Ides of March 1997


From the Chair

John Meyer

Section business seems to be going along normally. The 1997 Program is being work out (principally by Francisco Ramirez, in conjunction with Edgar Epps representing the main ASA interest in the sociology of education). Awards committees are now in operation, as are others.

I'm writing from Berlin, where I am teaching and reflecting on the German educational scene (I guess one calls this research). Education is somewhat homogenized around the world, so many issues here parallel those in the US. But there are differences, which are suggestive:

  1. Most striking is something that is NOT here. The collapse of the Wall seven years ago, and the incorporation of East Germany into the West (which is what happened) created an 'educational crisis.' It was a happy time for reformers (often sociologically inclined). It was understood that the Eastern teachers, students, parents, curriculum and organizational structure all needed great repairs to fit into the modern Western system. Teachers would need resocialization to fit into the free world: credential correction programs were put in place. Students would be anomic in response to the new freedoms and the expanded educational possibilities: many new programs were put in place to do this. The curriculum would have to be completely restructured for a free as opposed to authoritarian education: history and literature have to be rewritten, but also science and other subjects for the free society. An administrative structure for an open system would have to be built, and the older tainted administrators eliminated. It was a true crisis, and it might take a good part of a generation to transcend it.

    Nothing much happened in reality, no crisis appeared in fact, and the issues and reforms are pretty much dead and not discussed--reform, and to some extent the sociology of education, are in depression. It turns out that the Eastern students were pretty well prepared, and adapted very , very rapidly to the new opportunities and expansion (e.g., of university attendance possibilities). The teachers adapted very smoothly: some of the more intensely Communist ones most rapidly, since they were often the most youth-and participation-oriented in the first place. Curricular change disappeared as a problem: only a little needed to happen.

    Administrative change toward, e.g., more participatory processes involving teacher decision making, moved smoothly. The biggest problem, amusingly, is mechanical--whether to shift the 12-year Eastern schooling period to the 13-year Western one or not (no one can find much difference in how much the students learn). It's hard to find a problem. Occasional press articles make out a crisis of the expected presently out of occasional youth street violence or extreme youth cultural styles, but it's quite a stretch.

    There must be some sort of lesson here.

  2. Economic problems are substantial, produced by a general slowdown and the enormous costs of incorporating a collapsed East German economy. Unemployment has now apparently reached the same level as in the Weimar Republic (a comparison here seen as chilling). Crisis is perceived, and changes are proposed. Interestingly, the needed reforms seen here only modestly touch on education, which in the US is often seen as the core source and solution to the problem: as in the 1980s, when reforms in science and mathematics education might repair our problem of economic competitiveness. There is a pale reflection of this American movement, with a bit of concern with weak German scores on the international math and science tests. But it isn't strong. Perhaps the difference reflects the inclination, natural to American individualism, to see every social problem as calling for educational reform (and effectively, expansion): Germans are a bit more likely to propose structural changes than the socialized reform of individuals. I incline to this view, but have no explanation for why the great American economic crisis of the Depression produced so limited and modest a set of educational reform waves: the whole period is just a blip in our educational history, it seems.
  3. Europeans are now very much aware of ongoing europeanization, and Germans are highly conscious of especially economic 'globalization.' (The term, typically, here carries more the meaning of threat than the kind of upbeat optimism it suggests in the US.) This leads to a continued drift toward internationalization and globalization in education, as a matter of practice and ideology. It does not seem to lead to enhanced awareness of educational structures and changes in nearby countries. The educational discussion is mainly national, and it is probably true that the discussion refers less to American education than it did in the high period of American hegemony. The internationalization and standardization that goes on (and I think fairly rapidly) is carried more by the professional cultures of the educational professionals than by studied comparison and policy. The American system is now less dominant, but at every educational level, the same themes (student participation and choice, parent involvement, equal treatment and delayed tracking, content focused on student interests and 'developmental needs,' the importance of international tolerance and understanding) are now carried by scientized and professionalized educational models, not so much by direct international comparison and copying. As Francisco Ramirez suggested to me, the American system diffuses as 'true' rather than 'dominant.' In any event, in Germany, changes along these lines are widespread, and relatively undiscussed: taken-for-granted as necessary and inevitable (even if sometimes unattractive).

