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Home arrow Education arrow American public education and the responsibility of its citizens : supporting democracy in the age of accountability

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  • 1. Marion Orr and John Rogers, “Unequal Schools, Unequal Voice: The Need for Public Engagement for Public Education,” in Public Engagement for Public Education: Joining Forces to Revitalize Democracy and Equalize Schools, ed. Marion Orr and John Rogers (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2011), 8.
  • 2. Joseph Kahne and Ellen Middaugh, “Democracy for Some: The Civic Opportunity Gap in High School,” in Engaging Young People in Civic Life, ed. James Youniss and Peter Levine (Nashville, TN: Vanderbilt University Press, 2009), 29-58; Meira Levinson, “The Civic Achievement Gap,” CIRCLE Working Paper 51 (2007), http://www.civicyouth.org/ PopUps/WorkingPapers/WP51Levinson.pdf; Meira Levinson, No Citizen Left Behind (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2014).
  • 3. Marion Orr and John Rogers, 17.
  • 4. For more on how to achieve these effective mobilizations, see Wendy D. Puriefoy, “The Education of Democratic Citizens: Citizen Mobilization and Public Education,” in The Public Schools, ed. Susan Fuhrman, Marvin Lazerson, and Annenberg Foundation Trust at Sunnylands (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005), 236-251.
  • 5. Jefferson’s approach is further described in Ralph Lerner, “The American Founders’ Responsibility,” in Taking Responsibility: Comparative Perspectives, ed. Winston Davis (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2001), 40-41.
  • 6. Paul E. Peterson, Michael B. Henderson, and Martin R. West, Teachers Versus the Public: What Americans Think about Their Schools and How to Fix Them (Washington, DC: Brookings Institution Press, 2014), 71.
  • 7. Donn Worgs, “Public Engagement and the Coproduction of Public Education,” in Public Engagement for Public Education: Joining Forces to Revitalize Democracy and Equalize Schools, ed. Marion Orr and John Rogers (Stanford, Calif: Stanford University Press, 2011), 91.
  • 8. Jennifer McMurrer and The Center on Education Policy, “Instructional Time in Elementary Schools: A Closer Look at Changes for Specific Subjects,” February, 2008, http://www.cep-dc.org/displayDocument.cfm?DocumentID=309
  • 9. Mark Hugo Lopez and Emily Hoban Kirby, “U.S. Civics Instruction: Content and Teaching Strategies,” CIRCLE: The Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning & Engagement” (August 2007), 4.
  • 10. Peter Levine, The Future of Democracy: Developing the Next Generation of American Citizens (Medford, MA: Tufts University Press, 2007); William Galston, “Civic Knowledge, Civic Education, and Civic Engagement,” in Fountain of Youth: Strategies and Tactics for Mobilizing America’s Young Voters, ed. Daniel M. Shea and John C. Green (Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 2007), 95-114.
  • 11. Kahne and Middaugh, “Democracy for Some,” 31.
  • 12. Jeffrey R. Henig, Rethinking School Choice: Limits of the Market Metaphor (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1994), 202.
  • 13. Joseph Kahne and Joel Westheimer, “Teaching Democracy: What Schools Need to Do,” in The Social Studies Curriculum: Purposes, Problems, and Possibilities, ed. E. Wayne Ross (Albany: State University of New York Press, 2006), 297.
  • 14. Amy Gutmann, “The Civic Ends and Means of Education,” in Passing the Test: The National Interest in Good Schools for All, ed. Michael Calabrese (Washington DC: The Center for National Policy, 2000), 25.
  • 15. David Matthews, Reclaiming Public Education by Reclaiming our Democracy (Dayton, OH: Kettering Foundation Press, 2006), 16.
  • 16. Julie Marsh documents two extended examples of public work and deliberation that struggle with lack of trust and power asymmetries between participants in Democratic Dilemmas: Joint Work, Education Politics, and Community (Albany: SUNY Press, 2007).
  • 17. Larry Clow, “Putting the Public Back in Public Schools,” The College Letter (February 2016), www.cola.unh.edu/thecollegeletter/2016-02/putting-public-back-public-schools (accessed March 11, 2016). See additional public deliberations on education hosted by New Hampshire Listens, especially the work of Quixada Vissing.
  • 18. New Hampshire Listens, “What Do We Value? The Future of Education for New Market,” Summary Report, November 18, 2014.
  • 19. http://www.montgomeryschoolsmd.org/departments/studycircles/
  • 20. Chris Arnold, “A City Looks to STEM School to Lift Economy, But Will Grads Stay?” National Public Radio, September 22, 2016, http://www.npr.org/2016/09/22/494727453/ a-city-looks-to-stem-school-to-lift-economy-but-will-grads-stay
  • 21. https://morethanascorechicago.org/2016/02/25/lets-talk-testing-2/ and https://mor- ethanascorechicago.org/take-action/legislation/ regarding Illinois HB 0306 in 2016; https:// theoptoutfloridanetwork.wordpress.com/2016/08/26/a-win-for-education-in-florida-today/
  • 22. Theda Skocpol, Diminished Democracy (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2003).
  • 23. Joel Westheimer and Joseph Kahne, “What Kind of Citizen? The Politics of Educating for Democracy,” American Educational Research Journal 41, no. 2 (2004): 237-269.
  • 24. Kwame Anthony Appiah, “The Democratic Spirit,” Dxdalus, the Journal of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences 141, no. 2 (2013): 214-215.
