EDUC 310A-Fall 2012   
Politics and Education:
          Policy, Privatization, and Politics
M/W 1:20-2:35
6 Persson
professor: Mark Stern
office: 12 Persson                                                                                                                  
office hours: T, 2-4; W, 2:45-4; and by appointment             
phone: 315.228.6136


The past few years have been nothing short of dramatic at the level of politics and policy marking the educational landscape.  From the proliferation of charter schools, to the blaming of teachers and their unions for every problem the world has to offer, to Teach For America and other superheroes being the subsequent answers to those same problems, educational policy has most certainly arrived in popular and public discourse.  Even Mark Zuckerberg and John Legend have opinions about pressing issues. 
On the one hand, those who have been studying the structural issues in education might feel validated. Mass media and Hollywood celebrities cum humanitarian aid missionaries have finally turned their mouths and pocketbooks to education.  On the other hand, the types of policies getting lip service and funding are, for those same people who have been studying education from critical perspectives, quite troubling.  Without historical memory and an understanding of political economy, the PR campaigns around charter schools and programs like Teach For America have produced a social justice zeitgeist.  However, many of these programs are fundamentally changing the structures of power and accountability between citizens and the state in a democracy.  Like other public goods before it, education has been fully incorporated by the ideological tentacles of neoliberalism: an ongoing political and economic process that puts faith in markets as the arbiter of social life.  As the federal government gets more involved with educational policy, the more the federal government has been opening up the educational marketplace to privatization.
This course will be a survey of contemporary educational policy that pays specific attention to the role of political economy.  Our point of departure for analysis will be to familiarize ourselves with the historical shift from the welfare state to the neoliberal state.  Understanding this shift and its relation to capital and politics will offer a context for understanding current policies.  From here, we will use our theoretical insights to investigate how we should make sense of current educational policies. 
Questions our conversations will be based around include:
-What role does public education serve in a democracy?
-How do differing notions of democracy frame notions of choice and freedom?
-How can we understand educational policy as being part of larger economic and political movements?
-What is the role of media in a democracy?  How are media shaping the educational policy debate?
-How do students, teachers, parents, and administrators experience and talk about contemporary educational policies?   Whose voices are being heard and why?
-What is at stake in the shifting notion of “the public,” as public education merges with private holdings? 
We will interrogate contemporary educational policy, take positions on controversial issues, and examine the ever-present question: What is to be done?
class environment and cultural politics 
Class time will be structured in a seminar format.  This means that we will engage texts by discussing them as a group and bringing up questions and concerns vocally and publicly.  You are expected to show up to class prepared and having read.  This course will be interactive and collaborative. The better we all participate, the more we will get out of this class.  As content will deal with political issues that (hopefully) many of us will have differing opinions on, class dialogue will provide a context to explore these differences through listening and presenting alternative points of view.  Though we should be comfortable to disagree with each other, we will do so respectfully and thoughtfully. 
I ask that you do not text message or use computers during this class. 
Academic integrity and the University Honor Code will be respected in this course.  You are expected to cite work accurately and diligently.  If you have any questions about what this means or how it is done correctly, feel free to contact me.  For outside help with your writing you should contact The Writing Center or see the Library’s Citation and Style Guides at
Our community values diversity and seeks to promote meaningful access to educational opportunities for all students.  The University and I are committed to your success.  I support section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 as amended and the Americans with Disabilities Act (1990).  This means that in general no individual shall be excluded from participation in, be denied benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity, solely by reason of having a disability. If you have concerns about anything related to your success in this course, please come and speak with me and contact Lynn Waldman, Director of Academic Program and Disability Services, 105 McGregory Hall, x7225.
Any late assignment will be penalized one point per day.  After three days, you will receive a zero. 
All written work must be proofread, edited, and cited properly.  I will not grade non-proofread work.  It will be returned and counted as late.  You may use APA, MLA, or Chicago style for citation.  All work should be double spaced, in 12 pt., Times New Roman, font, with one-inch margins unless otherwise noted.
