Horace Mann's Vision of the Public Schools: Is it Still Relevant?

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Horace Mann has been labeled by historians as the "father of the public schools." Just as judges and historians consult the views of the nation's Founding Fathers for guidance on contemporary issues, current educators can benefit by revisiting the original vision of Horace Mann for publicly supported schools. Such a study will not only be of interest to anyone interested in our schools, but it will also offer guidance as we consider our current educational issues. Much has changed since Horace Mann led the struggle to establish the common or public schools in the mid-19th century. Drastic changes in demographics, the emergence of teacher unions, and more recently, the standards movement, high-stakes testing, and accountability have greatly affected public schools. These factors, along with the additional powers taken on by the state and federal government have altered how schools function. The result has been the creation of a system that currently fails to offer an equal educational opportunity to all of our students. This book looks to the educational ideas of Horace Mann to offer guidance as to how this nation might preserve his original vision of a public school system that will offer a free and equal educational opportunity to all the children of this nation.

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Editorial Reviews

Reference and Research Book News
Hayes argues that at their core, the concepts about public education Horace Mann endorsed 150 years ago still hold true. Mann held public schools should be nonsectarian but teach a common morality, be locally managed but state regulated, and be tax-supported and free while providing equal educational opportunities to all children.
Educational Horizons Magazine
Horace Mann's Vision does succinctly summarize current controversies in education including technology, school finance, and No Child Left Behind, and the writing is informed.
Dr. Richard L. Hughes
From the rise of vocational education to the more recent controversies over charter schools and 'No Child Left Behind,' Hayes places his survey of American public education within the context of Horace Mann's seminal vision of the common school. In the process, his account reminds us that many of the vexing problems and spirited debates about our schools originated in the challenges Mann faced while forging a system of public education in the nineteenth century. As the architect of American public education, Mann strove for schools capable of meeting the needs of a diverse and rapidly changing American society. His successes and limitations provide an instructive window through which to better understand both recent issues and the enduring challenges of public education in a complex and contested democratic society.
Bob Pettapiece
If what George Santayana said is true, 'Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it' ,then William Hayes' book on Horace Mann is worth the read. Hayes gives us not only a good understanding through Mann's own words, of how and why we should support public education in America, but how Mann may stand on many of today's issues.
Patricia A. Schmuck
For good or ill, Horace Mann's vision of a tax-supported public school available to all children, has remarkably withstood the test of time. In each chapter Mr. Hayes traces where we have deviated from that vision (such as No Child Left Behind) and where we have remained true (such as improving teacher education)...Horace Mann's vision developed over 150 years ago is still relevant and represents many of the educational dilemmas we are still coping with today...Mr. Hayes traces that vision and shows, with research, how we have succeeded and failed.
Marybeth Gasman
In this time of uncertainty for our nation's public school, William Hayes' fine book reminds us of the potential still present in this often forsaken American institution. He juxtaposes the ideas of Horace Mann with some of our most vexing problems, providing a nuanced understanding of class, race, and federal controls.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781578863631
  • Publisher: The Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group Inc
  • Publication date: 3/7/2006
  • Pages: 182
  • Product dimensions: 9.00 (w) x 6.00 (h) x 0.56 (d)

Meet the Author

During his 44 years in education, William Hayes has worked as a high school history teacher, social studies department chairmen, assistant high school principal, principal, superintendent, college division chairman, and professor.

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Table of Contents

Part 1 Introduction Chapter 2 The Early Years Chapter 3 The Educational Prophet Chapter 4 The Vision Chapter 5 The Spread of the Vision Chapter 6 The Growth of Vocational Education Chapter 7 The Practice of Academic Grouping Chapter 8 The White Flight Chapter 9 The Church and State Issue Chapter 10 The Multicultural Issue Chapter 11 The Choice Issue Chapter 12 The Technology Chapter 13 The Teachers Chapter 14 The Direction Chapter 15 The Law Chapter 16 The Debate Chapter 17 The Financial Dilemma Chapter 18 The Mann Plan

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