Education

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

Paving A Path Forward for Engaged Scholarship

January 11, 2019 // 0 Comments

By Del Bharath and Hannah Lebovits | Several recent Urban Affairs Review forum pieces have highlighted classroom practices that foster engaged learning by encouraging students, community organizations and policy makers to critically consider and potentially change some of the most complex issues our cities face. But engaged learning, particularly community-based service-learning, can cultivate more than positive communal outcomes. It can be a transformational experience for participants, especially students. In our forthcoming paper at the Journal of Nonprofit and Public Affairs, we lay out a roadmap for designing and executing democratic service-learning courses that generate critical citizenship and social justice advocacy behaviors in public affairs students. Here, we would like to share not only our findings but our process. We hope that we can inspire others to connect over shared interests and collaborate across disciplines, institutions and geographic boundaries! Read More

Predicting School Closures in an Era of Austerity: The Case of Chicago

November 13, 2018 // 0 Comments

Rachel Weber (University of Illinois at Chicago), Stephanie Farmer (Roosevelt University) and Mary Donoghue | In 2013 the City of Chicago undertook the largest mass school closure in recent history, declaring that the school district’s budget required shuttering 49 of its most underutilized buildings. The city erupted in protest, with the Chicago Teachers Union leading a charge of angry parents, students, and teachers. Read More

Taking a Risk: Explaining the Use of Complex Debt Finance by the Chicago Public Schools

March 21, 2018 // 0 Comments

Amanda Kass, Martin J. Luby, and Rachel Weber | For most of the 20th century, the municipal securities market was a sleepy backwater where governments went to raise money for roads, bridges, and wastewater systems. Most cities financed their infrastructure with debt that relied on conservative or well-seasoned market structures.  At the end of the century, however, local governments entered a period of “entrepreneurial” finance as federal support for urban development declined. In the years leading up to the global financial crisis, many US governments began utilizing new bond structures and riskier financial instruments to, potentially, lower borrowing costs. Read More