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Saving Schools: From Horace Mann to Virtual Learning

Tuesday June 2010


Paul Peterson Henry Lee Shattuck Professor of Government, Harvard University

Saving Schools: From Horace Mann to Virtual Learning traces the story of the rise, decline, and potential resurrection of American public schools through the lives and ideas of six reformers: Horace Mann, John Dewey, Martin Luther King Jr., Albert Shanker, William Bennett, and James Coleman. Many of these reformers sought to customize education to the needs of each child. But in ways that were never anticipated, reform efforts centralized power in the hands of those who controlled institutions remote from the concerns of families and local communities—large school districts, states, courts, collective bargaining agreements, and, eventually, the federal government. In a compelling conclusion, Peterson shows how virtual learning can reverse these trends, allowing each student to access directly the information they need.

Paul E. Peterson, the Henry Lee Shattuck Professor of Government at Harvard University, directs the Harvard Program on Education Policy and Governance in the Taubman Center for State and Local Government at the Harvard Kennedy School. He is Editor-in-Chief of Education Next: A Journal of Opinion and Research and a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, where he is a member of the Koret Task Force on K-12 Education.

Introductory Remarks: Marcus A. Winters, Senior Fellow, Manhattan Institute