Effective: Early Spring 8-Week 2018/2019

EDUC 544: Current Issues & Phil. Precedn

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  Course Description

The study of current issues in education and education reform, such as: educational practice; specialization and professionalization; governance; finance; legal precedents; cultural, social and ethnic influences; and equal opportunity demands. Issues are explored from the philosophical precedents formed in idealism, realism, perennialism, essentialism, pragmatism, progressivism, social constructivism, humanism, existentialism, philosophical analysis and emerging reform philosophies.

Prerequisite: Graduate standing; full MAT or M.Ed. status.

Proctored Exams: None



  • Koonce, G.. (2017). Taking Sides: Clashing Views on Educational Issues (19th). Dubuque, IA: McGraw-Hill.  
    • [ISBN- 978-1-259-88322-4 ]

MBS Information

Textbooks for the course may be ordered from MBS Direct. You can order

For additional information about the bookstore, visit http://www.mbsbooks.com.

  Course Overview

This course is designed so that upon completion, you, the master level educator, will understand the current issues in education and the philosophical underpinnings of the current thinking. To that end, you will engage in debate with your colleagues in this class, produce two position papers on current issues in education, and develop one research paper on key philosophies influencing education today.

  Technology Requirements

Participation in this course will require the basic technology for all online classes at Columbia College:
  • A computer with reliable Internet access
  • A web browser
  • Acrobat Reader
  • Microsoft Office or another word processor such as Open Office

You can find more details about standard technical requirements for our courses on our site.

  Course Learning Outcomes

  1. Respects the cultural and family differences students bring to the classroom.
  2. Demonstrates concern for the development of students’ character and civic responsibility.
  3. Demonstrates a deep understanding of the history, structure and real-world applications of the subject matter.
  4. Demonstrates familiarity with learning theories and instructional strategies, and stays abreast of current issues in American education.


Grading Scale

Grade Points Percent
A 468-520 90-100%
B 416-467 80-89%
C 364-415 70-79%
F 0-363 0-69%

Grade Weights

Assignment Category Points Percent
Research Paper (1) 100 19%
Position Paper (2) 200 38%
Online Debate (2) 80 15%
Discussions (7) 140 27%
Total 520 100%

  Schedule of Due Dates

Week 1

Assignment Points Due
Introduction Discussion 0 Wednesday/Sunday
Discussion 1 20
Discussion 2 20

Week 2

Assignment Points Due
Discussion 3 20 Wednesday/Sunday

Week 3

Assignment Points Due
Discussion 4 (Debate) 40 Wednesday/Sunday
Research Paper 100 Sunday

Week 4

Assignment Points Due
Discussion 5 20 Wednesday/Sunday

Week 5

Assignment Points Due
Discussion 6 20 Wednesday/Sunday
Position Paper 1 100 Sunday

Week 6

Assignment Points Due
Discussion 7 20 Wednesday/Sunday

Week 7

Assignment Points Due
Discussion 8 (Debate) 40 Wednesday/Sunday
Position Paper 2 100 Sunday

Week 8

Assignment Points Due
Discussion 9 20 Wednesday/Saturday
Total Points: 520

  Assignment Overview


There are two types of Discussions in this course: General Discussions and Debates. All initial posts are due on Wednesday, 11.59 p.m. CT and peer responses are due on Sunday by 11.59 p.m. CT, except for Week 8, where peer responses are due Saturday, 11.59 p.m. CT. No late discussion posts are allowed.

General Discussions (Introduction Discussion and Discussions 1-3, 5-7, and 9): Apart from the Introduction Discussion, which is ungraded, each of the general discussions is worth 20 points. You are expected to thoroughly answer the discussion questions posted in a particular week. You must respond to two peer posts for each discussion topic. You are expected to cite the readings in your posts.

Debates (Discussions 4 & 8): You must participate in two asynchronous debates on current educational issues, specialized types of online discussions. Since the online debate is about double the work of an online discussion, each will count for 40 points, double the points for online discussions. In the debate, you are expected to contribute at least 1 position and 4 responses.

Be sure to follow the online discussion and debate rubrics for these assignments; the rubrics can be found in the content area of the course.

Research Paper

You will write a research paper including at least 10 sources documenting the metaphysical, epistemological, and axiological aspects of the key philosophies influencing education today: idealism, realism, perennialism, essentialism, pragmatism, progressivism, social reconstruction, humanism, existentialism, as well as other emerging philosophies.

The paper should bring together your research and your personal experience. You must provide examples of applications. You should write the paper in APA style. You should submit the research paper to the appropriate Dropbox folder by Sunday, 11.59 p.m. CT of Week 3. The Research Paper is allotted 100 points.

Position Paper

You will write 2 position papers, each detailing a current issue described in the text Taking Sides: Clashing Views on Educational Issues. The topic you choose should be different from the topics in the course discussions.

