Equity and Education

Spring 2017 quarter

Taught by

By the end of the 2016 school year, nearly 15% of all students who had enrolled in 9 th grade in a Washington public school, or transferred in, dropped out before graduation. The majority of those were students of color, bilingual students, students from families with low incomes, and students with special needs.

We will examine reasons why some students do not benefit from public education. For example, we will explore how: 1) teachers’ cultural knowledge supports or interferes with students’ abilities to engage in learning; 2) understanding brain development might improve students’ learning opportunities; 3) school experiences are affected by systemic biases related to race, ethnicity, socio-economic background, home language and a range of learning needs; and, 4) some current federal and state policies impact students’ abilities to benefit from public education.

Public education is a complex system and its challenges are not easily unraveled and addressed. This program is not intended to allow us to simply take an objective stance about difficult issues. To understand what changes are needed, we need to hear each other and to collectively arrive at greater wisdom.  As Wheatley stated in Turning to One Another, ”Whatever we know, it is not sufficient. We can’t see enough of the whole.”

Therefore, we will begin by improving our abilities to hear each other and to value each other’s experiences and ideas as well as examining our own cultural filters. Through our collaborative investigations, we will seek to illuminate the significant challenges facing the diverse range of students who attend public schools and to discover possible ways to make education more meaningful for them.

Learning opportunities include creating visual and spoken analyses of a range of texts, participating in workshops, and presenting a culminating research project about an area of interest related to the program content.

Program Details

Fields of Study


Preparatory For

education, social work, and any work with children and youth.


Spring Open

Location and Schedule

Campus Location


Time Offered


Advertised Schedule

First class meeting: Tuesday, April 4 at 9am (Sem II B3105)

Online Learning

Enhanced Online Learning


2017-02-07Description updated.
2016-03-09New spring opportunity added.