Brigham Young University McKay School of Education Department of Teacher Education for Democracy

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Brigham Young University

McKay School of Education Department of Teacher Education
Education for Democracy:

Let Public Schools be Public Schools again.

Public Schools Never were Public Schools to me1.
T. Ed. 604 Section 001 3 credit course

Summer Term: June 25-August 13, 2007

Dr. Brenda G. Juárez MCKB 201 F

    1. Office Hours By Appointment Class on Mon. & Wed. 8:00 a.m.-10:50 a.m. in MCKB 160

If you know whence you came, there is really no limit to where you can go.

---James Baldwin
When white people say “Justice”, they mean “Just us”.

--------Black American folk aphorism

Course Description:

This graduate level course is concerned with the dialectic of democratic ideals and schooling practices applied to what W.E.B. Du Bois famously referred to as the problem of the color line.2 While the United States has always been culturally diverse, classrooms and communities today are undergoing a dramatic racial transformation heretofore unknown while the teaching profession remains overwhelmingly white. Unfortunately, cultural diversity remains tightly correlated with hyper-segregated and low-funded neighborhoods and schools, substandard and limited access to healthcare and housing, and academic and social failure. “For the 2000-2001 time period, high school completers in Utah was reported as 60.8% for Latina/o students as compared to 67.4% for American Indians and Alaskan Natives, 76.8% for Asian and Pacific Islanders, 61.2% for Blacks, and 84.9% for Whites.”3 Clearly, U.S. public schools do not serve all children equally well despite long cherished national rhetoric of public education for all people.

This course is thus designed to interrogate the meaning of democratic education within the context of the tenacious racial parochialism which continues to characterize U.S. public schooling. To do so, we will examine the rich traditions of minoritized peoples historically positioned on the wrong side of the Enlightenment which, like “great poetry, transport us to another place, compel us to relive horrors and, more importantly, enable us to imagine a new society”4. Our purpose in this course will be to learn more about how schooling might be [re]imagined and [re]created in ways that enable all students to experience more humanized and democratic forms of teaching and learning in today’s classrooms.

Course Objectives:

As Richard Delgado put it, “to understand how to improve social conditions, one must have an understanding of how these problems came about.”5 Similarly, democratic education in U.S. public schools can not be realized without understanding how the pervasively and persistently undemocratic outcomes of schooling for minoritized students have come about. Educators, therefore, must be prepared to “understand, analyze, and challenge racism and ethnocentrism in the larger society as these affect school practices and procedures that differentially impact poor children, children of color, and children from diverse linguistic and cultural groups.”6 This course is thus designed to facilitate students’ ability to:

  • analyze the meaning[s], theories, perspectives, practices, and consequences of democratic education.

  • evaluate the democratic potential and lived realities of contemporary U.S. public schools for teachers, students, and other stakeholders.

  • apply democratic processes toward [beginning] an endeavor of educational equity.

Course Format:

To address the content of this course, I employ a pedagogical approach based on constructivist and collaborative understandings of teaching-learning processes situated within a community of learners. My pedagogical approach assumes that each member of the learning community brings her/his lived experiences and expertise to this shared educational experience. The course is made up of short lectures, assigned readings, guest speakers, and intensive group discussions. While I will periodically make short presentations of requisite course material, my primary role will be to pose questions, clarify points, summarize collaboratively produced understandings, and to challenge commonsensical notions of schooling within a multicultural society. For students to take on their role as an actively engaged member of the learning community, it is absolutely essential that for each class period every student carefully reads course materials, prepares questions for class discussion, and participates in class activities. Finally, I have organized this course in three major sections guided by the course objectives and which take the form of three main questions---

  1. What is education for democracy?

  2. Are U.S. public schools democratic?

  3. How can democratic education be fostered or hindered in my classroom?

Required Texts:

  1. Kunjufu, J. (2006). An African centered response to Ruby Payne’s poverty theory. Chicago: African American Images. [Available at BYU Bookstore.]

  2. Young, I. M. (2000). Inclusion and democracy. New York: Oxford University Press. [Available at BYU Bookstore.]

To save students a substantial amount of money, additional readings are electronically available on Blackboard. Further readings may also be provided by the professor or students.

