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

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

by Dana Goldstein


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A New York Times Bestseller

In her groundbreaking history of 175 years of American education, Dana Goldstein finds answers in the past to the controversies that plague our public schools today.

In The Teacher Wars, a rich, lively, and unprecedented history of public school teaching, Dana Goldstein reveals that teachers have been embattled for nearly two centuries. She uncovers the surprising roots of hot button issues, from teacher tenure to charter schools, and finds that recent popular ideas to improve schools—instituting merit pay, evaluating teachers by student test scores, ranking and firing veteran teachers, and recruiting “elite” graduates to teach—are all approaches that have been tried in the past without producing widespread change. The Teacher Wars upends the conversation about American education by bringing the lessons of history to bear on the dilemmas we confront today. By asking “How did we get here?” Dana Goldstein brilliantly illuminates the path forward.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780345803627
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 08/04/2015
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 384
Sales rank: 143,368
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

DANA GOLDSTEIN comes from a family of public school educators. She received the Spencer Fellowship in Education Journalism, a Schwarz Fellowship at the New America Foundation, and a Puffin Foundation Writing Fellowship at the Nation Institute. Her journalism is regularly featured in Slate, The Atlantic, The Nation, The Daily Beast, and other publications, and she is a staff writer at The Marshall Project. She lives in New York City. Her social policy blog is

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Excerpted from "The Teacher Wars"
by .
Copyright © 2015 Dana Goldstein.
Excerpted by permission of Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Introduction 1

Chapter 1 "Missionary Teachers": The Common Schools Movement and the Feminization of American Teaching 13

Chapter 2 "Repressed Indignation": The Feminist Challenge to American Education 33

Chapter 3 "No Shirking, No Skulking": Black Teachers and Racial Uplift After the Civil War 47

Chapter 4 "School Ma'ams as Lobbyists": The Birth of Teachers Unions and the Battle Between Progressive Pedagogy and School Efficiency 66

Chapter 5 "An Orgy of Investigation": Witch Hunts and Social Movement Unionism During the Wars 91

Chapter 6 "The Only Valid Passport from Poverty": The Great Expectations of Great Society Teachers 110

Chapter 7 "We Both Got Militant": Union Teachers Versus Black Power During the Era of Community Control 133

Chapter 8 "Very Disillusioned": How Teacher Accountability Displaced Desegregation and Local Control 164

Chapter 9 "Big, Measurable Goals": A Data-Driven Vision for Millennial Teaching 189

Chapter 10 "Let Me Use What I Know": Reforming Education by Empowering Teachers 231

Epilogue Lessons from History for Improving Teaching Today 263

Acknowledgments 277

Notes 281

Selected Bibliography 317

Index 325

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The Teacher Wars: A History of America's Most Embattled Profession 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Goldstein has managed to cover the history of public education in the US for nearly two centuries in a narrative style that moves the reader through the decades decisively and engagingly by highlighting personalities and politics. What is especially pertinent is that The Teacher Wars is relevant and interesting to a wide range of would-be readers: teachers, those considering a teaching career, parents, parents-to-be, academics, policy makers, grantors researchers, HS students, and more . . . in short, nearly anyone who gives a hoot about teaching kids and how they learn. The book would be a valuable addition to the syllabus for undergrad and grad students majoring in education. This reader especially enjoyed Chapter 9 and the Epilogue. Having avoided bias and "opinionating" in her book, in the last dozen pages, Goldstein discusses common-sense suggestions that might help end the teacher wars in this country.
SandytheSailor More than 1 year ago
THE TEACHER WARS reads like a textbook. I liked the book since I am a teacher and grew up with both parents NYC school teachers. I feel you have to be in education to fully enjoy reading the book. I found the early history of the school system and Women's Rights particularly fascinating and interesting. I knew about the strikes during the 1960's; both my parents were home at the time.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
SactheSAC More than 1 year ago
This is not a legitimate history book. It is a chronological list of victims and villains associated with education in the U.S. The angels in this morality talare women, persons of color, and "progressives". Of course, you know who the devils are. Goldstein's bias is so obvious it allows her to write this sentence, "Though he participated in Soviet espionage, Brauder was a relative moderate." When writing about N.Y.C. schools that admit on the basis of test scores, she bemoans the dearth of students of color, leaving the impression that Caucasians unfairly squeeze them out. The word "Asian" does not appear in this book, because they do not fit in either of her categories. There is no way to determine what else she ignores or slants. Do not waste your time or money on this book.