Tag Archives: research

Schooling Corporate Citizens: A Conversation with Ronald W. Evans

Fireside Chat with Ron Evans on Education Reform, Social Studies, and Democratic Citizenship, Hosted By E. Wayne Ross 

This conservation with Ron Evans was conducted in the plenary session of the 2015 retreat of College and University Faculty Assembly of National Council for the Social Studies at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte on January 16, 2015. Evans discusses his new book, Schooling Corporate Citizens, the politics of education reform and how that recent reforms have affected the (official) nature and purposes of social studies education, his approach to research and writing, and life in the academy.

Introductions

Ron Evans is a leading authority on social studies and curriculum history. His book The Social Studies Wars was named an Outstanding Academic Title for 2004 by Choice Magazine. His biography of controversial progressive educator Harold O. Rugg, This Happened in America, won the 2008 Exemplary Research Award from the National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS). His book The Hope for American School Reform, on the origins and development of the new social studies of the 1960s, also won the Exemplary Research Award from NCSS (2011). He founded the Issues Centered Education Community of NCSS in 1988. Currently, he is a Professor in the School of Teacher Education at San Diego State University.  He lives in the San Diego area with his wife, two children, and a cat.

E. Wayne Ross is a Professor in the Faculty of Education at the University of British Columbia. His books include The Social Studies Curriculum: Purposes, Problems, and Possibilities Critical Theories, Radical Pedagogies and Social Education.

 Listen to the interview here (audio starts a minute or two into the interview):

Books by Ron Evans:

Schooling Corporate Citizens: How Accountability Reform has Damaged Civic Education and Undermined Democracy (2015)

The Hope for American School Reform: The Cold War Pursuit of Inquiry Learning in Social Studies (2011)

The Tragedy of American School Reform: How Curriculum Politics and Entrenched Dilemmas Have Diverted Us From Democracy (2011)

This Happened in America: Harold Rugg and The Censure of Social Studies (2007)

The Social Studies Wars: What Should We Teach The Children? (2004)

The Handbook of Teaching Social Issues (1996) 

Questions

How did you come to write Schooling for Corporate Citizens?

What motivates your work?

How did you come to write this book?

What motivates your work?

What sources did you draw on?

Where do you do your writing?

Describe your daily routine.

Describe how you do your research. Did you have formal training in archival research?

You’ve written four previous books of curriculum/social studies history, what did you learn from writing Schooling for Corporate Citizens?

Looking back across your books on curriculum history and education reform in the 20th and 21st centuries, you’ve trace the corporate/capitalist agenda in school reform and it’s anti-democratic, anti-community consequences:

  • Do you still have faith in schools to promote democracy / democratic citizenship?
  • Did you find out anything that surprised you?  That excited you?  That disappointed you?

How does a boy from Oklahoma who slacked his way through college end up doing all this work as a teacher/scholar in social studies?

What do you do when you’re not writing?

 

Does size matter when it comes to public school classes?

[Cross posted from Institute for Critical Education Studies blog]

Does size matter when it comes to public school classes?

This question was debated on CBC Radio’s The Current this morning. Burnaby, BC grade 4/5 teacher Jennifer Heighton, Russ Whitehurst of the Brookings Institution, and I weighed in on the question.

Important context is the ongoing BC teachers strike, where class size and composition are key elements of contract negotiations. The ruling BC Liberals stripped class size and composition rules from the BC teachers contract in 2002, a move that has twice been judged as illegal by BC courts.

I’ve written a brief summary of class size research, with key references, which you can find here.

You can read a very recent review of the research on class size here.

Last month, Global TV BC broadcast a “town hall” discussion on a wide variety of education issues related to education in BC and the ongoing dispute between teachers and government, including class size. You can watch that segment here.

Here’s a good background piece from The Tyee: Everything You Need to Know about BC Teacher Bargaining

Listen to The Current segment (21 minutes) on class size here.

No, don’t call me “Cassandra” (she had the curse of never being believed). Everyone knew my prophesy would be fulfilled!

