SOMEONE HAS TO FAIL and over one million other books are available for Amazon Kindle. Learn more
  • List Price: $32.50
  • Save: $4.84 (15%)
FREE Shipping on orders over $35.
Only 1 left in stock.
Ships from and sold by Amazon.com.
Gift-wrap available.
Add to Cart
FREE Shipping on orders over $35.
Used: Good | Details
Sold by apex_media
Condition: Used: Good
Comment: Ships direct from Amazon! Qualifies for Prime Shipping and FREE standard shipping for orders over $25. Overnight and 2 day shipping available!
Access codes and supplements are not guaranteed with used items.
Add to Cart
Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See this image

Someone Has to Fail: The Zero-Sum Game of Public Schooling Hardcover – December 1, 2010

ISBN-13: 978-0674050686 ISBN-10: 0674050681

Buy New
Price: $27.66
15 New from $24.24 26 Used from $5.90
Amazon Price New from Used from
eTextbook
"Please retry"
Hardcover
"Please retry"
$27.66
$24.24 $5.90

Free%20Two-Day%20Shipping%20for%20College%20Students%20with%20Amazon%20Student



Frequently Bought Together

Someone Has to Fail: The Zero-Sum Game of Public Schooling + Democracy And Education
Price for both: $43.82

Buy the selected items together
  • Democracy And Education $16.16

NO_CONTENT_IN_FEATURE

Image
Teacher Supplies
Browse our Teacher Supplies store, with everything teachers need to educate students and expand their learning.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 312 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press (December 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0674050681
  • ISBN-13: 978-0674050686
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 5.8 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #447,361 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

No education scholar in America throws an analytical knuckleball as well as David F. Labaree of Stanford University.
--Jay Mathews, Class Struggle Blog in Washington Post

In this new book, Stanford Professor David Labaree offers a bleak reality-check on American public education, explaining that the system itself...is to blame for the failure of education reform. --Remmert Dekker in The Education Gadfly

Labaree--a vocal skeptic of the American public school system--is no stranger to writing about education. Here, he makes a solid case that American public schools are failing in many ways. --Library Journal

"In this important book...the skeptical, contrarian, and cheerfully pessimistic Stanford education professor Labaree trenchantly exposes the true purposes behind...American public schools and explains why the institution can never fulfill the dreams of those who use it or those who attempt to improve it. " 
--The Atlantic Monthly


Why do American schools keep failing? As David Labaree shows, the real question is why we expect them to succeed, given the enormous demands we make of them. Labaree's answers won't please anyone looking for a big quick fix for American education. But they will fascinate anyone who wants to understand our enduring faith in the public schools. (Jonathan Zimmerman, author of Small Wonder: The Little Red Schoolhouse in History and Memory)

The book is only 280 pages long, but so rich in contrarian assaults on cherished American assumptions I cannot adequately summarize it...[Labaree's] candor and depth encourage humility. All of us arguing about how to improve schools could use some of that. (Jay Mathews Washington Post 2010-10-08)

Labaree is perceptive and lucid in presenting his view that individual self-interest is a driving force in schooling and school reform. Parents are, in principle, committed to equal education for all, but in practice pursue educational advantages for their child. This pursuit of advantage often blunts the common good. Indeed, Labaree's skeptical realism is well taken in this continuing age of consumerism. (J. L. DeVitis Choice 2011-07-01)

In this important book, the skeptical, contrarian, and cheerfully pessimistic Stanford education professor Labaree trenchantly exposes the true purposes behind the establishment and the reforms of American public schools and explains why the institution can never fulfill the dreams of those who use it or those who attempt to improve it...Americans want an egalitarian democracy, but they prize individualism; they demand utility, but they are forever socially optimistic. Our school system manifests these contradictory values in abundance, so no matter how often it's reformed, it must perpetually thwart itself. (Benjamin Schwarz The Atlantic 2012-09-01)

About the Author

David F. Labaree is Professor of Education at Stanford University.

