I'm taking cues here from at least two sources.  First, Dr. Gary Stager, shared a syllabus he used for a course he teaches at Pepperdine University.  In that syllabus, he wrote:

"My goal is to create authentic contexts for learning. This makes it neither desirable or possible to create a precise calendar of events, assignments and discussion topics in advance. The syllabus is a a blueprint - an invitation to engage in the social construction of knowledge."

Second, Shelly Blake-Pock (aka @Teachpaperless) recently wrote a blog post called "Wiki Syllabus." There, he wrote: "...over the course of the semester, I want and will encourage my students to update, remix, and redesign my syllabus. I want them to own it. I want it to reflect their needs."

Thus, to those ends, this is OUR syllabus and it is intentionally flexible and negotiable.


  1. Read at least three articles related to the topic of the week. You will find the articles yourself. The only specifications are: (a) the articles should be directly related to the topic of exploration for the week, (b) at least one article that you read should be an empirically-based article (i.e. it should report the results of empirical research undertaken by the authors), and (c) at least two of the articles should be from peer-reviewed journals.
  2. Summarize the articles and share what you've read by completing the Google form embedded on our Article Summary Form page
  3. Blog about what you're reading and experiencing.  There is neither a minimum nor a maximum number of blog posts I expect from you each week.  My only expectation is that you use the blog as a space to publicly reflect on the information you are encountering throughout the reading that you are doing. Some weeks you will be moved to reflect more than others.
  4. Comment on other students' blog posts and engage with other commenters.
  5. Share information you come across by tagging it in Diigo (and elsewhere) as "ADMS707"
  6. Read Bridging Differences
Additionally, I'll be holding semi-regular webinars, digital/virtual roundtable discussions related to the weekly topics. Those webinars will be held at night (likely 8:30 p.m. EST), and probably different nights of the week depending on the availability of the panelists/participants. "Attending" the webinars "live" will not be mandatory; I will only strongly encourage you to "attend" as many as possible. They will be recorded and archived for you to view after the fact, but only by "attending" live will you truly be able to interact with the participants and get the full benefits of this sort of learning experience. The webinars will be scheduled with as much advance notice as possible.

NOTE: In addition to all of the above, the major/final product for this class is the production of a digital story/movie.  The specifications for that project are on the Digital Storytelling Project page.


If politics is defined as the intersection of power and justice, this course is designed as an exploration of those constructs in the field of education.  Many of you will be taking, if you have not already, a course on Social Justice in Education (ADMS 703) and a course on School Finance and Distributive Justice (ADMS 704). Those courses allow you to more fully explore the "justice"-related aspects of the politics of education.  This course, therefore, is largely focused on issues of power in education.  In particular, we will largely engage in inquiry into how power is organized and exercised in education

(for article summaries)
 Week of January 17 Getting started 
 Week of January 24 The politics of education - An Overview 
 Week of January 31 The role of the federal government in education FEDERAL
 Week of February 7 The role of the state education agencies in education STATES
 Week of February 14 The role of local education agencies in education (school boards) LEA-BOARDS
 Week of February 21 WEEK OF REFLECTION 
 Week of February 28 The role of local education agencies in education (the superintendency) LEA-SUPES
 Week of March 7 Micropolitics in education - An Overview MICRO
 Week of March 14 VCU SPRING BREAK 
 Week of March 21 Micropolitics in education - The Politics of Policy Implementation IMPLEMENTATION
 Week of March 28 The role of special interest groups in educationSIG
 Week of April 4WEEK OF REFLECTION (Power)

 Week of April 11 Distributive justice - equity in education 
 Week of April 25 Distributive justice - the case of educational technology 
 Week of May 3 Digital stories due - movie premiere! 


Here, again, I take a cue from Gary Stager.

"This class requires active participation through collaboration, discussion, design, research and development. Any work you produce should provide evidence of participation in the intellectual life of the course...All students are required to share ideas and skills with their classmates and to expand their own personal knowledge in ways beneficial to their classmates. Simply put, you need to learn whatever is necessary to support the learning and growth of your peers. Students are expected to not only complete all individual and collaborative tasks, but be active discussants. Highly successful students are distinguished by vigorous participation..."

Beyond "vigorous participation," I will assess the degree to which you do what is expected of you each week (see "what you will do each week" above).  Also, your digital story/movie will factor in to the formal I grade I have to submit for you in this course.  Generally, though, I am in full agreement with Dr. Stager with respect to grading:

"I have strong reservations about both grades and rubrics. I believe that both practices have a prophylactic effect on learning. Doing the best job you can do and sharing your knowledge with others are the paramount goals for this course. I expect excellence...You should evaluate each course artifact you create according to the following “rubric.” The progression denotes a range from the least personal growth to the most."

(NOTE: I've modified this rubric slightly for our purposes)
  1. I did not participate

  2. I phoned-it in

  3. I impressed my colleagues

  4. I impressed my friends and neighbors

  5. I impressed my family

  6. I impressed Jon Becker

  7. I impressed myself

From time-to-time, I will ask you to assess your own learning. Also, while I believe the degree to which you impressed yourself should be the ultimate assessment in this and all doctoral courses, you will get feedback from me throughout this semester and you will get a formal grade.

[NEXT: GETTING STARTED Having read the introductory material and the syllabus, you should be ready to get started. ]