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  • M.S., Psychology, Penn State University, 1979
  • Ph.D., English, Penn State University, 1978
  • M.A., English, Saint Bonaventure University, 1976
  • B.A., English, Caldwell College, 1970

Research Projects 


  • Knowledge in the Making: Academic Freedom and Free Speech in America's Schools and Universities
    DelFattore, Joan
    New Haven: Yale University Press, 2010.

    ​How free are students and teachers to express unpopular ideas in public schools and universities? Not free enough, Joan DelFattore suggests. The book explores a wide range of topics that have fractured school and university communities: homosexuality-themed children's books, research on race-based intelligence, the teaching of evolution, the regulation of hate speech, and more. In particular, the book explains why the speech of public university professors and K-12 teachers enjoys less protection than does the speech of their students.

  • The Fourth R: Conflicts Over Religion in America's Public Schools
    DelFattore, Joan
    New Haven: Yale University Press, 2004.

    ​Contrary to popular belief, God has certainly not been kicked out of the public schools. What is banned is state-sponsored prayer, not the religious speech of the students themselves. But as news stories, political speeches, and lawsuits amply demonstrate, this approach has by no means resolved the long-standing debate over religion in public education. While some people challenge the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance, with its reference to "one nation under God," others view school shootings and the terrorism of 9/11 as evidence that organized prayer must once again become part of the official school day. In this book, Joan DelFattore traces the evolution of school-prayer battles from the early 1800s, when children were beaten or expelled for refusing to read the King James Bible, to current disputes over prayer at public-school football games. Underlying these events, she shows, is a struggle to balance two of the most fundamental tenets of Americanism: majority rule and individual rights. Her highly readable book explores the enduring tension between people of good will who wish the schools to promote majoritarian beliefs, and equally well-meaning (and often religious) people who deplore any governmental influence in religious matters.

  • What Johnny Shouldn't Read: Textbook Censorship in America
    DelFattore, Joan
    New Haven: Yale University Press, 1992.

    ​This book offers a behind-the-scenes view of the ways in which advocacy groups influence the content of textbooks used in public and private schools throughout the country. Some of these challenges come from ultraconservative activists who oppose evolution, racial and ethnic equality, nontraditional gender roles, pacifism, and a host of other issues that contradict their religious, political, or social views. Other protests originate with ultraliberal activists whose goal is to eliminate all negative or traditional descriptions of racial, ethnic, religious, or gender groups. The book focuses on recent federal lawsuits involving attempts to censor or ban biology, geology, history, home economics, literature, psychology, reading, and social studies textbooks. It also explains how advocacy groups in Texas and California pressure their state Boards of Education to demand that sections of textbooks be eliminated or rewritten as a condition of selling the books in those states. Because California and Texas are such important markets, publishers almost always make the required changes in the books, which are then sold nationwide. As a result, the content of American textbooks is heavily influenced by political and economic forces as well as by educational considerations.

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