From the Editor

The shell of our Web Page is up and running. Please note our new address: Printed below is a copy of our Home Page. We need stuff! Current categories appear on the left side of the page. We're open to any suggestions you have. Carl Schmitt at NCES is kindly coordinating this effort and can be contacted at

David L. Levinson

Robert Dreeben: 1996 Willard Waller Award Recipient

Robert Dreeben of the University of Chicago was the 1996 recipient of the Willard Waller Award for distinguished scholarship granted by the Sociology of Education Section. Dreeben won the Waller award for his 1994 article "The Sociology of Education: Its Development in the United States," which was published in Research in Sociology of Education and Socialization. It was nominated by David L. Levinson.

The 1996 Willard Waller Award committee was chaired by Amy Stuart Wells. Committee members were Peter W. Cookson, Jr., A. Gary Dworkin, Jim Jones, John W. Myer, Jim M. McPartland, and Joan Spade. Several very good articles were nominated, but the committee thought the Dreeben piece embodied the spirit and intent of the Waller Award. Committee member Jones noted in his comments on the Dreeben article: "It is the one work that we have considered for the award that is truly about the sociology of education...I think it is an article that serious students in the field will want to be familiar with. Due to the nature of the article I think it is an article that serious students in the field will want to be familiar with due to the nature of the article I think it will be of continuing importance in the future."

Although Dreeben was unable to attend the ASA meetings in New York to accept the award in person, he provided a written statement of gratitude, which included the following: "I am an exceedingly grateful recipient of an award named after Willard Waller and granted by this Section of ASA; it is an honor I do not take lightly."

August 20, 1996

The Section Business Meeting was held August 20, 1996, 11:30 A.M. following the Section Roundtable Session. A Section Council Meeting was held August 19 with all officers attending to prepare for the Business Meeting. Over 80 people attended the Business Meeting. The meeting was conducted by Chair, Joyce Epstein. Minutes were prepared by David Baker, the newly elected Secretary-Treasurer.

By-Law Changes

  1. It was moved (Jim Jones) and seconded (David Kamens) that the following REVISIONS in the Section By-Laws be approved and submitted for a vote by the full Section, as recommended by the Section Council:
    1. The Committee on Annual Program shall include, but need to be limited to the Chair, the Chair-elect, and the organizer of the ASA regular session on Sociology of Education.
    2. Delete paragraph 6 that establishes a committee on publications.
    3. Change all references to appointments to state that the Chair, with consent of the Council, will appoint members to section Committees.
    4. Correct other conventions used in the By-Laws including specifications for amending the By-Laws and membership dues to be consistent with the ASA By-Laws.
    5. Based on the council's review of the By-Laws in response to suggestions made last year, it was recommended that no changes be made regarding the roles and responsibilities of Council Members or the elections of Section Chairs.
    6. Members will be notified that the original By-Laws will be edited to correct sexist language (e.g., Chairman to Chairperson) and typographical errors. These corrections involve no substantive changes to the By-Laws.

    The motion passed unanimously. The proposed changes will be presented to the full membership for a vote along with the Spring 1997 elections.

  2. It was moved (Adam Gamoran) and seconded (Al Kerckhoff) to approve a resolution from the Section opposing the abolishment of the Department of Education at the University of Chicago, and to send a letter from the Section Chair (Joyce Epstein), Chair-Elect (John Meyer), and recently-elected chair (Aaron Pallas) to the President of the University with copies to the Provost and Dean of Social Sciences.

    The motion was passed unanimously. A copy of the letter including the Section's resolution is attached. The President and Provost acknowledged receipt of the Section's letter. Unfortunately, the social science faculty at the University of Chicago voted to support the plan to close the Department.