1) attendance/participation
Your grade will be based not only on whether or not you show up for class, but how you show up for class.  As I stated above, class time will be based on discussion and your participation is mandatory.  We want to try to cultivate a classroom environment where we are talking with each other and not at each other.  Listening to fellow students and responding to them in relation to the text will help to create a healthy intellectual climate. 
To keep everyone accountable for readings, I will make use of two forms of assessment during the semester.  I will both cold-call on students and there will be unannounced times when I will ask that you complete a writing assignment based on the readings. 
To help you with both of these forms of assessment, you want to always consider the following three questions when reading and taking notes:
1) What is the author’s argument?  What are they getting at?
2) What is the context for the conversation/argument the author is putting forth?
3) What do you find interesting about the reading?  What are you curious about?
After two unexcused absences, you will lose two percentage points per absence.  For the most part, only absences with a note from an academic dean are excusable.  Should certain circumstance arise that make it impossible to attend class, please get in touch with me before that class period.                                                                                                                                                =10%

2) class blog
In the spirit of public education, we are going to do our little part in brining some of the conversations we’re having in class to a larger audience.  We’ll have a class blog that everyone will be required to participate in the production of its content/knowledge.  Everyone in the class will complete one main post for a week (3 pts.) and will also be responsible for seven response posts (1 pt. each).  These posts will be substantive and analytical, as opposed to summative and obvious, or you will not receive credit.                                                                                                    =10%
3) Election Posters                                                                         
Lucky for us, there is an important election during the semester.  In order to do our civic duties, making sure that the public has access to all the information necessary to make informed, rational, decisions, you will work in groups to produce posters depicting each candidate’s educational politics.  These should be huge, colorful, and edifying…or at least as edifying as these two candidates allow.                                                                                                                 =20%
4) papers
You’ll write two papers for this course.  The first (20 pts) will be approximately 2000 words on issues covered in the first half of the semester. This will count as your midterm.  The second (30 pts) will be a more formal research paper, approximately 3500 words, on a topic related to class of your choosing.                                                                                                        = 50%
5) final exams
You will have a choice for the final exam.  You can either: a) watch The Wire: Season 4 and have an oral final, a conversation with me, thinking about the relationship between the show and class content or, b) you will do a written final responding to a precirculated prompt. 
There are five texts for this course.  There will be a copy of each on reserve at Case Library. 
-       Wayne Au, Unequal By Design: High-Stakes Testing and the
                  Standardization of Inequality.  (New York: Routledge, 2009)
-       Michael Fabricant & Michelle Fine, Charter Schools and the Corporate
                  Makeover of Public Education: What’s at Stake?  (New York, TC
                  Press, 2012)                                       
-                Tony Judt, Ill Fares The Land.  (New York: Penguin, 2011)
-                Gaye Tuchman, Wannabe U: Inside the Corporate University.  (Chicago:
            Univ. of Chicago Press, 2009)
-                William H. Watkins (ed.), The Corporate Assault on Public Education. 
            (New York: TC Press, 2012)
In addition to these books, there will be articles listed in the schedule below.  All of these articles, if not followed by a hyperlink in this syllabus, can be found on Moodle.  Full citations for these articles are written on the first page of each.
(Please note that this is a working syllabus.  The professor reserves the right to revise and amend as necessary.) 