Course Requirements:

  1. Preparation for class & Participation in class: (attendance, professionalism, assigned readings, regular & prompt attendance, and respectful & active participation in class): 10% of grade

  2. Daily 1-2 page e-mail responses: 20% of grade

  3. one essay on philosophy of democratic education: 15% of grade (due July 16th)

  4. one short paper (approx. 7-10 pages): 20% of grade (due July 25th)

  5. one final paper (approx. 18-25 pages): 35% of grade (due August 15th)

Your final paper is your final exam. A rough draft of your final paper is due on the last day of class. Your final paper is due August 15th, 2007 by 5 p.m.

Further instructions and grading rubrics for all assignments will be provided and discussed in class. No late work will be accepted unless prior arrangements have been made with me AND ONLY IN THE CASE OF DIRE EMERGENCIES. For each class period, then, PLEASE BRING:

Participation & Attendance: (10% of grade)

Interactive and respectful participation are required for this class. You can not participate if you are late or not in class. Thus, prompt attendance is crucial. Students need to take responsibility for coming to class prepared for participation by reading the assignment course materials and posing thoughtful questions, respectful critiques, and additional issues to consider.

Pointedly, there will likely be times when you disagree with the ideas and perspectives of the class, the professor, your peers, or the guest speakers in class. While disagreements may be uncomfortable, it is in the sharing of different ideas, experiences, and perspectives that we come to better understand ourselves and the culturally diverse world we live in. It is, therefore, immensely important that all students are teachable and ready to engage worldviews and lived experiences which may not be part of their own.

It is expected, then, that we will all contribute to class discussions and activities and that we will all speak and listen to each other in a respectful manner. If you anticipate being late or absent from class, please notify me in advance. Unprofessional mannerisms (e.g., cell phones/pagers, etc. ringing, disrespectful body language---talking when another student or the professor is talking, eyeball rolling, sleeping, etc.) and absences beyond one will significantly lower your course grade.

Daily E-mail Responses: (20% of grade)

See attached Daily E-mail Critique Guidelines.

Essay on Philosophy of Democratic Education: (15% of grade)—Due on July 16th

See attached Essay Guidelines and grading rubric.

Short Paper: (20% of grade)----Due on July 25th

See attached Democracy in Action Grading Rubric.

Long Paper: (35% of grade) Due on August 15th

See attached Democracy in Action Grading Rubric.

Special Needs Note: BYU is committed to providing a working and learning atmosphere that reasonably accommodates qualified persons with disabilities. If you have any disability that may impair your ability to complete this course successfully, please contact the University Accessibility Center (1520 WSC; 422-2767). Reasonable academic accommodations are reviewed for all students who have qualified documented disabilities. Services are coordinated with the student and instructor by the UAC. If you need assistance or if you feel you have been unlawfully discriminated against on the basis of disability, you may seek resolution through established grievance policy and procedures. You may contact the Equal Employment Office at 422-5895, D 282 ASB.
Preventing Sexual Harassment
Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 prohibits sex discrimination against any participant in an educational program or activity that receives federal funds. The act is intended to eliminate sex discrimination in education. Title IX covers discrimination in programs, admissions, activities, and student-to-student sexual harassment. BYU's policy against sexual harassment extends not only to employees of the University but to students as well. If you encounter unlawful sexual harassment or gender-based discrimination, please talk to your professor; contact the Equal Employment Office at 422-5895 or 367-5689 (24-hours); or contact the Honor Code Office at 422-2847.
Honor Code Standards: In keeping with the principles of the BYU Honor Code, students are expected to be honest in all of their academic work. Academic honesty means, most fundamentally, that any work you present as your own must in fact be your own and not that of another. Violations of this principle may result in a failing grade in the course and additional disciplinary action by the university. Students are also expected to adhere to the Dress and Grooming Standards. Adherence demonstrates respect for yourself and others and ensures an effective learning and working environment. It is the university’s expectation, and my own expectation in this class, that each student will abide by all Honor Code Standards. Please call the Honor Code Office at 422-2847 if you have questions about the Honor Code Standards.
T. Ed. 604 Education for Democracy Dr. Brenda G. Juárez
Guidelines for Daily E-mail Responses: (20% of grade)

Writing fosters opportunities for deep learning.