The Chair acknowledged and thanked various committees and individuals who made important contributions to the work of the Section over the year, and asked for their reports. These were:

Barbara Schneider, ASA Program Chair for Regular Sessions in Sociology of Education. Barbara obtained several extra sessions because of the number of high quality papers that were submitted, resulting in a full and exciting program. She worked with Joyce Epstein and John Meyer to plan the Section's sessions and roundtables.

Chiqui Ramirez, Nominations Chair and his committee including George Farkas, Carolyn Riehl, Rolf Blank, and Alan Kerckhoff. The committee issued calls for nominations in the newsletter and followed ASA procedures in conducting the election for Chair, Secretary-Treasurer, and two Council members.

Amy Wells, Chair of the Willard Waller Award and her committee, including Peter Cookson, Gary Dworkin, Jim Jones, John Meyer, Jim McPartland, and Joan Spade.

Adam Gamoran, Chair of the Graduate Student Paper Award and his committee: Roz Mickelson, Faith Paul, Amanda Datnow, Rick Rubinson, Will Jordan.

David Levinson, Editor of the Section Newsletter.

Sally Kilgore, Outgoing Secretary-Treasurer and Chair of the Committee on Revising By-Laws.

Alan Sadovnik, Chair of Local Arrangements, for his arrangements of the Section Dinner.

Gary Natriello for organizing the Section's third policy-related conference to be conducted August 21 at Teachers College.

Gary Dworkin for Chairing the Membership Committee.

Aaron Pallas for his work on the State-of-the-Field-Project.


Special thanks were given to Joe Conaty for his efforts and service to the Section in increasing the visibility of Sociology of Education among education policy leaders at the Department of Education and OERI, and for his assistance with two policy conferences that the Section organized. He was awarded a copy of the book that was a product of the second policy conference, Implementing Educational Reform: Sociological Perspectives on Educational Policy, edited by Borman, Cookson, Sadovnik, and Spade, Ablex, 1996.


  1. Treasurer's Report. After expenses submitted on or before June 30, 1996. The Section's net assets were: $3385.81.
  2. Membership Committee. Since the initiation of its membership drive in 1989, Section membership has increased by over 70% to 530. Under the direction of Membership Chair Gary Dworkin. The committee will continue its work over the next year. A new brochure is being developed.
  3. Nominations Committee. The results of the 1996 Section Election were Aaron Pallas, Chair-Elect for 1998; David Baker, Secretary-Treasurer, 1996-1999; and William Valez (99) and Amy Wells (99) were elected to Council.

    Outgoing Council Members Aaron Pallas, Karl Alexander, and Secretary-Treasurer Sally Kilgore were thanked for their service to the Section. Continuing Council Members are Roslyn Mickelson (97), Elizabeth Cohen (97), Alan Sadovnik (98), and Kevin Dougherty (98) in addition to the newly elected members.

  4. Awards Committees. Two awards were made: The 1996 Willard Waller Award for an Article of Distinguished Scholarship was presented to Robert Dreeben, University of Chicago, for his Article: "The Sociology of Education: Its Development in the United States," published in: Research in Sociology of Education and Socialization, 1994.

    The 1996 Graduate Student Paper Award was presented to Vincent J. Roscigno, North Carolina State University for his paper: "Race, Place, and the Reproduction of Educational Disadvantage: The Black/White Gap and the Influence of Local Context."


