EDB 604-501 Social Issues in Education Spring 2016



Instructor: Dr. David I. Backer

Angelica Gagliardi (assistant)

Phone:  216-687-4559 Email (s): d.backer@csuohio.edu, david.backer@gmail.com


Office: JH 371 Office Hours:  TR 113am-2pm
Meeting Times: Online Room: JH 371

Course Description

Focuses on the relationship of crucial issues in society to educational questions. Alternative purposes of education in light of the changing intellectual, social, and technological climate of modern America are considered. Offered every semester.

Course Rationale/Basic Course Questions

Basic course questions: What is a social issue in education, and what does it mean to analyze social issues in education? How is education intersectional, and how can we think of every educational event, moment, and experience intersectionally? Can intersectionality help us become better educators?


All texts will be made available as PDFs at davidbacker.com/classes.

Course Goals and Objectives

Cognitive Objectives:

  1. Students will understand the ways in which major social, political, technological, and economic forces influence educational priorities.  (Contextualism)
  2. Students will understand the tensions between the goals for individual success, the collective good, and the welfare of groups in public education (Contextualism)
  3. Students will understand the history of efforts to achieve “equal educational opportunity” and contemporary school reform initiatives intended to narrow the achievement/opportunity gap.  (Contextualism, Professionalism)
  4. Students will understand the dilemmas inherent in public education within a pluralistic democratic society.  (Contextualism)

Skill Objectives:

  1. Students will be able to analyze in an extended written format the role of political, economic, and social forces in shaping educational discourse. (Contextualism)
  2. Students will be able to apply course readings in class discussions, presentations, and written assignments on topics related to cognitive objectives (Contextualism, Professionalism)

Disposition Objectives:

  1. Students will approach course material and views of classmates with a level of openness while also demonstrating a willingness to critically examine their own and others’ point of view.  (Contextualism, Partnership, Professionalism)

Course Requirements

FEI Papers

The first nine assignments are Fact-Evaluation-Interpretation (FEI) posts. These three words refer to a technique of writing meant to encourage close reading and discussion. Full credit on an FEI paper requires three components:

  • Write a factual question and answer it yourself using resources outside the article
    • Factual questions include: What does [a word] mean? Who is [a person]? When did [an event] happen? What is [a thing]?
  • Write an evaluative statement (500 words)
    • Evaluative statements include: I disagree with [position or idea]. I relate to [idea] because in my own life [personal experience]…
  • Write an interpretive question (no answer, 100-500 words)
    • Interpretive questions include: When the author says [passage], does s/he mean [an interpretation] or [another interpretation]? On the one hand, the author says [passage], but then elsewhere s/he says [different passage]–is that inconsistent? Is the real meaning of what the author is saying [your thought], or is it something else? When I read [passage], I think it means [your thought]–but I’m not sure because [doubt]. Am I right? In one reading, I thought [something] was true, but in this reading the author says [passage]. Is [something] really true?

*Please include page numbers for all questions and statements in the FEI paper.

Midterm/Final Videos

At midterm and final, make a 10-15 minute video responding to the prompts in the course calendar.

Discussion participation

Each week you will post your interpretive question to a discussion board. Part of the week’s work is to “interact meaningfully” on the discussion board. There is no minimum requirement for participation, only that you read your classmates’ questions, respond to them, and learn with them in the online environment. Please limit your responses, if you can, to 300-500 words.

Grading Criteria

Rather than the professor “giving” students grades, students will take the measure of their own progress throughout this course. In particular, after the midterm and final assignments students will complete a survey which requires you to propose a grade for yourself based on your own standards of success. The professor will either agree or disagree with the proposal, and students have the option to negotiate thereafter. The percentages below are merely a recommendation on how to weight the importance of certain assignments over others when proposing your grade.


Midterm video     25%

Final paper 25%

Participation 10%

FEI Papers 40%

Total 100% 

 Grading Scale

A                     95-100       4.0

A-                    90-94   3.7

B+                   87-89   3.3

B                     80-86   3.0

B-                    77-79   2.7*

C                     70-76         2.0*

F           course failure – zero points

*According to Cleveland State University Graduate Catalog, attainment of these grades is considered below graduate standards.

Course Outline

Due Date Topic Material to be discussed Assignments to Complete Other info
Week I
Introduction to syllabus, student information survey

*Intro Video

Syllabus “Introduce Yourself” Discussion Board post: In this discussion forum, please introduce yourself. Write 300-500 words about where you’re from, your current work/projects, and an idea or two about what “social issues in education” means to you. 

