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School: The Story of American Public Education

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Esteemed historians of education David Tyack, Carl Kaestle, Diane Ravitch, James Anderson, and Larry Cuban journey through history and across the nation to recapture the idealism of our education pioneers, Thomas Jefferson and Horace Mann. We learn how, in the first quarter of the twentieth century, massive immigration, child labor laws, and the explosive growth of cities Esteemed historians of education David Tyack, Carl Kaestle, Diane Ravitch, James Anderson, and Larry Cuban journey through history and across the nation to recapture the idealism of our education pioneers, Thomas Jefferson and Horace Mann. We learn how, in the first quarter of the twentieth century, massive immigration, child labor laws, and the explosive growth of cities fueled school attendance and transformed public education, and how in the 1950s public schools became a major battleground in the fight for equality for minorities and women. The debate rages on: Do today's reforms challenge our forebears' notion of a common school for all Americans? Or are they our only recourse today? This lavishly illustrated companion book to the acclaimed PBS documentary, School, is essential reading for anyone who cares about public education. "Narrative" by Sheila Curran Bernard and Sarah Mondale.


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Esteemed historians of education David Tyack, Carl Kaestle, Diane Ravitch, James Anderson, and Larry Cuban journey through history and across the nation to recapture the idealism of our education pioneers, Thomas Jefferson and Horace Mann. We learn how, in the first quarter of the twentieth century, massive immigration, child labor laws, and the explosive growth of cities Esteemed historians of education David Tyack, Carl Kaestle, Diane Ravitch, James Anderson, and Larry Cuban journey through history and across the nation to recapture the idealism of our education pioneers, Thomas Jefferson and Horace Mann. We learn how, in the first quarter of the twentieth century, massive immigration, child labor laws, and the explosive growth of cities fueled school attendance and transformed public education, and how in the 1950s public schools became a major battleground in the fight for equality for minorities and women. The debate rages on: Do today's reforms challenge our forebears' notion of a common school for all Americans? Or are they our only recourse today? This lavishly illustrated companion book to the acclaimed PBS documentary, School, is essential reading for anyone who cares about public education. "Narrative" by Sheila Curran Bernard and Sarah Mondale.

30 review for School: The Story of American Public Education

  1. 4 out of 5

    J. Boo

    Full of the mushy, high-minded progressive pablum that the "SEE IT ON PBS!" tagline implies. We live in a perfectible world where there are no trade-offs, everyone needs to be on the college track, etc. This passage was particularly infuriating, and is illustrative of some of the other issues with the book: "Other problems existed aside from the condition of the facilities [of schools in the 1800s, when Horace Mann took an interest in them]. Schoolchildren spent hours sitting on hard benches, whic Full of the mushy, high-minded progressive pablum that the "SEE IT ON PBS!" tagline implies. We live in a perfectible world where there are no trade-offs, everyone needs to be on the college track, etc. This passage was particularly infuriating, and is illustrative of some of the other issues with the book: "Other problems existed aside from the condition of the facilities [of schools in the 1800s, when Horace Mann took an interest in them]. Schoolchildren spent hours sitting on hard benches, which Mann feared would damage their spines. There were no blackboards and no standardized textbooks, so pupils spent hours memorizing or reciting passages from books they brought from home, no matter how outdated or irrelevant. One book on penmanship devoted an entire page to the proper writing of the letter O, at a 53 degree slant..." IT IS A BOOK ON PENMANSHIP! OF COURSE THERE'S A WHOLE PAGE ON WRITING A SINGLE LETTER! WHAT'S MORE, THE O IS FOUNDATIONAL - THERE ARE A LOT OF OTHER CIRCULAR ELEMENTS IN LETTERS- e.g. b, c, d, p, q, etc. - WHICH ARE GENERALLY TAUGHT AS DERIVATIONS OF THE CIRCULAR MOTION OF THE LETTER O! Now, in theory this might just be Mann being Mann, but the fact that the authors and editors happily passed this tidbit on as an example of "how we used to do dumb stuff" speaks poorly of them. Perhaps I'm just bitter at spending vast sums of money on handwriting-focused occupational therapy, though. I did like the pictures, which are the only things saving the book from one-star ignominy.

  2. 5 out of 5

    JuJu

    This is really readable overview of the history of public schooling in America. My only real problem with it was the lack of information about special education.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Mel

    The book would have been better with just the facts and not the author's political attacks. It's his book right? But if I had known, I probably wouldn't have read it. The history of the public school is interesting, but as soon as the state(s) made it mandatory and took the rights away from the parents it was never "right" in any form. The book offers a lot of what happened, what didn't work, no why and toward the end it talked about schools trying new alternatives to teaching, but again, the po The book would have been better with just the facts and not the author's political attacks. It's his book right? But if I had known, I probably wouldn't have read it. The history of the public school is interesting, but as soon as the state(s) made it mandatory and took the rights away from the parents it was never "right" in any form. The book offers a lot of what happened, what didn't work, no why and toward the end it talked about schools trying new alternatives to teaching, but again, the political opinion in the book is skewed and offering a $25k voucher for every kid isn't the answer. The public schools are already too concerned about the funding and not putting the students as the top priority. Isn't that what a school should be about? The students?

