Supplement for Fourth Class:


Copyright © 2023 Bruce W. Hauptli


I. Questions From Last Time. 


II. Chapter Three: Dimensions of Democratic Participation:


71-75 Levels of Democratic Control:


75 In anything but a tiny city-state, community control over schools cannot be identified with local control because there are several democratic communities that have a legitimate role to play in determining school policy.  For the same reason, federal and state control must not be all-encompassing, otherwise local democratic control over schools is rendered meaningless.  Local public schools play a legitimate role in reflecting and responding to the more particular collective preferences of face-to-face communities, a purpose that few other political institutions can serve as effectively in our society. 


75-79 Democratic Professionalism:


76 At all levels of American government, political control over schools is challenged—and often shared—by other authorities: parents and parent-teacher associations, teachers and teacher’ unions, accrediting agencies, private foundations, civic groups and lobbying organizations….Although all these groups help shape what happens in American schools, the challenge posed by teachers and teachers’ unions is by far the most significant in upholding the principle of nonrepression against democratic authority. 


77-79 She discusses authority and professionalism in the professions of medicine, law, and teaching:


77 too much autonomy leads to “the insolence of office.”  Too little autonomy, on the other hand, leads to what one might call “the ossification of office,” from which, by almost all accounts, the teaching profession in the United States. 


79 Far more than doctors or lawyers, teachers make compromises in their professional standards for causes that are often entirely beyond their personal control: too many students, too little preparation time for teaching, too much administrative work, too little money to support their families.  Some of these causes, however, may be within the collective power of teachers—organized by professional teachers’ unions—to change. 


79-88 Teachers’ Unions:


79 Such unions can “…create the conditions teachers under which teachers can cultivate the capacity among students for critical reflection on democratic culture.” 


80 Such unions should have sufficient authority to combat ossification of office, but no so much as to engender insolence of office. 


80-81 Such unions were begun to ensure teachers have sufficient control over their work, and multiplied as they secured better rates of pay. 


81 Merit pay is an important way of mitigating ossification.  But, she adds: “democratic education depends not only upon attracting intellectually talented people with a sense of professional mission to teaching, but also on cultivating and sustaining that sense during their career as teachers. 


82-84 While teacher pay is important to teachers’ unions (as it is to both boards and teachers) professionalism is even more important, and one reason that teachers’ unions came into being:


82 Although a school board may establish curriculum, it must not dictate how teachers choose to teach the established curriculum, as long as they do not discriminate against students or repress reasonable points of view.  Although a school board may control the textbooks teachers use, it may not establish how teachers use the textbooks within the same principled constraints).  If teachers are not permitted sufficient intellectual authority, they can not successfully teach students to be intellectually independent.  Of course too much autonomy is as problematic as too little. 


82-84 She discusses the move toward teacher tenure for primary and secondary school teachers contending systems of impartial review are key.  Fostering professionalism is important both in the classroom and in the larger school context, and good schools can retain teachers by treating them as professionals.  .  And she goes on to point out differences between primary and secondary school teachers and college or university professors:


84 “Teachers’ unions are ideally an interim solution to the problem of professional ossification, but the interim is likely to last a long time given the obstacles now standing in the way of teachers gaining a greater role in shaping school policy.”  


84-88 She identifies state, federal, and large school district regulations and requirements as obstacles which perpetuate the role of teachers’ unions. 


88-94 Democracy Within Schools:


88 While the professionalism of teachers can safeguard against repression and discrimination, a truly democratic education requires that the students also be allowed to play a role in their education.  But


89 Students who are predisposed neither to participation nor to learning present the greater challenge to a democratic conception of teaching because their negative attitude toward schooling can readily reinforce a purely disciplinary method of teaching: teachers assert their authority, first to produce order, and then to funnel a body of knowledge into students.” 


89-93 But highly committed and professional teachers can adopt participatory strategies which can reach such students:


92-93 Although we lack enough evidence to say how much internal democracy [within schools] is necessary to cultivate participatory virtues among students, the low levels of political participation in our society and the high levels of autocracy within most schools point to the conclusion that the cultivation of participatory virtues should become more prominent among the purposes of primary schooling, especially as children mature intellectually and emotionally, and become more capable of engaging in free and equal discussion with teachers and their peers. 


93 She cites Dewey’s Lab School as an exemplar here. 


94 However, she contends, a democrat school cannot be a democracy.  The role of such schools is to prepare future citizens for democratic citizenship.  Were they fully ready for citizenship, being students in school would no longer be appropriate. 


III. Chapter Four: The Limits of Democratic Authority:


95 The democratic purposes of primary schooling constrain as well as empower democratic communities, but not in the name of parental choice, liberal autonomy, or conservative virtue.  The principles nonrepression and nondiscrimination limit democratic authority in the name of democracy itself.  A society is undemocratic—it cannot engage in conscious social reproduction—if it restricts rational deliberation or includes some educable citizens from an adequate education.  Nonrepression and nondiscrimination are therefore intrinsic to the ideal of a democratic society, as parental choice, liberal autonomy, and conservative virtue are not. 


