Spring 2015 - 61115 - PA388K - Advanced Topics in Public Policy
Education & Social Change
This course begins by considering what we mean by “education” and “social change.” It moves on to examine the complex interplay of large-scale political, economic, and social-cultural forces that shapes schooling policy. Politics can be traced through the intergovernmental machinery that governs and regulates schools. The economic imprint is seen in the arguable claim that a nation's wealth is its human capital. Competing social-cultural forces are embedded in our claim that schooling is a social leveler.
Globalization—the increasing standardization of schooling rhetoric and management practices—is one such force. Another is our national narrative of the 'American Dream' and upward social mobility—a storyline that hides a struggling, shrinking middle-class and an increasingly segregated society based on social class and race.
Key questions in the course revolve around fundamental policy issues related to inequality, poverty, and social justice. How and why economic frameworks dominate schooling policy? Are there alternative frameworks we can use to re-discover and re-invigorate the goals of public education and practice? Are there more effective ways to enlist and hear authentic but missing voices in the talk of school reform?
The course is multi-disciplinary in approach and scope. It emphasizes theoretical, empirical, and practical dimensions of social change and school reform. It is particularly appropriate for those interested in strengthening the relationship between schools, students, families, and communities.