The papers should have an introduction, counter arguments, your thesis, examples, conclusion, and a minimum of 10 reference sources. You should write the papers in APA style. Be sure to follow the rubrics for these assignments; the rubrics can be found in the content area of the course. Position Paper 1 is due by 11:59 p.m. CT, Sunday of Week 5. Position Paper 2 is due by 11:59 p.m. CT, Sunday of Week 7. Each Position Paper is worth 100 points.

  Course Outline

Click on each week to view details about the activities scheduled for that week.

Koonce: Unit 1, Issues 1.1 – 1.2.
Introduction Discussion

Introduce yourself and be sure to include your current job position and any personal information that you are willing to share to help us know you better. Skim the text Taking Sides: Clashing Views on Educational Issues and tell us which of the 23 issues is the one that most resonates with you and why.

Discussion 1

Issue 1.1: Respond to this quote: “It is very useful for some people that our form of schooling tells children what to think about, how to think about it, and when to think about it” (John Taylor Gatto). How does this quote relate to Issue 1.1?

Discussion 2

Issue 1.2: Think about the meaning of the term “public school”, determine what types of schools qualify as public schools, and share your researched definition of the term. Apply that definition to the present reality of public schooling and discuss how definitions have changed over time, including how technology has brought new meaning to the definition of public schools.


Koonce: Unit 2, Issue 2.2

Discussion 3

Issue 2.2: Schools have taken responsibility to help create future citizens of this country who are knowledgeable about our democracy, contributing members of their communities, and exhibit ethical and moral characters. How far does this responsibility go? After reading Issue 2.2, determine how you feel about the school’s ultimate responsibility. Talk to a couple of parents of students to gain their perspective on the school’s responsibility. In your post, clearly state where that responsibility begins and ends.


Koonce: Unit 2, Issues 2.1 – 2.4

Discussion 4 (Debate)

Issue 2.4: This discussion is our first debate. Thoroughly read Issue 2.4: “Can the Common Core State Standards Be Successful?“ Choose and state (in the discussion area) which position you’re arguing: affirmative or negative. (Make sure there are about an equal number of each!) Then, follow both the discussion and debate rubrics to post your position statements.

To get you pumped about our first debate, watch the clip from Denzel Washington’s movie, The Great Debaters, provided in the Content area of the course.

Research Paper

Each practitioner will submit a research paper containing at least ten sources documenting the metaphysical, epistemological, and axiological aspects of the key philosophies influencing education today: idealism, realism, perennialism, essentialism, pragmatism, progressivism, social reconstruction, humanism, and existentialism, as well as other emerging philosophies.


Koonce, Unit 3, Issue 3.9

Discussion 5

Issue 3.9: Because of budget issues, your school board is seriously considering increasing class sizes from 16 to 25. After reading Issue: 3.9, determine your stance on the issue and argue in support of increasing the class size or keeping it the same. Make sure your argument presents some valid research on the topic.


Koonce, Unit 3, Issues 3.1 and 3.2

Discussion 6

Issue 3.1: Before entering into a discussion with your fellow students about guns in schools, determine your deeply-held beliefs about the 2nd amendment to the Constitution and whether gun ownership should or should not be limited in any way (background checks, for example). Then discuss with others about the issue.

Position Paper 1

Each practitioner will submit a position paper, detailing a current issue described in the text Taking Sides: Clashing Views on Educational Issues.


Koonce, Unit 3, Issues 3.3

Discussion 7

Issue 3.3: Determine how teachers are licensed in your state. Are there shortcuts to licensure such as ABCTE? Do some research to determine if well prepared teachers are more successful in their first years and if they are retained longer. Post this information as well as your thoughts on the readings.

Course Evaluation
Please evaluate the course. You will have an opportunity to evaluate the course near the end of the session. A link sent to your CougarMail will allow you to access the evaluation. Please note that these evaluations are provided so that I can improve the course, find out what students perceive to be its strengths and weaknesses, and in general assess the success of the course. Please do take the time to fill this out.

Koonce, Unit 3, Issue 3.4

Discussion 8 (Debate)

Issue 3.4: This discussion is the second debate. Thoroughly read Issue 3.4: “Can zero tolerance violate students’ rights?” Choose and state (in the discussion area) which position you’re arguing: affirmative or negative. (Make sure there are about an equal number of each.) Then, follow both the discussion and debate rubrics to post your position statements.

Position Paper 2

Each practitioner will submit a position paper, detailing a current issue described in the text: Taking Sides: Clashing Views on Educational Issues.


Koonce, Unit 3, Issue 3.6

Discussion 9

Issue 3.6: I have often thought that many teachers “hop on the technology bandwagon” without fully understanding the issue. (For example, many teachers use smart boards as a fancy overhead projector.) What are the core points about computer use? Describe how technology is used at your school and determine if your district is poised to become a virtual school. Base your decision on both sides of issue 3.6.

