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School: The Story of American Public Education

4 out of 5 stars 31 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0807042212
ISBN-10: 0807042218
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Chronologically arranged in four sections (1770-1890, 1900-1950, 1950-1980, 1980-2000), this anthology covers much ground (charter, common, frontier and dame schools) at a brisk, engaging pace. These five eminent scholars catalogue the experiences of African-Americans, Catholics, Native Americans, Mexican-Americans, people with disabilities and girls in an educational system originally designed for Protestant white boys. Tyack and company nimbly chart changing educational philosophies (Horace Mann, John Dewey, the Gary Plan, Archbishop John Hughes) and public debates, such as those aroused by the introduction of IQ tests in the 1920s, the 1957 launching of Sputnik (prompting fear that Soviet education outshone U.S. education) and the 1983 publication of A Nation at Risk, an assessment of the state of public education by "a presidential commission of corporate and public leaders and educators." And there are surprises "black literacy soared in the decades after the Civil War, from 5 percent to 70 percent"; "New York's English-only curriculum was radical" in the 1910s; in the 1930s two-thirds of Los Angeles's Mexican-American students were classified as "slow learners... even mentally retarded" after the introduction of IQ tests; Lyndon Johnson was a schoolteacher; and in 1970 women received "less than 1 percent of all medical and legal degrees." This exemplary, thoroughly readable account of a "complex and controversial and open-ended" subject is enhanced by 125-plus photos and illustrations. (Sept. 12)Forecast: This companion to the PBS documentary series will attract a significant readership. Though balanced, it will stir controversy at a time when reform leans toward business models and Horace Mann's belief "that all citizens" are responsible for the education of all children is being challenged.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From School Library Journal

Adult/High School-A direct and well-written text and the liberal use of historical photographs make School one of the few books available on the history of education in America written for the layperson. Although some earlier material is included, the bulk of the text and photographs covers the founding of a universal public-educational system in the mid to late 19th century to the inclusion battles of the early 1970s. A single flaw of this otherwise worthy book is a bias against the more bottom-line and business-oriented influences following the "America at Risk" report in the early 1980s. Those looking for a harsh critique of the American school system will not find it here. The history of alternative schooling is not included, and there's not much coverage given to curriculum-development issues such as the phonics/whole-language debate, and other methodologies. The roughly chronological layout allows readers to trace the roots of the philosophy and rituals still surrounding the average public-school day for most students. This information will be the primary attraction for teen readers, as the whys and hows of their school day unfold beneath their fingertips. A companion book for the "School: The Story of American Public Education" documentary series on PBS television.
Sheryl Fowler, Chantilly Regional Library, VA
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Beacon Press (August 16, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807042218
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807042212
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 0.6 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #191,590 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
That a book entitled School : The Story of American Public Education is not all things to all people is not surprising. The book is limited in scope to a history of public education in the United States. It says so in the title. It is not a book on home schooling, private schools, schools outside the U.S., a history of people who disagree profoundly with the American Public School System or a broad study of educational methods. The title pretty much sums this up.
This book has several strong points:
1) It's written is a succinct prose style. This isn't necessarily a boon to education majors, but it's a good thing for the general public. It's hard to make education sound interesting, and this book does a pretty good job. As a special sidelight, this book will interest thinking people inside the school system. It may even be picked up by teenagers, those currently most ensconced in the U.S. system of public education.
2) It is one of the only books available to non-professionals. It's fairly easy to get information, dates, a rundown of the major players in educational theory/movements, and an idea about what those involved in the educational system thought about their schools at the time. It isn't one stop shopping, but it is a good start.
3)The accompanying photographs are marvelous. Nothing illustrates the crowding of the tenement schools, he desperate situation of child laborers in the early part of the 20th century, or the inclusion protests of the 1960's and 1970's quite like the pictures.
4) It is possible to read between the lines. Although the book doesn't explicitly link ideas like the push from German Immigrants to get their children out of the "shop" track and into college prep.
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Format: Hardcover
On a school day, almost a quarter of the U.S. population is either in a public school or working in an administrative position for a public school. How are we doing with this enormous enterprise? To answer that question, School begins with the origins of the free public school in New England cities and takes it into the present experiments to follow the model of major corporations and the marketplace. Along the way, if you are like me, you'll come away more impressed with what has been accomplished.
The common themes have been local versus central control over education, honoring diversity versus meeting standards, and liberty versus equality. General progress has occurred in being more inclusive (minorities and women), helping people become assimilated into American culture (especially through literacy and citizenship), and learning talents needed to be a productive member of a more educated society.
Part one looks at the Common School from 1770-1900. These were formed in response to the Protestant concept that people needed to be able to read the Bible and interpret it for themselves. At the time of the Revolution, 90 percent of white males and 60 percent of white females could read a little and sign their names. Massachusetts led the way in making school conditions better under Horace Mann. A top priority of the new republic was to get rid of British texts so that American ideals could be learned. Thomas Jefferson had a visionary plan (which looks pretty inadequate now) that was rejected. By the end of the period, Catholic immigrants felt disrespected by the materials and methods directed by the Protestant elites. Private Catholic schools started to fill the gap.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I am using this book with my second-year teacher preparation class. It is fully of great, accurate information that is written in an easy to read manner, a fresh distraction from all the text books we read.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I enjoyed the book. It was pretty easy to read and straight forward. It was a decent amount of information about the ever changing history of our school systems.

As a history buff, it was a good overview. If you're looking for more specifics, this probably isn't the book for you. But for a basic overview and idea of it all, this is the book.

Check it out
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Format: Paperback
My second grade daughter is currently involved in a project in which the kids are studying aspects of the past and present to project what the future will be like. My daughter and a friend chose “schools” for their specific project, so I’ve been helping her find, read, talk through and understand different sources. It’s not easy finding relevant information written at a second grade level, and this book is certainly above her level. But it has provided a nice overview and framework for us to discuss issues for her to think about regarding her future school. For instance, what is the purpose of education? What are the justifications for mandating universal schooling, and should it be mandatory? Who benefits from education? Who has historically participated in education and who should participate? Who has historically been left out of education? How is education funded? Who controls education? And how are those questions all related?

This book is essentially a series of essays by different writers covering different periods in American history. Because they are written by different writers, there is some duplication of information, as well as some varying viewpoints. There is brief discussion of the colonial period and the early history of our country, but most of the book covers the period from the founding of the “common schools” as envisioned by Horace Mann up through roughly the time of publication (2002). Most of the essays are fairly light on text with plenty of pictures to supplement the text.
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