A challenge to narrow, profit-driven conceptions of school success and an argument for protecting public education to ensure that all students become competent citizens in a vibrant democracy.
In These Schools Belong to You and Me, MacArthur award–winning educator, reformer, and author Deborah Meier draws on her fifty-plus years of experience to argue that the purpose of universal education is to provide young people with an “apprenticeship for citizenship in a democracy.” Through an intergenerational exchange with her former colleague and fellow educator Emily Gasoi, the coauthors analyze the last several decades of education reform, challenging narrow profit-driven conceptions of school success. Reflecting on the trajectory of education and social policies that are leading our country further from rule “of, for, and by the people,” the authors apply their extensive knowledge and years of research to address the question of how public education must change in order to counter the erosion of democratic spirit and practice in schools and in the nation as a whole.
Meier and Gasoi candidly reflect on the successes, missteps, and challenges they experienced working in democratically governed schools, demonstrating that it is possible to provide an enriched education to all students, not just the privileged few. Arguing that public education and democracy are inextricably bound, and pushing against the tide of privatization, These Schools Belong to You and Me is a rousing call to both save and improve public schools to ensure that all students are empowered to help shape our future democracy.
““Deborah Meier and Emily Gasoi remind us of the most important question about education: What is the purpose of education? Why do we put children in schools for thirteen years of their life, even seventeen years? We educate them to be empowered citizens, every single one of them. We educate them to sustain our democracy. Standards and tests are not relevant to that goal. Learning to ask questions and to think is.” —Diane Ravitch, author of Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America’s Public Schools “It is fitting that a chapter in this inspiring book is titled ‘Falling for Democracy,’ for Deborah Meier and Emily Gasoi have written an intimate and heartfelt love letter to public education. The authors give us the experience of creating and working in schools where democratic principles are vibrantly alive.” —Mike Rose, author of Possible Lives: The Promise of Public Education in America “Once again, Deborah Meier has reminded us to never lose sight of what schools are supposed to be about. Beyond test scores and other measures of academic achievement, our schools must prepare young people to actively participate in a democratic society. They won’t be able to do this if they haven’t been encouraged to think critically and haven’t been treated as respected members of their school community. In this important new book, Meier and her coauthor, Emily Gasoi, remind us that democratic practice and progressive education cannot be limited to independent private schools or be dismissed as liberal feel-goodism. Rather, if our schools are to play a role in bolstering our democracy, then we must always remain clear about how to do this and why it is essential. This book will be a poignant wake-up call to those who have forgotten.” —Pedro A. Noguera, PhD, Distinguished Professor of Education, UCLA Graduate School of Education and Information Studies”