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Chapter 16

Summary by Russ Long
August 18, 2017

"The cost of tuition is the price of admission to much more than a set of classes.... it’s the cost of exposure to events and concepts and, if you’re lucky, people who inspire you."   ---- Rebecca Shirley

Issues in Academia

School Vouchers

Penn Wharton (2015) describes vouchers as a “credit given to parents who want to move their child from a public school to a private school of their choosing.”  Voucher programs “allow parents to take their child’s’ portion of the per-pupil spending of the state and reallocate the funds to private schools” (Penn Wharton, 2015).

The Pros:

1.  Vouchers allow parents the right to choose.

Penn Wharton (2015) argues that choice may be a fundamental right.  It allows parents to send their children to good schools. This may be seem as rewarding schools who have high performance rates.  It may force low-achieving schools to improve their position of loose government funding.

2.  School vouchers allow lower-income students the right to better education.

The wealthy can already afford private schools.  Vouchers would allow the poor to attend private schools as well and to presumably receive a higher quality education than they might receive in public schools (OccupyTheory, 2015).

3.  Voucher programs lead to better public schools overall.

Penn Wharton (2015) suggest that vouchers make both public and private schools better.  The offer evidence that in neighborhoods that have voucher programs, both public and private schools benefited.

The Cons:

1.  School vouchers violate the separation of church and state.

Penn Wharton suggests that the voucher program is “an underhanded way to have the government fund religious education (2015).  They note that 80% of private schools are religious in nature.  When the government gets into the business of funding religious schools, that “fundamentally violates the separate of church and state” (Penn Wharton, 2015).

2.  Voucher programs just don’t work.

There is an assumption that vouchers allow students to get a better education than they do in public schools, but there is no evidence to support that claim.  Student seem to do no better in private schools than they do in public schools.

3.  Voucher programs actively harm our failing public school system.

Penn Wharton (2015) argues that the discussion about school vouchers causes us to ignore the larger issue which is our inadequate funding for public schools.  They suggest that there are not enough seats in private schools to accommodate everyone who might want to go there.  On the other hand, OccupyTheory (2015) argues that when the few who can get in, do move on to private schools, there will be fewer dollars flowing into an already under funded public school system.

Academic Freedom & Tenure

Google defines academic freedom as “A scholar's freedom to express ideas without risk of official interference or professional disadvantage.”

Over the course of decades, a great many books, essays, and policies have been written and published about academic freedom. We have learned how to apply it to pedagogical, technological, cultural, and political realities that did not exist when the concept was first defined (Nelson, 2010).


PART 1: What it does do


1. Academic freedom means that both faculty members and students can engage in intellectual debate without fear of censorship or retaliation (Nelson, 2010).


2. Academic freedom establishes a faculty member’s right to remain true to his or her pedagogical philosophy and intellectual commitments. It preserves the intellectual integrity of our educational system and thus serves the public good (Nelson, 2010).


3. Academic freedom in teaching means that both faculty members and students can make comparisons and contrasts between subjects taught in a course and any field of human knowledge or period of history (Nelson, 2010).


4. Academic freedom gives both students and faculty the right to express their views — in speech, writing, and through electronic communication, both on and off campus — without fear of sanction, unless the manner of expression substantially impairs the rights of others or, in the case of faculty members, those views demonstrate that they are professionally ignorant, incompetent, or dishonest with regard to their discipline or fields of expertise (Nelson, 2010).


5. Academic freedom gives both students and faculty the right to study and do research on the topics they choose and to draw what conclusions they find consistent with their research, though it does not prevent others from judging whether their work is valuable and their conclusions sound. To protect academic freedom, universities should oppose efforts by corporate or government sponsors to block dissemination of any research findings.


6. Academic freedom means that the political, religious, or philosophical beliefs of politicians, administrators, and members of the public cannot be imposed on students or faculty (Nelson, 2010).


