This compelling new book asks: How can American education policy be consistent with democratic ideals? Robust democracy is the combination of participation, self-rule, equality, understanding, and inclusion, but these norms can produce contradictory policy. Local control in education policy can undermine educational equality. Participation in teachers unions can improve working conditions but thwart self-rule by local taxpayers.

The Democratic Dilemma of American Education draws on contemporary research in political science and education policy to offer remarkably balanced insights into these challenging issues. Expertly navigating through local, state, and federal layers of education policy, Arnold Shober examines contemporary controversies over education governance, teachers unions and collective bargaining, school funding, school choice, academic accountability, and desegregation. Shober describes the inherent practical dilemmas of current policy and the difficulties policymakers face in overcoming them to produce lasting educational reform in a democratic, federal system of government. Timely, engaging, and accessible, this is the ideal resource for courses in public policy as well as education and politics.

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Reader Reviews


Praise for The Democratic Dilemma of American Education by Arnold Shober

"This book fills a real need in the field of education policy. Shober skillfully uses important concepts in public policy and political science to demonstrate how fundamental democratic values shape current education debates, regarding merit pay, school choice, education funding, testing, accountability, and other areas. This book is a great fit for undergraduate courses in public policy, public administration, and education. It provides an unbiased, easy-to-understand presentation of the leading academic, historical, and political debates in education policy."
David J. Fleming, Furman University

"The Democratic Dilemma of American Education serves as a sophisticated introduction to the problems and successes of education in America. As Shober so cogently argues those issues are imbedded in our democratic approach to educating our children. This perspective blends the best of policy scholarship and democratic theory."
John F. Witte, University of Wisconsin-Madison

"[The Democratic Dilemma of American Education] is well written and easily accessible for undergraduates, and includes a useful time line of key moments in the history of educational policy."
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