EDF 3604, Schools & Society

Online sections do not meet in class. 


Larry Johnson

COQ 236D



Office Hours:  By appointment.


Please include course and section number in email subject line.  Use USF mail, not Canvas.



Be sure to introduce yourself to your classmates.  I use the first day 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, 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 as soon as you can 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.


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 the articles and book chapters linked below.

2.    Read lecture outlines linked below; listen to or watch assigned video and audio clips and PowerPoint presentations, linked below.

3.    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.

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

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

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


            This class takes a lot of time.  Please, plan to spend between 120 and 160 hours during the term, or average between 12 and 16 hours per week.  If you’re working full time and taking 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 or CTRL+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 in the Schedule of Topics and Readings to a page with an assignment and discussion questions (ADQs) for each week.  Each week, you will do individual work and group work based on the ADQs.  To post your individual work and participate in your group discussion, click on the Individual and Group Work .  Log in to Canvas, select this course, click on Assignments, and click on Individual and Group Work .

Your group will complete the group assignment and discuss members’ 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 your group assignment, and a summary of your overall discussion.  Share this work among group members, and 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 Group Summaries & Class Discussions board under Assignments in Canvas.

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 the Individual and Group Work discussion board under Assignments.)  After you’ve begun to develop your own understanding of the material, discuss it with other students in small groups on the Individual and Group Work 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 & Class Discussions 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 memory 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.

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 think more deeply. Practice raising plausible alternative explanations and interpretations and expressing respectful disagreement and critical agreement with one another.  Elaborating and supplementing someone else’s ideas is a good way to help everyone think more deeply.  Distinguishing evidence and argument from (mere) opinion and summarizing and integrating each other’s ideas with ideas in the readings and lectures will help you develop your critical thinking.  Don’t hesitate to ask for, provide, and receive help form each other.  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’ postings in Class Discussions by Monday.


I will begin reading each week’s work on the following Tuesday.  The weekly work will be 24% of your grade.  You will receive 3 points per weekly assignment completed.  I may give partial credit for incomplete work.  You need to complete 8 weekly assignments during the semester for a total of 24 points.  Try to plan so that your group can cover the entire semester.  (Please be aware that I haven’t yet mastered the Canvas gradebook.  If Canvas doesn’t seem right, go by the syllabus.

            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 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.  Append the feedback you’ve provided on at least two drafts to the end of your own draft.  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 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 standards as well.  Your assignments may also be useful in completing your CDN electronic portfolio.  So, save your papers, and assignments. 


8 weekly assignments and discussions (3 points per week)   24 Points

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

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

Final paper                                                                                        51

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 set of issues in the social foundations of education.  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.

Using the table is usually simple.  All you need to do is click on the links.  (Sometimes people’s computers are set so they have to CNTRL+click.)  Many of the links will open immediately.  Sometimes, though, you’ll be asked to enter your Canvas 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 open a folder with all of the readings alphabetical by author, click on this link:  Readings.  (This is useful if a link on the syllabus doesn’t work.)


Due Dates:


Proposals:  Please post to the Proposals wiki under Assignments by Jun 27.    Provide feedback to at least two group members on their proposals by Jun 29.  Please, make sure everyone receives feedback from at least two people.  Make any changes you want to your proposal by Jul 2 .  I will grade your revised proposals and feedback.  (See the training video 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 Jul 18 . 

Provide feedback on at least two classmates’ Drafts by Jul 20 .  Use the Instructions for Peer Review of Drafts in the Course Guide.  Your review should be one to two pages long.  Please make sure each member of your group receives feedback from at least two people.  Add the feedback you give to two classmates to the end of your draft.


Final Paper:  Due by 5:00 PM, Jul 22 .  Submit under Assignments in Canvas.






Introduction to Class:  Democratic Education & the Problem of Inequality

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

Krugman, “Graduates versus Oligarchs”

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

Lecture Outline

Assignment & Discussion Questions ADQ





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”

Alternative Link

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”)


Note:  The first McNally links take you to the Rethinking Schools website.  You can sign up free so you can see all of their archived content.




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



May 30th is a holiday so adjust your schedules accordingly



The Birth of the U.S. Public School System & the Feminization of Teaching

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

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

ADQ (Feminization of Teaching and the Education of Blacks in the South)




Two Topics:

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



(The readings above are very important, but If you’re pressed for time, watch the PowerPoint presentation and skim the readings.  Some of the material is covered in Violas’s Manual Training article below.  If you’re interested in gender issues, you’ll want to read Haley and Murphy carefully.)


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 (video) Alt Link (audio only)  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”

Roosevelt, First Inaugural Address (Video)

Roosevelt, ” Outlining the New Deal Program

New Deal definition - Dictionary - MSN Encarta

Johnson, “The Great Society” (Audio/Video)



Post Proposal Jun 27.

Feedback on Proposals Jun 29.

Revised Proposal Due Jul 2 .




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


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)


July 4th is a holiday so adjust your schedules accordingly



Public Schools in 21st Century American Society & Culture

Kozol, "The Shame of the Nation." (audio or video)

Alternative Kozol Lecture

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

Fitzpatrick et al., Failure Factories

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.  You may also find this article by Jeannie Oakes helpful.

Anyon, “Social Class and School Knowledge”



Additional Readings if you’re interested

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

Anyon and Greene, “No Child Left Behind as an Anti-Poverty Measure” (ERIC Full Text)






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

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

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

Unemployment Rates (from 1941)  Alt links:  (HTML) (PDF)

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

Educational Attainment by Race and Hispanic Origin, 1940–2007

For 2009

Bluestone, “The Inequality Express” (Optional)  Alt Link



Additional Readings

Meier et al., Many Children Left Behind, Part II

High School Dropout Rates by Race/Ethnicity, 1970–2006

High School Dropout Rates by Gender, 1960–2006

Recent NCES Report; see table on dropouts, p. 97

ADQ (Optional)


Drafts Due Jul 18

Feedback on Drafts Jul 20


Final Paper Due by 5:00 PM, Jul 22