The deepening crisis of the public school system is one of the most striking and consequential examples of the broad social phenomenon this blog tracks under the heading of the “decline of the blue social model.” The purpose of the public school system—providing education for citizenship and economic self sufficiency to the next generation of Americans—is more important than ever. But the means by which our society seeks to accomplish this goal are less and less well adapted to the conditions of the times.
The modern American public school system is a product of the late 19th and early 20th century transformations of American society. An agricultural society based on small farmers became a manufacturing society in which most people lived in cities. And the great flood of immigration between 1880 and 1923 filled America’s burgeoning cities with tens of millions of people who didn’t speak English and didn’t know much about the country to which they had moved.
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