Social Justice, Democracy, and Education
1. explain what the term “social justice” means to you.
2. In your own words define or explain the term “democracy.”
3. What is the difference between education and schooling?
4. (a) Some people say that one of the most important goals of public schools and universities is to prepare people for democracy. Do you agree with this goal?
(b) Some people say that it is a matter of justice that they provide equal opportunities for all students. Do you agree?
5. Linda McNeil (2004) reviews the effects of high-stakes testing in Texas during the 1980s and 1990s. What conclusions does she reach? In her view how are high-stakes testing and accountability connected to high quality teaching and learning? How are they connected to preparation for citizenship?
6. Paul Krugman (2004) argues that there have been “big changes” in the U.S. What changes is he referring to? (Hint: Part of the answer is on page 9). Also, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) video provides out statistics that indicate “record inequality between rich and poor. In your view, what are the implications for these shifts for American children and youth in the public schools?
7. Rury (2004) argues: (1) that the comprehensive high school of the 1950s and 60s included an overt role that contributing to the democratic ethos. (2) Beginning in the 1980s that role has been largely ignored as schools have instead focused on academics. (3) Schools, he writes, have also become places and space that allow for the emergence of “youth culture.” Think back to your own high school experience. Does his three points make sense or conflict with your experiences in high school? Cite examples from your high school experience that support or refute Rury’s claims.
8. (a) Sleeter and Grant (2004) write that public schools today pride themselves in proclaiming “success for all students.” They then go on to illustrate (on pages 90-100) how this proclamation is inaccurate, an “illusion of progress.” Is their reasoning based on evidence that you find trustworthy? Explain.
(b) Citing studies by Everhart (1983) and Gaskell (1985) they also say that students create some of the culture in schools. Have you seen any evidence of this in your school experience?
(c) Finally, they discuss multicultural education and its various forms “Approaches” in the classroom. Which one (if any) of these forms is most apparent in your school or university? Which one do you feel best promotes democracy and justice?
10. In your own words, summarize the concept of a multi-tiered system of higher education (pages 110-111, 116-120) that Aronowitz says has emerged in the 20th century. Aronowitz argues that at many colleges and universities “business interests” have come to dominate the higher education and moved it toward vocationalism. This has happened, he asserts, at the expense of liberal arts, critical learning, and the development of a well-rounded citizenry? The curriculum is driven by utility and relevance to the here-and-now. In your experience, is Aronowitz on the right track with this argument? Do you see any advantages or disadvantages to making the curriculum in higher education more relevant to the marketplace and less connected to studying subjects not directly linked with getting a job?
11. In your view, do American public schools and universities promote democracy and offer high quality learning experiences and opportunities for all students in P-12 and for those who choose to enroll in college? How might Claudia Dreifus answer this question?
12. What are the most important concepts, ideas or perspectives you have gained from the readings and the videos we have viewed so far? How will this new knowledge impact on your work as a counselor, teacher, professor, educational researcher, or administrator?