95-96 We value democracy not primarily as a pure process that defines what is just, nor as a perfect process that guarantees justice (defined by some nonprocedural standard).  Rather because it is the best way by which we can discover what a community value for itself and its children. 


97 First, the Chapter will examine three pairs of policies which raise the problem of repression in public schools: banning and approving books, teaching creationism and civics, and sex education and sexist education.  It then goes on to discuss private schools, separating moral from religious education, restraining the limits that might be placed on educational. 


Banning and Approving Books:


99-101 She discuss how book banning is generally repressive, and any policies or decisions to engage in such bans must be the result of deliberative democratic procedures.  Similarly, with textbook control situations! 


101 The most effective means of avoiding direct repression may therefore be indirect: to restructure the process by which democratic decisions are made rather than to constrain decisions after they have been made.  Restructuring the process rather than constraining its outcomes is likely to have the additional unintended advantage of furthering the education of adults, while they further the education of children. 


Teaching Creationism and Civics:


102 The religions that reject evolution as a valid scientific theory also reject the secular standards of reasoning that make evolution clearly superior as a theory to creationism.  Only by putting religious faith above reason can someone believe that the entire fossil record…. 


103 The case for teaching secular but not religious standards of reasoning does not rest on the claim that secular standards are neutral among all religious beliefs.  The case rests instead on the claim that secular standards constitute a better basis upon which to build a common education for citizenship than any set of sectarian religious beliefs—better because secular standards are both a fairer and a firmer basis for peacefully reconciling our differences. 


Sex Education and Sexist Education:


Gutmann first talks about sex education (107-111), and then goes on to discuss sexist education (111-115). 


108 Teaching about sex is…not the same as teaching sex, just as teaching about religion is not the same as teaching religion.  The most ardent advocate of the separation of church and state could consistently admit a course of comparative religion in the public-school curriculum.  The distinction between teaching sex and teaching about sex is considerably harder…. 


110 She considers sex education with a provision of exempting students who (or whose parents) are opposed. 


111 Gutmann uses “sexist education” “…to characterize a specific set of educational practices: those that serve, often unintentionally, to restrict the quality or quantity of democratic education received by girls (or women) relative to that received by boys (or men).” 


Note that here she refers to “educational practices” where at other times it is “education,” “educational theories.” 


112-115 She discusses statistics in the hiring of primary vs. secondary teachers, and statistics regarding administrators and the apparent discriminatory practices. 


115 The educational rationale for breaking sex stereotyping implicates not only the authority structure but also the curriculum of schools.  Because most discussions of sexism in education concentrate on the curriculum, I have focused on the authority structure.  Breaking sex stereotypes in the curriculum is equally important but simpler to justify.  It should be obvious that no democratic principle prevents teachers from paying more attention to women in history and literature from adopting gender-neutral language.  The practical obstacles that stand in the way of curricular reform make it even more important that we discover as many principled ways as possible to overcome sex bias in schooling. 


Private Schools:


115 In this section she addresses the question “is access to private schools a necessary or desirable limit on democratic control over primary Education?”  The question of private schooling leads, naturally, to a discussion of whether dissenting parents should be able to exempt their children from some elements of the public schooling. 


116 Only in a state of families is it natural to assume that parents have an exclusive right to control the education of their children regardless of democratic will. 


117 She argues that while sometimes private schools can siphon off wealthier students from public schools, more than two-thirds of private students attend catholic schools, and so “…a better alternative to prohibiting private schools would be to devise a system of primary schooling that accommodates private religious schools on the condition that they, like public schools, teach the common set of democratic values.” 


117-120 This accommodation can be broadened but where a religion espouses racial discrimination or repression a line is be crossed: “because the requirements of racial nondiscrimination and religious nonrepression conflict is this case, democratic principle permit but do not require legislatures to constrain fundamentalist along with all other schools to racial nondiscrimination.”  


Dissent within Public Schools:


122 Public schools would more effectively teach democratic values…if they were willing to exempt some children from practices to which their parents object as long as those practices do not require public schools to be discriminatory or repressive…By such selective accommodation, schools may be able to teach both the moral value and the principled limits of democratic dissent without elevating conscientious refusal into a constitutional right of children or of parents acting on their children’s behalf. 


123 By respecting conscientious dissent within these principled limits, public schools can offer a valuable lesson in democratic toleration, and also obtain the allegiance of some dissenting minorities.  Private schools provide the option for exiting for intense dissenters as well as an incentive for public schools to become more tolerant of internal dissent even when they are not legally obligated to do so. 


Separating Moral from Religious Education and Limiting Limits:


I’m skipping her discussions here. 


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Last revised on 03/20/23