On Tuesday May 6, 2014, the “Amazing E. Wayne”—renowned mystic, soothsayer, prophet, knower of things about BC politics—wrote the following about BC Minister of Education Peter Fassbender’s announcement of an investigation into the bizarre story of Rick Davis, the BC Ministry of Education official who commissioned a $16,000 report on Finnish teacher education from a 19-year-old high school graduate he met when she as deejaying at a wedding:

I’m doubtful we’ll get any real insights into this bizarre episode, at least in the short term, because Education Minister Peter Fassbender indicated that the investigation would focus on contract “procedures” rather than substance of the decision making process.

As predicted the Fassbender investigation found that everything is hunky-dory in the Ministry. Read all about it here.

Fassbender’s, technical investigation into procedures of doling out single-source contracts, misses the larger point, which is the misguided judgment of education ministry staff in this case, particularly Rick Davis. Opting to CYA politically reinforces the point I have been hammering on since this imbroglio came to light last September, that is, the BC Ministry of Education actions demonstrate a profound lack of respect for the teaching profession, teacher education, and educational research in general.

Time to find another outrage, but one last bit on the BC Education Ministry’s teacher education research agenda

The news cycle for the “BC Ministry of Education official commissions a $16,000 education report from a 19-year-old high school graduate he met at a wedding” got extended one more day, catching the attention of folks at the centre of the universe.

Today’s National Post ran a story by Tristin Hopper, “B.C.’s ‘superintendent of achievement’ under fire for commissioning $16K education report from 19-year-old he met at wedding.” Hopper’s piece is a good overview of the imbroglio. And, if you haven’t read Vyas’ final report, Hopper offers an accurate analysis of it and adds commentary from Jonathan Dyck, a teacher at B.C.’s Langley Education Centre, and yours truly.

The National Post article caught the attention of the folks at CBC Radio and as a result I did a short interview with Carol Off on “As It Happens” this afternoon. You can listen to a podcast of the show here, my bits start just after the 15:00 mark, but you should listen to the entire show because there are some wonderful clips, stories, and quotes from and about Farley Mowat throughout; and they close this episode with Ronnie Hawkin’s “Mary Lou”.

Your social studies teacher is wrong, the United States is not a democracy

No, this is not some arcane argument about democratic versus republican forms of government. Rather it is the conclusion of what has been described as the first ever scientific study of the question of whether the United States is a democracy.

The study, by Martin Gilens, a professor of politics at Princeton University, and Benjamin I. Page, a political scientist at Northwestern University, is titled “Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens” and will be published in the fall 2014 issue of Perspectives on Politicsan APSA journal.

The study aims to answer the questions “Who governs? Who really rule? To what extent is the broad body of U.S. citizens sovereign, semi-sovereign, or largely powerless” by examining a huge data set that addresses thousands of policy issues.

Each of four theoretical traditions in the study of American politics – which can be characterized as theories of Majoritarian Electoral Democracy, Economic Elite Domination, and two types of interest group pluralism, Majoritarian Pluralism and Biased Pluralism – offers different predictions about which sets of actors have how much influence over public policy: average citizens; economic elites; and organized interest groups, mass-based or business-oriented.

A great deal of empirical research speaks to the policy influence of one or another set of actors, but until recently it has not been possible to test these contrasting theoretical predictions against each other within a single statistical model. This paper reports on an effort to do so, using a unique data set that includes measures of the key variables for 1,779 policy issues. (p. 2)

The findings provide “substantial support” for theories of Economic Elite Domination and Biased Pluralism, in short the U.S. is found to be an oligarchy. No surprise really, unless you’ve had your eyes wide shut for the past 40 years. While the political and media elites, capitalists and other oligarchs (along with social studies textbooks and teachers) continue to promote the fiction that the U.S. is a democracy, this study concludes that the average citizens’ influence on policy making is “near zero.” So, don’t bother writing that letter to your “representative.”

The researchers used a single statistical model to pit the predictions of ideal-type theories against each other using a unique data set that included measures for key independent variables on policy issues. Their “striking findings,” include “the nearly total failure of ‘median voter’ and other Majoritarian Electoral Democracy theories. When the preferences of economic elites and the stands of organized interest groups are controlled for, the preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy” (p. 21).

