Michael Katz — Public Education as Welfare

In this post, I reproduce a seminal essay by Michael Katz called "Public Education as Welfare." It was originally published in Dissent in 2010 (link to the original) and it draws on his book, The Price of Citizenship: Redefining the American Welfare State.   I encountered this essay when I was working on a piece of … Continue reading Michael Katz — Public Education as Welfare

The Triumph of Efficiency over Effectiveness — in Both Public Health and Public Schooling

I published this op-ed in the San Jose Mercury News two years ago, in the early stages of the pandemic.  Here’s a link to the original. If anything, its relevance is even more apparent now than it was in 2020.  Consider the enormous shipping and trucking backlogs that clogged up our economic system at the tail end … Continue reading The Triumph of Efficiency over Effectiveness — in Both Public Health and Public Schooling

School Syndrome: Understanding the USA’s Magical Belief that Schooling Can Somehow Improve Society, Promote Access, and Preserve Advantage

This post is a 2012 piece I published Journal of Curriculum Studies, which draws on my book Someone Has to Fail.  Here’s a link to a PDF of the original. An overview of the story I’m telling: The USA is suffering from a school syndrome, which arises from Americans’ insistence on having things both ways through the magical medium … Continue reading School Syndrome: Understanding the USA’s Magical Belief that Schooling Can Somehow Improve Society, Promote Access, and Preserve Advantage

Public Schools for Private Gain

This post is a piece I published in Kappan in November, 2018.  Here’s a link to the original. Public schools for private gain: The declining American commitment to serving the public good When schooling comes to be viewed mainly as a source of private benefit, both schools and society pay the consequences. By David F. Labaree … Continue reading Public Schools for Private Gain

Jorgenson and Abram — The Dark Side of Rigor

This post is a lovely essay by Olaf Jorgenson and Percy Abram about the harmful consequences that follow from the kind of academic rigor imposed on students today in the name of raising standards.  The emphasis is more on hard work than on effective learning.  The motto is "no pain, no gain."  As a result, … Continue reading Jorgenson and Abram — The Dark Side of Rigor

School Gave Me the Creeps

This post is a piece I wrote recently, something I’ve been meaning to write for years.  An alternative title is: “School — Can’t Live With It, Can’t Live Without It.”  Here’s a link to the Word document. See what you think. School Gave Me the Creeps David Labaree             Did you like school?  I didn’t.    … Continue reading School Gave Me the Creeps

Schools Are at the Root of the Youth Mental Health Crisis

This post is an op-ed written by Deborah Malizia and me that was published on December 2 in the Mercury News.  Here's a link to the original.  It's about how the pressure for rigor and high academic achievement in American schools has been damaging the mental health of students.  Another example of schooling's role in … Continue reading Schools Are at the Root of the Youth Mental Health Crisis

The Fraught Connection between State and School

This post is a new essay of mine that was just published in Kappan. Here's a link to the original.  And here's a link to the pdf.  The essay focuses on an issue I've been thinking about for years, the tight interrelationship between states and schools. Here's an overview of the argument: The nation state and … Continue reading The Fraught Connection between State and School

Two Cheers for School Bureaucracy

This post is a piece I wrote for Kappan, published in the March 2020 edition.  Here’s a link to the PDF. Bureaucracies are often perceived as inflexible, impersonal, hierarchical, and too devoted to rules and red tape. But here I make a case for these characteristics being a positive in the world of public education. U.S. schools are … Continue reading Two Cheers for School Bureaucracy

Schooling the Meritocracy: How Schools Came to Democratize Merit, Formalize Achievement, and Naturalize Privilege

This is an essay about the historical construction of the American meritocracy, which is to say the new American aristocracy based on academic credentials.  Here's a link to the original, which was published 2020 in Bildungsgeschichte: International Journal of the Historiography of Education.   An overview of the argument: Modern systems of public schooling have transformed … Continue reading Schooling the Meritocracy: How Schools Came to Democratize Merit, Formalize Achievement, and Naturalize Privilege