Synopses & Reviews
A stirring and passionate defense of the central importance of public education to American democracy, vividly illustrating how the forces of reaction are chipping away at a constitutional right.
We are in the midst of a full-scale attack on our nation's commitment to public education. From funding, to vouchers, to charter schools, public education policy has become a political football, rather than a means of fulfilling the most basic obligation of government to its citizens.
As Derek W. Black vividly illustrates, this assault threatens not just public education, but democracy itself. Black offers both an illuminating history of our nation's establishment of a constitutional right to education, and a trenchant analysis of how such a right is being undermined today. He looks at education history with a wide view, describing both periods when our democracy has been strengthened-when the commitment to public education has been strongest-and weakened, when such a commitment has been lacking. And today, such a commitment is sorely lacking.
Schoolhouse Burning shows what is at stake: not just the right to public education as guaranteed by the constitution, but an erosion of democratic norms.
The full-scale assault on public education threatens not just public education but American democracy itself
Public education as we know it is in trouble. Derek W. Black, a legal scholar and tenacious advocate, shows how major democratic and constitutional developments are intimately linked to the expansion of public education throughout American history. Schoolhouse Burning is grounded in pathbreaking, original research into how the nation, in its infancy, built itself around public education and, following the Civil War, enshrined education as a constitutional right that forever changed the trajectory of our democracy. Public education, alongside the right to vote, was the cornerstone of the recovery of the war-torn nation.
Today's current schooling trends--the declining commitment to properly fund public education and the well-financed political agenda to expand vouchers and charter schools--present a major assault on the democratic norms that public education represents and risk undermining one of the unique accomplishments of American society.