Education

Building Public Schools in the City: The Role of Neighborhood Context on Voter Support for School Bonds

January 28, 2021 // 0 Comments

By Rachel Moskowitz (Trinity College) | With American cities’ socio-economic cleavages and ethnic diversity growing, policy making on urban public school issues has become ever more complex. For instance, what happens when the majority of voters are of a different racial group than a majority of the students in a city? One of the primary responsibilities of municipal government is the provision of public goods for its residents. Public education is one of the most substantial of these public goods. Decisions about education are often controversial; local education policy and politics are hotly contested and the outcomes can dramatically impact the lives of metropolitan residents. Read More

InnovateGov in Detroit: Connecting the university’s most vital resource to a city’s most urgent challenges

January 8, 2020 // 0 Comments

Kesicia Dickinson, Marty Jordan, Sarah Reckhow, and Joshua Sapotichne | On July 18, 2013, the City of Detroit filed for Chapter 9 bankruptcy, the largest U.S. municipality to declare bankruptcy. The city’s financial crisis had severe consequences for the day-to-day operations of city government -- diminishing capacity to collect taxes, to respond to blight in neighborhoods, and to provide a baseline of public services and social supports. Through the InnovateGov program, we have developed a way to connect Michigan State University’s (MSU) most vital resource -- talented and motivated students -- to local government agencies and nonprofits charged with governing post-bankruptcy Detroit. Our students work on projects directly contributing to service delivery and resident engagement in a city where fiscal cuts have drained human capital and the benefits of a downtown resurgence have scarcely touched many of the city’s neighborhoods. Read More

The Liberal Arts Action Lab: Community-Initiated Urban Research in Hartford, Connecticut

November 6, 2019 // 0 Comments

Megan Brown | At traditional academic research centers, faculty and graduate students make decisions on what topics to study. The Liberal Arts Action Lab reverses roles by empowering local residents of Hartford, Connecticut to drive this process. Prospective community partners from different neighborhood groups and non-profit organizations submit one-page proposals about real-world problems they wish to solve. All must agree to share their proposals on a public web page, designed to share -- rather than hide -- what different organizations are planning to work on. Read More

Right Cause, Wrong Method? Examining the Politics of State Takeover in Georgia

September 27, 2019 // 0 Comments

Richard O. Welsh, Sheneka Williams, Shafiqua Little, and Jerome Graham | There is widespread agreement among educational stakeholders on the urgency of school improvement. Educational actors ranging from policymakers, educators, parents to non-profit organizations and corporations insist that the public school system has failed too many underprivileged children and improving struggling schools is a central challenge in public education. Read More

Preserving Education as a Public Good: Commentaries on ‘The Fight For America’s Schools’

July 23, 2019 // 2 Comments

Barbara Ferman | On October 19, 2017, Bill Gates announced that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation would invest $1.7 billion in education with 60% going for curricula development and network building among schools, 15% for charter schools, and 25% for “big bets that have the potential to change the trajectory of public education over the next 10 to 15 years.” (quoted in L. Camera, 2017) Less than one month later, on November 16, 2017, the School Reform Commission (SRC), the body set up by the Pennsylvania legislature to govern the Philadelphia School District, voted to dissolve itself, returning school governance to Philadelphia[1] This vote was the result of intense grassroots activism involving thousands of teachers, nurses, school aides, students, parents, and other activists. Read More

Flipping a Small Classroom: Engaging Students in the Learning Process

June 4, 2019 // 0 Comments

Staci M. Zavattaro| I knew I was in trouble. I was teaching my new elective Public Sector Communications for the first time. I meticulously planned assignments – group work, active discussions, a comprehensive project. That first night, there were four people in the room – myself and three (eek!) master of public administration students. I went home and realized almost everything I had planned would not work. I went back the next week and asked the students for their help. I said I wanted to flip the classroom – something I had never tried before – and would do it only if they agreed and were willing to work with me along the way. We gave it a try. Read More

Urban Politics is the Best Politics of American Politics

May 21, 2019 // 0 Comments

Emily Farris| As a political scientist trained in American Politics with a focus on urban politics, Introduction to American Politics is not usually my favorite class to teach. It’s not the students, it’s not Trump… it is the material. Intro textbooks rarely cover local politics, and I grow tired of talking about Congress or the Presidency, as if they are the only politics that matter. So, this semester I approached my Introduction to American Politics class differently, thanks to the timing of our local election in Fort Worth and a small honors section of the course. Read More

Engaging in Active Learning: Mock Political Campaigns

April 9, 2019 // 0 Comments

By Elizabeth A. Craigg Walker | Teaching Political Science can be extremely content heavy, so it is a struggle to “flip the classroom,” in which the students complete the content material at home in order to have a hands-on experience within the class.  I created a group project where the students participate in a mock-political campaign.  While this focused on a National Campaign, this could be adapted to a local election context as well.  This project aligns with the Student Learning Outcome of students will understand the political process.  In order for this group project to be effective, I used weekly scaffolding activities to hold the students accountable.  In addition, you should create weekly Student Learning Outcomes that would align with the student understanding a segment of the political process. Read More

Negotiating the Challenges of Online Learning and Community-engaged Scholarship

January 28, 2019 // 0 Comments

By Ashley E Nickels, PhD and Leslie Bowser, MPA Candidate | There are many benefits to community-engaged scholarship. As academics, we have the opportunity to use higher education as a tool for democracy and a mechanism for enhancing social equity. As educators, community-engaged scholarship can give students “hands-on” experiences and practical skills development. As more programs move toward online curricula, community-engaged scholarship becomes more challenging. It is time consuming, and, if done poorly, might reinforce inequalities rather than promote social equity. Online students come from diverse locations, often work full-time jobs and have family responsibilities, and attend asynchronous classes, none of which lends itself to engaging in community projects. Read More