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School: The Story of American Public Education
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School: The Story of American Public Education

3.65  ·  Rating details ·  249 ratings  ·  37 reviews
Esteemed historians of education David Tyack, Carl Kaestle, Diane Ravitch, James Anderson, and Larry Cuban journey through history and across the nation to recapture the idealism of our education pioneers, Thomas Jefferson and Horace Mann. We learn how, in the first quarter of the twentieth century, massive immigration, child labor laws, and the explosive growth of cities ...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published August 16th 2002 by Beacon Press (first published September 10th 2001)
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J. Boo
Feb 05, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: edumacashun
Full of the mushy, high-minded progressive pablum that the "SEE IT ON PBS!" tagline implies. We live in a perfectible world where there are no trade-offs, everyone needs to be on the college track, etc.

This passage was particularly infuriating, and is illustrative of some of the other issues with the book:

"Other problems existed aside from the condition of the facilities [of schools in the 1800s, when Horace Mann took an interest in them]. Schoolchildren spent hours sitting on hard benches, whic
May 16, 2022 rated it really liked it
I’ve been debating between 3 or 4 stars simply because I only read this book for one of my required college courses. If it weren’t for class, I wouldn’t have read this book but I’m glad I did.

It is imperative we know what issues our school systems have faced in the past and continue to face in the present. Anyone deciding to go into the schooling/educational system in any way should read this book. Anyone sending a child into a school should also read this book. There were very many eye-opening
Feb 17, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: work-related, 2017
This is really readable overview of the history of public schooling in America. My only real problem with it was the lack of information about special education.
Jul 15, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The book would have been better with just the facts and not the author's political attacks. It's his book right? But if I had known, I probably wouldn't have read it.
The history of the public school is interesting, but as soon as the state(s) made it mandatory and took the rights away from the parents it was never "right" in any form.
The book offers a lot of what happened, what didn't work, no why and toward the end it talked about schools trying new alternatives to teaching, but again, the po
Jun 30, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ren-edu
This is a great book for people wondering why so many people complain about the system. It gives you an unbiased, concise history of public education in our country. If you are really intrigued by education, it also mentions how education was taught in the beginning (very worth learning about), the reforms (also worth learning what each meant) and the present state of the system. I highly recommend it. When you add standardized testing to its predecessor the IQ test, you can see how to a certain ...more
Roberta Decenzo
Feb 16, 2021 rated it it was amazing
This was a very enlightening and informative book. It covers the history of education in America from its conception in the 1700s all the way until the current millennium. I found it very interesting and informative on many accounts. I thought it was interesting to learn about the education not just of Americans but also of those who came to this country looking for the “American Dream” and promise and how it differed from the education of born and raised Americans. In school, we certainly do le ...more
Jeremy D Lucas
Aug 06, 2022 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2022_08
More summative than comprehensive, more left-leaning than right-leaning, this is a history that lacks balance. I won’t deny that it led me into some detours of my own curiosity and investigation, things I wanted to look into further, which is good, but as a whole book, it suffers from an unfortunate bias, from an overuse of quotes by the same several voices in education, and from tired cliches that don’t offer any kind of original or inspirational thought. I’m no fan of conservative politics, no ...more
Thom DeLair
This was a relatively quick read with many pictures, it almost felt like reading a high school year book. It gives a concise overview of American public education: the 19th century, the first half of the 20th century, 1950 - 1980 and 1980 - 2000. It encapsulates many of the ideas into a few thinkers and specific historical events. Much of the material felt familiar but was nice that it was presented in a whole fashion. The main point, I took from it, was how much the roles of public schools play ...more
Oct 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
I only read this because it was required for class. However, it is a fascinating read. Also, it is filled with pictures which of course, will make anything more interesting. My other textbook is a snoozer because of the lack of pictures, obviously.

The worst thing about School is that it was published in 2002. I would love an update on the last 20 years and the developments on No Child Left Behind and the uptrend of school shootings.

