Reclaiming Public Education by Reclaiming Our Democracy


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Reclaiming Public Education by Reclaiming Our Democracy is about what citizens and educators alike want from public education and how they might come closer to getting it. It is also about the obstacles that block them, beginning with significant differences in the ways that citizens see problems in the schools and the ways that professional educators and policymakers talk about them. Discussions of accountability, the achievement gap, vouchers, and the like don’t always resonate with people’s real concerns. As a result, a deep chasm has developed between citizens and the schools that serve them.

  • Citizens say they are frustrated by their inability to make a difference in improving the public schools. But educators say they can’t get the public support they need.
  • Citizens think local school boards determine what happens in schools. But board members complain that their hands are tied by external restrictions and conflicting demands.
  • Citizens want schools that instill self-discipline and promote social responsibility. But schools are overwhelmed by the need to meet legislatively mandated standards and raise test scores.

Can this divide be bridged? This book describes how people’s sense of responsibility for the schools withers as the chasm grows. It also offers ideas about the work citizens can do to reverse this trend and improve education.

David Mathews, secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare in the Ford administration and a former president of The University of Alabama, is president of the Charles F. Kettering Foundation.

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Public Education

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