Education, Society, and Economic Opportunity


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A Historical Perspective on Persistent Issues

Maris A. Vinovskis

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In this book, an eminent educational historian examines some important aspects of American schooling over the past centuries, illuminating the relation between education and other broad changes in American society and providing a historical perspective for contemporary efforts at school reform.

Maris Vinovskis critically reviews and integrates recent work in educational history and provides new research on neglected topics. He discusses such issues as: the gradual shift from the family to the public schools in the responsibility for educating the young; the rise and fall of infant schools between 1840 and 1860; the crisis in the teaching of morality in the public schools of the mid-nineteenth century; early efforts to provide schooling for impoverished children; and the evolution of the belief that education improves individual economic and social mobility. He also studies school attendance and discovers that a much higher percentage of children may have attended public high schools in the nineteenth century than has been assumed, investigates when the practice of placing children in grades according to their age became widespread, and assesses whether different age groups in previous eras varied in their support for schooling—as they seem to be doing now.

Maris A. Vinovskis is professor of history at the University of Michigan, consultant to the U.S. Office of Educational Research and Improvement, and current president of the History of Education Society.

"An important book by one of the premier scholars in the social history of education. Vinovskis presents a coherent liberal vision of education—as evolutionary, functionalist, multi-causal, and meritocratic—that stands in strong contrast to the revisionist view. His book deserves a large audience."—David Labaree, author of The Making of an American High School

"In this work, Maris Vinovskis brings high standards of historical scholarship to important controversies in the history of education. As one of our finest social historians, he raises significant questions that other historians—and concerned policymakers—must take into account."—Diane Ravitch, Senior Scholar, New York University

"The pleasure of reading Education, Society, and Economic Opportunity, for those already familiar with Vinovskis's work as well as newcomers to the field, is in the enjoyment of revisiting central issues in American educational history in the company of a thoughtful and sophisticated guide who continues to be one of the major contributors to the writing of that history."—David W. Galenson, History of Education Quarterly

"Should be very useful to historians and other scholars. Vinovskis has spent years mining data from antebellum Beverly, Newburyport, and elsewhere in Massachusetts and provides a wealth of data and many insightful examples. He weaves together information on specific programs with overviews of changes in educational policy and points to questions for future research. . . . Vinovskis' employment of a multiplicity of variables and caution in drawing assumptions are a model for how quantitative methods can add context and complexity to historical understanding."—Barbara Beatty, Journal of the Early Republic

ISBN: 9780300062694
Publication Date: September 27, 1995
256 pages, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
10 b/w illus.