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36 of 37 people found the following review helpful
on August 12, 1999
I have been doing research on what can be done about the sad state of public education. I read this 391 page book gripped by fascination. Any lover of history, ideas, civilization, or America should read this book. Why are our schools in serious decline? For some of the same reasons the Soviet Union collapsed. Andrew Coulson examines our current system of public education, and argues for revitalization through direct parental control. He looks at times in history when education has been free from state control, and shows that those have been some of the times of greatest cultural flourishing, such as Periclean Athens. He also looks at education in other countries, historically and currently. Public vs. private education in England, and Japan and the Netherlands are particularly of interest. He examines the history of American education, and dispells myths like the idea that people were illiterate until publicly funded education came along. The truth is that the literacy rate was much higher BEFORE Horace Mann first started promoting the idea of state schooling based on the Prussian military model of that time. Coulson also looks at constitutional questions, and deals with the legitimacy of government compelling belief. Anyone who supports the ailing status quo of public education is going to have to come to terms with the formidable research and persuasive arguments presented by Senior Research Associate and former softwear engineer, Andrew Coulson, who devoted four years to producing this book. They will also have to answer the other growing advocates of education liberation, among whom are Thomas Sowell (Inside American Education: The Decline, The Deception, The Dogmas) Stephen Arons (Compelling Belief: The Culture of American Schooling) and Sheldon Richman (The Separation of School and State). I salute Andrew Coulson as having done a magnificent job in writing this well documented and thoughtful study.
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26 of 28 people found the following review helpful
Many people have proposals for what should be done about education today. Few have looked into history to see what has been successful in the past. This book does that. Few have hard data to back up their theories. This book does. It cites more than one thousand authentic historical and statistical sources. Half of these are original documents (or translations thereof).
The bibliography alone is worth the price of this book. I had been searching for statistics on literacy, and I found so much more here! This book is not only an excellent survey of educational methods throughout history, but also a comprehensive list of sources for future research.
The author is biased toward completely privatized education, and in this book he explains why. He starts where democracy started, in Ancient Greece. Most of us have heard of Athens and Sparta. We know Spartans were dedicated warriors. We know they had to come home from war "with their shield or on it." We know the city state of Sparta was everything, and each individual citizen was dispensable.
We know that Athens, not Sparta, became the capitol in Greece's Golden Age. What I did not know before reading about it in this book was that Athens had no official school system, no regulation of teachers, and no required curriculum. Athenian teachers simply charged parents directly for educating their children. Each teacher specialized in a subject, and the parents simply chose teachers with good reputations who taught the subjects they wanted their children to know. Competition for students kept prices down. Some excellent teachers were wealthy and did not charge, notably Plato and Aristotle. The result of this free market education method was a city that became its country's leader in art, philosophy, and science.
This is but the first exploration in this timely book that examines what has worked in education. My BellaOnline School Reform Forum will be full of references to this book. So far it is the only one of its kind!
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on May 7, 1999
We know that our public schools are not providing the quality of education that they should. Market Education does an excellent job of analyzing what the problems with public education are and making thoughtful recommendations for how to improve it. The book should be required reading for anyone interested in improving our children's education.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on March 12, 1999
An intriguing, highly original account of how government-funded schools have driven out superior private schooling, going back to the ancients and concluding with our failed U.S. schools of today. I haven't seen any other book that presents the history of this takeover of the educational market, and how harmful it has been to students in virtually every country and era in which it has occurred. Anyone interested in improving the education of children really needs to read this book. It's a compelling argument for school choice, and it's written in an appealing style by an author who is obviously passionate about his subject. My guess is that public school teachers will find this book particularly enlightening, since it explains a great deal of their frustration with bureaucracy getting in the way of educating kids. Coulson presents many suggestions for moving our educational system towards greater freedom for students, parents, and teachers.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on September 11, 2012
After reading forty or fifty books thus far researching the topic of private versus public education for about two months now, Market Education: The Unknown History stands out as the best of these-if you could only read one book making the case for a free-market in education, this would be it. Encompassing the history of education, the economic and political principles affecting it, a survey of other countries, a lengthy illustration of how a free-market in education would look in the future, and hundreds of concrete examples to illustrate his points, Coulson's book in its totality is essentially unanswerable. As George Smith once said about his Atheism: The Case Against God: after reading his book, a theist may choose to believe in God, but that belief will no longer be rational-the same might be said of any supporter of public education brave and open-minded enough to read Market Education: The Unknown History.
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12 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on May 4, 2000
I also recomend Murray Rothbard's "Education: Free and Compulsory" for in depth historical analysis of government involvement with education. Any politicians that truly give a darn should be reading these books. Democrats rhetoric about "helping the poor" is sickening when you realize how much government involvement in education has specifically hurt the poor.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on May 10, 2011
This book should be read by anyone concerned with the state of our public schools. The vast amount of research backing the title is unprecedented, and the book is very entertaining, as well.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on March 28, 2015
This is a difficult book to review. In the opening chapters it discusses topics important to anyone interested in alternatives to our status quo, most importantly the disparate ideas about what public education should be about. Probably the most interesting to me as I had never thought about how many different goals we have for public education and how we are obviously just setting ourselves up for failure as we pretend that meeting these unrealistic expectations are plausible. As a history buff I enjoyed the sections detailing the history of public education and the various methods employed throughout history as well as the political commentary regarding leftist ideology attempting to control outcomes and curriculum. By leftist I refer to authoritarianism and the book details how people on the "right" can be as authoritarian in their attempt to manipulate education as well. Either way, everyone's hands are in the cookie jar attempting to groom children the way they see fit (hence the leftist social engineering) instead of enabling independent growth and educational tracts. I can't give this book a four or five star rating because the conclusions were just ridiculous. After spending several hundred pages talking about how politicians try to "fix" education and only make it more restrictive, the author supposes that providing scholarships will solve the problem. Scholarships that would be administered by the government unless you donate your money personally to a scholarship in which you then receive a credit. And this won't result in government requiring "fair" payment by the rich? Scholarships won't have to meet certain "standards?" And scholarships won't be manipulated? The proposed solution is a shell game and just as likely to fail as the current method. Read this book for a good bit of background and history (even if you are a public school supporter it's good to read the points brought up), but only read his recommendation if you want to read a solution that doesn't really change the problem: politicians. In our modern world this is like saying Obamacare's insurance mandate fixes healthcare or reduces costs. It just moves money and restricts real choice.
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