Poverty & Public Policy: Implications for Education
In the United States, nearly one in five children lives in poverty, and many will remain in poverty as adults. During the semester, we will examine poverty through multiple lenses by engaging readings from sociology, education, neuroscience, and public policy. In the first section of the course, we will explore the nature of poverty in the United States and how it affects a child’s daily life. We will focus on the ways in which economic inequality becomes mirrored in educational inequality. In the second section of the course, we will examine the creation of federally-supported programs such as Head Start and Teach for America and ask whether such programs have effectively reduced educational inequality. By the end of the course, students should be able to discuss the complex nature of poverty from multiple disciplinary perspectives, as well as the challenge and controversy of specific public policies addressing poverty. Students will also complete a major service-learning project as part of the course. These projects will be conducted in collaboration with local agencies addressing poverty in the community and will include both direct service hours at the partner site as well as a significant writing project for the organization.
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