Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2015

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Kenneth R. Howe

Second Advisor

Michele S. Moses

Third Advisor

Kevin Welner

Fourth Advisor

Alison M. Jaggar

Fifth Advisor

Roudy Hildreth


This dissertation consists of three related but stand-alone articles (chapters 2-4) that are framed by an introduction (chapter 1) and some concluding remarks. While the arguments presented in each article are intended to hold up on their own, they also develop common themes and reach conclusions that reinforce and augment one another. The introduction surveys the historical role of democratic ideals in the history of public schooling in the US, and of education policy in the development of American democratic ideals. The first article develops an argument for the importance of empirically-informed normative theorizing in education, and considers the contemporary role of philosophy of education in debates over school policy and practice. The second article analyzes the federal No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) and related policies in terms of their impact on democratic decision-making and democratic education. The third and final article offers a similar analysis of contemporary service-learning and civic engagement initiatives in the context of higher education.