Week Two (10 Points)

This week I would like you to continue reading the chapters in the textbook up through chapter 5. The suggested readings include very important articles which relate to the material covered in week 1. Specifically, our inquiry into the question of behavioral standards is now extended into mental illness, college admissions, high school graduation regents exams, and "multiculturalism" in school curricula.

Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Defining Deviancy Down American Scholar (Winter 1993).

"Trial Begins in Suit Challenging New York State's Formula for School Funds," Campaign for Fiscal Equity, Inc.

John Fonte, "The Inclusion Illusion," American Outlook (1999).

Stephen Balch, "Coming Soon: Open Admissions to the Ivies," New York Post (May 23, 1999)

"The Regents' Fraudulent New `Standards,'" New York Post (June 30, 2000)

"How to Make New York Dumber," New York Post (June 5, 2000)

"Common Sense on Campus," New York Post (June 30, 2000)

"Admitting Error," The New Republic (December 27, 1999)

You can view the articles by clicking on their titles. Remember, some of the article links for this course are scanned images and are not easy to read. In some cases it may be easier to print out those articles that are difficult to read in hard copy form.

Moynihan's article captured quite a lot of attention when it first came out and has become a staple of public policy debates. Essentially, Moynihan discusses how public policy in three major areas of concern to state and local officials has evolved in light of changing definitions of deviancy in the populations effected by these policies. Moreover, Moynihan describes the motivations and forces behind the redefinition of deviancy. This is an important article for us to read because: 1) it exposes us to how public policy decisions are made and evolve over time; 2) it demonstrates that there are a variety of motivating factors that shape public policy at the state and local level, not all of them dishonorable; 3) it ties in nicely with the readings from Ehrenhalt and Siegel last week. Basically, like Ehrenhalt and Siegel, Moynihan illustrates how difficult it is in a democracy to uphold consistent standards for the sake of public policy.


In your two page e-mail reaction to these articles:

1. Tell me what areas of public policy Moynihan has chosen to focus on and what are the "three categories of redefinition" that go along with all three?

2. In your opinion, of the three public policy areas where a redefinition of deviancy occurred, which was the most harmful to the public and to the constituents the policy was supposed to help? Why?

3. Explain Moynihan's point about the debates surrounding the issues of academic achievement and crime. How does Moynihan's argument about academic achievement affect the way you see the Campaign for Fiscal Equity's attempt to get the school funding formula in New York State changed?

4. Taking the articles by Moynihan, Stephen Balch, John Fonte, the New York Post, and The New Republic together, what might be considered the primary reason why "standards" in civic life have been, and continue to be, "attacked?"

5. According to John Fonte, what is wrong with "multiculturalism" as it is expressed in debates about education?

6. According to John Fonte, probably the one thing that can not be said about "multiculturalism" is?

a. It is part of a larger attack on standards.

b. It is an honest expression of wondrous human variety.

c. It is a protest against the dominance of western civilization.

d. It is often racist, in that it confuses differences of color with differences in the way people think.

7. Which of the following might be considered the primary reason why "standards" in civic life have been, and continue to be, "attacked?"

a. Disgust with the Viet Nam War.

b. Strong lobbying from church groups.

c. The widespread belief that inequality in any sphere - even the kind that results from individual effort and achievement - is inherently discriminatory and therefore intolerable.

d. Watergate.

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