Fear and Schooling: Understanding the Troubled History of Progressive Education (London: Routledge, 2020)

Fear&SchoolingBy exploring the tensions, impacts, and origins of major controversies relating to schooling and curricula since the early twentieth century, this insightful text illustrates how fear has played a key role in steering the development of progressive education in the United States.

Through rigorous historical investigation, Evans demonstrates how numerous public disputes over specific curricular content have been driven by broader societal hopes and fears. Illustrating how the population’s concerns have been historically projected onto American schooling, the text posits educational debate and controversy as a means by which we struggle over changing anxieties and competing visions of the future, and in doing so, limit influence of key progressive initiatives. Episodes examined include the Rugg textbook controversy, the 1950s “crisis” overs progressive education, the MACOS dispute, conservative restoration, culture war battles, and corporate school reform. In examining specific periods of intense controversy, and drawing on previously untapped archival sources, the author identifies patterns and discontinuities and explains the origins, development, and results of each case. Ultimately, this volume powerfully reveals the danger that fear-based controversies pose to hopes for democratic education.

This informative and insightful text will be of interest to graduate and postgraduate students, researchers, and academics in the fields of educational reform, history of education, curriculum studies and sociology of education.

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Schooling Corporate Citizens: How Accountability Reform has Damaged Civic Education and Undermined Democracy (New York: Routledge, 2015)

51CT-XXOQiLSchooling Corporate Citizens examines the full history of accountability reform in the United States from its origins in the 1970s and 1980s to the development of the Common Core in recent years. Based in extensive archival research, it traces the origins and development of accountability reform as marked by key government- and business-led reports—from A Nation at Risk to No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top. By using the lens of social studies and civic education as a means to understand the concrete impacts of accountability reforms on schools, Evans shows how reformers have applied principles of business management to schools in extreme ways, damaging civic education and undermining democratic learning.

The first full-length narrative account of accountability reform and its impact on social studies and civic education, Schooling Corporate Citizens offers crucial insights to the ongoing process of American school reform, shedding light on its dilemmas and possibilities, and allowing for thoughtful consideration of future reform efforts.

“The current focus on competition, accountability, and the corporate approach to schooling has roots that stretch back decades. Evans skillfully traces how the influence of individuals, interest groups, corporations, and neo-conservative ideologues has distorted the way we talk about the purposes of education in a democracy. With this meticulously-researched book, Evans brings his multi-volume history of social studies up to the present with balance and detail, while never betraying his deep commitment to meaningful, progressive-oriented civic education.”
– Thomas Fallace, Associate Professor, College of Education, William Paterson University of New Jersey

“Ron Evans makes yet another contribution to his outstanding oeuvre on the history of social studies education with Schooling Corporate Citizens. Drawing on a range of primary sources, this book demonstrates the anti-progressive, anti-democratic, and anti-community consequences of business-minded accountability reform, particularly for citizenship education and education for democracy. This compelling, thoroughly-researched account inspires readers to reverse the damage caused by accountability reform in order to help revive social studies education that is inquiry-oriented, child-centered, issues-centered, and democratic.”
– Anne-Lise Halvorsen, Associate Professor, College of Education, Michigan State University