic, political, and social goals.  These goals often have little to do with making classrooms good places for children and teachers. 

            I believe that mastering social, historical, and philosophical analyses, such as those we examine in this course, will help you develop a theory or philosophy of education to guide your teaching.  It will also help you think through what must be done to make schools everywhere places in which all students and teachers can flourish.

You will do both individual and group work each week.  The individual work will help you to think independently about the material we are covering.  The group discussions are a way to promote thoughtful examination of assigned readings and lectures and help you to develop and express your own ideas about the relationships between school and society.  Although I will provide assignments and discussion questions each week, please feel free to initiate your own discussions with your group members or other classmates. 

I want you to learn how to find arguments and counter arguments in the readings and in each other’s writings.  I also want you to practice using discussion skills such as asking questions and making substantive comments to help each other deepen your understanding of course material and advance your own analyses.  Practice discussion skills such as raising plausible alternative explanations and interpretations; expressing respectful disagreement and critical agreement with one another; elaborating and supplementing someone else’s ideas; distinguishing evidence and argument from (mere) opinion; summarizing and integrating each other’s ideas and ideas in the readings and lectures; asking for, providing, and receiving help.  I believe that valuing one another’s contributions to the discussions and inviting everyone in your group to participate will help everyone learn better.  For more information about the discussions and an explanation of the discussion skills, see the Course Guide.


Students with disabilities are responsible for registering with the Office of Student Disabilities Services in order to receive special accommodations and services.  Please notify the instructor the first week of classes if a reasonable accommodation for a disability is needed for this course.  A letter from the USF Disability Services Office must accompany the request.


Course Requirements

1.    Read, listen to or watch assigned articles, chapters, video and audio clips, and PowerPoint presentations.

2.    Complete individual weekly assignments (usually 1 or 2 pages) and participate in class discussions each week.  Assignments and Discussion Questions (ADQs) are linked below.

3.    Attend class.  You must attend at least 75% of class sessions to receive a passing grade.

4.    Write summaries of group work (usually 3-5 pages).  This work can be shared.

5.    Write final paper (10-12 pages, double-spaced).  Post proposal, draft, and final draft.

6.    Give feedback to others on their proposals and drafts.


            You will need to make sure you have enough time to do the required work.  Plan to average between 9 and 12 hours per week or between 135 and 180 hours for the term.

            You’ll find links to assigned material in the Schedule of Topics and Readings below.  Click on the links to open the documents.  For more detailed instructions, see below. 

You will need to read, listen to, and watch the assigned material and complete the individual assignment before attending class.  Class time will be divided between a lecture and group discussions.  I will assign you to small groups at the beginning to the term.  Find your group in Canvas.   (I may change the groups during the term.)

Bring your individual work to class each week.  In class your group will complete the group assignment and discuss your individual work.  Your group will write a detailed outline of the arguments on one or more readings, a summary of the group assignment, and a summary of your discussion, all of which will be posted in Canvas.  Make sure to spread the tasks around so everyone gets a chance to develop their skills.

The weekly work will be 24% of your grade.  You need to do 12 weekly assignments, both individual and group work, and will receive 2 points per completed assignment.  You need to do at least 10 weekly assignments to get a passing grade in the course.   

            The final paper (10 to 12 pages) will give you a chance to think deeply and work out more complex arguments than the weekly assignments and discussions do.  I have written some questions  you can use to stimulate your thinking.  (I may change the questions or add to them.)  You may use your own questions or modify the ones I give you.  Your papers should demonstrate mastery of course material and make interesting claims and arguments about the relationships between school and society.  You’ll need to support your own position and address counterarguments, that is, the things some of our authors or others have said that would go against your position.  Show why you think your arguments are stronger than those supporting a contrary position.  Try to write clearly.  Please use 12-point font and one-inch margins.  Give your paper a title.  Make sure to provide a reference list of the readings and other sources you use.  You need to use at least ten sources from the course in a substantial way.  You may use any recognized style, such as APA, MLA, Chicago, or Turabian.  If you vary from a recognized style do so thoughtfully and consistently; otherwise, your reader may get confused.  The activities throughout the term should help prepare you to write your final paper.  Post your proposal, draft, and final paper to Canvas on the dates given below.

