Course Requirements

Required Texts

Eaton, Susan. 2008. The children in Room E4: American education on trial: Algonquin Books.

Lewis-McCoy, L’Hereux. 2014. Inequality in the Promised Land.

Khan, Shamus Rahman. 2011. Privilege : The Making of an Adolescent Elite at St. Paul’s School.

Additional readings will be provided on Classes v.2.

Office Hours

Tuesdays 11:30-12:30

Weds. 3-4

Signup is required at


Students are expected to attend all classes. I will take attendance promptly at the beginning of each class.  If you are late to class, it is your responsibility to ensure your attendance was recorded.  If you are absent from class, it is your responsibility to contact a classmate for notes, instructions, etc. You can be absent twice with no penalty to your grade.  

Students must complete the readings and come prepared to discuss them. The participation grade also includes reading responses and peer edits.

Reading Responses: Students will post at least 5 concise reading responses via our class Facebook group “Cities, Suburbs and School Choice Spring 2016” ( to facilitate dialogue about readings and other education-related issues students want to discuss, as well as a way to connect with students in the Trinity College sister class, “Cities, Suburbs and Schools.”

A reading response consists of your own initial response plus at least one response to a peer’s comment. As the nature of this forum suggests, responses should be concise and to-the-point (no more than 100 words, and 50 should be sufficient in many cases), with the goal of fostering dialogue through the comments. All responses must be submitted by 6:30am on the day of class.

Peer edits: Students will peer edit 2 Trinity College student writing assignments for the sister class “Cities, Suburbs and Schools” due Friday 2/19 and Friday 4/22. For assignments see:

Technology Policy

To facilitate face-to-face discussion, please do not use a laptop or mobile device in class, unless you require it as an accommodation, as formally established through disability services. I may occasionally ask you to bring a laptop to class as part of an activity or writing session.

Field Work

There will be one field exercise for this course that will involve attending a New Haven school choice or school Open House event.  Please arrange with a partner to attend one of these events on 2.3 or 2.6.


This course’s assignments will give you experience conducting field research, writing and analyzing field notes, and writing a research paper.

Classes.V2 assignments should be uploaded to your Classes v.2 drop box by 9:00 am on the stated deadline. Papers should be Microsoft Word documents with the assignment and your last name in the title (ie. debs.personalreflection.doc)*

Google doc assignments will go to a shared googledoc.

Web assignments will be published on our class website.


1. Personal Reflection: Write a 1-2 page single-spaced reflection on how your geographic location impacted one or more schools you attended. Due Friday. 1.29 to Classes.V2

2. School Choice Field Notes: (up to 1000 words) How do school choice programs communicate with families through marketing materials and at public events in the New Haven region? We will do basic qualitative research at choice fairs. Field notes due Weds. 2.10 to Class Fieldnotes Googledoc:

Conduct observation of NHPS of Choice Expo Wednesday, 2.3, 6-8pm Hillhouse High School or Sat. 2.6, 12-3pm East Rock Community Magnet School. 

3. Analysis of the “desirability” of a New Haven suburb and how that category is created in people’s minds using housing, ELSI and census data (1000-1500 words) due Weds. 2.24, posted to class website

4. School Choice analysis of field notes (500 words) Due Weds. 3.2, to Googledoc.

5. Final Paper Prospectus (750-1000 words) due Weds. 4.6 to Classes.V2

6. Final Paper Rough Draft (12-15 pages) due Weds. 4.20 to Googledoc for peer editing.

7. Final paper (12-15 pages) due Fri. 5.6, to class website

  • Expand your project on a) school choice in New Haven b) the desirability and demographic change of a suburb into a broader research project.  This project can be completed with a partner.
  • Examine the school choice program in another large city.  Assess strengths and weaknesses to choice programs in this city, particularly in comparison to your knowledge of New Haven.
  •  Propose a policy solution to one of the topics we have studied in this course.  
  • An independent topic relevant to the class and approved by the instructor.


Students will be graded using the system described by the Yale University catalog.  Final course grades are based on the weighted averages of all assignments.  If you have questions or concerns about your grade, please see me.

  1. Sociology of your education (10%)
  2. Field notes (10%)
  3. School choice analysis (15%)
  4. Desirability of a New Haven suburb (15%)
  5. Prospectus and Rough draft (10%)
  6. Research Paper (20%)
  7. Class Participation, 5 Class Memos, 2 Peer Edits (20%)

Late Paper Policy: The only way to avoid a grade deduction when submitting a paper after the deadline is to get Dean’s excuse. Without a Dean’s excuse, all papers will be marked down a grade for each day late (ie. within 24 hours late = A to A-, 25-48 hours late = A to B+, etc.).

**Final papers will not be accepted beyond the deadline without a Dean’s excuse **

On Citations: All papers should adhere to ASA or APA-style citations. If you are more comfortable using MLA, that is also acceptable. Failure to cite properly (whether ASA, APA or MLA) will negatively impact paper grades.

Academic Honesty: Students are expected at all times to follow Yale’s policies on academic honesty ( undergrad-education/academic-honesty). I am happy to meet with anyone who has any questions or concerns about how to cite sources appropriately.