New Book Describes Public Education Under Siege

UCLA education professor and well known education writer Mike Rose (Why School?, Possible Lives, Back to School) and Michael Katz, University of Pennsylvania historian, have edited a new book of short articles, Public Education Under Siege.   Originally commissioned for Dissent Magazine, these pieces are free of jargon and technocratic talk.  They are intended to illuminate the world of today’s education reform for curious citizens.

Categorized into three sections—Perils of Technocratic Education Reform; Education, Race and Poverty; and Alternatives to Technocratic Reform—the short articles summarize what is happening in the world of public school policy today, and the editors connect the dots in what is a poorly understood set of circumstances and policies.

  • How is democracy being abrogated in America’s poorest communities by policies promoters promise will help poor children and families?
  • Is it a good idea that the federal government has seized power from states and local school boards?
  • Where did a fontal assault on school teachers come from?
  • How is inequality the root of much of today’s education policies?
  • Does making parents into consumers in a sea of choice empower them significantly to impact their children’s education?
  • Can systems based on competition really serve all children and promote the kind of egalitarian education system we need?
  • Why should we prefer democratic rather than technocratic school reform?

Here is a taste from a concluding chapter co-authored by Katz and Rose:

“One of the concerns raised in this book is that there does not seem to be an elaborated philosophy of education or theory of learning underlying the current reform movement.  There is an implied philosophy, and it is a basic economic/human capital one: education is necessary for individual economic advantage and for national economic stability.  This focus is troubling, as we have seen, for it distorts and narrows the purpose and meaning of education in a democracy.”

In his own blog post of July 13, Mike Rose describes this new book.  As a university press book, this one is pricey .  If you feel you cannot buy it yourself or buy a copy for a group to share, be sure you request that your local library get a copy .  Every library in America should be circulating a copy of this primer for democratic school reform.

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