  • 25. Ronald Dworkin, Life’s Dominion: An Argument about Abortion, Euthanasia, and Individual Freedom (New York: Vintage, 1993).
  • 26. In this way, I agree with James E. Fleming and Linda C. McClain in their conclusion: “We propose an account of rights that (1) takes responsibilities as well as rights seriously, permitting government to encourage responsibility in the exercise of rights but not to compel what it holds is the responsible decision.” James E. Fleming and Linda C. McClain, Ordered Liberty: Rights, Responsibilities, and Virtues (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2013), 2.
  • 27. Dennis Shirley, “A Brief History ofPublic Engagement in American Public Education,” in Public Engagement for Public Education: Joining Forces to Revitalize Democracy and Equalize Schools, ed. Marion Orr and John Rogers (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2011), 29.
  • 28. Quentin Wheeler-Bell describing the research of Kathryn Neckerman, “Bring the State Back into Focus: Civic Society, the State, and Education,” Philosophy of Education (2016), in press, np.
  • 29. Gert Biesta, also recognizing the extreme challenges of the neoliberal accountability culture, concludes differently, saying, “the culture of accountability ultimately makes relationships of responsibility impossible.” Biesta, “Education, Accountability, and the Ethical Demand,” 250.
  • 30. John Darley and Bibb Latane, “Bystander Intervention in Emergencies: Diffusion of Responsibility,” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 8, no. 4 (1968): 377-383.
  • 31. Iris Marion Young describes this greater responsibility relative to power and privilege in Responsibility for Justice (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011).
  • 32. Thank-you to Lori Foote for reminding me that teachers are already speaking out in these ways, but are often overlooked or ignored. She drew my attention to the following examples: Chad Donohue, “‘Our Children are being Tampered With:’ A Teacher Speaks Out on Emotional Effects of High-Stakes Testing,” NEA Today, April 23, 2015, http://nea- today.org/2015/04/23/our-children-are-being-tampered-with-a-teacher-speaks-out-on- emotional-effects-of-high-stakes-testing/; Yinzercation, “Brave Teachers Speak Out about Testing,” https://yinzercation.wordpress.com/2015/04/22/brave-teachers-speak-out-about- testing/; “No Longer Silent: NYC Teachers of Conscience Speak Out Against High-Stakes Testing and Corporate Education Reform,” May 10, 2015, https://criticalclassrooms.word- press.com/2015/05/10/no-longer- silent-nyc-teachers-of-conscience-speak-out-again st- high-stakes-testing-and-corporate-education-reform/
  • 33. The manual for the Ohio Achievement Assessment, page 16, provides directions for the building coordinator to appropriately handle a test manual on which a student has vomited. “A student who becomes ill and vomits on his or her test booklet and is able to continue the test should be given a new test booklet so that he or she can continue. Later, the student’s responses and demographic information must be transcribed into the new test booklet, which will be the copy of the test to be scored. The soiled test booklet should be placed in a zip-lock bag with the barcode written on the zip-lock bag and returned to the DTC with the unused materials. Please alert the DTC to this situation so that he or she can document the test booklet barcode on the Material Resolution Form.” Ohio Department of Education, Ohio Achievement Assessments, Grade 3, Reading: Building Test Coordinator’s Manual (Fall, 2014) downloaded from https://education.ohio.gov/getattachment/Topics/Testing/Ohio- Achievement-Assessments/BTC_Fall14.pdf.aspx
  • 34. It is possible that citizens who engage in these deliberations may affirm antidemocratic or problematic neoliberal views. In such a case, teachers and other participants should call out those holding such views, revealing their problems, including their potential shirking of role responsibility, and working to realign the conversation with defensible democratic norms.
  • 35. I’m borrowing key ideas here from my article co-authored with Amy Rector Aranda, “The Role of ‘Small Publics’ in Supporting Dissenting Teachers,” Educational Theory 66, nos. 1-2 (2016): 165-180.
  • 36. This role and struggle of superintendents is documented by longtime public education activist Corky O’Callaghan in America’s Schools at a Turning Point (Tuscon, AZ: Wheatmark, 2015).
  • 37. Kathleen Knight Abowitz and Stephen Thompson further delineate many efforts school leaders can take in Publics for Public Schools: Legitimacy, Democracy, and Leadership. (Boulder, CO: Paradigm Press, 2013).
  • 38. For more discussion of the shortcomings of these new teacher training programs, see Sarah M. Stitzlein and Craig K. West, “New Forms of Teacher Education: Connections to Charter Schools and their Approaches,” Democracy & Education 22, no. 2 (2014): 1-10.
  • 39. Michael B. Katz and Mike Rose, Public Education under Siege (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2013), 222.
  • 40. Ibid., 20.
  • 41. Matthews, Reclaiming Public Education.
  • 42. Jennifer L. Hochschild and Nathan B. Scovronick, The American Dream and the Public Schools (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003), 7.
  • 43. Again, thanks to Lori Foote for pointing out this important role for representatives and the challenges of having all perspectives considered.
  • 44. Comment by Rep. Andrew Brenner from “Capitol Insider: Commons on Kasich from ‘War Room’?” The Columbus Dispatch, March 9, 2014, http://www.dispatch.com/con- tent/stories/local/2014/03/09/comments-on-kasich-from-war-room.html
 
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