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Condition: Used: Good
Comment: A good, lightly handled, ex library issue with a few usual marks has clean (previously protected) dust jacket with a spine sticker. Text/pages in very good condition, free from other imperfection. Light handling and shelf wear. A very good spine.
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Public Education: An Autopsy Hardcover – January 1, 1993

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

According to Lieberman, the notion that our founding fathers viewed public education as a way to educate citizens is preposterous. Democracy is not sustained by public schools, he claims; on the contrary, public schools are hotbeds for racism. A fierce opponent of the National Education Association, Lieberman grinds his ax against the public education monopoly with provocation. The author's analysis of societal trends and the declining social capital (i.e., the social relationships that foster children's growth and development) is both brilliant and chilling. He advocates a competitive market system for education, where for-profit schools would be a major but not exclusive component of the industry (a plan he details in Privatization and Educational Choice , LJ 9/15/89). His view is strictly an economic perspective, and he leaves other considerations aside. This book is an important challenge to supporters of public education and adds fire to the education debate. For all academic education and social sciences collections.
- Arla Lindgren, St. John's Univ., New York
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.


The most comprehensive account yet of how the public schools are failing us and why. It is exhaustive in its detail, brutally honest--and politically incorrect. Everyone who cares about American education should read it. No one who does will ever look at the public schools in quite the same way again. Myron Lieberman has spent his adult life working in and around schools, studying them with care and intensity, and producing a steady stream of books and articles that challenge conventional wisdom and the powers that protect it...[Public Education] deserves to be hailed as a landmark event in our nation's struggle for better schools--and it couldn't come at a better time. (Terry M. Moe Washington Post Education Review)

The public policy book of the year...[Lieberman] scrupulously, thoughtfully, and rigorously advances his position by examining trends that will erode public education even further in the near future...He [also] sets out an agenda for launching for-profit schooling, discusses obstacles that lie in its way and a strategy for overcoming them. (Booklist)

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 379 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press; First Edition edition (January 1, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0674722329
  • ISBN-13: 978-0674722323
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.4 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,067,351 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 7, 1996
Format: Hardcover
The one book I most strongly recommend that readers interested in education reform start with is Dr. Myron Lieberman's Public Education: An Autopsy (1993).
Despite its radical-sounding title, Dr. Lieberman's book is thorough and moderate in its approach to these issues.
Dr. Lieberman began his working career as a schoolteacher in the same urban public school he attended as a child.
He is a life member of the National Education Association and has been writing books about education reform since 1956.
Dr. Lieberman is also trained as a lawyer and spent many years as a negotiator for schoolteacher unions bargaining with school boards.
Public Education: An Autopsy reflects the latest developments in Dr. Lieberman's thinking and is full of important information not found in other books about education.
The book shows great compassion for learners, parents, and teachers and contains excellent endnotes guiding readers to additional research sources.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Thomas Kearney on September 20, 2000
Format: Paperback
Unlike Sheldon Richman's passionate libertarian polemic, Separating School & State, which is like the light cavalry slashing through the defenses of the public education status quo, Myron Lieberman's Public Education An Autopsy is a dry, dispassionate examination of why public education is so difficult to reform and contrasts how certain problems would be handled better in the marketplace.
Lieberman stresses that the public education organizations, such as the NEA, are more focused on protecting the interests of the producers of education rather than catering to the needs of the consumers. For example, even though most bilingual education programs fail to teach Hispanic students English, the NEA and ethnic activist groups will still stridently support the programs because it provides jobs and patronage for their supporters. Though the jury is still out on bilingual education, it appears that since Proposition 209 in California passed, Hispanic students are doing well in English immersion. But, in the absence of voter pressure, the public schools never would have implemented this approach on its own.
Lieberman takes great pains to show that he being fair and balanced in this book, which may frustrate some libertarians who agree with Lieberman that we need a free market in education. But this book is very important reading for anyone who cares about education in America and the direction it needs to take.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Gerard Reed on March 26, 2009
Format: Paperback
The year 1989 was a historic watershed: the Berlin Wall came down and the communist world stood exposed as a failed utopian experiment. That collapse should have prodded us to weigh the worth of other socialist ventures, especially when even the "democratic social welfare" states of Western Europe such as Sweden seem increasingly incapacitated by the intrinsic fallacies of Marxist ideology. Socialism's demonstrable failure--the inability of government to effectively own and control of the means of production--should instruct all of us as we chart our paths into the 21st century.
Exposed by this failure is one of the most important of all political questions: what is the real meaning of "equality," the actual equality embedded in the essence of our humanity. On this issue, Alexis de Tocqueville astutely noted: "Democracy and socialism have nothing in common but one word: equality. But notice the difference: while democracy seeks equality in liberty, socialism seeks equality in restraint and servitude."
We often fail to place education within the broader context of ethics and politics, which always struggle with such issues as freedom and equality. To liberate or to equalize is a choice educators must make. Some educational theories seek to grant equal opportunity to all at the point of access, then allowing free persons to perform in accord with their talents and character. Other educational theories seek to impose, through compensatory mechanisms of various sorts, an equality of "outcomes" which level individuals to a common denominator dictated by "fairness.
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