Saving Schools: From Horace Mann to Virtual Learning

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Overview

Saving Schools traces the story of the rise, decline, and potential resurrection of American public schools through the lives and ideas of six mission-driven reformers: Horace Mann, John Dewey, Martin Luther King Jr., Albert Shanker, William Bennett, and James Coleman. Yet schools did not become the efficient, egalitarian, and high-quality educational institutions these reformers envisioned. Indeed, the unintended consequences of their legacies shaped today's flawed educational system, in which political control of stagnant American schools has shifted away from families and communities to larger, more centralized entitiesinitially to bigger districts and eventually to control by states, courts, and the federal government. Peterson's tales help to explain how nation building, progressive education, the civil rights movement, unionization, legalization, special education, bilingual teaching, accountability, vouchers, charters, and homeschooling have, each in a different way, set the stage for a new era in American education. Now, under the impact of rising cost, coupled with the possibilities unleashed by technological innovation, schooling may be transformed through virtual learning. The result could be a personalized, customized system of education in which families have greater choice and control over their children's education than at any time since our nation was founded.

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Editorial Reviews

Washington Post online

Peterson is always a delight to read...I enjoyed the entire book.
— Jay Mathews

Washington Times

[An] excellent history of American education...[It] explores the reasons why public schools have stoutly resisted efforts to introduce choice and competition to education...If we're ever going to reform our schools successfully, we need to know why American education remains largely a centralized monolith. School reformers will find a great deal of valuable information in Mr. Peterson's thoughtful and informative book.
— Martin Morse Wooster

City Journal

Peterson is at his best when he chronicles the history of the major ideas that have underpinned modern education reform...Over the course of his long career, Paul Peterson has made major contributions to the cause of education reform—and he's had ample opportunity to become discouraged. Yet he believes that we will, in the not-too-distant future, renew American public education. Let's hope he's right.
— Marcus A. Winters

Los Angeles Times

American public schools were inspired and created largely using the ideas of six education reformers: Horace Mann, John Dewey, Martin Luther King Jr., Albert Shanker, William Bennett and James Coleman. In Saving Schools, Paul E. Peterson shows how their dreams went wrong; how public schools became a political football with families and communities on one end of the field and states, courts, and federal governments on the other. Peterson sees virtual learning as the solution—technology could be used to reinvigorate the personalized approach that public education's founders and philosophers dreamed of.
— Susan Salter Reynolds

Washington Post blog

The best books show you a new way of thinking about a familiar issue. Paul Peterson's Saving Schools: From Horace Mann to Virtual Learning offers a new way of thinking about education reform by recounting the histories of reformers...I encourage you to read it. It is full of insights and nice turns of phrase. Peterson is an able writer, graceful rather than powerful. Happily, the book lacks condemnations, sanctimony, or dewy-eyed platitudes, which puts it in rare company.
— Daniel Willingham

Associated Press Staff

Compelling and enlightening...Saving Schools brings numerous aspects of education history out of the clouds and into focus with excellent context and background. And it's an enjoyable read.
— Laura Impellizzeri

