Synopses & Reviews
traces the story of the rise, decline, and potential resurrection of American public schools through the lives and ideas of six mission-driven reformers: Horace Mann, John Dewey, Martin Luther King Jr., Albert Shanker, William Bennett, and James Coleman. Yet schools did not become the efficient, egalitarian, and high-quality educational institutions these reformers envisioned. Indeed, the unintended consequences of their legacies shaped today's flawed educational system, in which political control of stagnant American schools has shifted away from families and communities to larger, more centralized entities--initially to bigger districts and eventually to control by states, courts, and the federal government.
Peterson's tales help to explain how nation building, progressive education, the civil rights movement, unionization, legalization, special education, bilingual teaching, accountability, vouchers, charters, and homeschooling have, each in a different way, set the stage for a new era in American education.
Now, under the impact of rising cost, coupled with the possibilities unleashed by technological innovation, schooling may be transformed through virtual learning. The result could be a personalized, customized system of education in which families have greater choice and control over their children's education than at any time since our nation was founded.
Peterson is at his best when he chronicles the history of the major ideas that have underpinned modern education reform...Over the course of his long career, Paul Peterson has made major contributions to the cause of education reform--and he's had ample opportunity to become discouraged. Yet he believes that we will, in the not-too-distant future, renew American public education. Let's hope he's right. Martin Morse Wooster - Washington Times
American public schools were inspired and created largely using the ideas of six education reformers: Horace Mann, John Dewey, Martin Luther King Jr., Albert Shanker, William Bennett and James Coleman. In Saving Schools, Paul E. Peterson shows how their dreams went wrong; how public schools became a political football with families and communities on one end of the field and states, courts, and federal governments on the other. Peterson sees virtual learning as the solution--technology could be used to reinvigorate the personalized approach that public education's founders and philosophers dreamed of. Marcus A. Winters - City Journal
The best books show you a new way of thinking about a familiar issue. Paul Peterson's Saving Schools: From Horace Mann to Virtual Learning offers a new way of thinking about education reform by recounting the histories of reformers...I encourage you to read it. It is full of insights and nice turns of phrase. Peterson is an able writer, graceful rather than powerful. Happily, the book lacks condemnations, sanctimony, or dewy-eyed platitudes, which puts it in rare company. Susan Salter Reynolds - Los Angeles Times
Paul E. Peterson has written a deep and rich history of public education in America and the people and forces that shaped it. He brings together policy, research, and political issues with genuine sophistication and hard-edged thinking. He believes we're finally poised for a big step forward, using technology to customize the learning experience and empower both students and their families. Chancellor Joel Klein, New York City Department Of Education
This new book by Peterson stands out among the many excellent titles published each year on education history and reform. Peterson traces the history of education in the United States from its rise in the mid-19th century to the early 21st century through the work of six major figures: Horace Mann, John Dewey, Martin Luther King Jr., Albert Shanker, William Bennett, and James Coleman...Peterson provides an outstanding review of the rise, decline, and potential resurrection of the U.S. educational system. Education professionals, politicians, and anyone else interested in education will benefit from reading this book. Mark Bay
Compelling and enlightening...Saving Schools brings numerous aspects of education history out of the clouds and into focus with excellent context and background. And it's an enjoyable read. Library Journal
Peterson is always a delight to read...I enjoyed the entire book. Laura Impellizzeri - Associated Press
[An] excellent history of American education...[It] explores the reasons why public schools have stoutly resisted efforts to introduce choice and competition to education...If we're ever going to reform our schools successfully, we need to know why American education remains largely a centralized monolith. School reformers will find a great deal of valuable information in Mr. Peterson's thoughtful and informative book. Jay Mathews - Washington Post online
About the Author
Paul E. Peterson is Henry Lee Shattuck Professor of Government, Harvard University.
Table of Contents
- [List of] Illustrations
- Part 1: The Rise
- 1. Heroes and History
- 2. Horace Mann and the Nation Builders
- 3. John Dewey and the Progressives
- 4. Martin Luther King Jr. and School Desegregation
- Part 2: The Decline
- 5. The Rights Movement Diversifies
- 6. Albert Shanker and Collective Bargaining
- 7. Money and the Adequacy Lawsuit
- 8. William Bennett and the Demand for Accountability
- Part 3: Signs of Resurrection
- 9. James S. Coleman and Choice Theory
- 10. The Practice of Choice
- 11. Julie Young and the Promise of Technology
- Appendix: Figures