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Whose America?: Culture Wars in the Public Schools / Edition 1

Whose America?: Culture Wars in the Public Schools / Edition 1

by Jonathan ZimmermanJonathan Zimmerman


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What do America's children learn about American history, American values, and human decency? Who decides? In this absorbing book, Jonathan Zimmerman tells the dramatic story of conflict, compromise, and more conflict over the teaching of history and morality in twentieth-century America.

In history, whose stories are told, and how? As Zimmerman reveals, multiculturalism began long ago. Starting in the 1920s, various immigrant groups--the Irish, the Germans, the Italians, even the newly arrived Eastern European Jews--urged school systems and textbook publishers to include their stories in the teaching of American history. The civil rights movement of the 1960s and '70s brought similar criticism of the white version of American history, and in the end, textbooks and curricula have offered a more inclusive account of American progress in freedom and justice.

But moral and religious education, Zimmerman argues, will remain on much thornier ground. In battles over school prayer or sex education, each side argues from such deeply held beliefs that they rarely understand one another's reasoning, let alone find a middle ground for compromise. Here there have been no resolutions to calm the teaching of history. All the same, Zimmerman argues, the strong American tradition of pluralism has softened the edges of the most rigorous moral and religious absolutism.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780674018600
Publisher: Harvard
Publication date: 11/30/2005
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 1,047,436
Product dimensions: 5.06(w) x 7.94(h) x 0.88(d)

About the Author

Jonathan Zimmerman is Professor of Education and History at the Steinhardt School of Education and in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences at New York University. He spent two years as a teacher with the Peace Corps in Nepal.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Beyond Dayton and Chicago

I. History Wars

1. Ethnicity and the History Wars

2. Struggles over Race and Sectionalism

3. Social Studies Wars in New Deal America

4. The Cold War Assault on Textbooks

5. Black Activism, White Resistance, and Multiculturalism

II. God in the Schools

6. Religious Education in Public Schools

7. School Prayer and the Conservative Revolution

8. The Battle for Sex Education

Epilogue: Searching for Common Ground





What People are Saying About This

David Tyack

Whose America? is original in its historical argument, thorough in its scholarship, lively in its style, and timely in its subject. It cuts through the polarized rhetoric of the culture wars and shows the virtue of controversy: "debating our differences may be the only thing that holds us together."
David Tyack, Professor of Education and History, Stanford University

Diane Ravitch

Jonathan Zimmerman's provocative book reminds us that the passionately argued "culture wars" in American public schools have a long history in America's public schools. Whose America? illuminates those battles, old and new, with impressive scholarship and story-telling, and deep understanding of the combatants on all sides.
Diane Ravitch, Research Professor, New York University School of Education

Jeffrey Mirel

Jonathan Zimmerman has written a terrific book. Beautifully written and deeply informed, Whose America? addresses issues in American education, politics and identity that are enormously important. It is the best study yet done of political battles about curriculum, how political horse-trading on all sides has shaped the nature and substance of textbook versions of history, and it has great relevance to debates currently raging about what is taught in schools, in matters of facts and values. On these inflammatory subjects, Zimmerman's even-handed treatment of all sides of these deeply divisive issues is one of the book's great strengths, and offers a lesson in itself to future historians.
Jeffrey Mirel, Professor of Educational Studies and History, University of Michigan

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