More About the Author

I am a professor of education at Stanford University who writes about the history and sociology of American education. I have written about the evolution of high schools ("The Making of an American High School," 1988), the growing role of consumerism in education ("How to Succeed in School Without Really Learning," 1997), and the origins and character of schools of education in American universities ("The Trouble With Ed Schools," 2004). Along the way I also published a collection of essays ("Education, Markets, and the Public Good," 2007).

My new book, "Someone Has to Fail," is an essay about the nature of the American system of schooling. We ask the schools to serve contradictory goals - to provide social access and also to preserve social advantage - and they have been willing to comply with our wishes, even though this has undercut their ability to foster academic learning. I explore why school reform has been such a failure over the years, why that's not necessarily such a bad thing, and why the main effects that schools have had on society are the unintended consequences of consumer choices rather than the planned outcomes of reform movements.

Instead of reforming schools, my aim in this book is to explore how the school system developed and how it works - in its own peculiar way. I'm not touting the system or trashing it; I'm simply trying to understand it. And in the process of developing an understanding of this convoluted, dynamic, contradictory, and expensive system, I hope to convey a certain degree of wonder and respect for the way in which this apparent model of dysfunction works so well at what we want it to do even as it evades what we explicitly ask it to do. In its own way the system is extraordinarily successful, not just because it is so huge and growing so rapidly but because it stands at the heart of the peculiarly American version of the welfare state, providing us with educational opportunity instead of social equality.

For more information, see my website at http://www.stanford.edu/~dlabaree/.

Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars
Share your thoughts with other customers

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Gerald A. Heverly on January 9, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is a bit like Jim Clark's launch of 3D computing. Before Labaree all ed writing was flat earth; two dimensional; pre-Columbian.
Read an education writer and you'll hear about why we should change A in order to move B along toward nirvana (higher test scores; greater literacy; victory over all those smart Chinese and Finns).
But in this book when you change A it moves B along, which moves C in the opposite direction so that we end up more or less where you began. Why is this, according to Dr. Labaree? Because Americans want their school system to provide two mutually contradictory results: social mobility (Horatio Alger) and social equality (no child left behind). And then to really assure failure we ask the schools to tackle a myriad of social problems that we don't want to tackle in more controversial ways (re-ordering the economy; empowering the masses). We want the schools to solve the problem of racism; reduce teen pregnancy; convince kids to stay off drugs; even produce safe drivers; and more.
All these conflicting goals guarantee failure. And the way we've coped with this dilemma is to allow the schools to get by without much emphasis on what kids learn. We settle for permitting the schools to certify that they put in their time. If we tried to do more than that we'd be at each other's throats all the time trying to reconcile individual liberty with group cohesion.
I wish there was some way to mass produce chapter five of this book and show it to teachers all over the US. It does a wonderful job of showing how all these national problems are played out in individual classrooms. Once you read it you'll have a better idea why I resist outside interference in the way I teach--even though I know I'm a long way from competent.
Read more ›
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A. Delaney on January 13, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I was looking for a book for my grad students to read. This was the perfect choice as it triggered some interesting, thought provoking conversations on the nature of public schools in this country. I usually don't repeat such selections in my grad course, but I'm leaning towards actually using this book again in fall 2013.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Format: Paperback
As I started reading this book I thought it was a good four-star read due to its excellent discussion of the origins of the common school movement; the survey of the various reform movements; and the authors educational skepticism. As I read on the book's flaws knocked off one star--and nearly two.

The author's coverage of relevant research is thin and his grasp of economics is weak. For instance:

Per the book's title, Labaree argues that schooling is a zero-sum chase for a status good. But he also hints that going to school provides non-cognitive benefits. He apparently does not realize the contradiction, nor does he discuss the research examining either view.

An international perspective that looks at other countries' educational systems is a glaringly obvious test of Labaree's theories. Labaree tells us nothing of the expansion of education in other countries.

If, as Labaree contends, the expansion of education has been the result of middle class voters trying to keep one step ahead in the credential race, why did they keep voting for things like compulsory schooling? And why are lower class voters continuously fooled by tracking?

Labaree relies primarily on sociologists for support. At the end of the book the reader is left with the impression that sociology is cynicism with tenure.

Labaree should be commended for his accessible style. Although, the book is repetitive. The book could probably be 50 pages shorter.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again

Customer Images

Search