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Urban Education in America: Myths and Realities

Program dates: June 16-20, 2019

Program cost: $680

Course description

Over the past twenty years, some of the most exciting and innovative changes in America’s public education system have taken place in our urban schools. 

In this 4-day course, students will explore both the realities and misconceptions associated with urban public schools. We’ll examine portrayals or urban students and teachers in popular culture, interact directly with Augustana graduates who teach in a highly successful college prep high school in Chicago, and learn more about issues impacting our schools. Best of all, you’ll have a chance to do some informal teaching with small groups of 1st – 5th grade students at the Mississippi Valley Boys and Girls Club. 

Whether you’re interested in teaching as a career, or simply curious as an American citizen about our rapidly changing urban school systems, this course will provide you with a fun and profoundly meaningful experience.

Tentative schedule

Sunday, June 16

  • 4 p.m. 
    • Check in, dinner, evening activities

Monday, June 17

  • 9 a.m.
    • Introductory activities
  • 9:30 a.m.-noon
    • Viewing and discussing the film “Freedom Writers.” We’ll focus primarily on portrayals of teachers and students in the film. 
  • Noon-1 p.m.
    • Lunch 
  • 1-4 p.m.
    • The realities of urban education: a skype conversation with faculty and staff from Epic Academy in Chicago. We’ll discuss urban culture, factors impacting the lives of young people in urban settings, and the special roles of teachers and administrators in inner city schools.

Tuesday, June 18

  • 9 a.m.-noon
    • Teaching activities at the Mississippi Valley Boys and Girls Club. You’ll work with a teaching partner in conducting reading and hands-on science activities. Our time at the Club will conclude with a reflection on the experience, with input from the professional staff and the facility. 
  • Noon-1 p.m.
    • Lunch
  • 1-4 p.m.
    • The profound impacts of poverty on urban youth. We’ll view and discuss portions of the Frontline documentary “Poor Kids,” and consider advice from educators. 

Wednesday, June 19

  • 9 a.m.-noon
    • Teaching activities at the Mississippi Valley Boys and Girls Club, with a post-activity discussion
  • Noon-1 p.m.
    • Lunch
  • 1-4 p.m.
    • Policies impacting the success of urban schools. Among the issues we’ll consider: funding equity, security, and school reform efforts aimed at providing opportunity to disadvantaged youth in America

Thursday, June 20

  • 9 a.m.-noon
    • Final teaching activities at the Boys and Girls Club. We’ll celebrate the experience with the students and reflect on what we learned from our time at the Club. 
  • Noon-1 p.m.
    • Lunch
  • 1-4 p.m.
    • Our final reflection on the course will include a second skype conversation with teachers from Epic Academy

Instructor: Dr. Mike Schroeder

Dr. Mike Schroeder is a Professor of Education at Augustana. Mike earned his BS, MS, and PhD at the University of Illinois. Born and raised in Chicago, he taught science and coached football and baseball in the suburbs prior to beginning his career in higher education. Mike lives across the Mississippi River in Davenport with his wife and three children. 

Urban education is one of Mike’s primary professional interests, driven by his experiences as a high school teacher and coach and through his experiences at Augustana. Working with colleagues in the Education Department, Mike has formed a terrific partnership with the faculty and staff at Epic Academy, a charter, college prep high school which opened in 2010 on the south side of Chicago. Epic is dedicated to providing young people on the south side with the skills needed to succeed at the college level, and students enrolled in Augustana’s education program have multiple opportunities to travel to Epic to experience firsthand the rewards and challenges associated with teaching in the inner city.