Values Education: Theory, Practice, Problems, Prospects

Wilfrid Laurier Univ. Press
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Values—those intangible guideposts—serve as standards and perceptual screens which assist us in selecting our priorities for reflection and action. Our quest is to clarify, compare, and form values expressed in defensible and consistent value judgements and actions.
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About the author

John R. Meyer is the Director of the Values Education Centre in Burlington, Ontario.

Brian Burnham is the Research Coordinator of the York County Board of Education in Aurora, Ontario.

John Cholvat is the Research Officer of the Halton Board of Education in Burlington, Ontario.

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Additional Information

Wilfrid Laurier Univ. Press
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Published on
Sep 1, 1975
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Education / Aims & Objectives
Education / Educational Psychology
Literary Collections / Essays
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From one of the foremost authorities on education in the United States, former U.S. assistant secretary of education, “whistle-blower extraordinaire” (The Wall Street Journal), author of the best-selling The Death and Life of the Great American School System (“Important and riveting”—Library Journal), The Language Police (“Impassioned . . . Fiercely argued . . . Every bit as alarming as it is illuminating”—The New York Times), and other notable books on education history and policy—an incisive, comprehensive look at today’s American school system that argues against those who claim it is broken and beyond repair; an impassioned but reasoned call to stop the privatization movement that is draining students and funding from our public schools.
​In Reign of Error, Diane Ravitch argues that the crisis in American education is not a crisis of academic achievement but a concerted effort to destroy public schools in this country. She makes clear that, contrary to the claims being made, public school test scores and graduation rates are the highest they’ve ever been, and dropout rates are at their lowest point.

​She argues that federal programs such as George W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind and Barack Obama’s Race to the Top set unreasonable targets for American students, punish schools, and result in teachers being fired if their students underperform, unfairly branding those educators as failures. She warns that major foundations, individual billionaires, and Wall Street hedge fund managers are encouraging the privatization of public education, some for idealistic reasons, others for profit. Many who work with equity funds are eyeing public education as an emerging market for investors.
​Reign of Error begins where The Death and Life of the Great American School System left off, providing a deeper argument against privatization and for public education, and in a chapter-by-chapter breakdown, putting forth a plan for what can be done to preserve and improve it. She makes clear what is right about U.S. education, how policy makers are failing to address the root causes of educational failure, and how we can fix it.

​For Ravitch, public school education is about knowledge, about learning, about developing character, and about creating citizens for our society. It’s about helping to inspire independent thinkers, not just honing job skills or preparing people for college. Public school education is essential to our democracy, and its aim, since the founding of this country, has been to educate citizens who will help carry democracy into the future.
In the last decade many countries turned to private sources to provide services formerly offered by public agencies. Europeans, particularly the British and the French, were leaders in this movement. Developing countries also experimented extensively with privatization in the 1980s, with varying degrees of success. Because governments around the world are heavily involved in transportation, it is a natural focus of privatization experiments and in many ways has been at the cutting edge. Going Private examines the diverse privatization experiences of transportation services and facilities. Cases are drawn from the United States, Asia, Europe, and Latin America. Since almost every country has experimented to some degree with highway and bus privatization, the authors focus particularly on these services, although they also discuss urban rail transit and airports. Highways and buses, they explain, encompass all three of the most common and basic forms of privatization: the sale of an existing state-owned enterprise; use of private, rather than public, financing and management for new infrastructure development; and contracting out to private vendors public services previously provided by government employees. After thoroughly examining these services and discussing the motives for, and objections to, privatization, the authors look at the prospects for privatization in other sectors and industries. They assess those circumstances in which privatization is most likely to succeed and those in which it is most likely to fail, for political as well as economic reasons. The authors conclude that privatization involves many political and social as well as economic dimensions. Privatization is usually not simply a matter of efficiency improvements or capital augmentation but also involves such deeply imbedded societal concerns as equity, income transfers, environmental problems, and attitudes toward taxation and the role of government.
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