  Course Policies

Student Conduct

All Columbia College students, whether enrolled in a land-based or online course, are responsible for behaving in a manner consistent with Columbia College's Student Conduct Code and Acceptable Use Policy. Students violating these policies will be referred to the office of Student Affairs and/or the office of Academic Affairs for possible disciplinary action. The Student Code of Conduct and the Computer Use Policy for students can be found in the Columbia College Student Handbook. The Handbook is available online; you can also obtain a copy by calling the Student Affairs office (Campus Life) at 573-875-7400. The teacher maintains the right to manage a positive learning environment, and all students must adhere to the conventions of online etiquette.


Your grade will be based in large part on the originality of your ideas and your written presentation of these ideas. Presenting the words, ideas, or expression of another in any form as your own is plagiarism. Students who fail to properly give credit for information contained in their written work (papers, journals, exams, etc.) are violating the intellectual property rights of the original author. For proper citation of the original authors, you should reference the appropriate publication manual for your degree program or course (APA, MLA, etc.). Violations are taken seriously in higher education and may result in a failing grade on the assignment, a grade of "F" for the course, or dismissal from the College.

Collaboration conducted between students without prior permission from the instructor is considered plagiarism and will be treated as such. Spouses and roommates taking the same course should be particularly careful.

All required papers may be submitted for textual similarity review to Turnitin.com for the detection of plagiarism. All submitted papers may be included in the Turnitin.com reference database for the purpose of detecting plagiarism. This service is subject to the Terms and Conditions of Use posted on the Turnitin.com site.


There will be no discrimination on the basis of sex, race, color, national origin, sexual orientation, religion, ideology, political affiliation, veteran status, age, physical handicap, or marital status.

Student Accessibility Resources

Students with documented disabilities who may need academic services for this course are required to register with the office of Student Accessibility Resources. Until the student has been cleared through this office, accommodations do not have to be granted. If you are a student who has a documented disability, it is important for you to read the entire syllabus as soon as possible. The structure or the content of the course may make an accommodation not feasible. Student Accessibility Resources is located in Student Affairs in AHSC 215 and can be reached by phone at (573) 875-7626 or email at sar@ccis.edu.

Online Participation

You are expected to read the assigned texts and participate in the discussions and other course activities each week. Assignments should be posted by the due dates stated on the grading schedule in your syllabus. If an emergency arises that prevents you from participating in class, please let your instructor know as soon as possible.

Attendance Policy

Attendance for a week will be counted as having submitted any assigned activity for which points are earned. Attendance for the week is based upon the date work is submitted. A class week is defined as the period of time between Monday and Sunday (except for week 8, when the work and the course will end on Saturday at midnight.) The course and system deadlines are based on the Central Time Zone.

Cougar Email

All students are provided a CougarMail account when they enroll in classes at Columbia College. You are responsible for monitoring email from that account for important messages from the College and from your instructor. You may forward your Cougar email account to another account; however, the College cannot be held responsible for breaches in security or service interruptions with other email providers.

Students should use email for private messages to the instructor and other students. The class discussions are for public messages so the class members can each see what others have to say about any given topic and respond.

Late Assignment Policy

An online class requires regular participation and a commitment to your instructor and your classmates to regularly engage in the reading, discussion and writing assignments. Although most of the online communication for this course is asynchronous, you must be able to commit to the schedule of work for the class for the next eight weeks. You must keep up with the schedule of reading and writing to successfully complete the class.

No late discussion posts will be accepted.

Late Dropbox assignments will be accepted up to 1 week past the due date, but a 20% penalty will be imposed. After 1 week, no late assignments will be accepted.

Course Evaluation

You will have an opportunity to evaluate the course near the end of the session. A link will be sent to your CougarMail that will allow you to access the evaluation. Be assured that the evaluations are anonymous and that your instructor will not be able to see them until after final grades are submitted.

  Additional Resources

Orientation for New Students

This course is offered online, using course management software provided by Desire2Learn and Columbia College. The course user guide provides details about taking an online course at Columbia College. You may also want to visit the course demonstration to view a sample course before this one opens.

Technical Support

If you have problems accessing the course or posting your assignments, contact your instructor, the Columbia College Helpdesk, or the D2L Helpdesk for assistance. Contact information is also available within the online course environment.

Online Tutoring

Smarthinking is a free online tutoring service available to all Columbia College students. Smarthinking provides real-time online tutoring and homework help for Math, English, and Writing. Smarthinking also provides access to live tutorials in writing and math, as well as a full range of study resources, including writing manuals, sample problems, and study skills manuals. You can access the service from wherever you have a connection to the Internet. I encourage you to take advantage of this free service provided by the college.

Access Smarthinking through CougarTrack under Students -> Academics -> Academic Resources.