The unique mission of a public education is to reproduce a civic public. For the most part this will not happen in a vacuum and requires specific institutions, the most prominent of which are the public schools. Publicly supported schools have other functions as well. They socialize, train, produce a workforce, and, hopefully, promote individual growth and autonomy. Walter Feinberg argues that while all of these functions may be carried on by private or religious schools as well, public schools should have the additional responsibility of reproducing a civic public for a diverse pluralistic society. As Feinberg demonstrates, the problem is that in the context of neoliberal ideology, where all the other educational functions are reduced to economic ones within a market context ruled by competitionnation to nation, state to state, community to community, school to school, teacher to teacher, student to studentthe public function becomes less and less central and more and more difficult to carry out. What Is a Public Education and Why We Need It suggests ways to change this by bringing the idea of a true public education back into focus.
About the Author
Walter Feinberg is Charles D. Hardie Professor, Emeritus of philosophy of education at University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.
Table of ContentsIntroduction: A Public Education as Critical Aspirational Ideal
Chapter One: Education as Self-development
Chapter Two: Culture, Character and Education
Chapter Three: The Education of Cultural Strangers: The Idea of a Public Education
Chapter Four: Public Values and the Civic Good
Chapter Five: The Construction and Stabilization of Public Values
Chapter Six: From a Public Education to a Public School