*Create your personal blog in Blackboard.

Week II


Educational memoir (no reading)  

*Write about an educational experience you had in the near or distant past. Use details to describe this particular situation: context, colors, sounds, smells, feelings, thoughts, things people said, silences. Be dramatic and creative: tell a story. (Try to leave names out to protect others’ identities). 1,000 words. You will revisit this memoir at the end of the semester.

Post memoir on your blog. On 1/24/16
Week III 1/31/16 What is intersectionality? Society, category membership, and food metaphors

*Second lecture video

*Ivy Ken: “Beyond the Intersection: A New Culinary Metaphor for Race-Class-Gender Studies.” PDF:  Ivy – 2008 – Beyond the Intersection A New Culinary Metaphor for Race-Class-Gender Studies
*Video: Intersectionality and Pizza (video)
* Video WTF is Intersectional Feminism (video)
*FEI paper 1, posted on blog (due 1/31/16)
*Post interpretive question on Discussion Board 1 (due 1/31/16)
Week IV


Historical Perspectives: How does it feel to be a problem? *W.E.B DuBois, The Souls of Black Folk, Chapter 1, PDF: w-e-b-du-bois-the-souls-of-black-folk

*W.E.B DuBois, “The Talented Tenth”

*White People (video)
*FEI paper 2, posted on blog (due 2/7)
*Post interpretive question on Discussion Board 2 (due 2/7)
*Interact meaningfully on Discussion Board 1 (responses no more than 300-500 words each). (due starting on 2/7 and continuing through next week)
Week V



*Lecture video

*Jessica Ringrose & Emma Renold: “Normative cruelties and gender deviants: the performative effects of bully discourses for girls and boys in school.” PDF: Bully discourses (1)

*Genderbread person page
*FEI paper 3, posted on blog (due 2/14)
*Post interpretive question on Discussion Board 3 (due 2/14)
*Interact meaningfully on Discussion Board 2 (responses no more than 300-500 words each). (Due starting and 2/14 and continuing through the week)
Week VI


Parents’ educational strategies

*Lecture video

*”Intersectional Work and Precarious  Positionings: Black middle class parents’ and their encounters with schools in England,” Vincent, Rollock et al PDF: Revised_ISSEVincentetal (1)

*Video: The color of fear, excerpt

*“White Privilege, Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack”

*FEI paper 4, posted on blog
*Post interpretive question on Discussion Board 4
*Interact meaningfully on Discussion Board 3 (responses no more than 300-500 words each).
Week VII


Zero tolerance policies

*Lecture video

*”The need for equality in education: An intersectionality examination of labeling and zero tolerance policies,” Cassidy and Jackson. PDF: Zero Tolerance (1)

*Video: Anna Deveare-Smith on the school-to-prison pipeline*Kalief Browder’s story
*FEI paper 5

*Post interpretive question on Discussion Board 5
*Interact meaningfully on Discussion Board 4 (responses no more than 300-500 words each).



School shootings

*Lecture Video

*”Class, Gender, Race, and School Shootings: An Intersectionality Study,” Tara Rajan, PDF: School Shootings
*Michael Kimmel on Newtown
*FEI paper 6, posted on blog
*Post interpretive question on Discussion Board 6
(responses no more than 300-500 words each).
Week IX 3/13/16
Midterm video
In a 10-15 minute video, analyze your educational memoir intersectionally. Treat it like the topics we have explored thus far in the semester and do your best to understand it through various category memberships: race, class, gender, age, ability, sexuality, etc. How was your experience like a cookie, to use Ivy Ken’s metaphor? What were the ingredients in its recipe? *Send video as attachment to d.backer@csuohio.edu

*Post video to Blackboard Assignment

*Fill out midterm survey

Week X


Inclusive education *“Inclusive education and critical pedagogy at the intersections of disability, race, gender and class,” Anastasia Liasidou. PDF: Critical Pedagogy-Disability

*Inclusive Education tedTalk.
*FEI paper 7, posted on blog
*Post interpretive question on Discussion Board 7
Week XII


Physical Education

*Lecture Video

“The Challenges of Intersectionality: Researching difference in Physical Education,” Flintoff, A., Fitzgerald, H. and Scraton, S. PDF: Flintoffetal2008IntStudiesinSocEducation *FEI paper 8, posted on blog
*Post interpretive question on Discussion Board 8
*Interact meaningfully on Discussion Board 7 (responses no more than 300-500 words each).