  1. To help you to read thoroughly, think carefully about, and synthesize your learning as you engage course content.

  2. To provide you with opportunities to concisely express your developing understandings of the course material through writing.

  3. To serve as a point of departure for class discussions.

Basic Format: Making connections in narrative style that flows as an essay

  1. Name, Date, & Meeting Day (Julie Smith, Jan. 5, 2005, Thursday class)

  2. Title of assigned readings

  3. Identify key themes/ideas from across readings (1 paragraph). Be sure to note page numbers where these ideas are located in the texts you refer to: (Smith, 1987, p. 16).

  4. Analyze the readings by challenging, expanding, and/or debating one or two of the main ideas (3-4 paragraphs). Make a case for and support your arguments with evidence versus your feelings (e.g., I didn’t like it. It made me feel bad. It’s not nice.). Keep in mind that your personal experiences, while important, do not constitute adequate evidence to support your arguments. Indeed, individuals frequently dismiss other people’s experiences and ideas, thereby dehumanizing other individuals, by making statements like, “Well, that didn’t happen to me, so it must not be true.” or “My dad said that….so it must not be so”.

  5. Note questions, concerns, topics which you would like discussed further in class.

  6. Your response should answer the following questions with specific and concrete examples (rather than just saying, “I liked/didn’t like the paper. It was/wasn’t nice.”):

    1. What is the author’s main argument and in what ways do you agree or disagree? What is missing from this argument?

    2. How relevant do you think the authors’ ideas are to your teaching philosophy and pedagogy?

    3. How do these readings relate to other previously assigned readings and class discussions and activities?

Due Date: On the first day of class, you will be placed in e-mail groups of about 5 people. As the professor, I will be a member of each group. You will e-mail your response to your group at least 12 hours prior to the beginning of each class period to give us all adequate time to read responses. Bring a hard copy of your response to class each day. No late responses may be posted or will be accepted. You may be excused from writing a response once during the semester. Please let your group know when you will not be posting a response.

As a former elementary school teacher, I still use the grading system that has served me well through the years. You will receive feedback on your responses to help you to develop well written ones. Your reading responses form a part of your participation grade for the course.

(plus check) = excellent

(check) = average/passing

(minus check) = no credit

The criteria I will be looking at include:

  • Standards of good writing (quality of your ideas, flow of argument, voice, transitions, spelling, well written thesis statement and supporting ideas, grammar, punctuation)

  • Your ability to think critically and deeply about the readings

  • The originality, creativity, logic, insightfulness, and thoroughness of your response (quality)

T. Ed. 604 Education for Democracy Dr. Brenda G. Juárez
Essay on Philosophy of Democratic Education: (15% of grade)—Due on July 16th

What is education for democracy? Students will analyze the meaning[s], theories, perspectives, practices, and consequences of democratic education by articulating a written philosophy of education which (1) identifies the components of democratic education, (2) compares competing interpretations of democratic education, (3) traces the historical development of democracy and its relation and influence on contemporary public spaces in the United States, (4) analyzes the rationale or purpose for democratic education, and (5) comparatively contrasts own schooling experiences with those of individuals and social groups different from their own.

General Quality Rubric

Quality Score

Quality Descriptor

Words that Describe/level


Points possible: 0-4


Work is poor, unclear, incomplete, undeveloped, indirect, unorganized, major factual errors, no effort apparent, etc.


Points possible: 5-10


Work is vague, incomplete, partially developed, factual errors, little interpretation and/or analysis, restricted, limited, single perspective, little effort, etc.

Points possible: 11-15


Work is relevant, more developed, naïve, novice, minor errors, routine, shows effort, uncritical, show some creativity, etc.


Points possible: 16-18


Work is clear, well crafted, fully developed, thorough, imaginative, creative, sensitive, complete, sound, correct, proficient, solid, skilled, etc.

Points possible: 19-20


Work is effective, novel, unique, mature, creative, imaginative, profound, revealing, makes an original contribution, above and beyond, polished, elegant, sophisticated, precise, deep, etc.

