Why Public Schools? Whose Public Schools?: What Early Communities Have to Tell Us

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NewSouth Books, 2003 - Education - 232 pages
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Are the public schools the public's schools? And if they need to be, what is the public? Public schools today often mean little other than schools paid for by tax revenue. If that is all they are, they may mean far less in the future than they have in the past. Communities built the first schools and, in turn, the common work of establishing them "built" the communities. Yet we seldom take that into account now when we try to improve our schools. The people who supported the cause of education made the effort because it was their cause. And it was their cause because the schools were their schools. Champions of public education had to deal with articulate critics who argued that common schooling wasn't a requirement for democracy because nothing could be more absurd than encouraging "people to read and judge for themselves." Giving everyone as much schooling as they wanted was thought equally absurd; it would be better to determine children's probable destiny and educate them accordingly. And putting youngsters from different social economic backgrounds in the same classroom, according to critics, would never be accepted. Public education was said to be born of an idealism that was as impractical as it was undesirable. Book jacket.

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Contents

Acknowledgments
9
Are the Public Schools the Publics Schools?
23
The Historical Public in Early Alabama
31
Copyright

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About the author (2003)

DAVID MATHEWS attended the public schools of Clarke County, Alabama. After graduating from the University of Alabama, he went on to Columbia University, where he earned a PhD in American educational history. Mathews has been president of the University of Alabama and secretary of the United States Department of Health, Education, and Welfare. He is currently trustee and president of the Kettering Foundation. His other recent books are Politics for People: Finding a Responsible Public Voice and Is There a Public for Public Schools?

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