Last year, education reform sort of exploded as a political and activist issue here at Wesleyan. A core of students (Andrew Ribner, Sarah Kalish, Alyssa Bonneau, Olivia Horton, Maurice Hill, and myself) collaboratively formed a student group called Wesleyan Students for Education Reform, shortened to WesJustEd (used interchangeably with WeSFER, as we sometime work with the national group Students for Education Reform). Our group was based in debate and dialogue – we met a couple times a month to discuss current issues in national education reform, and sponsored lectures and film screenings.
We realized, though, that many of our discussions were limited by our gaps in knowledge about the state of education in the United States. Some of us read the Times, and most of us were well-versed in the nuances of our home school districts, but we found that we were shaky on the actual facts of the public education system in the U.S. (a contradiction in terms, perhaps – the system is pretty complex and confounded even for those who are far more knowledgeable than we are).
This student forum (a for-credit class at Wesleyan sponsored by an academic department, advised by a faculty member, and facilitated by student leaders) was born out of that gap in knowledge. Together, this semester, we will host a number of speakers who will present on various topics in education reform: legislative history, school choice, teacher accountability and evaluation, standardized testing, housing and schools, Connecticut education reform, and others. Students will read, write, and participate in discussion as a way to tie together our assigned readings and lectures.
The forum, SOC419: Education Policy in the U.S. will be facilitated by Andrew Ribner ’14 (a University major in Educational Psychology and Learning Theory, a research assistant in Professor Anna Shusterman‘s Cognitive Development Lab, and a founding member of WesJustED), Catherine Doren ’13 (a Sociology major also working towards certificates in Study of Education and Social, Cultural and Critical Theory and a research assistant for Professor Daniel Long) and (myself) Sydney Lewis ’14 (a Sociology and Psychology double major also working towards a certificate in Study of Education, a research assistant in Prof. Shusterman’s Cog Dev Lab, a founding member of WesJustEd, an Americorps volunteer at Macdonough School and a creator of and blogger for Kindergarten Kickstart).
Stay tuned for updates about the goings-on of SOC419!