The proposal should consist of several paragraphs saying what you plan to write about, the arguments you want to make, and why they are important.  In addition to those paragraphs, indicate the assigned readings, lectures, and PowerPoint presentations you plan to use.  List at least ten sources from class, and indicate how you think they relate to your planned paper.  Select materials from throughout the term.  Note that your proposal is due well before the end of the term, so you will be making judgments based on the titles or a quick perusal of the later readings.  Post your proposal and bring it to class on the due date below.  (Example of a proposal; another link.)

Make your rough draft as complete as you can. The more complete it is, the easier it will be for classmates to provide feedback.  Your draft needs to be posted in the Assignments section of Canvas by the date listed below.  You will need to give others feedback on their drafts by the date below.  See the instructions for doing peer reviews of one another’s papers in the Course Guide.  I will not provide feedback on your drafts.  You will receive points for a draft that shows substantial work and for providing thoughtful feedback.

Make any needed revisions and post your paper in Canvas.  (Please note, if I determine your final paper does not fulfill the assignment, you’ll have a chance to rewrite it.) 


For more detail on course requirements, see the Course Guide


Note:  The material in this course addresses several ESOL standards:  2, cultural differences; 3, cultural stereotypes; 14, effects of race, gender, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and religion on instructional outcomes; 18, positive classroom environment; 20, testing; 22, using school, neighborhood, and home resources; and 23, attitudes toward school, teachers, discipline, and education in general.  Your work may address other standards as well.  Your assignments may also be useful in completing your CDN electronic portfolio.  So, save your papers, and assignments. 



12 weekly assignments and discussions (2 points per week)

Proposal (10 points); feedback (5 points)

Draft of final paper (5 points); feedback (5 points)

Final Paper

Total Points







 A, 90%; B, 80%; C, 70%; D, 60%; F, below 60%

For more information on grading see the Course Guide.

Weekly Schedule of Topics & Readings

Each week, we will focus on a different set of issues in the social foundations of education.  You will need to read a few articles or book chapters, attend a lecture, and participate in discussions each week.  Sometimes, you’ll need to listen to or watch additional online audio and video recordings.  (Most weeks, there are PowerPoint presentations or video or audio lectures that cover the material covered in class.)  In addition to an MP3 player, you will need the RealPlayer and a PDF reader such as Acrobat; both are free.  (See the Course Guide for more information on software you’ll find useful.)  You’ll have to complete individual and group assignments each week.  All of these things are organized in the table below. 

The table is laid out as follows:  The first column is the number of the week, the second is the date the week begins, and the third gives the topic for the week and the assigned materials.

Using the table is usually simple.  Depending on the settings of your word processor, all you need to do is click or CTRL+click on the links.  Many of the links will open immediately.  You may be asked to enter your NetID and password.  You may, depending on your computer’s settings, be asked additional questions.  Just click on the appropriate response. 

If you want to follow up on a topic, there are additional materials in Larry’s Links.


Due Dates:


Bring individual work due each week to class.


Proposals:  Please bring two copies of your proposals to class 2-Nov.    Provide feedback to at least two group members on their proposals in class.  Please, make sure everyone receives feedback from at least two people.  Make any changes you want to your proposal and post it to the Proposal wiki under Assignments by 4-Nov.   (See the training video to learn how to post your proposals and provide feedback to others.)


Drafts of Final Paper:  Post your draft in Canvas  under Drafts by 28-Nov.  Provide feedback on at least two Drafts by  30-Nov.  Use the Instructions for Peer Review of Drafts in the Course Guide.  Your review should be at least a half a page long.  Please make sure each member of your group receives feedback from at least two people.


Final Paper:  Due by 5:00 PM, 5-Dec.  Submit under Assignments in Canvas.



Topics & Assignments



Introduction to Class:  Democratic Education & the Problem of Inequality

PowerPoint (Click on the link then click on Download when it appears.)

Assignment & Discussion Questions

Krugman, “Graduates versus Oligarchs”

Au, “It’s Still the Economy, Stupid” (Optional)

Assignment & Discussion Questions (ADQ)

Lecture Outline




The Reproduction of Inequality and the Myth of Meritocracy

Video Lecture:  “The Construction of School Success and Failure

(At the end of lecture, I discuss Mark Van Doren’s article assigned next week.)


