Teaching Democracy
Political Science 4318/Spring 2004
Dr. Kathleen (Kathy) Staudt
747 7975 (kstaudt@utep.edu)

This political science course is designed both for majors and for future teachers of social studies in middle and high schools.  Participants will learn about educational governance and educational policies at the federal, state, and local levels.  In this course, we will analyze civic education, focusing especially on:

 *what children actually learn in social studies, stories, classrooms, and standardized tests;

 *what children could learn about democracy to facilitate engagement and leadership in a more democratic society.

The course is grounded in the U.S.-Mexico border, and it offers opportunities for participants to learn through experience: exploring web sites; observing at school board meetings or parental academies; working individually or in teams on a policy proposal.


Herbert Kohl, Should we Burn Babar?  Essays on Children’s Literature and the Power of Stories
Susan Rippberger and Kathleen Staudt, Pledging Allegiance: Learning Nationalism at the El Paso-Juarez Border
Jim Shultz, The Democracy Owners’ Manual: A Practical Guide to Changing the World


Short Papers and Classroom Participation: 30%
Examinations: 20% each = 40%
Team or Individual Project:  20% (NOTE: All individuals must turn in a paper on their own contributions to the team effort)
News Portfolio: 10%
Expectation of All: Observation at one school board meeting
                              Participation at one campus or community event
                              (Notes from these events can ‘tip’ grade up or downward)


January 13

Introduction to the Course and to One Another


January 15

Some common conceptual ground:

What is democracy?  What is power?  How can we characterize power relations in El Paso-Juarez?

January 20

Reflect on Martin Luther King Day…What did you do?  Was it a day on

or a day off?

Shultz, Introduction and Ch 1-2: What is government’s job?

“The rules of politics”

January 22

Kohl, Preface, Introduction, and Ch 1: Should we burn Babar? Questioning Power in Children’s Literature

January 27

SHORT PAPER: Identify a favorite children’s story (book or oral folktale), analyze power relations therein, and be prepared to present in class.  Bring visuals if possible!

January 29

Rippberger & Staudt, Ch 1

February 3

Rippberger & Staudt, Ch 2/Historical Perspectives

February 5

Kohl, “The Story of Rosa Parks and the Montgomery Bus Boycott Revisited”

February 9


UTEP Students Present Daylong Conference on Murders of Girls &

Women in Juarez: Attend 1+ events, write up notes, and evaluate

February 10

Discuss notes, and turn them in

Shultz, Ch 3-4 “Taxing and Spending” & “Making Public Rules for

Business and the Marketplace”

February 12      

Rippberger & Staudt, Ch 3/Civic Education, part I

February 17

Rippberger & Staudt, Ch 4/Civic Education, part II

February 19

Rippberger & Staudt, Ch 5/Bilingual and ESL Education

February 24

Kohl, “A Plea for Radical Children’s Literature”

What would you write about?  3 sentence summary, please!

February 26         

Kohl, “Wicked Boys and Good Schools: Three Takes on Pinnocchio”

March 2

Immigration, Border Patrol and Schools

Video:  The Time Has Come

March 4

Rippberger & Staudt, Ch 6/Technology and Testing

March 9


SHORT PAPER: Visit the Texas Education Agency web site (www.tea.state.tx.us), click on the AEIS (Academic Excellence Indicator System), and choose a school or district in our region to analyze.  Analyze the most significant findings, discuss “screaming silences” (what is NOT addressed, but what parents and/or the public ought to know), and what implications the data present for action (greater focus on content areas? ethnic/economic/gender groups? etc.)

March 11

Shultz, “Civil Rights and Criminal Wrongs”

Choose an issue adaptable for our region, on which you will focus, individually or in a group (EXAMPLE: www.livingwagecampaign.org) for which you will do research and an advocacy strategy, applying Schultz’s Ch

6-13 during the last half of the class.  Contact group members during the break!

March 23

Shultz, Ch 6, “Developing a Strategy”

Groups Present their Plans

March 25

Shultz, Ch 7, “Research and Analysis”

March 31

Shultz, Ch 8, “Organizing: Bringing People Together to Make Social Change”

April 1

Shultz, Ch 9, “Building and Maintaining Advocacy Coalitions”

April 6


Shultz, Ch 10, “Messages and the Media”

Be prepared to discuss your news portfolio

April 8

Shultz, Ch 11, “Lobbying”

April 13

SHORT PAPER: Analyze the school board meeting you attended

April 15

How can educational governance be democratized in El Paso?

April 20

Grounded learning through experience: Implications for social studies teaching?

Rippberger & Staudt, Ch 7

April 27

Projects due; presentations begin


Teaching Democracy Final04:  Due May 7th at noon in Benedict Hall

Choose one of the following essay questions from each alphabetic group.  Each answer should be approximately 500 words each.  This exam covers the last half of the semester and its readings, rather than the entire semester.  Each response is worth a third of the final exam grade.

Group A: Accountability Testing in Education (Connecting web (friendly?) sites and required readings)

  1. Analyze the advantages and disadvantages of ‘high-stakes accountability testing’ in education, drawing on Chapter 6 of Pledging Allegiance and the many discussions we have had in class from your detailed notes.  Then select two public schools (from your visit to the Texas Education Agency (TEA) web site (www.tea.state.tx.us) (see 3/9 assignment), click on the AEIS (Academic Excellence Indicator System), and compare the most significant findings in light of your analysis of accountability testing for Hispanic-majority regions like our own. 
  1. Consider the ways in which public schools are and can be held accountable to stakeholders in education, such as parents, students, employers, and taxpayers.  Be sure to include comparisons from El Paso and Juarez (Ch 6).  Then visit the TEA web site (see 3/9 assignment), especially the AEIS, and consider both what sorts of data ARE available to assess accountability and what SHOULD BE available for stakeholders to assess education in Hispanic-majority regions like our own.

Group B: Action Strategies (Connecting policy analysis to action strategies, using the Democracy Owner’s Manual)

  1. Educational accountability testing results show significant differences across both content areas and ethnic/economic student groupings in Texas for all major urban areas of Texas.  During the 1990s, all urban areas improved, and El Paso’s improvement (measured in test results) was better than San Antonio, Dallas, Austin, and Houston, and comparable to Corpus Christi. 

Given this ‘problem statement,’ develop an action strategy that would improve educational performance in El Paso, drawing on multiple chapters in Shultz (Ch 5+). 

  1. El Paso’s per capita income is 59% of the national per capita income, down from 102% in 1950.  Approximately a quarter of El Pasoans earn a wage that is at or near the minimum legal wage.  Only 5% of El Paso’s workforce belongs to unions, due to state laws that make union organizing and collective bargaining difficult. 

Given this ‘problem statement,’ develop an action strategy around a ‘living wage campaign’ for El Paso, drawing on multiple chapters in Shultz (Ch 5+).

Group C:  Strategies for teaching democracy

  1. You are a high school social studies teacher, weary of teacher-centered lecture classes and multiple choice/guess examinations.  You decide to use insights and/or chapters from Shultz.  Select 3 of the most significant issues in Shultz that you would use and HOW you teach them, utilizing a student-centered classroom style and multiple assessment mechanisms.
  1. Discuss the merits of “cooperative learning,” based on lecture discussion that we had after the cooperative learning exercise on UTServe.  Then propose a lesson for a middle/high school social studies class that involved cooperative learning.  How would you assess (or ‘account for’) learning?