7. Academic freedom gives faculty members and students the right to seek redress or request a hearing if they believe their rights have been violated (Nelson, 2010).


8. Academic freedom protects faculty members and students from reprisals for disagreeing with administrative policies or proposals (Nelson, 2010).


9. Academic freedom gives faculty members and students the right to challenge one another’s views, but not to penalize them for holding them (Nelson, 2010).


10. Academic freedom protects a faculty member’s authority to assign grades to students, so long as the grades are not capricious or unjustly punitive. More broadly, academic freedom encompasses both the individual and institutional right to maintain academic standards (Nelson, 2010).


11. Academic freedom gives faculty members substantial latitude in deciding how to teach the courses for which they are responsible (Nelson, 2010).


12. Academic freedom guarantees that serious charges against a faculty member will be heard before a committee of his or her peers. It provides faculty members the right to due process, including the assumption that the burden of proof lies with those who brought the charges, that faculty have the right to present counter-evidence and confront their accusers, and be assisted by an attorney in serious cases if they choose.


PART 2: What It Doesn’t Do


1. Academic freedom does not mean a faculty member can harass, threaten, intimidate, ridicule, or impose his or her views on students (Nelson, 2010).


3. Academic freedom nor tenure does not protect an incompetent teacher from losing his or her job. Academic freedom thus does not grant an unqualified guarantee of lifetime employment (Nelson, 2010).


4. Academic freedom does not protect faculty members from colleague or student challenges to or disagreement with their educational philosophy and practices (Nelson, 2010).


5. Academic freedom does not protect faculty members from non-university penalties if they break the law (Nelson, 2010).


6. Academic freedom does not give students or faculty the right to ignore college or university regulations, though it does give faculty and students the right to criticize regulations they believe are unfair (Nelson, 2010).


7. Academic freedom does not protect students or faculty from disciplinary action, but it does require that they receive fair treatment and due process (Nelson, 2010).


8. Academic freedom does not protect faculty members from sanctions for professional misconduct, though sanctions require clear proof established through due process (Nelson, 2010).


9. Neither academic freedom nor tenure protects a faculty member from various sanctions — from denial of merit raises, to denial of sabbatical requests, to the loss of desirable teaching and committee (Nelson, 2010).


10. Neither academic freedom nor tenure protects a faculty member who repeatedly skips class or refuses to teach the classes or subject matter assigned (Nelson, 2010).


11. Though briefly interrupting an invited speaker may be compatible with academic freedom, actually preventing a talk or a performance from continuing is not (Nelson, 2010).


12. Academic freedom does not protect a faculty member from investigations into allegations of scientific misconduct or violations of sound university policies, nor from appropriate penalties should such charges be sustained in a hearing of record before an elected faculty body (Nelson, 2010).


According to Yamada (2011), “tenure is pretty much unique to educational settings. Attaining tenured status as a professor usually means two things.”

“First, it conveys an enhanced level of protection for academic freedom, grounded in the conviction that knowledge creation and expression of ideas should be free from intimidation or retaliation” (Yamada, 2011).

“Second, it provides significantly elevated levels of job security. Generally speaking, tenured professors can be dismissed only for failure to perform essential job responsibilities, serious misconduct, or severe economic necessity. In the United States, only unionized employees with strong collective bargaining agreements enjoy similar job protections” (Yamada, 2011).

“Tenure is conferred by a single institution; thus, it is not automatically transferable. A tenured professor who wants to move elsewhere typically must negotiate with another institution to be appointed with tenure, or perhaps do what’s called a “look see” year as a visiting professor to determine whether a lateral hiring with tenure is a good match” (Yamada, 2011).

Text Books in Texas

McLeroy is a self-described Christian fundamentalist, and an outgoing member of Texas state school board of education (SBOE). McElroy and his allies have “pushed through controversial revisions to the statewide social studies curriculum” (Walker, 2017).   “Some of the revisions. … promote Christian fundamentalism, boost conservative political figures, and force-feed American “exceptionalism,” while downplaying the historical contributions of minorities” (Walker).

