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Faculty: Katherine Merseth
Throughout its history, the American education system has served as a critical force in reflecting, reinforcing, and reshaping American society. K-12 schools, arguably the most "common" of all public institutions function as a microcosm in which broader social, political, legal, economic, and cultural issues are played out. This course asks students to grapple with some of the major policy and leadership dilemmas that have defined American K-12 education throughout history to the present. What should be the purpose of schooling? What constitutes educational excellence, who decides what it is, and how can it be achieved? Is a goal of equity possible in American society? How does equity work within a meritocracy? Do we have a meritocracy in U.S. schools? Finally, how do we manage the different answers to these questions that may come from policymakers, school practitioners, and the courts? This course will explore these questions from a variety of perspectives, drawing on historical, contemporary, comparative, and personal examples. The course will focus on the dual goals of equity and excellence in schools and how policy and leadership influence (either positively or negatively) these goals. In order to become effective education leaders and policymakers, students will explore various school reform levers and policies to determine their effectiveness in managing the tension of achieving equity and excellence for all K-12 students.
Also offered by the Graduate School of Education as A-335. Course meets Mondays from 4-7pm with a required 80 minute section to follow (several days/times will be available). Prerequisite:Permission of instructor required. Students will submit a one-page statement describing why this course is relevant for their studies. Please visit the A335 iSite at HGSE for further information http://isites.harvard.edu/icb/icb.do?keyword=k104962&pageid=icb.page677319 .