The Death of Public School: How Conservatives Won the War Over Education in America

Basic: Perseus. Aug. 2023. 384p. ISBN 9781541646773. $32. ED
Pulitzer Prize winner Fitzpatrick (editor, Chalkbeat) focuses on the United States’ public school system, designed to educate all children but currently facing declining enrollment, diminished public trust, and cuts in government funding. The book notes that conservatives are successfully diverting government funds for private and chartered schools that have different and even oppositional curriculums. In the 1960s, Wisconsin passed the first bureaucratic funding of school vouchers, and more states followed suit. Although the author does not interview people who actually work in or design school systems, her personal interviews with students are quite revealing. They show how limited the options are for disadvantaged learners, often assigned to low performance classes or segregated in public schools with lower expectations of performance. Also enlightening from other interviews is the desperation of parents to procure funds to move their child to any school that would give them a better education.
VERDICT This book does not offer any solutions or suggest any governmental or educational policies that would solve the problems it identifies, but will still likely appeal to general readers. A great addition to education and behavioral sciences collections.
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