Special Topics in Social Justice Education



Course Number



Historical & Philosophical Perspectives on Race-Class in Public Education

Course Description and Goals: The public education system in the U.S. has historically been considered the great "leveling" institution--one of only places people from all racial, ethnic, and class backgrounds have the best chance of achieving "the American Dream". But what if this story about public education in the U.S. has never been true? How would we re-evaluate the public education in the U.S. if we viewed this official history against the grain, from the standpoint of communities who have systematically remained racially stigmatized and economically disadvantaged is U.S. society despite access to public education? Moreover, what would reading the official history of the American public education system against the grain also tell us about white communities in the U.S. and in particular how schooling contributes to the ongoing project of white supremacy? In exploring these and related questions, this class takes an historical and philosophical approach in reassessing the goals and aims of the public education system in the U.S. by drawing on the Black Radical Tradition as well as settler colonial and Marxist thinkers. The primary goal of this course is twofold. First, to gain a better understanding of who the public education system in the U.S. was designed to serve and in what ways. The second goal will be to link this analysis to contemporary debates and controversies around antiblackness and education, the preservation and persistence of white supremacy U.S. society and culture, and indigenous education movements rooted in decolonial projects. The course will also focus on how marginalized communities have created and practiced resistive models of education in the U.S. that point to alternative ways of learning and being in society outside of these power dynamics.

Core learning objectives and themes of the seminar include: >Ability to critically evaluate democratic assumptions of the public education system >Draw connections between white supremacy, colonization, and capitalism to the design of public schooling in the U.S. >Gain competency in areas of research such as the Black Radical Tradition and decolonial theorists Learning outcomes of this course include: >Being able to thoughtfully and critically evaluate evidence used in the debates on how to best fix the "achievement gap" between white and students of color >Development of writing skills based on reasoned argumentation that recognizes and evaluates the merit of different forms of evidence >Development of oral critical thinking skills and ability to provide strongly reasoned positions

Texts: All course Texts Available on Canvas course page


Fall 2021
Course Instructor