Despite the seemingly strong empirical support in previous studies for theories of majoritarian democracy, our analyses suggest that majorities of the American public actually have little influence over the policies our government adopts. Americans do enjoy many features central to democratic governance, such as regular elections, freedom of speech and association, and a widespread (if still contested) franchise. But, we believe that if policymaking is dominated by powerful business organizations and a small number of affluent Americans, then America’s claims to being a democratic society are seriously threaten. (p.24)

While some critically minded observers may claim that this study only confirms what we already know, we should not underestimate the importance—and pedagogical power—of this empirical investigation of democracy in the U.S.. which puts a lie the most powerful trope of school curriculum and mass media propaganda. The U.S. is not democracy;  the central features of American democracy are illusory.

The narrative of “American democracy” promulgated in schools and in the media is distraction from the triumph of neoliberal capitalism and the rule of oligarchs.  If we—social studies educators—are truly committed to the principles and practices of social equality it requires engaging with our students in systematic analysis and inquiry into our present circumstances (as well as historicizing preconditions of the present). From that point we can start to pose questions and envision tactics, strategies, and grand strategies that point toward resolution of problems/contradictions our analyses identify. This study presents findings that will surely provoke dialogue about (and deconstruction of) of what currently passes for “democracy” in the U.S., and, one hopes, inspires not merely more powerful teaching, but actions to reclaim/remake the political landscape.

New issue of Critical Education: Consumers or Critical Citizens? Financial Literacy Education and Freedom

Critical Education
Vol 3 No 6
http://ojs.library.ubc.ca/index.php/criticaled/article/view/182350

Consumers or Critical Citizens? Financial Literacy Education and Freedom
Chris Arthur
Toronto District School Board
Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto

Abstract

Given the recent and ongoing economic crisis and high levels of consumer debt, the teaching of financial literacy in elementary and secondary schools has received widespread support. Too often, however, financial literacy education policy documents promote the individualization of economic risk and privilege the autonomy of the consumer or consumer-citizen over that of the critical citizen. This article argues for the necessity of a critical financial literacy education aimed at supporting critical citizens by providing a Marxist critique of the dominant liberal and neoliberal notions of freedom and responsibility reproduced in financial literacy education policy documents. The choice highlighted here is not between financial illiteracy and financial literacy but between accommodating oneself to neoliberal capitalism’s needs so as to remain in perpetual competition with others or understanding and collectively altering an economic system that promotes alienation, insecurity and exploitation.

New issue of Workplace: A Journal for Academic Labor — Belonging and Non-Belonging: Costs and Consequences in Academic Lives

Dear Workplace and Critical Education Supporters,

Workplace: A Journal for Academic Labor has just published its latest issue
at http://ojs.library.ubc.ca/index.php/workplace/issue/current

We are extremely pleased to announce the launch of Workplace Issue #19,
“Belonging and Non-Belonging: Costs and Consequences in Academic Lives.”
This special issue represents powerful narrative analyses of academic
lives– narratives that are sophisticated and sensitive, gut-wrenching and
heart-rendering. “Belonging and Non-Belonging” was guest edited by Michelle
McGinn and features a rich array of collaborative articles by Michelle,
Nancy E. Fenton, Annabelle L. Grundy, Michael Manley-Casimira, and Carmen
Shields.

We invite you to review the Table of Contents here and then visit our ojs
to review the articles and items of interest.

Thanks for the continuing interest in Workplace,

Stephen Petrina & E. Wayne Ross, co-Editors
Workplace: A Journal for Academic Labor
Institute for Critical Education Studies
http://blogs.ubc.ca/ices/

Workplace: A Journal for Academic Labor
No 19 (2012): Belonging and non-Belonging: Costs and Consequences in Academic Lives
Table of Contents
http://ojs.library.ubc.ca/index.php/workplace/issue/view/182237

Articles
——–
Belonging and non-Belonging: Costs and Consequences in Academic Lives
Michelle K. McGinn

Contextualizing Academic Lives
Michael Manley-Casimir, Nancy E. Fenton, Michelle K. McGinn, Carmen
Shields

All the World’s a Stage: Players on the Academic Landscape
Michelle K. McGinn, Annabelle L. Grundy, Carmen Shields, Michael
Manley-Casimir, Nancy E. Fenton

Confronting the Myths and Norms of Academic Engagement
Carmen Shields, Michael Manley-Casimir, Nancy E. Fenton, Michelle K.
McGinn

Exploring Emotional Experiences of Belonging
Nancy E. Fenton, Carmen Shields, Michelle McGinn, Michael Manley-Casimir