Rose, Lives on the Boundary (selections)


Our Schools and Our Children

I Just Wanna Be Average

Entering the Conversation

Bill Moyers Interview with Mike Rose

McNally, “A Ghetto within a Ghetto”  Alternative Link

McNally, “Black Over-representation in Special Education Not Confined to Segregation States”

Karabel, “The Legacy of Legacies”

Lecture Outline



You may find Mike Rose’s blog interesting.

(If you’re not familiar with the term “meritocracy,” you may find this article by the creator of the term helpful:  Young, “Down with Meritocracy”)




Some Ideals of Democratic Education

Lecture:  “Ideals of Democratic Education


Van Doren, "Education for All"

Martin, "The Ideal of the Educated Person"

Greene, "'Excellence,' Meanings, and Multiplicity"

Dewey, "Education and Social Change"


Lecture Outline




The Birth of the U.S. Public School System

PowerPoint:  The Birth of the US Public School System


Katz, Doucet, and Stern, "Early Industrial Capitalism"

Lerner, "The Lady and the Mill Girl"

Mann, 10th Annual Report (optional)

Mann, 12th Annual Report

Brownson, "Decentralization: Alternative to Bureaucracy"


Lecture Outline



Two Topics:  The Feminization of Teaching &The Education of Blacks in the South

Video Lecture:  The Feminization of Teaching 


Grumet, "Pedagogy for Patriarchy"

Nicholson, "Women and Schooling" (optional)

Lecture Outline


The Education of Blacks in the South


Anderson, Brief Lecture  (on the education of Blacks in the South)

Q & A with Jim Anderson

Anderson, Alt Link  Description: Description: Description: RealPlayer

Q & A (Alt Link)


Anderson, “Common Schools for Black Children: The Second Crusade, 1900-1935”



Lecture Outline


Optional Reading: 

Rosenwald Database

McGill: Consequences to raising teacher pay




Corporate Liberal Educational Policy in the Early 20th Century

PowerPoint:  Corporate Liberal Educational Policy

Violas, "Progressive Social Philosophy"

Butler, “An Address to the Merchants’ Club of Chicago”

Haley, “Why Teachers Should Organize”

Murphy, “Centralization and Professionalization”


Lecture Outline


Reading on Disfranchisement in the South. 

Woodward, The Mississippi Plan as the American Way




Differentiating the Curriculum & Suppressing the Working Class & Women


Differentiating the Curriculum: Suppressing the Working Class & Women

Audio Lecture


Violas, “Manual Training”

Rury, "Vocationalism for Home and Work"

Kliebard, “Scientific Curriculum-Making & the Rise of Social Efficiency”

Ehrenreich, "Women and White Sauce"


Lecture Outline




The New Deal, The Great Society, and Education

Readings and audio/visual presentations

PowerPoint Presentation

Katznelson, When Affirmative Action Was White  (Transcript)

Kantor and Lowe, “Class, Race, and the Emergence of Federal Education Policy:

From the New Deal to the Great Society”

Katznelson, “New Deal, Raw Deal” (a quick overview of Katznelson’s argument)

Roosevelt, First Inaugural Address (Video)

Roosevelt, “Outlining the New Deal”

The Great Depression and the New Deal (a Brief Introduction for those who want some background)

Johnson, “The Great Society” (Video)



Background Material

New Deal Links




Educational “Excellence” & the US Political-Economy


Audio Lecture By Larry Johnson

National Commission on Excellence in Education, A Nation at Risk [alternative link]

Rothstein, “A Nation at Risk Twenty-Five Years Later”

Bracey, “April Foolishness:  The 20th Anniversary of A Nation at Risk

Refresh your memory of Greene’s "'Excellence,' Meanings, and Multiplicity" above





Public Schools in 21st Century American Society & Culture

Kozol Lecture (Kozol at about 8 minute 40 second mark)  [*Now works]

This is America—Jonathan Kozol, Part 1 & Part 2 (alternative)


Anderson, “Can Public Schools Save America?” Alternative Link w/ notes: Link

(See also, Anderson, “The Historical Context of the Test Score Gap”  Alt Link)

Ogbu, "Class Stratification, Racial Stratification, and Schooling" Fig 1 Fig 2

Kozol, “Still Separate, Still Unequal”   Alt Link

Anderson, “The Historical Context of the Test Score Gap”

Kozol, “Still Separate, Still Unequal”   Alt Link

TBT, Failure Factories:  Five Once-Average Schools Remade into the Worst in Florida







