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Praise for Why Public Schools? Whose Public Schools?

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David Mathews looks to the nineteenth-century past in six southwest Alabama counties - Clarke, Mobile, Baldwin, Washington, Choctaw, and Monroe - to discover why and how frontier communities came together to build schools. Meticulously researched and reasonably argued, Why Public Schools? Whose Public Schools: Stories from Early Alabama, shows the history of the involvement of the community in the life of the public schools of the community. In a casual storytelling style, Mathews introduces the leaders and gives the history of education in Alabama, often pointing out national and regional comparisons and making analogies with current problems. The ideas presented - and the challenge offered - should be the focus of community discussions on local schools not only in Alabama but across the nation.
One of the most compelling issues in public education involves what it means for schools to be public. Are they public in funding or public in oversight and control? Are they public in the values they convey or in the standards they set? Are they public in deciding curriculum or only in access to space? David Mathews probes these issues in 19th centuryAlabama in ways that no one else has attempted. And he provides lessons from the past that can inform the present and future.