Library Journal
This new book by Peterson (government, Harvard Univ.) stands out among the many excellent titles published each year on education history and reform. Peterson traces the history of education in the United States from its rise in the mid-19th century to the early 21st century through the work of six major figures: Horace Mann, John Dewey, Martin Luther King Jr., Albert Shanker, William Bennett, and James Coleman. According to Peterson, each reformer mostly succeeded in his efforts, but unintended consequences led to increased centralization, political control, and the inefficient use of resources, which has caused the development of American education to stagnate. Yet Peterson also argues that advancements in technology, through virtual learning, have the potential to customize and personalize each individual's educational experience and return control of learning to families and communities. VERDICT Although his approach is rather academic, Peterson provides an outstanding review of the rise, decline, and potential resurrection of the U.S. educational system. Education professionals, politicians, and anyone else interested in education will benefit from reading this book.—Mark Bay, Univ. of the Cumberlands Lib., Williamsburg, KY
Associated Press
Compelling and enlightening...Saving Schools brings numerous aspects of education history out of the clouds and into focus with excellent context and background. And it's an enjoyable read.
— Laura Impellizzeri
Chancellor Joel Klein
Paul E. Peterson has written a deep and rich history of public education in America and the people and forces that shaped it. He brings together policy, research, and political issues with genuine sophistication and hard-edged thinking. He believes we're finally poised for a big step forward, using technology to customize the learning experience and empower both students and their families.
Associated Press - Laura Impellizzeri
Compelling and enlightening...Saving Schools brings numerous aspects of education history out of the clouds and into focus with excellent context and background. And it's an enjoyable read.
Washington Post online - Jay Mathews
Peterson is always a delight to read...I enjoyed the entire book.
Washington Times - Martin Morse Wooster
[An] excellent history of American education...[It] explores the reasons why public schools have stoutly resisted efforts to introduce choice and competition to education...If we're ever going to reform our schools successfully, we need to know why American education remains largely a centralized monolith. School reformers will find a great deal of valuable information in Mr. Peterson's thoughtful and informative book.
City Journal - Marcus A. Winters
Peterson is at his best when he chronicles the history of the major ideas that have underpinned modern education reform...Over the course of his long career, Paul Peterson has made major contributions to the cause of education reform--and he's had ample opportunity to become discouraged. Yet he believes that we will, in the not-too-distant future, renew American public education. Let's hope he's right.
Los Angeles Times - Susan Salter Reynolds
American public schools were inspired and created largely using the ideas of six education reformers: Horace Mann, John Dewey, Martin Luther King Jr., Albert Shanker, William Bennett and James Coleman. In Saving Schools, Paul E. Peterson shows how their dreams went wrong; how public schools became a political football with families and communities on one end of the field and states, courts, and federal governments on the other. Peterson sees virtual learning as the solution—technology could be used to reinvigorate the personalized approach that public education's founders and philosophers dreamed of.
Washington Post blog - Daniel Willingham
The best books show you a new way of thinking about a familiar issue. Paul Peterson's Saving Schools: From Horace Mann to Virtual Learning offers a new way of thinking about education reform by recounting the histories of reformers...I encourage you to read it. It is full of insights and nice turns of phrase. Peterson is an able writer, graceful rather than powerful. Happily, the book lacks condemnations, sanctimony, or dewy-eyed platitudes, which puts it in rare company.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674062153
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 11/30/2011
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 473,589
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Paul E. Peterson is Henry Lee Shattuck Professor of Government, Harvard University.
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Table of Contents

  • Acknowledgments
  • [List of] Illustrations
  • Introduction
  • Part 1: The Rise
    • 1. Heroes and History
    • 2. Horace Mann and the Nation Builders
    • 3. John Dewey and the Progressives
    • 4. Martin Luther King Jr. and School Desegregation


  • Part 2: The Decline
    • 5. The Rights Movement Diversifies
    • 6. Albert Shanker and Collective Bargaining
    • 7. Money and the Adequacy Lawsuit
    • 8. William Bennett and the Demand for Accountability


  • Part 3: Signs of Resurrection
    • 9. James S. Coleman and Choice Theory
    • 10. The Practice of Choice
    • 11. Julie Young and the Promise of Technology


  • Abbreviations
  • Appendix: Figures
  • Notes
  • Index

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 1.5
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 16, 2013

    Completely mental book

    Only rated 1 * because it is lowest bad book

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted May 17, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Saving Schools Hoover Institute Style

    Peterson's book is all about Saving Schools Hoover Institute style. In this book he basically bends educational history to the sacred tenets of the Hoover Institute, School vouchers and choice. He blames the decline of public education on an increasingly litigious society (the lawyers) and the liberal boogeymen (ACLU). He also blames the decline in public education on teacher unions who, according to his dictates, are only selfishly looking out for their interests. Another cause for the decline of American public education is the push for more funding when, just as it is decreed in Hoover Institute dictates: "Schools have enough money, they just don't spend it wisely." This book showed promise of having original ideas and thoughts in it, but instead you get the same old tired Hooverian arguments for what amounts to doing away with public education. I'm afraid this one will go to the yard sale table for 25 cents, if I can sell it for that much.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews

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