Required Payment: Extracting a Pound of Flesh
Carmen Shields, Nancy E. Fenton, Michelle K. McGinn, Michael
Manley-Casimir

Fitting Procrustes’ Bed: A Shifting Reality
Michelle K. McGinn, Michael Manley-Casimir, Nancy E. Fenton, Carmen
Shields

The Erosion of Academic Troth: Disengaging from the Ties that Bind
Carmen Shields, Michelle K. McGinn, Michael Manley-Casimir, Nancy E.
Fenton

New issue of Critical Education: “Why the Standards Movement Failed: An Educational and Political Diagnosis of Its Failure and the Implications for School Reform”

Part 2 of Larry Stedman’s analysis of the failure of the standards movement, just published by Critical Education.

Why the Standards Movement Failed: An Educational and Political Diagnosis of Its Failure and the Implications for School Reform
Lawrence C. Stedman

Abstract

In the first paper, “How Well Does the Standards Movement Measure Up?,” I documented the movement’s failure in diverse areas—academic achievement, equality of opportunity, quality of learning, and graduation rates—and described its harmful effects on students and school culture.

In this paper, I diagnose the reasons for the failure and propose an alternative agenda for school reform. I link the failure of the standards movement to its faulty premises, historical myopia, and embrace of test-driven accountability. As part of the audit culture and the conservative restoration, the movement ended up pushing a data-driven, authoritarian form of schooling. Its advocates blamed educational problems on a retreat from standards, for which there was little evidence, while ignoring the long-standing, deep structure of schooling that had caused persistent achievement problems throughout the 20th century. Drawing on reproduction theories and analyses of the neoliberal reform project, I make the case for repealing NCLB and Race to the Top and outline a progressive framework for reconstructing schools.

Critical Education: How Well Does the Standards Movement Measure Up?

Critical Education has just published its latest issue—the first of a two part examination of No Child Left Behind policies and the standards movement by Lawrence C. Stedman.

We invite you visit our web site to review this and other articles and items of interest.

Critical Education
Vol 1, No 10 (2010)
Table of Contents
http://m1.cust.educ.ubc.ca/journal/index.php/criticaled/issue/view/21

Articles
——–
How Well Does the Standards Movement Measure Up? An Analysis of
Achievement Trends, Academic Course-taking, Student Learning, NCLB, and
Changes in School Culture and Graduation Rates

Lawrence C. Stedman

Abstract

This is the first of two papers examining the standards movement. In it, I review data from NAEP, the SAT, the international assessments, transcript studies, and NCLB assessments, as well as surveys and case studies of changes in curriculum and pedagogy. The picture is a bleak one. Over the past quarter century, achievement has stagnated, dropouts and aliteracy have grown, and large minority achievement gaps have persisted. The quality of student learning remains poor. School changes, stratified by class and race, have constricted instruction and harmed students and teachers. NCLB has made things worse, not better. Even in the two areas where the movement has achieved some success—lower grade math achievement and high school academic enrollments—the gains were largely superficial, other forces such as teaching-to-the-test and social promotion contributed, and serious deficiencies remain.

In the second paper, “Why the Standards Movement Failed,” I examine the educational and political reasons for the failure—including its misconstruction of pedagogy and links to the neoliberal reform project—and propose a progressive alternative.

“Youth-Led Organizations, the Arts, and the 411 Initiative for Change in Canada: Critical Pedagogy for the 21st Century”

Critical Education has just published its latest issue:

“Youth-Led Organizations, the Arts, and the 411 Initiative for Change in Canada: Critical Pedagogy for the 21st Century”
Brad J. Porfilio, Michael Watz

Abstract

The purpose of this essay is to document a group of Canadian youth activists’ and artists’ perceptions and experiences with developing and sustaining an arts-based educational initiative that “undertakes public education and the promotion of civic participation of young people on social issues that frame their development within their communities.” Through the youth activists’ and artists’ narratives, we highlight the youths’ motivation to establish this organization, the methods they use to engage their audience in social commentary and activism, how they confront and overcome barriers in schools when implementing their pedagogical initiatives, and the challenges they face in keeping their project intellectually vibrant and culturally relevant to youth. Moreover, we argue that critical pedagogues must take seriously the cultural work proffered by youth-led social justice initiatives if critical pedagogy is to remain relevant in promoting equity and social justice in schools and in society.