Sexual risk vulnerability in students

*Lecture Video

“Project SisterCircle: Risk, Intersectionality, and Intervening in Urban Schools,” Williams, Karlin, and Wallace. PDF: SisterCircle *FEI paper 9, posted on blog
*Post interpretive question on Discussion Board 9
*Interact meaningfully on Discussion Board 8 (responses no more than 300-500 words each).
Week XIV4/10/16 Cyberbullying

*Lecture Video

“Intersectionality and cyberbullying: A study of cybervictimization in a Midwestern high school,” Stoll and Block. PDF: Stoll2015 *FEI paper 10, posted on blog
*Post interpretive question on Discussion Board 10
*Interact meaningfully on Discussion Board 9 (responses no more than 300-500 words each).
Week XV


Distributing the good of education “Spheres of justice within schools: reflections and evidence on the distribution of educational goods,” Sabbagh, Resh et al. PDF: distribution of school goods
*ESSA artifact
*FEI paper 11, posted on blog
*Post interpretive question on Discussion Board 11
*Interact meaningfully on Discussion Board 10 (responses no more than 300-500 words each).
Week XVI





Intersectional analysis of contemporary educational laws and policy I +II Each week, read primary source material from the new Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) or the  Freidrichs vs. California Teachers Association supreme court case, or an Ohio State Educational policy (choose any: curriculum, charters, funding, teacher evaluation, etc).

*ESSA vs. NCLB video

Each week, complete an “intersectional analysis” of the policy or law you choose. This includes: 1,000 words and an argument for how you think the policy/law will effect race, gender, and class differences in the United States/Ohio.
 5/10/16 Final video

Fill out final survey

 What is intersectionality, and how does it help us understand social issues in education? How can we become “intersectional educators”? In a 10-15 minute video, explain your understanding of intersectionality, its connection to education using examples from the semester’s readings, and how it might improve practice. AMENDED INSTRUCTIONS:

1) Upload video to YouTube, making sure to mark your video as “unlisted” to keep it private but also accessible.
2) Send Angelica the link to your video by 11:59pm on 5/10.
*Fill out midterm survey

Course Policies


  1. Attendance/engagement policy.  Regular attendance in this course is expected and noted. You are also expected to participate in class discussions concerning course readings.
  2. Late assignment policy.  Due dates for course assignments are indicated in the syllabus.  Late submissions of assignments are subject to a penalty of 10% reduction in the grade.  Please notify me before the due date if you anticipate a problem.
  3. Plagiarism/Academic Integrity.  The use of the intellectual property of others without attributing it to them is considered a serious academic offense.  Cheating or plagiarism may result in receiving a failing grade for the work or course.  The CSU Student Handbook describes plagiarism as stealing and/or using the ideas or writings of another in a paper or report and claiming them as your own. This includes but is not limited to the use, by paraphrase or direct quotation, of the work of another person without full and clear acknowledgment. Procedures of reporting plagiarism are described in the Student Handbook, available at http://www.csuohio.edu/studentlife/.  Additional information on plagiarism is available at the CSU Writing Center, RT Library 124; (216) 687-6981 or http://www.csuohio.edu/academic/writingcenter.
  4. Students with Disabilities. Please let me know if you need course adaptations or accommodations because of a disability.   Educational access is the provision of classroom accommodations, auxiliary aids and services to ensure equal educational opportunities for all students regardless of their disability. Any student who feels he or she may need an accommodation based on the impact of a disability should contact the Office of Disability Services at (216)687-2015. The Office is located in MC 147. Accommodations need to be requested in advance and will not be granted retroactively.
  5. Technical Help.  If you have a question about course content, assignments, or other course activities, you should direct those questions to me. The steps below are for seeking help with technical questions only.
  • Call the 24/7 Blackboard Help Desk at 216-687-5050 and select option #2 for Blackboard Support
  • Chat with a live agent.

For general information or questions about eLearning, students may contact the Center for eLearning via phone (216-687-3960) or email (elearning@csuohio.edu). For email submissions, please provide your CSU ID number for the fastest response. The Center for eLearning operates Monday-Friday from 8 AM until 5 PM.

  • Visit the Open Computer Lab – JH 118 – during posted hours.
  1. Professional Dispositions—initial teaching licensure programs only.  One important aspect of your education is the development of professional dispositions—ways of working, thinking, and interacting with others—in three areas: Professionalism, Work Ethic, and Communication Skills. You should be monitoring your own development beginning now and continuing throughout your teaching career. The Student List of Professional Dispositions that you received with your acceptance into your program (also available at http://www.csuohio.edu/cehs/students/ofs/docs/FlagSystem.doc) is your guide.