“The standards will guide textbook purchases and classroom instruction over the next decade – and maybe not just in Texas. National publishers usually cater to its demands because the school board is probably the most influential in the country. Texas buys 48 million textbooks every year. No other state, except California, wields that sort of market clout” (Walker, 2017).

·       Thomas Jefferson has been removed from history texts because of his role in pursuing the separation of church and state (Walker, 2017).

·       SBOE approves decisions to tout the importance of people like Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan, but they also include people like Newt Gingrich, Phyllis Schlafly and Jerry Falwell (Walker, 2017).

·       SBOE did not mention Sonia Sotomayor, the new Latina addition to the Supreme Court.  Nor did they mention any other new Hispanic leader even though half the children in Texas school are Hispanic (Walker, 2017).

·       They down played the racism experienced by Japanese-Americans during World War Two, by suggesting that Germans and Italians were also sent to detention centers (Walker, 2017).

·       There is no mention of capitalism.  Instead, the board uses words like “free enterprise” to describe the economy (Walker, 2017).

·       SBOE argued that the separation of church and state is a fabrication by activists.  The board removed language that discussed why the founding fathers opposed the creation of a state religion in the bill of rights (Walker, 2017).

·       SOBE added language that required students to learn about the second amendments right to bear arms (Walker, 2017).

·       SBOE removed the word “slavery” from discussions of the trans-Atlantic slave trade instead opting to call it the “Atlantic Triangular Trade” (Walker, 2017). 

I.     The American Educational Institution

Education is the social institution that is responsible for transmitting knowledge, skills, and cultural values in a formally organized structure (Kendall, 1998:274-297).

II.     Sociological Perspectives on Education

A.     Functionalist Perspectives

1.     Manifest Functions

a.     Socialization

Kendall (1998:276) contends that from kindergarten through college schools teach students the student-roles, specific academic subjects, and political socialization (e.g., the importance of the democratic process)

b.     Transmission of culture

Schools transmit cultural norms and values to each new generation.  It plays, as well, an important process in the assimilation of new immigrants.  Immigrants learn the dominant cultural vales, attitudes, and behaviors so that they can be productive members in their new society (Kendall, 1998:276).

c.     Social Control

Schools are responsible for teaching discipline, respect, obedience, punctuality, and perseverance.  They teach conformity by teaching young people to be good students, conscientious future workers, and law abiders (Kendall, 1998:276).

d.     Social Placement: Tracking

Schools are responsible for identifying the most qualified people to fill advanced positions in society.  Schools often channel students into programs based on their ability and academic achievement.  Graduates receive appropriate credentials for entering the paid work force (Kendall, 1998:276)

Tracking is the assigning students to specific courses and educational programs based on their test scores, previous grades, or both (Kendall, 1998:276).

e.     Change and Innovation

Schools are sources of change and innovation.  To meet student needs at a given time, new programs (such as AIDs education, computer education, and multicultural education are created.  College and university faculty are expected to conduct research and publish new knowledge that benefits the overall society.  A major goal of education is to reduce social problems (see Kendall, 1998:276).

2.     Latent Functions

Latent functions are the not-so-obvious functions associated with education.   Kendall (1998:277) suggests that some examples are the role schools play in keeping young people off the streets.  School also provides the service of matchmaking.   We often meet our future mates in school.  The transmission of cultural values and norms is often done quietly via the hidden curriculum.

a.     Cultural Capital

Cultural capital are social assets such as values, beliefs, attitudes, and competencies in language and culture that they learn at home, but which are reinforced in school.

b.     Hidden Curriculum

The hidden curriculum is the way certain cultural values and attitudes, such as conformity and obedience to authority, are transmitted through implied demands in the everyday rules and routines of schools (Kendall, 1998:277-279).

