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Publisher's Summary

A brilliant young scholar's history of 175 years of teaching in America shows that teachers have always borne the brunt of shifting, often impossible expectations.

In other nations, public schools are one thread in a quilt that includes free universal child care, health care, and job training. Here, schools are the whole cloth. Today we look around the world at countries like Finland and South Korea, whose students consistently outscore Americans on standardized tests, and wonder what we are doing wrong. Dana Goldstein first asks the often-forgotten question: "How did we get here?" She argues that we must take the historical perspective, understanding the political and cultural baggage that is tied to teaching, if we have any hope of positive change. In her lively, character-driven history of public teaching, Goldstein guides us through American education's many passages, including the feminization of teaching in the 1800s and the fateful growth of unions, and shows that the battles fought over nearly two centuries echo the very dilemmas we cope with today.

Goldstein shows that recent innovations like Teach for America, merit pay, and teacher evaluation via student testing are actually as old as public schools themselves. Goldstein argues that long-festering ambivalence about teachers - are they civil servants or academic professionals? - and unrealistic expectations that the schools alone should compensate for poverty's ills have driven the most ambitious people from becoming teachers and sticking with it. In America's past, and in local innovations that promote the professionalization of the teaching corps, Goldstein finds answers to an age-old problem.

©2014 Dana Goldstein (P)2014 Audible Inc.

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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Makes one think

I appreciated how this helps put into contact things I experienced as a teacher . Unprofessional tasks and data driven tasks consume time and energy that should be spent teaching students. This is a reminder that this is a job for professionals and thus needs to be treated professionally. Testing to target instruction is important when it has a place to help children learn. Learning from other teachers and sharing best practices is something to value, it was nice to hear more about it. Listening to this book on audible while driving home from work really allowed me to process the bigger picture and understand what teachers have faced all over the country throughout history.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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Well presented and researched

This book is for anyone with an interest in education reform, especially policy makers, administrators, teachers, and parent activists. I love the mostly objective presentation of the facts, but also was pleased to hear the author's recommendations in the prologue.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Informative and thought-provoking history of American education

This should be a must read for everyone in the education realm, if not everyone in our country, to more deeply understand the history and challenges our education system.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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History of teaching and teachers in America

Gain a better understanding of philosophical and political trends in the education systems of America. Why it is decentralized, yet prone to national political shifts; how students, teachers, and administrators are evaluated. Interesting and well reasoned, without becoming a diatribe, as the title suggests.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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A Tour of Teacher Controversies in the US

Where does The Teacher Wars rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

This is one of the most enjoyable non-fiction books I've listened to. I recommend it to anyone with an interest in teaching and public education.

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Teacher Wars?

One of the most interesting revelations of the book is the conclusion, largely implicit, that the reason why American teachers are not respected or given much latitude to teach as they see fit is in part due to the legacy of American teachers largely being poorly educated themselves, particularly in the earliest years of American schools. It is also fascinating to learn there is evidence that it seems to make little difference what path individuals take in terms of training. Furthermore, this book also reveals the intriguing commonalities between public school teaching and factory work.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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History of Public Education in American

Any additional comments?

Interesting information (I am a retired teacher), but I wish there could have been a more exciting story line. More like an assignment to read in an education class. This is not a criticism of the author, I simply had different expectations. I agree we are not receiving the "best and the brightest" teachers in the classroom and we never have, although almost every teacher I know is a passionate soul who really cares about children and is open to new teaching methods. Unfortunately, today the rigid control and demand over teacher performance is completely unrealistic. I am glad I got out when I did. Everyone should be nervous about big business hiding behind charter schools.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Good Book

This book was written well, and explained the complex history of teaching in the U.S in an exceptional manner.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Sloppy

Good as a work of history but sloppy when it comes to covering current perspectives. For example, frequently uses anecdotes on one side to prove a point.

5 of 9 people found this review helpful

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Required reading...

As a teacher, I found this book profoundly meaningful. I believe it should be required reading for teachers AND ALL POLITICIANS WHO SET EDUCATIONAL POLICY BUT WHO HAVE NEVER SET FOOT IN A CLASSROOM!

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Must read!!!

This is a MUST READ for everyone in education (including parents, professionals, and politicians)!!! Changed my perspective!

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