M, Aug 27        Intros
W, Aug 29       Apple & Beane, “The Case For Democratic Schools”
                        Biesta, “What Are Schools For”
W, Aug 29      MOVIE NIGHT—730pm, Persson Auditorium
M, Sept 3        Judt, Intro; Chs. 1 & 2
W, Sept 5        Judt, Chs. 3 & 4                       
M, Sept 10      Peet, “Globalism and Neoliberalism” from Unholy Trinity
                        Klien, “Blank is Beautiful” from The Shock Doctrine
                        Judt, Ch. 5
W, Sept 12      Watkins, “The New Social Order” (in Watkins)
                        Saltman, “Schooling in Disaster Capitalism”
                        Listen: Education Radio, “Exposing the Myth of Education Reform”
Testing, Standards, and Accountability 
M, Sept 17      Wells, “'Our Children’s Burden'
                        Au, Ch. 1
W, Sept 19      Au, Chs. 2 & 3 
M, Sept 24      Kohn, “Test Today, Privatize Tomorrow…” (in Watkins)
                        Winfield, “Resuscitating Bad Science” (in Watkins)
                        Leistyna, “No Corporation Left Behind”       
W, Sept 26      Au, Chs. 4 & 5
                        Goldstein, “How High-Stakes Testing Led to the Atlanta Cheating
M, Oct 1.         U.S. Dept. of Education, A Blueprint for Reform
                        U.S. Dept. of Education, Race to the Top Program
                        Karp, “NCLB Waivers Give Bad Policy…”
                        Karp, “School Reform We Can’t Believe In…”
Communities for Excellent Public Schools, “Our Communities Left
W, Oct 3,     Listen, Education Radio, “Diane Ravitch on NCLB and RTTT”
Paper #1 Due
Working Date for Field Trip 
M, Oct 8          Fall Break
W, Oct 10        Friedman, “The Role of Government In Education”
                        Apple, “Are Markets in Education Democratic?”
                        Fabricant and Fine, Ch. 1
M, Oct 15        Wells, et al., “Defining Democracy in the Neoliberal Age:…”
                        Fine and Fabricant, Chs. 2, 3, & 4
W, Oct 17        Lipman, “Neoliberal Urbanism…” (in Watkins)
                        Buras, “ ‘It’s All About the Dollars’…” (in Watkins)
                        Gabriel and Medina, “Charter Schools’ New Cheerleaders…”                     
M, Oct 22        Bush, “Access, School Choice, and Independent Black Institutions…”
                        Rofes, “Charter Schools as the Counterpublics of Disenfranchised
                        Listen: This American Life, “Going Big”
W, Oct 24        Lack, “No Excuses: A Critique of KIPP…”
                        Winerip, “Charter Schools Send Message: Thrive or Transfer”
                        Pogash, “Public Financing Supports Growth of Online Charter Schools”
                        Listen: Education Radio, “Charter Schools…”
M, Oct 29        Saltman, “The Rise of Venture Philanthropy…” (in Watkins)                    
                        Dillon, “Behind Grass-Roots School Advocacy, Bill Gates”
                        Listen: Education Radio, “Strings Attached…”
W, Oct 31        Kovacs and Christie, “The Gates Foundation and the Future…”
                        Goldstein, “What Newark Schools Need”
M, Nov 5          Gerson, “The Neoliberal Agenda and…Unions” (in Watkins)
                        Klein and Rhee, “How to Fix Our Schools…”
                        Rothstien, “How to Fix Our Schools: A Response
W, Nov 7          Goldstein, “Imaging the Frame: Media Representations of Teachers,
                        Los Angeles Times, “Grading the Teachers”
                        Goldstein, “The Test Generation”
M, Nov 12        Darling-Hammond, “Who Will Speak For The Children?”
                        Hartman, “Teach For America…Liberal Do-Gooders”
 Listen: Education Radio, “The Sham of Teacher For America, Pt. 1”
W, Nov 14        Miner, “Looking Past the Spin: Teach For America”           
                        Goldstein, “Does Teach For America Work”
                        Listen: Education Radio, “The Sham of Teach For America, Pt. 2”
M, Nov 19        Saltman, “The Gift of Corporatizing Teacher Education…”
                         Otterman, “Ed. Schools’ Pedagogical Puzzle”
W, Nov 21        November Break
M, Nov 26        Giroux, “Neoliberalism, Corporate Culture, and the Promise of Higher
                        Tuchman, Ch. 1
W, Nov 28        Tuchman, Chs. 2 & 3
                        Branch, “The Shame of College Sports”
                        Paper # 2 Due
M, Dec 3          Beaver, “For-Profit Higher Education…”
                        Weil, “Neoliberalism and For-Profit, Predatory Education Industry”
W, Dec 5         Tuchman, rest

Final—Monday Dec 10, 3 PM

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