Public Education--America's Civil Religion: A Social Story

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New York, NY 2009 Trade paperback New. Trade paperback (US). Glued binding. 204 p. Contains: Tables, black & white, Figures, Charts. Audience: General/trade. NEW BOOK, SHIPS ... NEXT DAY! ! Read more Show Less

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In this provocative volume, the authors argue that public education is a central part of American civil religion and, thus, gives us an unquestioning faith in the capacity of education to solve all of our social, economic, and political problems. The book traces the development of America's faith in public education from before the Civil War up to the present, exploring recent educational developments such as the No Child Left Behind Act. The authors discuss how this faith in education often makes it difficult for Americans to think realistically about the capacities and limitations of public schooling.

Bringing together history, politics, religion, sociology, and educational theory, this in-depth examination:

Raises fundamental questions about what education can accomplish for the citizens of the United States.

Points out that many supposedly opposing viewpoints on public education actually arise from the same root assumptions.

Exposes the gaps between our pursuit of equity in schools and what we really accomplish with students.

Looks at ways in which education can be organized to serve a diverse population.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780807749470
  • Publisher: Teachers College Press
  • Publication date: 4/27/2009
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 216
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Table of Contents

Introduction: An American Faith 1

The United States and Schooling 1

The Creed of Education 3

Plan of the Book 8

1 Religions, Political and Civil 10

Rousseau and the Origins of the Concept of Civil Religion 10

Durkheim's Contribution 11

Political and Civil Religions 13

Bellah and American Civil Religion 15

2 Before Progressivism: Belief in Education in a Divided Nation 21

Early American Schooling and Religion 21

Education and Belief in the New Nation 22

Growth of the Common Schools 27

Regionalism and Localism: The Limits to Nationwide Schooling 34

3 Public Education in the Progressive Era 40

The Prelude to Progressive Education: Spread of Schooling in the South 40

Immigration and Americanization Through Schooling 42

The Schools and the Cult of the Nation 47

Faith, Science, and the Nation in Progressive Schooling 51

The Beginning of Active Federal Involvement 59

Schools at the Center of Civil Religion 61

4 Public Schooling Between World Wars: Management, Design, and Varieties of the Faith 62

Schools in an Industrial Society: A Commitment to Organization 62

Traditional and Progressive Ideologies in the Interwar Period 65

Education for Patriotism and Social Prophylaxis 66

Faith in Social Education: Intimations of Things to Come 70

The Single Faith of Traditional and Progressive Educators 74

5 After World War II: The Education Boom, Cold War, and Growing Calls for Equality 77

The Postwar Attention to Education 77

Education in the Economic Superpower 79

Government Sends America to School 86

The City on a Hill as Citadel of Freedom 90

The New Emphasis on Equal Opportunity 97

The Post-World War IIYears: An End and a Beginning 102

6 Education for Equality and Education as Redistribution in the 1960s and 1970s 103

A Turning Point in the Faith 103

The War on Poverty and the New Assimilation 114

The Educational Front in the War on Poverty 115

Equality, the Judiciary, and the Schools 123

Impact of the Crisis in American Faith in Education 129

7 Anxiety and Standards: A Nation at Risk and the Equity-Excellence Dilemma in the 1980s and 1990s 131

Lamenting the Quality of Education 131

The Threat of Decline and the Quest for Renewal 137

Globalization and the Japanese Threat 139

The Equity and Excellence Dilemma 141

8 Where All the Children Are Above Average: Entering the 21st Century 146

No Child Left Behind 146

The Professional Reaction to No Child Left Behind 153

Mandating Equal Education in an Unequal Society 154

2001 and the Renewal of Civil Solidarity 161

A 21st-Century Civil Religion 164

Conclusion: American Civil Religion and the Schools 166

Development and Nature of the Faith 166

Problems and Paradoxes 172

References 179

Index 191

About the Authors 205

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