American Education Reform: History, Policy, Practice

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  • The Colonial Period and Early Republic
    • This module looks at the sources of education in Colonial America; factors that motivated the acquisition of literacy in the colonies; formal educational institutions of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries; post-Revolution republican visions of free public schools; characteristics of elementary schools in the early Republic; and Benjamin Franklin’s Philadelphia Academy.
  • The National Period
    • This module takes up the accelerating market economy between 1815 and 1850; the Second Great Awakening and its spur to social innovations; Horace Mann’s paean for “common” schools; Whigs and the common school movement; Catholic opposition to common schools; the suppression of black literacy in the antebellum South; and nineteenth-century academies.
  • Postbellum Period
    • This module considers the post-Civil War expansion of the common school and the reality behind the myth of the “Little Red Schoolhouse”; the educational gains made by blacks during the Reconstruction period and the limits white supremacists put on blacks’ educational progress after Reconstruction; the Hampton/Tuskegee model of industrial education for blacks and the role of northern industrial philanthropists; Plessy v. Ferguson and Jim Crow schooling in the South; the Carlisle Indian School; and the early progress of the American high school.
  • The Progressive Era
    • This module looks at the Progressive movement writ large; the U.S. settlement movement as a source of urban school reform; the changes “administrative progressives” effected in the governance of urban school districts; the influence of the U.S. Army’s World War I intelligence- testing program on the American school system; social efficiency schooling and its theoretical foundations; the Committee of Ten, 1892–93; the Cardinal Principles of Secondary Education, 1918; and Booker T.Washington and W.E.B. DuBois.
  • John Dewey and the Pedagogical Progressives
    • This module takes up the major characteristics of Dewey’s Laboratory School at the University of Chicago, 1896–1904; the role of reflective thinking in Dewey’s theory of knowledge; Dewey’s conception of the school as a social center; Dewey’s disengagement from public schools after 1904; William Heard Kilpatrick and the pedagogical progressives’ distortion of Dewey’s theory; and the cornerstones of Dewey’s educational philosophy.
  • The Depression Era
    • This module looks at the New Deal’s contribution to the education of American youth; the impact of the Great Depression on education; social reconstruction and the schools; schools as social centers, community centers, and community schools; the Nambé School, New Mexico; the Arthurdale School, West Virginia; and Benjamin Franklin High School, East Harlem.
  • Post-World War II
    • This module takes up the Cold War and education; the conservative attack on “life adjustment education”; McCarthyism and the New York City schools; federally sponsored New Curricula, late 1950s–1960s; the “radical romanticists”; the post-Brown struggle for racially integrated schools; the Ocean Hill–Brownsville conflict; and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972.
  • Post-1983
    • This final module addresses the rise of school choice and charter schools; markers of the evolving (expanded) federal role toward standards and accountability in public schools; significant reauthorizations of Title I of the 1965 Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA); the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) of 2002; the critique of charter schools; school district portfolios of school choice; Teach for America and others markers of teaching as a semi-profession; and post-NCLB developments, including Race to the Top, Common Core Standards, and online learning.

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