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Discourses in Education Policy – My Independent Research

This past semester of school was the final semester of school as an undergraduate student. The past two years have been devoted to completing my Bachelor’s degree in Sociology. To complete the degree, students are required to complete a senior project. The driving idea behind all of my schooling for the past six years has of course been an interest in education, education policy, and education research.

During my time at the University of Minnesota, I discovered a fascination with the study of discourse in society, which is a field within sociology. By combining these two interests, I decided utilize the resources around me and do an Independent Senior Research Project, instead of taking the Senior Project class. This allowed me more flexibility in the kind of project I did. The main question my paper asked was: What impact is the free-market ideal having on the relationship public school districts have with charter schools and how do those in charge of making policy decisions frame opportunities for collaboration?

The result was a a 20-page paper that detailed some recent trends in education policy in Minnesota, laid out my process for collecting data, and explained my findings based on 6 interviews I conducted with school board members from Minneapolis, St. Paul, and Richfield. Overall I found two frames, a pro-competition frame and pro-collaboration frame. Within the individual contexts of competition-based policy approaches versus collaboration-based, I found other important frames that seem to help facilitate a favoring for one approach to the other.

Here’s a short quote from the paper:

Within the pro-collaboration frame, I found a focus on how to best teach to the individual student, a focus on class as a factor that disadvantages students, and an emphasis on equal opportunity for every student. Within the pro-competition frame I found a focus on how to provide the best learning environment and a focus on race as a factor that disadvantages students, then emphasizing the importance of diversity. Alternately, while Minneapolis school board members were more wary of charter schools, they were also more open to working with them, while St. Paul school board members were generally approving of charter schools existing as competitors to public schools but were hesitant about working collaboratively with them.

This was a massive project, I’ve never done anything like it before. What’s even more exciting, though, is that I got an A on my paper!

I’ve gone through and made a few edits to it, and I have made it available to download as a protected PDF file if you are interested in reading it.

Download the PDF

If you do download it, let me know what you think in the comments section.

Posted in Blogging, News, Sociology by Preston on June 22nd, 2014

Transnational Activism and Invisible Children Inc.

This semester, as part of a class titled Transnational Activism, I wrote a 20-page paper that detailed the shifts in strategy, tactics, and goals of Invisible Children Inc. in order to determine my prognosis for future outcomes for the organization. I have to admit I started out being really skeptical and pessimistic about the organization, and I ended rather optimistically, which is not at all like me. Overall I don’t think Invisible Children Inc. will have a negative impact on society, but there’s a lot of things the organization could be doing better and this paper illustrates all of them. This was a massive project, I’ve never done anything like it before. What’s even more exciting, though, is that I got an A on my paper!

I’ve gone through and made a few edits to it, and I have made it available to download as a protected PDF file if you are interested in reading it.

Download the PDF
If you do download it, let me know what you think in the comments section.
Posted in Blogging, News, Sociology by Preston on January 1st, 2013

More about the book.

So, in the interest of keeping track of my progress, and encouraging myself to continue working on this project. Here is an update on “the soundlessw book” as it’s being called right now. I’ve started to track a lot more info about my progress, word counts and such. And I want to have a decent balance between male and female protagonists as well. Clearly, I’ve gotten some work done, but I’ve also added more work to my plate. I don’t have any timeline right now, but I’m working on another poem about the size of The Navy Blue Forest (about 5 pages), so that counts as something. The Navy Blue Forest is sort of about my descension into being really closed off from the rest of the world, and hiding who I really am from the rest of the world. So I want to write a poem that describes my ascension out of that dark place. So that’ll be fun.

I’m still not sure if I’m going to be having each of these stories as separate, individual stories, or if it will be one whole idea. I’m not sure, though I’m beginning to feel more and more okay if it ends up as the latter. I think for a while I was half-avoiding that possible future, but in the end I don’t think it would ruin the book.

I wont be releasing The Navy Blue Forest to be read until I publish my book. However, you can see me perform it at the Acadia next month for Anthology of Interest, November 16th, 9:00 pm, I’ll be there.

Update of book 20111022

 

Posted in Blogging, News by Preston on October 22nd, 2011

A book is on its way.

I don’t think I’d be writing this particular blog post if I really, truly, didn’t feel like what I’m about to declare is actually going to happen. By August, I am going to have a completed manuscript, a book that I can publish. There’s no title as of yet, so I’m calling it the soundlessw book for now.

The book will be a collection of poems and short stories, all of them will be either written or revised specifically for the book so that they, together, form a collective meaning; an overarching idea. The book is about how some people, at least, the characters in the stories, deal with sudden changes, death, and hidden feelings and emotions.

I have a lot of work to do, and a lot of studying. This summer, I plan on studying trap-shooting, amusement parks, plane-crashes, and fashion, among many other random topics. Consider that a preview. I also plan on writing other pieces that wont be in the book and which I’ll post up here for all to see.

I will also begin my long and hard fight against the inadequacy monster. It will be a battle to death, believe me. I’ve already seen it lurking behind the stone pillars that surround the battle ground.

I look forward to keeping my updates here for all to see. TTFN.

Posted in Blogging, News by Preston on May 30th, 2011