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America's Public Schools

, 384 pages
January 2011



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America's Public Schools

From the Common School to "No Child Left Behind"

updated edition

In this update to his landmark publication, William J. Reese offers a comprehensive examination of the trends, theories, and practices that have shaped America’s public schools over the last two centuries.

Reese approaches this subject along two main lines of inquiry—education as a means for reforming society and ongoing reform within the schools themselves. He explores the roots of contemporary educational policies and places modern battles over curriculum, pedagogy, race relations, and academic standards in historical perspective.

A thoroughly revised epilogue outlines the significant challenges to public school education within the last five years. Reese analyzes the shortcomings of "No Child Left Behind" and the continued disjuncture between actual school performance and the expectations of government officials. He discusses the intrusive role of corporations, economic models for enticing better teacher performance, the continued impact of conservatism, and the growth of home schooling and charter schools.

Informed by a breadth of historical scholarship and based squarely on primary sources, this volume remains the standard text for future teachers and scholars of education.

William J. Reese is the Carl F. Kaestle WARF Professor of Educational Policy Studies and History at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

"A very good introductory survey for anyone who wants to learn more about American education."

"A superb history of our public schools, one that is clearly and colorfully written."

"A brilliant contribution to the field."

"Reese has delivered in one volume an analysis as synthetic, intelligent, and importantly, deeply engaged with the most enduring issues in popular education as we are likely to encounter for some time."