Educational “Excellence” & the US Political-Economy


Readings & Websites

Rothstein, “A Nation at Risk Twenty-Five Years Later”

“Overview of No Child Left Behind”

No Child Left Behind Act, debate (audio)

Kantor and Lowe, “From New Deal to No Deal : No Child Left Behind and the Devolution of Responsibility for Equal Opportunity”

Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) Summary

Karp, ESSA: NCLB Repackaged - Rethinking Schools




Background Material (if you’re interested)

National Commission on Excellence in Education, A Nation at Risk [alternative link]

Bracey, “April Foolishness:  The 20th Anniversary of A Nation at Risk

Refresh your memory of Greene’s "'Excellence,' Meanings, and Multiplicity" above

G.W. Bush, “NCLB is Bringing Progress and Hope”

G. W. Bush Radio Address on Education Policy [alternative]


Blowing the Whistle on The Texas Miracle


Meier et al., Many Children Left Behind, Introduction, Preamble, and Part One

Substitute readings for Part I of Meier et al.

Wood, Introduction

Darling-Hammond, No Child Left Behind and High School Reform


Instead, you may want to read about Obama’s proposals for reauthorizing NCLB

Obama’s A Blueprint for Reform

NEA Delegates Vote 'No Confidence' in Race to Top (Obama’s program)

Ravitch, “Obama’s Right-Wing School Reform,”

Ravitch Responds (a bit longer than the above piece by Ravitch)



ADQ (alternative, if you’d prefer to use it)


Additional Optional Reading

Riggs, Why Do Teachers Quit?


Bring two copies of your proposal to class 2-Nov.  You will give each other feedback.


Post Revised Proposal by 4-Nov.  I will provide feedback on revised proposals.




Tracking in the 21st Century


Mickelson & Everett, “Executive Summary:  Neotracking in North Carolina: How High School Courses of Study Reproduce Race and Class-Based Stratification  If summary doesn’t open, here’s the article. 

Oakes, “Keeping Track”

Anyon, “Social Class and School Knowledge”

Rist, “Student social class and teacher expectations: The self-fulfilling prophecy in ghetto education” (Alternative link)



Additional Reading (if you’re interested)

Anderson, “How We Learn about Race through History”

Gettleman, The Segregated Classrooms of a Proudly Diverse School




Why Education Can’t End Poverty (And Why NCLB Won’t Help)


Anyon and Greene, “No Child Left Behind as an Anti-Poverty Measure” (Alt Link)

Perelman, “Chapter 2. Labor Discipline in the Procrustean Bed--Jobs! Jobs! Jobs!”

Unemployment Rates (1939-2006) Alt links:  (HTML) (PDF)

Educational Attainment (1910-2007).  More tables if you’re interested, and here

Educational Attainment by Race and Hispanic Origin, 1940–2007

(Here’s the Census Bureau table I show in class:  Table 3)

Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment outlook: 2000–10 (see tables, esp. Table 6, p. 83)

Bluestone, “The Inequality Express” (if you have time)

Pager and Western, “Race at Work: Realities of Race and Criminal Record in the New York City Job Market” (alt Link)



Useful Background reading (if you’re interested)

Southern Education Foundation, A New Majority:  Low Income Students in the South and Nation, October 2013

Economic Report of the President 2013

--Hours and earnings in private nonagricultural industries, 1966–2012 [search for Table-B-47]

Occupations with the largest job growth

Table 6: Employment and total job openings, by education category, 2010 and projected 2020 [search for table 6]




 Writing Week (No readings)


Class Doesn’t meet




No Class.   Post Individual and group work in Canvas.  You can do it prior to the 30th.

Current Issues

Fitzpatrick et al., Failure Factories, 

     Lessons in Fear

     Who’s My Teacher Today

Gartner et al., Hearing from the Kids


Obama’s A Blueprint for Reform

Duncan, Excerpts from Secretary Arne Duncan’s Remarks at the National Press Club (Optional; includes link to video)

NEA Delegates Vote 'No Confidence' in Race to Top (Obama’s program)

Bracey, The Bracey Report of the Condition of Public Education, 2009



Post your draft in Canvas  under Drafts by 28-Nov

Canvas will assign two papers to review.  Complete your reviews by 30-Nov  

Complete your reviews on Canvas by  30-Nov.

Post Final Paper by 5:00 PM, 5-Dec