Lectors of Ybor City Florida


B.     Conflict Perspective

1.     Local Control of Schools:

We finance most education in the US on a local level. We guard local control of schools "jealously." Local school boards have control over such matters as allocation of monies, curricular content, school rules, and hiring and firing policies (see Eitzen, 1997:394-396).

One positive benefit of locally based education is that we teach a greater diversity of material to the population at large.

Problems related to extreme local control of schools may include the following:

·         Tax bases vary from community to community. The tax base influences the quality of education provided to local students (Eitzen, 1997:394).

·         Local taxes are much more subject to tax revolts than taxes assessed by higher levels of government (Eitzen, 1997:394).

·         Usually ruling bodies of school boards are not representative of the total community. They often represent business and professional interests and under represent blue-collar and minority interests (Eitzen, 1997:395).

·         Curriculum standards vary from school districts to school districts. This causes problems to many because the average American moves about once every five years (Eitzen, 1997:395).

2.     Education as a Conserving Force.

Eitzen (1997:392-393) describes the American education system as conservative because its goal is the maintenance and preservation of culture and society. In school, we teach one to be patriotic. We teach one the myths of the culture and society. "The American way is the only really right way."

Example: "Politics of the Classroom."

Seldom are students taught to consider the viability of alternate approaches. How often have you been taught about Karl Marx and world government in High school? When we raise controversial subjects, pressure is brought to bear to rectify the situation (Eitzen, 1997:392-393).

Example: Knoxville High School

The teacher who attempted to address the Monroe Doctrine from an alternate approach.

The consequence of that activity is to limit creativity and questioning attitudes of students.

3.     Competition

Schools teach one to be competitive. Competition "extends to virtually all school activities" (Eitzen, 1997:3964). We see competition in athletic teams, cheer leading squads, debate teams, choruses, drill teams, bands, and casts for dramatic plays. Grading is obviously one component of the competition. Eitzen (1997:396) argues that there are two important "hidden lessons" embedded in such competition. The first lesson is the idea that "your class mates are your enemies" and the second is "the fear of failure."

Remember the cheer leader mom who hired a hit man?

4.     The Sifting and Sorting Functions of Schools: Cooling Out the Failures

Schools plays an important part in determining which youth will finally come to occupy high-status positions in society (in Eitzen, 1997:396-397). There are two criteria: a child's ability and his or her social class. The aspect related to ability is assumed. The ascribed status, one's social class, is more hidden, but none-the-less plays a major role in the way teachers relate to a child.

a.     Cooling Out

The classroom is not only an area where students "learn to succeed," they also learn how to fail. "Cooling-out" refers to the process where schools handle "the failures." Society does not want a group of disenchanted and rejected people running the streets waging revolution against the system that rejected them. Citizens must not identify the social system with the problems experienced by ordinary people. The blame has to be directed at the individual.

b.     Steps in the Cooling-Out Process

Cooling-out happens at various levels.

1.     Self Selection

Many students do not even have to be cooled-out, because they learned at an early age "that they were stupid." Many failures cannot wait to get as far away from school as possible. They experience complete alienation.

2.     The Ideology of Stupidity

For those who need a little cooling-out, one often uses what Eitzen (1986:326) calls ideology, individualism, and equal opportunity. Schools teach students that people make their own way up the latter of success based on their own abilities. If you do not make it, it is your own fault. The individual is to blame.

3.     The School Counselor

For those whom ideological messages do not convince, there is the school counselor. Counselors will direct you to areas that are "more suited to your abilities."  The counselor may say to a student "You will be happier doing something else."

4.     Look at Those Who Passed

Another technique used in "cooling-out" poor students who came from lower SES's is to point to members from that student's particular group who have made it. Concerning the last point, Eitzen (1986:326) concludes that obviously many have made it, but their numbers are few. He argues that the act of allowing some members of poor populations to "pass" may do a great deal to keep the lid on social revolution on a more general scale.

