Schooled to Order

Schooled to Order : Social History of Public Schooling in the United States

By (author) David Nasaw

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  • Hardback | 316 pages
  • 142.24 x 210.82 x 27.94mm | 453.59g
  • 16 Aug 1979
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York
  • English
  • 0195025296
  • 9780195025293

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Review text

American public schools have always been an arena for conflicting group interests, Nasaw maintains, from the early 19th century to the present, and his intensive look at three historical periods chronicles the essence of those conflicts. Before the Civil War, common-school supporters allied with businessmen to create schools which would graduate students prepared and willing to work within the established system. Teachers were character models rather than scholars, and the academic interests of the students took a back seat to character building. By the turn of the century, after the Irish immigration and attendant upheavals, businessmen had yielded their positions of influence to moneyed urban leaders, but educational goals - to make students fit the social order, now increasingly industrialized - remained the same. Following World War II, the discrepancy between school access and mass demands intensified. Community colleges were conceived for those seeking the degrees that supposedly assured better jobs, but for many reasons that recourse was resisted by those it was intended to attract. Nasaw is not suggesting that "the history of public education is no more than a history of public victimization," but he is emphasizing the watchdog role which school reformers and administrators have assumed from the beginning, and the tensions inherent in those positions. "The public schools emerge in the end compromised by reform and resistance. . . . They remain 'contested' institutions with several agendas and several purposes," satisfying no one. Nasaw identifies important contingent issues - why blacks as an immigrant group could not make inroads, how comprehensive high schools attempted too much - but wisely never strays from his central argument. (Kirkus Reviews)

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