Public Education / Edition 1

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In this blistering critique of our failing public schools and our fuzzy thinking about how to fix them, Myron Lieberman explains why public education is in irreversible and terminal decline and tells us what we must do to get American schooling back on track. No other book on educational policy or reform covers such a broad range of issues or draws upon such extensive empirical data across such diverse academic disciplines. This is a refreshingly clear analysis of our educational crisis and a rallying cry for market-system approaches to school reform. Nobody emerges unscathed--Lieberman's analysis challenges the advocates of choice as well as the defenders of the public schools.
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Editorial Reviews

Washington Post Education Review - Terry M. Moe
The most comprehensive account yet of how the public schools are failing us and why. It is exhaustive in its detail, brutally honest--and politically incorrect. Everyone who cares about American education should read it. No one who does will ever look at the public schools in quite the same way again. Myron Lieberman has spent his adult life working in and around schools, studying them with care and intensity, and producing a steady stream of books and articles that challenge conventional wisdom and the powers that protect it...[Public Education] deserves to be hailed as a landmark event in our nation's struggle for better schools--and it couldn't come at a better time.
The public policy book of the year...[Lieberman] scrupulously, thoughtfully, and rigorously advances his position by examining trends that will erode public education even further in the near future...He [also] sets out an agenda for launching for-profit schooling, discusses obstacles that lie in its way and a strategy for overcoming them.
Library Journal
According to Lieberman, the notion that our founding fathers viewed public education as a way to educate citizens is preposterous. Democracy is not sustained by public schools, he claims; on the contrary, public schools are hotbeds for racism. A fierce opponent of the National Education Association, Lieberman grinds his ax against the public education monopoly with provocation. The author's analysis of societal trends and the declining social capital (i.e., the social relationships that foster children's growth and development) is both brilliant and chilling. He advocates a competitive market system for education, where for-profit schools would be a major but not exclusive component of the industry (a plan he details in Privatization and Educational Choice , LJ 9/15/89). His view is strictly an economic perspective, and he leaves other considerations aside. This book is an important challenge to supporters of public education and adds fire to the education debate. For all academic education and social sciences collections.-- Arla Lindgren, St. John's Univ., New York
Public education is irreversibly doomed, says Lieberman, because government neglects its role as protector of consumer interests in order to protect its role as producer. He argues that only the free market can save education, and proposes a three-sector industry encompassing public, non-profit, and for-profit schools. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674722347
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 3/1/1995
  • Edition description: REPRINT
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 396
  • Sales rank: 1,325,480
  • Product dimensions: 0.81 (w) x 6.14 (h) x 9.21 (d)

Meet the Author

Myron Lieberman, an educational consultant and writer, has served most recently as Visiting Scholar, Social Philosophy and Policy Center, Bowling Green State University.
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Table of Contents

1 Why an Autopsy? 1
2 The Future Context of Public Education 17
3 Producer-Consumer Conflict 45
4 The Information System of Public Education 67
5 Educational Information Under a Market System 94
6 The Real Costs of Public Education 114
7 Educational Outcomes as an Efficiency Issue 143
8 The Educational Consequences of Racial Conflict 171
9 Equality of Educational Opportunity Reconsidered 202
10 The Impact of Higher Education on the Public Schools 230
11 Educational Research and Development 249
12 The Educational Agenda and Its Problems 273
13 The Transition Solution 297
Epilogue 317
Notes 341
Index 367
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