CUNY Graduate Center

Doctoral Program in Urban Education

Education Policy 70500

Fall 2006

Wednesdays, 4:15 – 6:15,  Thesis Room - 4203

Jean Anyon



Goals of the course are:  1) To assist students in assessing urban educational policy in its political, economic, and cultural contexts. 2) To develop skills of critical analysis of policies and policy texts.  3) To introduce students to the writing of policy briefs.


Analytical Lenses


There are many lenses through which to view education policy -  as a rational process of decision making, as a result of pluralistic contestation between interest groups, as a subset of public policy, as a scapegoat and ‘remedy’ for economic inequality, as a product of a corporate-governmental elite protecting its interests, as ‘political spectacle,’ or other. Perhaps education policy exhibits characteristics of all these at different times. You decide what lens(–es) you want to use.


8/30 Week One- Introductions, Personal Reflections, and Questions


                    What has education policy done for you?

                    What is ‘good’ policy - and how do we define ‘good?’ 

                    What is ‘just’ policy and how do we define ‘justice?’

                    What are the relations between federal, state, and district policies and school      


                    What happens to policy as it is implemented?


What is a policy analysis lens?

How does one use an analytical lens to critique policies and policy texts?


Description of policy brief writing assignment

Sample Policy Briefs       


No class  Sept. 6 (Monday schedule)


Sept. 13, Week Two

Is there a ‘culture of policy making’ at the federal,  state, or local levels and if so, how does that affect urban students and educators?


Reading: Political Spectacle, M. L. Smith. (Whole book)


Sept. 20, Week Three

What groups are typically involved in creating federal  policy regarding public issues, including education?


Reading: Who Rules America? (4th or 5th ed.) W. Domhoff. (Whole book).




Political and Economic Contexts of Education Policy


No policies, including education policies, exist in a social vacuum. All policies are social constructions, created in legislatures and other policy bodies in response to some stimulus – educational, technological, political, economic, cultural, etc.  This section of the course focuses on political and economic stimuli to educational policy making.


Sept. 27 Week Four

What political and economic  factors played a role in the ways in which cities and city schools developed in the U.S.?


Reading: Ghetto Schooling: A Political Economy of Urban Educational Reform. J. Anyon (Whole book)


Oct. 4 Week Five

Does contemporary public policy play a role in the maintenance of urban community and educational poverty? How can we solve the problems of poverty that plague urban schools?


Reading:  Radical Possibilities: Public Policy, Urban Education, and a New Social Movement.  J. Anyon. (Whole book)


Cultural Contexts of Education Policy


In most cities, the majority of students are children and youth of color. Many are immigrants or children of immigrants. Does, and should education policy respond to the family cultures of these students? How and to what end?


Oct. 11, Week Six

What policies would substantially improve the education of low-income urban Black and Latino/a children and youth?  What policies would benefit immigrant students?


Readings:   R. Stanton Salazar (Handout)

                   T. Perry, Young, Gifted and Black (2002) (Whole book)

                   Dream Act and Myths About Immigrants (Handouts)               

Oct. 18 Week Seven

How does social class affect K-12 education policy and practice?


Reading: J. Anyon. Social Class and  the Hidden Curriculum of Work. (Handout)


*Student Presentations of Analytical /Critical Essays


*Essay Due.  What is your analytical lens for viewing education policy? Explain your lens, and apply it to one or more of the issues and policies we examined in weeks 1 – 7. You may also use your mode of analysis to critique texts we have read. (No more than 10 ds pages; hard copies, please.)


Analysis of Selected Education Policies and Policy Issues


Each student or pair will introduce the analysis of an educational policy or issue topic below. The analysis you present should utilize  questions like those that follow.  You will also design and briefly present a policy or set of policies that address the issues or problems raised by the readings.


*Please meet with me the week before you are scheduled to present. Please produce a one-page, ds document describing your analysis and policy, and distribute it at the beginning of class.


Analytical Questions


  1. What is the educational issue or problem – how is the problem defined? What educational policy or set of policies address or relate to that issue? What groups were instrumental in development of the policy (-ies)?

  2. Does the policy respond to, or relate in some way to, underlying political, economic, or cultural problems or issues? If so, how? Are there public policies that the educational policy might be a substitute for?

  3. Describe any culture of policy that you see that surrounds and informs the educational policy and its implementation. Is there ‘political spectacle’ involved? Why?

  4. Whose interests are served by the policy as written, and as implemented? Are there groups who win and who lose as a result of the policy? 

  5. Are there unintended consequences of the policy in schools and/or communities? How do these differ from the intended consequences?

