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A timely call for a return to democratic values in educational reform

The Struggle for Control of Public Education

Market Ideology vs. Democratic Values

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Michael Engel

"The Struggle for Control of Public Education is a highly charged, politically important work, written with clarity and courage, in defense of public education as a legacy endangered by the juggernaut of corporate control."
Jonathan Kozol

"One hundred years ago, children were kept out of school to be used as a cheap factory workforce; today, they are kept in school to become a cheap workforce in the factories of the future."

Seduced by the language of the market economy, those making decisions about education today argue that market strategies promote democratic educational reform, when really they promote market reform of education. Michael Engel argues against this tendency, siding with democratic values—which encourage openness, creativity, social awareness and idealism, whereas market values uphold individual achievement, competition, economic growth, and national security.

Behind the façade of progressive rhetoric, advocates of these corporate models have succeeded in imposing their definition of school reform through federal and state policy makers. As a result, communities lose control of their schools, teachers lose control of their work, and students lose control of their futures. Engel attacks the increasing dominance of market ideology in educational policy and extends his critique beyond such trends in school reform as vouchers, charter schools, and "contracting out" to include issues such as decentralization, computer technology, and standards.

The debate over privatization amounts to ideological warfare between democratic and market values. The question is not so much about "school choice" as it is about the values Americans want at the root of their society. Unprecedented in its value-based challenge to the threat of market ideology on educational policy, The Struggle for Control of Public Education is a sophisticated call for a return to community-controlled schools and democratic values. This argument offers theoretical and practical models crafted in the contemporary feminist and social reconstructionist tradition. Readers interested in the study of educational policies, philosophy, and policy will find this book engaging.

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Reviews

"In this well researched, eminently readable book, Michael Engel helps us see our way through the confusion and clouded rhetoric of the conservative and neo-liberal agendas for school and society, and illuminates the profoundly anti-democratic patterns beneath the surface of most current school reform."
Dr. Kathleen Kesson, Director of the John Dewey Project on Progressive Education at the University of Vermont, and of the Teacher Education Program at Goddard College

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Contents

Preface
Acknowledgments
1. Introduction
2. Market Ideology
3. Democratic Education
4. School Choice
5. Educational Technology
6. School Restructuring
7. Curriculum
8. Civic Education
9. Conclusion
Index

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About the Author(s)

Michael Engel is Professor of Political Science at Westfield State College. He has published a text on state and local politics and has served as chapter president of his faculty union. He is a school-board member in Easthampton, Massachusetts.

Subject Categories

Education
Political Science and Public Policy

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