Still, School is a fun read about different periods of time reg
Apr 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
An easy-to-read general summation of public schooling in the US that serves as an introduction to our educational history. I particularly appreciated the section introductions written by the educational historians Tyack, Kaestle, Anderson and Cuban.
Danielle Cardoza
Mar 08, 2022 rated it liked it
Shelves: education
I think this book was cool with all the information it gave about the history of education systems. I kinda wish it had just stuck to the facts instead of giving opinion alongside it but overall pretty good.
Sep 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
Good overview.
Rod Naquin
Aug 14, 2020 rated it liked it
My fav kind of book--a broad survey! Gets us to abt 2001--awesome to find Core Knowledge in here.
Oct 13, 2021 rated it liked it
Pretty dry, some of the information is interesting though.
Kelynn Rose
Oct 20, 2022 rated it it was ok
I had to read this book for school. And for it being a school book it was kinda interesting.
Feb 10, 2008 rated it really liked it
Several researchers contributed to this history on public school in America. It simply scratches the surface on the facts so it's a great starter on the subject.

I was fascinated by the various topics within public school's history. I even cried at some of the hardships and courage demonstrated by children in the face of bigotry and poverty.

It's interesting to see the recurring battle between traditional curricula and those that want to implement various theories to what "ought" to be part of sc
May 10, 2009 rated it it was ok

This is an extremely informative book on the history of public education. It has been my evening reader all this week. :) Being raised in a home school, I knew nothing about the history or formation of public education as we know it. The first two sections were especially helpful - and made interesting by historic photographs.

So far, I've only encountered two paragraphs that drip with liberalism (and have nothing to do with history). If you consider the fact that PBS has partnered with the auth
May 29, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: homeschool
I enjoyed this as an overview of the role of public ed in our society. It makes me feel even more confident in my homeschooling path as compulsory ed has been anything but constant since its inception.It's been one long experiment that keeps changing and morphing as new goals are desired. It really comes down to fundamental paradigms as to what you believe education is for, whether it's for vocationalizing, pure academics or learning for learning's sake. Your own goals will determine your childr ...more
This book provides a pretty good overview of the history of public education in America. Informative? Yes. Insightful? Not so much. It gives a lot of generalized information about the issues of the public school system and how it got to where it is, but it doesn't give any solutions. I don't know if that's because the authors were just looking to give a history lesson or what, yet the language implies that they had some insights about it. Maybe they're just trying to remain impartial? I don't kn ...more
Jeff Bush
Aug 02, 2012 rated it really liked it
Great overview of the history of US public education and the issues that have affected its development. Interesting that many of today's current issues have been around throughout education's history and that many of the assumptions of our current corporate-obsessed culture were also popular in the late-19th century, when corporate excess was last at its peak. ...more
Sep 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this book as a future educator. It gave me insight on how the public school system use to be. Although I was frustrated with how people were treated throughout history I feel that we must understand the good, and the ugly of history to move forward to a better tomorrow with education as a key contributor to America' success. ...more
John Wick
Apr 07, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: education, history
An excellent overview of the american Public school system. From colonial era, The common school, to modern times. Based on the PBS series. This is a very informative easy read for anyone who wants to grasp how public education was formed and the many changes it has gone through.
Jun 01, 2009 rated it it was ok
This is a required text for a class in my teacher licensing program. It was interesting, as far as textbooks go. I am hoping to be able to watch the companion PBS series in class, which I'm sure will be good. ...more
Nov 21, 2009 rated it liked it
Provides an overview of the history of American public education. The photos are the most interesting part of the book since the text only skims the surface of the issues discussed. It is intended as a companion to the PBS series and not as a scholarly text.
Ken Rideout
May 21, 2011 rated it liked it
Read it for class. It is based on an excellent PBS series of the same name. Just watch the show unless you need to reference the work in a paper. Very nice, broad, and quick overview from the very beginings to modern U.S. public schooling.
Jan 27, 2013 rated it liked it
Optimistic about the current state & future of American education - full of compelling facts/case studies and provides an easy-to-follow evolution of schooling in America. A quick read, but draws too much from the same sources and provides simplistic explanations for shifts in American education.
Howard Cincotta
Jan 25, 2009 rated it really liked it
Accompanies the PBS special -- a fine narrative history of the origins and development of public education, from Horace Mann to No Child Left Behind
Nov 12, 2009 rated it liked it
Interesting book about the development of the public school system from the beginning to the present.
May 14, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: teaching
Worth reading for the 19th and early 20th century photos alone.
Mar 02, 2012 rated it it was ok
Way too much information for a relatively short book. A cursory look at best.
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