  6. What are the implications of the policy for different races, social classes, genders, or sexual orientations?

  7. Does the policy solve the educational problem it was alleged to address or  supposed to solve? Why or why not?  Did it solve any other (e.g., political, economic, or bureaucratic) problem?

  8. What policy or set of policies will YOU design to address the problems or issues highlighted by the readings?


Oct.  25 Week Eight

What is – and what should be – the federal role in education?

                  Topic 1:  Federal Education Policy

                  Reading:  Anyon, 2005. Harvard Ed Review (electronic)



                 Topic 2:   NCLB, Choice, Small Schools

                 Reading:  Thernstroms (2003) (Handout)



Nov. 1, Week Nine

Who makes state and local district education policy? Do these policies advance the cause of equity?

                  Topic 1:  State Education Policies

                  Reading: B. Malen (Handout)



                  Topic 2:  Local (District) Education Policies

                  Reading: Dorothy Shipps , “Pulling Together: Civic Capacity and Urban School Reform” (electronic)    

                  Guest: Dorothy Shipps


Nov. 8, Week Ten 

What policies are needed to encourage educators and community members and groups to work together?

                Topic 1: Community/Parent Engagement


                Reading:  Center for Immigrant Families Report.  (Handout)      

                               Center for Community Change Report - Saved by an Education:

                                    A  Successful Model for Dramatically  Increasing High School

                                    Graduation Rates in Low Income Neighborhood Through

                                    Community Engagement. (Handout)


                 Guests: NYCORE; CC9


Nov. 15, Week Eleven

Learning to do time? Do urban schools contribute to a school to prison pipeline for low-income youth of color?


                   Topic 1:  School Discipline, Zero Tolerance, and the  School to Prison  Pipeline 


                   Readings:   A. Ferguson (2001) (Whole book)

                   Nolan and Anyon (2005). (Handout)


Do queer students experience discrimination in schools? If so, can policy legislate remedies?

                   Topic 2: Lesbian/Gay//Bisexual/Transgender Students


                   Reading: C.Lugg, “Sissies, Faggots, Lezzies, and Dykes: Gender, Sexual Orientation,

                                  and a New Politics of Education?” (electronic)


Nov. 22 No Class (Friday schedule)


Nov. 29, Week Twelve

What should pre-service programs include to best prepare teachers for urban schools?


                    Topic 1:   Teacher Preparation


                    Readings:   Beyond the Big House, G. Ladson-Billings

                                     Teacher Education with an Attitude, D. Shirley


Why are urban school systems typically under-financed? (How much does Wall St. contribute to NYC schools?) How can we encourage the implementation of state remedies that have already been enacted?                                   

                    Topic 2:  School Finance


                    Readings: Rebell (Handout)


Dec. 6, Week Thirteen

Is bilingual education a policy to fight for?


                    Topic 1: Bilingual Education

                    Reading:  Contested Policy, G. San Miguel (Whole book)



Dec, 13, Week Fourteen


                  Student Presentations: Policy Brief Outlines – Due today.


Grading Policy:


Essay = 35%

Policy Brief = 45%

In-Class Presentations and Contributions = 20%


Readings (* = Purchase)


*Anyon, Jean. (1997). Ghetto Schooling: A Political Economy of Urban Educational Reform. NY: Teachers College Press.


*Anyon, Jean. (2005).  Radical Possibilities:  Public Policy, Urban Education, and a New Social Movement. New York: Routledge.


Anyon, Jean (2005). What ‘Counts’ as Education Policy? Notes Toward a New Paradigm. Harvard Education Review. (Electronic)


Center for Community Change. (2001). Saved by an Education: A Successful Model for Dramatically Increasing High School Graduation Rates in Low Income Neighborhoods. (Handout)

Center for Immigrant Families. (2004). Segregated and Unequal: The Public Elementary Schools of District3 in New York City. (Handout)


*Domhoff, G. William. (2001/2005). Fourth or Fifth Ed. Who Rules America? Power and Politics. New York: McGraw Hill.


*Ferguson, Ann. (2001). Bad Boys: Public Schools in the Making of Black Masculinity. University of Michigan Press.


*Ladson-Billings, Gloria. (2005). Beyond the Big House: African American Educators on Teacher Education. NY: Teachers College Press.


Lew, Jamie. (2004). Korean American Students. Anthropology and Education. (Handout)


Lugg, Cathe. (Electronic)


Malen, Betty. (Handout)


Nolan, Kathleen and Anyon, Jean. “Learning to do Time? (Handout)


*Perry, Theresa, Ed. (2003). Young, Gifted, and Black: Promoting High Achievement Among African-American Students. Boston: Beacon.


