What I Am Thankful For: 140 Years of School Success

Daniel Katz, Ph.D.

David Tyack and Larry Cuban, two of America’s most accomplished scholars in education, published the book “Tinkering Toward Utopia: A Century of Public School Reform” (1995) examining various efforts to reform American education and  explaining why schools tend to persist regardless of changes envisioned by reformers.  The book, arguably one of the best treatises on the subject in the past two decades, opens by noting how it is possible to portray American education as either a failure or as a success depending almost entirely upon the motivations of the examiner:

Beliefs in progress or regress always convey a political message. Opinions about advance or decline in education reflect general confidence in American institutions.  Faith in the nation and its institutions was far higher in the aftermath of success in World War II than in the skeptical era of the Vietnam War and Watergate.  Expectations about education change, as do media…

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