Urban school reform in the United States is characterized by contentious, politicized debate. This course explores a set of critical issues in the education and educational reform space, with a focus on aspects of the field that have sparked controversy and polarized views. We will dig into these debates, situating them within the larger history of public education and school reform, and considering the viewpoints, the evidence, and translation of issues into educational policy. The class is designed with multiple student perspectives in mind with appropriate content and access points for policymakers, school leaders, teachers and parents or other concerned citizens. No background knowledge is required. We will consider three themes in this course: Federal Strategies in School Reform: How has the federal government legislated and incented public school reform? What are the implications of those approaches given the nature of local control in American public education? We will discuss three particular strategies the federal government has enacted recently and the diverging perspectives on them. School Choice: How does school choice aim to improve schools? What forms does it take? Does providing school choice improve schools? Accountability: What is the history of accountability in American public schooling? What are the policies and practices associated with accountability and what are the assumptions behind them? Does accountability lead to improved outcomes for students? This course will enable participants to: develop an informed historical perspective about public schooling in the United States; better understand how the unique contextual elements of the American approach to public schooling has led to divergent views on how best to organize and improve schools; analyze the divergent viewpoints about American public school history and school reform policy, the evidence around them, and their influence on policy and practice in the field of education.