Rebell, Michael. (2005).  Adequacy Litigations:  A New Path to Equity? In Petrovich and Wells, Eds., Bringing Equity Back: Research for a New Era in Educational Policy. (Handout)


*San Miguel, Guadalupe. (2004). Contested Policy: The Rise and Fall of Federal Bilingual Education in the U.S.: 1960-2001. University of North Texas Press.


Shipps, Dorothy. (Handout)


Shirley, Dennis. (2005). “Transforming Urban Education through the Massachusetts Coalition for Teacher Quality and Student Achievement.” In Urban Education with an Attitude. Edited by Lauri Johnson, et. Al. SUNY Press. (Handout)


*Smith, Mary Lee. (2004). Political Spectacle and the Fate of American Schools.  NY: Taylor and Francis.


Stanton Salazar, Ricardo. (Handout)


Thernstrom, Abigail and Stephan Thernstrom. (2003).  Chapter Three, “Building Academic Skills.” In No Excuses: Closing the Racial Gap in Learning. Simon and Schuster. (Handout)


Education Policy Journals


Google these for websites and sample issues, or access them through the library’s database or interlibrary loan.


The most widely read educational journals are Harvard Educational Review, Teachers College Record, and Educational Researcher. These aren’t focused explicitly on policy, but most articles have important policy implications.


Education Policy: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Policy and Practice.

(Mainstream, but sometimes critical. Mike Apple writes a column.)


Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis (an AERA journal).



Educational Policy Analysis Archives. (Electronic, widely accessed by thousands of AERA members). Gene V. Glass, Ed. In English, Portuguese, and Spanish.)


Journal of Education Policy. (Best British journal, Stephen J. Ball, Ed.)


Educational Administration Quarterly: The Journal of Leadership for Effective and Equitable Organizations. (Can have critical articles.)


Phi Delta Kappan: Journal of Policy and Practice. (“Kappan”). Debate on controversial topics, written for the K-12 educators rather than the academy.


Brookings Papers on Education Policy. (Diane Ravitch, et al; conservative politically.)


The Journal for Critical Education Policy Studies. Electronic. Peter McLaren and  Dave Hill, Eds. Marxist, critical approach.


Rethinking Schools. (Not really a journal, but most articles have important policy implications. Very progressive, politically.)







Fall 2006

Education Policy

Jean Anyon


Policy Brief Assignment


(Advice: The problem you write your brief to address should be directly connected to the problem you are thinking about addressing in your dissertation.)


Each student will pick a problem facing urban education in the U.S. and write a policy brief addressed to a person or an organization. The addressee should have the interest or influence to consider the brief and its suggested policies – for example, a state education official or elected politician, mayor, district superintendent or chancellor, school administrator, union official, principal, teacher, parent group,  community organization, school reform group, etc.


If you were a policy analyst working for a firm, district, or  university,  you might carry out  empirical research to determine what policies/strategies are needed and what policies you will recommend. You are not doing that kind of brief here. You will be analyzing existing research in order to make your  policy recommendation(s).


The brief should include:


1) Statement of the problem.

Identify the educational problem your brief addresses. What is the problem and how do you define it? (Your analytical lens may help you define the problem)


2) Background and reasons for the problem.

Why does this problem exist? Give a brief summary of key history, trends, and current research relating to why the problem exists. What conditions created it?  (Will your history include any underlying economic or political history or trends?)


3) Current policies that (attempt to) address the problem.

Briefly describe the policy solutions presently in place, if any. Briefly give research, policy, practical, or other  reasons you think these solutions are not effective and need to be changed or replaced. (What does your analysis or lens say are the reasons why the extant policies are or are not effective?)


4) Your policy advice – The policy solution(s) you propose.

Describe your own proposed policy solution or solutions, making sure your suggested policies flow out of your analysis of the issue. For example, if the problem you identify has economic causes (say, neighborhood poverty) then the solutions you choose ought to include economic policies.


Be sure to identify solutions that would be appropriate for the person or group you are addressing. You want to be as persuasive as possible. Be sure to provide reasons why your policy proposal would be superior to extant policies.


5) Make a Cover Page with Bullets.

Your brief should have a one-page Executive Summary that has the contents of  the brief presented in easy-to-read 'bullets.’




The brief should be about  ds 15 – 20 pages long, not including the bibliography. Please hand it in as a hard copy.


At a number of times during the semester, we will discuss your brief and its progress in class. Starting in the  8th week of class (Oct. 25th) you should make an appointment to see me with a draft outline of your brief. A solid outline of your brief is due the last class, Dec.13.


The brief is due two weeks after the last day of the semester.