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Someone Has to Fail: The Zero-Sum Game of Public Schooling by [David F. Labaree]

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Someone Has to Fail: The Zero-Sum Game of Public Schooling Kindle Edition

4.1 out of 5 stars 34 ratings

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Editorial Reviews


"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

About the Author

David F. Labaree is Professor of Education at Stanford University. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product details

  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B004VLVVI4
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Harvard University Press (April 2, 2012)
  • Publication date ‏ : ‎ April 2, 2012
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • File size ‏ : ‎ 1934 KB
  • Text-to-Speech ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • Enhanced typesetting ‏ : ‎ Not Enabled
  • X-Ray ‏ : ‎ Not Enabled
  • Word Wise ‏ : ‎ Not Enabled
  • Print length ‏ : ‎ 312 pages
  • Lending ‏ : ‎ Not Enabled
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.1 out of 5 stars 34 ratings

About the author

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I am a retired professor in the Graduate School of Education at Stanford University who writes about the history and sociology of American education.

Twice a week I post on my blog at about schooling, history, and writing. Follow me on Twitter at @Dlabaree.

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), the origins and character of schools of education in American universities (“The Trouble With Ed Schools,” 2004), and the peculiar nature of the American system of schooling ("Someone Has to Fail," 2010). Along the way I also published a collection of essays (“Education, Markets, and the Public Good,” 2007).

My most recent book, “A Perfect Mess,” is an essay about the nature of the American system of higher education. From the perspective of 19th century visitors to the U.S., the American system of higher education was a joke. It wasn’t even a system. Underfunded, underwhelming in its dedication to learning, dispersed to the hinterlands, and lacking a compelling social function, the system seemed destined for deserved obscurity. But by the second half of the 20th century, the system had assumed a dominant position in the world market in higher education. It had the largest endowments, produced the most scholarship, earned the most Nobel prizes, attracted the most esteemed students and scholars, and thoroughly dominated the rankings of world universities. The question is how this happened. The answer is that the characteristics of the system that seemed disadvantages in the 19th century turned out to be advantages in the 20th century. Its modest state funding, dependence on student tuition and alumni donations, and independence from the church gave it a much greater degree of autonomy than institutions elsewhere in the world, which were largely dependent on the state. Operating as independent enterprises, American public and private colleges and universities learned to be highly entrepreneurial in seeking out sources of financial support and pursuing new opportunities. By making themselves accessible to educational consumers and useful in meeting social needs and in fulfilling individual ambitions, they developed a broad base of political support. This broad political and financial base, grounded in large and academically undemanding undergraduate programs, in turn provided support for cutting-edge research and advanced graduate study at the system’s pinnacle. As a result, American higher education managed to combine a unique mix of the populist, the practical, and the elite in a single complex system.

For more information, see my blog site

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4.1 out of 5 stars
4.1 out of 5
34 global ratings

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