EDF 3604, Schools & Society

Online sections do not meet in class. 


Larry Johnson

COQ 236D




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


No books are required this term.


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


Be sure to introduce yourself to your group.  I use the introductions to take first day attendance in online sections of the course.  If you don’t submit an introduction, you may be dropped from the course.  If you are dropped and wish to be in the course, let me know asap.


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 aims 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.


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 material linked  below in the Schedule of Topics and Readings.

2.    Complete individual weekly assignments (usually 1 or 2 pages) and participate in online discussions each week.  Assignments and discussion questions (ADQs) are linked below.  Some weeks have two sets of ADQs.  Do both.

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

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

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


            This class takes a lot of time.  Please, plan to spend between 135 and 180 hours during the term, or average between 9 and 12 hours per week.  If you’re working full time and taking several other demanding classes, it may be wise to postpone this class.

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

The activities you’ll be doing are planned to help you understand the arguments and ideas in assigned material and develop your own thinking about how school and society are related.  When taught in class, this course is meant to be run as a seminar in which relatively small groups of students present and explain important material to each other.  I have tried to keep some of the benefits of a seminar in the online course.  If you have any ideas how I can do that better, please let me know.

There is a link to a page with an assignment and discussion questions (ADQs) for each week.  Each week, you will post an individual assignment to your group discussion board.  The entire group will complete the group assignment and discuss your individual work using the group discussion board.  The group will write a detailed summary of the arguments in one or more readings, a summary of the group assignment, and a summary of your overall discussion.  You can share this work among group members, but try to spread the tasks around so everyone gets a chance to develop their skills.  When your group is done with its work, a member of the group will post the detailed outline and a summary of your group discussion to the class discussion board.

Let me repeat this but from the standpoint of a student.  Each week, you will read, listen to, and watch assigned material and write something about it by yourself.  I want you to practice understanding challenging material on your own.  (Post your work on your group discussion board.)  After you’ve begun to develop your own understanding of the material, discuss it with other students in small groups by using the group discussion board.  Your goal will be to help each other deepen your understanding of the material.  You will complete a group assignment that helps you extend your understanding of the material.  Then, you will share your group work with everyone in the class on Group Summaries and Class Discussion board.  My hope is that the class discussion board will become a fairly comprehensive set group notes on the material and your thoughts about it, which everyone can use to refresh their memories of what is in the various articles and lectures.  Students often tell me that their ability to understand difficult articles and express complex ideas improve markedly during the term.

Here’s how the small groups will work.  At the beginning of the term, I will assign each of you to a Group of about seven students.  (I may change group membership during the term.)  To open your work group’s page, click on Groups in the main menu on the left of the Bb screen; then click on your work group.  (Your group name will be an underlined link.)  You’ll see that your work group has a number of tools.  Most of your work will be posted in your work group discussion board.  For information on the other group tools, see the Course Guide.  You’ll also be using the Class Discussions board open to the entire class. 

The online 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.  The Course Guide has links to sites that will help you understand what arguments and counter arguments are.  I also want you to practice using discussion skills such as asking questions and making substantive comments to help one another deepen your understanding of course materials and advance your own analyses.  Practice 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 online discussions and an explanation of the discussion skills, see the Course Guide.

Coordinating group members’ work is one of the most difficult things to do in an online course.  The schedule of topics and readings below lists topics and readings by week.  Keep up with the weekly work.  Here’s a schedule to help you stay on target:


·         Begin reading the material by Monday

·         Post your individual work in your work group discussion board by Thursday

·         Complete group work in the group discussion board  and post summaries in Class Discussions by Saturday

·         Respond to other groups’ posts in Class Discussions by Monday.


The weekly work will be 24% of your grade.  You will receive 2 points per weekly assignment completed, and you need to complete 12 of them during the semester for a total of 24 points.  Try to plan so that your group can cover the entire semester.  You need to do at least 10 weekly assignments to get a grade in the course.

            The final paper (10-`12 pages) will give you a chance to think more deeply and work out more complex arguments than the weekly assignments and discussions do.  I’ll provide a list of questions that you can use to stimulate your thinking.  (I may change the questions or add to them depending on our discussions.)  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 important issues.  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 be brief, a few 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 under Assignments in Canvas and provide feedback to group members by the dates listed below.  Post your revised proposal by the due date.  Add the feedback you provided to at least two members of your group at the end of your revised proposal.  I will provide feedback on the revised proposals and post grades for them.  (Example of a proposal)

Make the 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.  Append the feedback you’ve provided on at least two drafts to the end of your final paper before submitting it.  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 the Assignments section of 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 ESOL standards and may also be useful in completing your CDN electronic portfolio.  So, save your work, 


12 weekly assignments and discussions (2 points per week)     24 Points

Proposal (10 points); feedback (5 points)     15 Points

Draft of final paper (5 points); feedback (5 points)     10 Points

Final paper     51 Points

Total     100 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 aspect of the relationships between schools and society.  You will need to watch or listen to an online lecture consisting of a PowerPoint presentation, a video or audio lecture, or recorded comments.  You will need to read a few articles or book chapters related to the topic.  Sometimes, you’ll need to listen to or watch additional online audio and video recordings.  You will need RealPlayer and a PDF reader such as Acrobat (both are free).  You must complete individual and group assignments each week.  The table below organizes all this. 

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.  Click on the link to open the materials.  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 is additional material in Larry’s Links.  Use the links below to get all of the assigned materials.

The schedule does not note holidays.  I’ll leave it to you and your group to adjust your plans to complete the work.


Due Dates:


Proposals:  Please post to the Proposals wiki under Assignments by 31-Oct.    Provide feedback to at least two group members on their proposals by 2-Nov.  Please, make sure everyone receives feedback from at least two people.  Make any changes you want to your proposal by 4-Nov.  (See the training video under Help to learn how to post your proposals and provide feedback to others.)


Drafts of Final Paper:  Please post to the Drafts wiki under Assignments 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 a half page long or more.  Please make sure each member of your group receives feedback from at least two people.  (I will not provide feedback on drafts.)


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


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

Assignment & Discussion Questions

Krugman, “Graduates versus Oligarchs”  (Alt Krugman)

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

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 (Alt: Link)

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


Alternative links for Anderson

Anderson, Brief Lecture (MP3) Alt Link   Description: Description: Description: RealPlayer

Q&A with Anderson (MP3) Alt Link


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



Lecture Outline


Optional Reading:  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




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)





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

(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”

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?



Post Proposal 31-Oct

Feedback due 2-Nov

 Revised Proposal Due 4-Nov

I will provide feedback on Revised Proposals by the beginning of the following week.




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 Readings

Riggs, Why Do Teachers Quit




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

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)





 Writing Week (No readings)





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



If you’re interested:

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

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


Drafts Due 28-Nov

Feedback on others’ drafts due 30-Nov

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