Teaching is a wildly contentious profession in America, one attacked and admired in equal measure. In The Teacher Wars, a rich, lively, and unprecedented history of public school teaching, Dana Goldstein reveals that teachers have been similarly embattled for nearly two centuries. From the genteel founding of the common schools movement in the nineteenth century to the violent inner-city teacher strikes of the 1960s and '70s, from the dispatching of Northeastern women to frontier schoolhouses to the founding of Teach for America on the Princeton University campus in 1989, Goldstein shows that the same issues have continued to bedevil us: Who should teach? What should be taught? Who should be held accountable for how our children learn?
She uncovers the surprising roots of hot button issues, from teacher tenure to charter schools, and finds that recent popular ideas to improve schools—instituting merit pay, evaluating teachers by student test scores, ranking and firing veteran teachers, and recruiting “elite” graduates to teach—are all approaches that have been tried in the past without producing widespread change. And she also discovers an emerging effort that stands a real chance of transforming our schools for the better: drawing on the best practices of the three million public school teachers we already have in order to improve learning throughout our nation’s classrooms.
The Teacher Wars upends the conversation about American education by bringing the lessons of history to bear on the dilemmas we confront today. By asking “How did we get here?” Dana Goldstein brilliantly illuminates the path forward.
crossed picket lines during the racially charged New York City teachers’ strike
In 1968 the conflict that erupted over community control of
the New York City public schools was centered in the black and Puerto Rican
community of Ocean Hill–Brownsville. It triggered what remains the longest
teachers’ strike in US history. That clash, between the city’s communities of
color and the white, predominantly Jewish teachers’ union, paralyzed the
nation’s largest school system, undermined the city’s economy, and heightened
racial tensions, ultimately transforming the national conversation about race
At age twenty-two, when the strike was imminent, Charles S.
Isaacs abandoned his full scholarship to a prestigious law school to teach
mathematics in Ocean Hill–Brownsville. Despite his Jewish background and
pro-union leanings, Isaacs crossed picket lines manned by teachers who looked
like him, and took the side of parents and children who did not. He now tells
the story of this conflict, not only from inside the experimental,
community-controlled Ocean Hill–Brownsville district, its focal point, but from
within ground zero itself: Junior High School 271, which became the nation’s
most famous, or infamous, public school. Isaacs brings to life the innovative
teaching practices that community control made possible, and the relationships
that developed in the district among its white teachers and its black and Puerto
Rican parents, teachers, and community activists.
Hill–Brownsville is one of the finest accounts of this turbulent time in
America’s educational history. As a firsthand analysis of a teacher embroiled in
the Ocean Hill–Brownsville community fight for educational justice, it
has no peer. From its vantage point forty-five years after the conflict, we
finally have a corrective to a plethora of secondhand analyses that have been
written over the years. It is a candid picture that I recommend highly.” —
Maurice R. Berube, coeditor of Confrontation at Ocean
“Inside Ocean Hill–Brownsville makes a
vital contribution to a much-needed reinterpretation of the epochal struggles
over community control of the New York City public schools in the 1960s, and the
divisive UFT fall 1968 strikes in opposition to that community-based movement.
Writing from the firsthand perspective of a young Jewish math teacher at JHS
271, Isaacs brings this important story vividly to life with insight, candor,
and humor. He evokes the attitudes and actions of a rich array of ordinary
teachers, administrators, students, and parents who fought to defend the
community-control experiment in the face of the lies and distortions perpetrated
by UFT officials and the mainstream press. A must read for anyone interested in
creating successful public schools, this book helps us remember what democratic
public education might look like.” — Stephen Brier, The Graduate Center, City
University of New York
“Charles Isaacs’s Inside Ocean
Hill–Brownsville is a firsthand account of the dramatic events of New York
City’s greatest school crisis. Isaacs debunks many of the popular myths of black
militants waging assaults on teachers. Instead, he demonstrates that the episode
in Ocean Hill–Brownsville was a case of black and Latino parents, with the
support of a number of teachers at JHS 271, struggling for the education of
their children and for a more democratically run educational system. These
parents faced one of the most powerful unions in the city and a bureaucratic
board of education that wanted to protect the status quo. There have been many
books written on the 1968 teachers’ strike, but Isaacs’s well-written, detailed
account is by far the best.” — Clarence Taylor, author of Knocking at Our
Own Door: Milton A. Galamison and the Struggle to Integrate New York City
This superb book revisits the Ocean Hill–Brownsville crisis—a watershed in modern New York City race relations. Jerald E. Podair connects the conflict with the sociocultural history of the city and explores its legacy. The book is a powerful, sobering tale of racial misunderstanding and fear, a New York story with national implications./DIV/DIV
The author argues that urban school reform is failing becasue its basic strategy is misguided and because reform thinking has consciously ignored three essential sources of knowledge about school change. Strategically, efforts for reform have relied heavily on the widespread replication of nationally promoted exemplary programs. This approach assumes that local schools lack the knowledge and will to solve their own problems and require prescriptive intervention from national models. In fact, the exemplary programs approach has yielded very limited success. What is needed instead is the creation and long-term support of unique, local exemplary contexts that combine best-practice approaches with local knowledge, conditions, and resources.
