The public schools can be saved. It will require, however, a willingness to learn from our historical tradition and from the experience of others, to discard methods and policies that have proven time and again to be ineffective, and to recognize the essential elements of quality education—elements that most American parents already know but that an entrenched educational and hierarchical establishment persists in denying.
This book documents the shocking state of public education in the United States, including the high rates of school violence, the decline in student achievement, and the politicization of the educational process. By comparing the performance of public schools with private schools (which spend less than half per capita than public counterparts), the book reveals areas in which public education might reduce administrative overhead, eliminate internal segregation of students, and provide a safe and disciplined learning environment. Also suggested are ways in which public schools might learn from the experience and traditions of the past, including the essential elements of learning in the one-room schoolhouse and the integration of students of different ages. The role of the judiciary is critically reviewed, as well as Supreme Court decisions in the areas of racial discrimination, school discipline, bilingual education, special education, and school financing.