  4. 4 out of 5

    Ren

    This is a great book for people wondering why so many people complain about the system. It gives you an unbiased, concise history of public education in our country. If you are really intrigued by education, it also mentions how education was taught in the beginning (very worth learning about), the reforms (also worth learning what each meant) and the present state of the system. I highly recommend it. When you add standardized testing to its predecessor the IQ test, you can see how to a certain This is a great book for people wondering why so many people complain about the system. It gives you an unbiased, concise history of public education in our country. If you are really intrigued by education, it also mentions how education was taught in the beginning (very worth learning about), the reforms (also worth learning what each meant) and the present state of the system. I highly recommend it. When you add standardized testing to its predecessor the IQ test, you can see how to a certain degree we have a system that needs to be constantly reformed for the better.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Thomas DeLair

    This was a relatively quick read with many pictures, it almost felt like reading a high school year book. It gives a concise overview of American public education: the 19th century, the first half of the 20th century, 1950 - 1980 and 1980 - 2000. It encapsulates many of the ideas into a few thinkers and specific historical events. Much of the material felt familiar but was nice that it was presented in a whole fashion. The main point, I took from it, was how much the roles of public schools play This was a relatively quick read with many pictures, it almost felt like reading a high school year book. It gives a concise overview of American public education: the 19th century, the first half of the 20th century, 1950 - 1980 and 1980 - 2000. It encapsulates many of the ideas into a few thinkers and specific historical events. Much of the material felt familiar but was nice that it was presented in a whole fashion. The main point, I took from it, was how much the roles of public schools play as the stage of local democratic practices and as a place to instill civic values. It's a good book to start with if you're just learning about the history of education in America.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Steve

    I only read this because it was required for class. However, it is a fascinating read. Also, it is filled with pictures which of course, will make anything more interesting. My other textbook is a snoozer because of the lack of pictures, obviously. The worst thing about School is that it was published in 2002. I would love an update on the last 20 years and the developments on No Child Left Behind and the uptrend of school shootings. Still, School is a fun read about different periods of time reg I only read this because it was required for class. However, it is a fascinating read. Also, it is filled with pictures which of course, will make anything more interesting. My other textbook is a snoozer because of the lack of pictures, obviously. The worst thing about School is that it was published in 2002. I would love an update on the last 20 years and the developments on No Child Left Behind and the uptrend of school shootings. Still, School is a fun read about different periods of time regarding our education system and how it has changed. There are many topics it does not cover but instead, focuses on the major points (Brown v. Board for example).

  7. 5 out of 5

    Melanie

    An easy-to-read general summation of public schooling in the US that serves as an introduction to our educational history. I particularly appreciated the section introductions written by the educational historians Tyack, Kaestle, Anderson and Cuban.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Khristina

    Good overview.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Rod J Naquin

    My fav kind of book--a broad survey! Gets us to abt 2001--awesome to find Core Knowledge in here.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Kelsey

    Several researchers contributed to this history on public school in America. It simply scratches the surface on the facts so it's a great starter on the subject. I was fascinated by the various topics within public school's history. I even cried at some of the hardships and courage demonstrated by children in the face of bigotry and poverty. It's interesting to see the recurring battle between traditional curricula and those that want to implement various theories to what "ought" to be part of sc Several researchers contributed to this history on public school in America. It simply scratches the surface on the facts so it's a great starter on the subject. I was fascinated by the various topics within public school's history. I even cried at some of the hardships and courage demonstrated by children in the face of bigotry and poverty. It's interesting to see the recurring battle between traditional curricula and those that want to implement various theories to what "ought" to be part of school. Overall, it's a great read interspersed with black and white images of the past.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Noelle

    This is an extremely informative book on the history of public education. It has been my evening reader all this week. :) Being raised in a home school, I knew nothing about the history or formation of public education as we know it. The first two sections were especially helpful - and made interesting by historic photographs. So far, I've only encountered two paragraphs that drip with liberalism (and have nothing to do with history). If you consider the fact that PBS has partnered with the auth This is an extremely informative book on the history of public education. It has been my evening reader all this week. :) Being raised in a home school, I knew nothing about the history or formation of public education as we know it. The first two sections were especially helpful - and made interesting by historic photographs. So far, I've only encountered two paragraphs that drip with liberalism (and have nothing to do with history). If you consider the fact that PBS has partnered with the author, this is quite an accomplishment.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Karin