The authors of this volume describe the efforts made in the last decade of the 20th century to reform African education, the goal of which was to achieve education for all. In a series of five case studies, the politics surrounding the planning and implementation of these reforms are considered, and their outcomes analyzed. The countries considered are Benin, Ethiopia, Guinea, Malawi, and Uganda. Although the reforms are still underway, the book covers at least their first five years, bringing together facts and judgments into coherent stories.
The authors present some conclusions about the implementation of basic education reforms that deserve serious consideration by policymakers, planners, and program managers. Have our assumptions about the process of reform been correct? Have we selected the policy instruments most suitable for use in implementing various policies and programs? What should we do to change the course of reform as we continue?
Haar surveys the organization's history and demonstrates its longstanding tendency to involve itself in issues of little or no relevance to education policy. Throughout its formative years, the PTA pursued legislative goals on issues such as prohibition, cigarette smoking, and international relations -- topics that had little to do with educating students. In more recent years, Haar contends, when the PTA did address important educational issues, its positions merely reflected the policies of the powerful teacher unions: the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association. The modern PTA at the national and state levels rarely speaks with a truly independent voice, depriving parents of what could have been a constructive force for reform in public education.
Haar criticizes the PTA for defining meaningful parental involvement in education as fundraising, lobbying, and volunteering at schools in roles defined by teachers. Parental involvement should be viewed, Haar contends, primarily as activities that parents undertake to improve their children's academic performance. Ineffect, the PTA relegates parents to being little more than boosters of the educational status quo. With this dubious mission, it is not surprising that the organization's membership has dwindled, and with its tightly controlled governance structure, reform of the PTA is very improbable. Unable to stand up to the teacher unions or to represent parents' interests, the PTA seems destined for irrelevance, as its base in the schools is challenged by local parent organizations that choose not to be affiliated with the National PTA.
Coulson explores the educational problems facing parents and shows how these problems can best be addressed. He begins with a discussion of what people want from their school systems, tracing their views of the kinds of knowledge, skills, and values education should impart, and their concerns over discipline, drugs, and violence in public schools. Using this survey of goals and attitudes as a guide, Coulson sets out to compare the school systems of civilizations both ancient and modern, seeking to determine which systems successfully educated generations past and which did not. His historical study ranges from classical Greece and ancient Rome, through the Islamic world of the Middle Ages, to nineteenth-century England and modern America.
Drawing on the historical evidence of how these various systems operated, Coulson concludes that free educational markets have consistently done a better job of serving the public's needs than state-run school systems have. He sets out a blueprint for competitive, free-market educational reform that would make schools more flexible, more innovative, and more responsive to the needs of parents and students. He describes how education for low-income children might be funded under a market system, and how the transition from monopolistic public education to market education might be achieved.
Coulson's Market Education touches on a wide range of issues, including declines in academic achievement, minority education, the role of public school teachers, and mismanagement and corruption in educational bureaucracies. Coulson examines alternative reform proposals from vouchers and charter schools to national standards for school curricula. This timely and engaging book will appeal to parents, educators, and others concerned with the quality and cost of schooling, and will serve as an excellent resource in college courses on the economics and history of education.
The reform movement centered around efforts to explicate and disseminate the doctrine of kaihatsushugi (developmental education). Hailed as a modern, scientific approach to child education, it rejected rote memorization and passive learning, elements of the so-called method of "pouring in" (chunyu) knowledge practiced during the preceding Tokugawa period, and sought instead to cultivate the unique, innate abilities of each child. Orthodox ideas of "education," "knowledge," and the process by which children learn were challenged. The position and responsibilities of the teacher were enhanced, consequently providing educators with a claim to professional authority and autonomy - at a time when the Meiji state was attempting to control every facet of the Japanese school system.
Principle, Praxis, and the Politics of Educational Reform in Meiji Japan analyzes a key element to understanding Meiji development and modern Japan as a whole.