Why Public Schools?

Voices from the U.S. and Canada

Edited by:
Jenice L. View, George Mason University
Daniel A. Laitsch, Simon Fraser University
Penelope M. Earley, George Mason University

Published 2013

What is the purpose of public education? What is the value of taxpayer supported public schools? Who is invited to answer these questions? Except among policymakers, few publicly answer or debate these questions. Instead, the neoliberal forces of competition and deregulation seem to be driving education decision-making. The formal education system is seen as a tool for personal and national economic growth. Much of the education policy debate is centered on how to attain academic success as measured by standardized high stakes tests and evaluations. But, how to educate children and youth is a second order question. The first question must be ‘what is the purpose of schooling, and is it limited to the presumed answer that it is to prepare workers so our nations can sustain economic superiority?’ Students, parents, teachers, business people, artists, retirees, First Nations people, military veterans, and religious professionals are not typically invited to answer these questions – despite their stake in educational outcomes. Twenty-four such people, including professional educational policy makers and scholars, offer their thoughts in these essays from the US and Canada. The intended audience for this volume includes all who are concerned with the future of public schools in both nations.

Foreword: An Unfolding Conversation. The Questions of Public Education: Why, Who, and What For? Michelle Pidgeon. Making School More Meaningful: Perspectives on the Purposes of Schooling From an Alaska Native Context, Eve Tuck and Beverly Tuck. The Purpose of Public Schooling in the 21st Century, Bryan Brassington. I Earned This, Sami Miranda. What I Learned, What I Teach, Phillip Tacata. Student Voices: Thoughts on Public Education, Compiled by Bill Hood and Kristina Manfron. Seeing the Purposes of School in the 21st Century: Diverse Youths’ Perspectives on Schools’ Objectives, Supports, and Impediments, Kristien Zenkov. Think Critically—Act Practically, Elizabeth Model. International Playboy, Eagle Scout, and Entrepreneur, Don Mitchell. Development of Community, Leanne Fulton. We Need to Invest in Our Public Schools, Cheles Rhynes. Purpose of Public Schooling: Perspectives from Emily Elizabeth and Sandra Montgomery, Tasha Riley. Schooling in a Global Economy, Mason Bishop. Education as a Common and Public Good, David Chudnovsky. Public Education—A Retrospective, Jean Porter and Lloyd Porter. Depression to Recession, Theodore E Andrews. Dilemmas in a Diverse Society, Owen L. Cedarburg. Education Then and Now, Amy Cavazos. A Paradigm Shift: America’s Public Schools as Training Grounds for 21st Century Authentic Leaders, Patricia R. Johnson. Schools for the 21st Century: The Fight Against the Standardization of Education and for the Promotion of Variety in Curriculum, Assessment, and Instruction, David C. Berliner. Teaching and Researching Open-Minded Inquiry in the 21st Century, Phillip H. Winne. Final Observations, Jenice L. View, Daniel Laitsch, and Penelope Earley. About the Editors.

"This book does an excellent job of sharing honestly the places in which the public school systems both fails and succeeds, and the tone is positive and encouraging. Why Public Schools? not only asks an important question, but seeks the answer from the people who are best quipped to answer: the public." Rachel Knoepfle University of the Pacific in Education Review