5.     The Preoccupation with Order and Control

Eitzen (1997:397) points out that another function of school is to instill a sense of order and control. "School is a collective experience requiring subordination of individual needs to those of the school."

a.     The Clock and the Tyranny of the Schedule

Among the constraints placed on the individual freedom are constraints related to "the clock." Activities begin and end on highly regimented schedules and no one addresses these activities according to the interest of the student or the learning obtained. Silberman calls this "the tyranny of the lesson plan." There is a preoccupation with discipline.

b.     The Dress Code

The quest for conformity may take the form of "dress codes."

Example: Dress Codes in the Inner City.

Dress codes are coming back into vogue in some school districts, but the conformity that this involves is welcome by many. In poor neighborhoods, competition (drug monies enhance this problem) has become so extreme that children are killing children in school over arguments involving who has the "badest threads." By requiring children to wear uniforms, schools hope to remove this element of competition."

EX:  The Star of David and Rural Mississippi

c.     Give the Answer the Teacher Expects

Schools also teach conformity through other academic matters, such as the setting of margins. The student learns to answer questions about what teachers expects. The belief in order is so important that schools rate teachers, not on their ability to get students to learn, but on their ability to keep quiet and order in the class room.

d.     What You Remember and What You Forget

"Maintaining discipline is more important than student self-inquiry" (Eitzen, 1986:327).

Schools see learning to be a secondary consideration when compared with the order and social control aspects of education. The notion presented (in Eitzen, 1986:327) suggests that after 12 years of school, many students have forgotten how to do algebra, they have learned to hate literature, and they cannot write. Nevertheless, students can follow orders. "They give up expecting things to make sense . . . things are true because the teacher says they are true" (in Eitzen, 1986:327).

"Miss Wiedemeyer tells you a noun is a person, place or thing. So, let it be. You do not give a rat's ass and she does not give a rat's ass. The important thing is to please her. Back in Kindergarten, you found out that teachers only love children that stand in nice straight lines. And that's where it's been ever since" (in Eitzen, 1986:327).

III.     Problems in U.S. Education

A.     What Can Be Done About Illiteracy?

1.     Functionally Illiterate

Functionally illiterate is being unable to read and/or write at the skill level necessary for carrying out everyday tasks (Kendall, 1998:281).


Eitzen, D. Stanley and Maxine Baca-Zinn

1986  Social Problems, (3rd Ed.) Boston: Allyn and Bacon.

1997  Social Problems, (7th Ed.) Boston: Allyn and Bacon.

2000  Social Problems, (8th Ed.) Boston: Allyn and Bacon.

2003  Social Problems. (9th Ed.) Boston: Allyn and Bacon.



Kendall, Diana

1998 Social Problems in a Diverse Society. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.

Nelson, Cary

2010  “Defining Academic Freedom.” Inside Higher Ed.  December 21, 2010.  https://www.insidehighered.com/views/2010/12/21/defining-academic-freedom

Occupy Theory

2015  “List of Pros and Cons of School Vouchers.”  Occupy Theory.  February 27, 2015.  https://occupytheory.org/list-of-pros-and-cons-of-school-vouchers/

Penn Wharton

2015  “School Vouchers:  Pros and Cons.”  University of Pennsylvania – Public Policy Initiative.  November 25, 2015.  https://publicpolicy.wharton.upenn.edu/live/news/1076-school-vouchers-pros-and-cons.

Robertson, Ian

1989 Society: A Brief Introduction. New York: Worth Publishing.

Walker, Tim

2017 “Don't Know Much about History:  Controversial changes may be in store for your textbooks, courtesy of the Texas state school board.”  NEA Today - National Education Association.  Spring 2017.  http://www.nea.org/home/39060.htm

Yamada, David

2011“What is Academic Tenure?” in Minding the Workplace: The New Workplace Institute Blog, hosted by David Yamada.  August 22, 2011.  https://newworkplace.wordpress.com/2011/08/22/what-is-academic-tenure/