Saving Schools: From Horace Mann to Virtual Learning

Paul Peterson
Year of publication: 
Belknap Press of Harvard University Press
336 pages

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. Many of these reformers sought to customize education to the needs of each child. But in ways that were never anticipated, reform efforts centralized power in the hands of those who controlled institutions remote from the concerns of families and local communities—large school districts, states, courts, collective bargaining agreements, and, eventually, the federal government. Now, the possibilities unleashed by technological innovation, when coupled with the economic impact of ever-rising cost of traditional schooling, have created an environment for another educational transformation.