  1. About 160 researchers participated in the formal program of the Sociology of Education section during the ASA meetings in paper presentations, roundtables, chairs, and discussants.
  2. About 100 members attended the Section Dinner, August 1997.
  3. Roz Mickelson agreed to chair the Local Arrangements Committee for 1997 to arrange the Section Dinner in Toronto.
  4. Kathy Borman will chair a Section Auction Committee.
  5. Next year's Willard Waller Award will be for the best book in the sociology of education over the past three years.
  6. Newsletter editor David Levinson is helping to set up the Section's home page on the ASA internet web site. The Newsletter will continue to publish three issues in fall, winter, and spring/summer of the year.
  7. Pam Walters, Editor of the journal, Sociology of Education, needs reviewers and welcomes suggestions for the journal.
  8. The State of the Field project, co-chairs Aaron Pallas and Joyce Epstein, will make a report next year on its findings. Susan Dauber also has started an inquiry for this project. Other committee members include Elizabeth Cohen, Gary Dworkin, George Farkas, Valerie Lee, William Murphy, Gary Natriello, Alan Sadovnik, Carl Schmitt, Joan Snider, Elizabeth Useem, and Bruce Wilson. They have agreed to continue to work with this committee over the next year.
  9. A committee, chaired by Dave Baker, was formed to meet with the National Center of Educational Statistics of the U.S. Department of Education to explore ways in which members of the Sociology of Education Section can assist the agency.
  10. The ASA would like comments on its new Code of Ethics by September 30, 1996.
  11. The ASA is likely to increase its share of section dues which will require the section to consider increasing dues to continue to obtain the same annual revenues.


  1. The meeting was turned over to John Meyer, 1997 Chair.
  2. Joyce Epstein was thanked for her work for the section over the past year.
  3. John Meyer requested that people contact him if they are interested in participating on Section committees including the Willard Waller and Graduate Student Paper Award Committees, Nominations, Program, Conference, or others.

Call for Papers/Chapters
Introduction to Sociology: Race, Gender and Class

In response to the need for an introductory level textbook incorporating the intersection of Race, Gender & Class, we are assembling a new text/reader emphasizing precisely these intersections. Intended as an introductory level text, the text will be a collaborative effort of sociologists working in diverse substantive and research areas. The text aims to examine each sociological area traditionally covered in introductory level textbooks through the lens of gender, and class intersections. Proposals should be up to 100 words, describing the area of examination. Abstract of chapters/papers should be between 2-3 pages (500-750 words) describing aims of chapter and various sub-sections of the chapter or area under examination.

The text/reader is intended to be used in Introduction to Sociology courses. As such, each chapter should be an overview of the area examined. Authors should aim for a literature review of area under examination through the lens of race, gender & class. Specific research projects are to be avoided because this by definition is limited in its focus. Each chapter/paper should be between 20-25 pages, one to two pages for Term Definitions, plus Bibliography and Suggested Readings. Deadline for abstracts - APRIL 30, 1997; DEADLINE for PAPERS; SEPTEMBER 30, 1997. For contributions or further information, please contact:

Jean Ait Amber Belkhir
Michael Harrington Center
Queens College - CUNY
65-30 Kissena Blvd.
Flushing, NY 11367
(718) 997-3070/3079
fax: (718) 997-5534


Anna Karpathakis
Dept. of Sociology
Nebr. Wesleyan Univ.
5000 St. Paul Ave.
Lincoln, NE 68512
(402) 465-2425
fax: (402) 465-2179

Sociology of Education Membership Drive

Please help us recruit additional members for our Section. Our annual meeting session allocation depends on the strength of our membership. It's easy to add a membership in the Sociology of Education Section: just ask a colleague to complete the form below and mail it directly to ASA. Do you know of any promising graduate students who would benefit from membership in the Section? Sign them up! It only costs $7.00 a year for graduate students ($10.00 a year for regular ASA members).

A. Gary Dworkin continues to serve as chair of the Section's membership committee. The Section appreciates his extraordinary efforts in this position. Please consider helping with this effort. Gary's email address is:

Sociology of Education Section Membership Form

        _____     Yes, I wish to join the Sociology of Education Section of
                  the American Sociological Association.  Enclosed is a
                  check for $10.00 ($7.00 for students) payable to ASA.

                  Please mail your check to the following address:

                  American Sociological Association
                  1722 N Street NW
                  Washington, DC  20036-2981

Sociology of Education Section Officers 1996-7

Past Chair


John Meyer (
Joyce Epstein (
Aaron Pallas (
David Baker (
Elizabeth Cohen '97 (
Rosin Mickelson '97 (
Kevin Dougherty '98 (
Alan Sadovnik '98 (
Amy Wells '99 (
William Velez '99 (
Newsletter: David Levinson (

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