The Teacher Wars: A History of America’s Most Embattled Profession

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To put it plainly, public school teachers still have a rough deal, and it’s been that way since the mid-nineteenth century. Chronologically, the fundamental issues have been threefold. Starting during the suffrage movement when two of the mainstays, Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, held emphatically different views of how teachers should be schooled. Before their voices were stilled, the second argument took root: should teachers be men or women? Could women teach intellectual subjects or just subjects akin to home economics? Pockets of indecision persist, but are overshadowed by the distressing situation where in some parts of the country the ability of African-American teachers is challenged and integration not fully up and running.

Goldstein writes compellingly, presenting a series of meticulously researched chapters demonstrating the political and legal wrangling confronting teachers as they pursue their chosen career. No one chapter can be deemed more important than another, but the early revolutionary idea of a teacher and a labor union going hand in hand, the period when ‘several waves of patriotic moral panic convulsed the nation’s public schools,’ are outstanding. The book is pragmatic rather than sentimental, but full of caring and appreciation. Readers will likely agree with a newly spotted bumper sticker: I Believe in Teachers.

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Star Count 5/5
Format Hard
Page Count 368 pages
Publisher Doubleday
Publish Date 2014-Sep-02
ISBN 9780385536950 Buy this Book
Issue January 2015
Category History


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