    I enjoyed this as an overview of the role of public ed in our society. It makes me feel even more confident in my homeschooling path as compulsory ed has been anything but constant since its inception.It's been one long experiment that keeps changing and morphing as new goals are desired. It really comes down to fundamental paradigms as to what you believe education is for, whether it's for vocationalizing, pure academics or learning for learning's sake. Your own goals will determine your childr I enjoyed this as an overview of the role of public ed in our society. It makes me feel even more confident in my homeschooling path as compulsory ed has been anything but constant since its inception.It's been one long experiment that keeps changing and morphing as new goals are desired. It really comes down to fundamental paradigms as to what you believe education is for, whether it's for vocationalizing, pure academics or learning for learning's sake. Your own goals will determine your children's course through compulsory ed.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Mandy

    This book provides a pretty good overview of the history of public education in America. Informative? Yes. Insightful? Not so much. It gives a lot of generalized information about the issues of the public school system and how it got to where it is, but it doesn't give any solutions. I don't know if that's because the authors were just looking to give a history lesson or what, yet the language implies that they had some insights about it. Maybe they're just trying to remain impartial? I don't kn This book provides a pretty good overview of the history of public education in America. Informative? Yes. Insightful? Not so much. It gives a lot of generalized information about the issues of the public school system and how it got to where it is, but it doesn't give any solutions. I don't know if that's because the authors were just looking to give a history lesson or what, yet the language implies that they had some insights about it. Maybe they're just trying to remain impartial? I don't know. I did learn some stuff, however, and that was rewarding.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Jeff Bush

    Great overview of the history of US public education and the issues that have affected its development. Interesting that many of today's current issues have been around throughout education's history and that many of the assumptions of our current corporate-obsessed culture were also popular in the late-19th century, when corporate excess was last at its peak. Great overview of the history of US public education and the issues that have affected its development. Interesting that many of today's current issues have been around throughout education's history and that many of the assumptions of our current corporate-obsessed culture were also popular in the late-19th century, when corporate excess was last at its peak.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Kay

    I really enjoyed this book as a future educator. It gave me insight on how the public school system use to be. Although I was frustrated with how people were treated throughout history I feel that we must understand the good, and the ugly of history to move forward to a better tomorrow with education as a key contributor to America' success. I really enjoyed this book as a future educator. It gave me insight on how the public school system use to be. Although I was frustrated with how people were treated throughout history I feel that we must understand the good, and the ugly of history to move forward to a better tomorrow with education as a key contributor to America' success.

  16. 5 out of 5

    John Wick

    An excellent overview of the american Public school system. From colonial era, The common school, to modern times. Based on the PBS series. This is a very informative easy read for anyone who wants to grasp how public education was formed and the many changes it has gone through.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Juliette

    This is a required text for a class in my teacher licensing program. It was interesting, as far as textbooks go. I am hoping to be able to watch the companion PBS series in class, which I'm sure will be good. This is a required text for a class in my teacher licensing program. It was interesting, as far as textbooks go. I am hoping to be able to watch the companion PBS series in class, which I'm sure will be good.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Eric

    Provides an overview of the history of American public education. The photos are the most interesting part of the book since the text only skims the surface of the issues discussed. It is intended as a companion to the PBS series and not as a scholarly text.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Ken Rideout

    Read it for class. It is based on an excellent PBS series of the same name. Just watch the show unless you need to reference the work in a paper. Very nice, broad, and quick overview from the very beginings to modern U.S. public schooling.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Sabine

    Optimistic about the current state & future of American education - full of compelling facts/case studies and provides an easy-to-follow evolution of schooling in America. A quick read, but draws too much from the same sources and provides simplistic explanations for shifts in American education.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Howard Cincotta

    Accompanies the PBS special -- a fine narrative history of the origins and development of public education, from Horace Mann to No Child Left Behind

  22. 5 out of 5

    Janet

    Interesting book about the development of the public school system from the beginning to the present.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Kathy

    Worth reading for the 19th and early 20th century photos alone.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Nan

    Way too much information for a relatively short book. A cursory look at best.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Andrea Balty

    A concise overview of the systematization of public education in America. It would make a great springboard for choosing a topic for an education history paper.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Emily

    A brief overview of the major trends in American public education over the last century. A quick and satisfying read, with wonderful photographs.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Angie

    It's actually a highly readable, simplistic history and overview of current issues in American public education. I am interested in watching the PBS series. It's actually a highly readable, simplistic history and overview of current issues in American public education. I am interested in watching the PBS series.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Kristian

    Informative - if cursory. I would recommend it as a rudimentary timeline that shapes the groundwork for further exploration of America's educational development and reform. Informative - if cursory. I would recommend it as a rudimentary timeline that shapes the groundwork for further exploration of America's educational development and reform.

  29. 5 out of 5

    John Bohnert

    I would have preferred a more detailed summary of American public schools.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Diana

    It has been a long time since I read a text book. This was an easier read for a text book. It makes me excited to become a teacher despite all the problems the public schools are facing.

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