T. Ed. 604 Education for Democracy Dr. Brenda G. Juárez

Short Paper: (20% of grade)----Due on July 25th

Democracy in Action:

A Collaborative Project for Education as a Moral Endeavor

Learning Outcome: Candidates will interrogate the notion of education for democracy and its potential consequences for schooling by employing the democratic process to organize grass-roots venues for promoting inclusive discussion and collaborative efforts toward solving shared problems justly.



Short Report: Project Proposal

  1. 7-10 pages (approx.)

  2. Define shared issue/problem

  3. Identify stakeholders

  4. Outline the logistics of your democracy in action project including why it is important, aims, how it will be enacted, resources needed, evaluation criteria, evidences, & methods, stakeholder roles, and timeline.

  5. Note the democratic model (i.e., aggregative or deliberative) applied, why it was selected, and the model’s limitations and possibilities.

  6. Discuss how your project addresses inclusive democratic communication under conditions of structural inequality and cultural differences (i.e., James Baldwin’s notion of inclusion into the burning building of education).

  7. Evidence supporting your project from research and other sources.

  8. Reference list.

  9. APA format

  10. Clarity (e.g., concise, headings, reader map, transitions, page numbers, spell check, etc.).

/20 points Total

Long Report: Project Implementation & Evaluation to Date (35% of grade)

  1. 18-25 pages

  2. Describe what you did (or are doing) and how you applied what you learned about your project through research and other sources. (Attach any relevant products---if you wrote a bill, attach that, hand-outs from an in-service, etc.)

  3. Address how your project manifests evidence of the democratic process: a) it reflects shared decision-making and other forms of communication; b) it manifests inclusiveness where all stakeholders experienced respect and opportunities to learn with and from others through robust participation; c) all stakeholders’ backgrounds and experiences were counted and drawn upon as legitimate knowledge; d) it extends to and links schools and other public spaces and communities.

  4. Reviews project outcomes to date supported by evidence.

  5. Problems and successes encountered to date.

  6. Future plans—what next? What would you have done differently?

  7. Self-evaluation---what grade would you assign yourself and why?

  8. Reference list

  9. APA format

  10. Clarity (e.g., concise, headings, reader map, transitions, page numbers, spell check, etc.)

Instructor Comments


/35 points Total

Recommended Readings for Democratic Education: A Beginning to continue adding to on your own---
Chapman, J., Froumin, I., & Aspin, D. (Eds.). (1995). Creating and managing the democratic school. New York: The Falmer Press.
Haberman, M. (1991). The pedagogy of poverty versus good teaching, Phi Delta Kappan, 73, 290-294.
Landsman, J., & Lewis, C. W. (2006). White teachers/diverse classrooms: A guide to building inclusive schools, promoting high expectations, and eliminating racism.
Levine, D., Lowe, R., Peterson, B., & Tenorio, R. (Eds.). (1995). Rethinking schools: An agenda for change. New York: The New Press.
Kohl, H. (1967). 36 children. New York: The New American Library.
Meier, D. (1995). The power of their ideas: Lessons for America from a small school in Harlem. Boston: Beacon Press.
Oakes, J., et. al. (2000). Becoming good American schools. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Paley, V. (2000). White teacher. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Rose, M. (1989). Lives on the boundaries. New York: Penguin Books.
Smith, G. A. (1993). Public schools that work: Creating community. New York: Routledge.
Tatum, B. D. (1997). Why are all the Black kids sitting together in the cafeteria?: And other conversations about race. New York: Basic Books.

1 This subtitle is a play off of Langston Hughes’ famous poem entitled “Let America Be America”.

2 Du Bois, W. E. B. (1903/1995). The souls of Black folks.

3 Aleman, E., & Rorrer, A. (2006). Closing Educational Achievement Gaps for Latina/o students in Utah: Initiating a Policy Discourse and Framework. Salt Lake City, Utah: Utah Education Policy Center. (p. 8).

4 Kelley, R. D. G. (2002). Freedom dreams. Boston: Beacon Press.

5 Delgado, R. (1999). When equality ends: Stories about race and resistance. Boulder, CO: Westview Press.

6 Bell, L. (2002). Sincere fictions: The pedagogical challenges of preparing white teachers for multicultural classrooms, Equity & Excellence in Education, 35(3), 236-244. (see especially p. 236).

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