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Harvard University

Saving Schools Mini-Course 1: History and Politics of U.S. Education

Harvard University via edX

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This mini-course seeks to answer the following question: How did a school system, once the envy of the world, stumble so that the performance in math, science, and reading of U.S. students at age 15 fell below that of students in a majority of the world’s industrialized nations?

Exploring that question, we identify the personalities and historical forces—the progressives, racial desegregation, legalization and collective bargaining—that shaped and re-shaped U.S. school politics and policy. We visit the places where new ideas and practices were spawned, and we look at some of their unanticipated consequences.

In the three subsequent mini-courses, we seek answers to a second question: What are the best ways of lifting the performance of American schools to a higher level? To explore these questions, we look at ideas and proposals of those who want to save our schools—be it by reforming the teaching profession, holding schools accountable, or giving families more school choices. In interviews with reform proponents and independent experts, we capture the intensity of the current debate. In the end, we do not find any silver bullets that can magically lift schools to a new level of performance, but we do pinpoint the pluses and minuses of many new approaches. These three subsequent mini-courses will launch later in the fall and continue into 2016.

Each mini-course contains five to eight lectures, with each lecture containing approximately three videos. The mini-courses also include assigned readings, discussion forums, and assessment opportunities.

This is the first mini-course in a four-course sequence.

  • Mini-Course 1: History and Politics of U.S. Education
  • Mini-Course 2: Teacher Policies
  • Mini-Course 3: Accountability and National Standards
  • Mini-Course 4: School Choice

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HarvardX pursues the science of learning. By registering as an online learner in an HX course, you will also participate in research about learning. Read our research statement to learn more.

Harvard University and HarvardX are committed to maintaining a safe and healthy educational and work environment in which no member of the community is excluded from participation in, denied the benefits of, or subjected to discrimination or harassment in our program. All members of the HarvardX community are expected to abide by Harvard policies on nondiscrimination, including sexual harassment, and the edX Terms of Service. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact [email protected] and/or report your experience through the edX contact form.

Taught by

Paul E. Peterson


4.2 rating, based on 5 Class Central reviews

Start your review of Saving Schools Mini-Course 1: History and Politics of U.S. Education

  • The first few lectures give a basic history of american education. The presentation of the class was lacking, and I wasn't a big fan of the dialogue format, especially since some of the students were stiff. Became too broad based in the fourth week and I stopped being interested. I have no plan to take the succeeding MOOCs in the series, which are going to be more policy analysis.
  • Abdisalan Mohamed Jama
    iam student who live in Africa so iwant joing in this courses iam very interesty kind of college if i give you some information about my self firest iam student iam i gradtuate secondary school in this year 2020 so i went free education because iam not able to buy with my education that is why ican,t joing other courses
  • our review helps other learners like you discover great courses. Only review the course if you have taken or started taking this course.
  • Teresa Tse

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