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Law and the Shaping of Public Education, 1785–1954
Edited by David Tyack, Thomas James, and Aaron Benavot


“Law and the Shaping of Public Education
argues forcefully that education has always been contested terrain. Litigation over schooling has certainly increased in the twentieth century, remarkably so.... Education is always and inevitably political, as the last decade's rich scholarship in the history of education has demonstrated. Tyack, James, and Benavot underline that truth and join to it the certainty that law, too, even that related to education, is a creature of politics, and thus a key to patterns of power.... An exciting, important study of the roots of current debates."—Ronald E. Butchart, Public Historian

"In this engaging and informative book the authors address two questions regarding law and public schools. First, how has the law, broadly defined by state constitutions, state statutes, and appellate decisions, affected public schooling? Second, given this broad definition of law, how have tensions between majority rule and minority rights in regard to public schooling been legally resolved? In answering these questions the authors bring fresh insight to the history of both education and law."—Sarah Henry Lederman, Teachers' College Record

"The authors explore the relationship between law and public education from several nontraditional perspectives. They employ case studies, such as the compulsory public education system in Oregon in 1922, and a quantitative analysis of appellate decisions in public education. Overall, they pursue two themes: the use of constitutional and statutory law to build standardized state school systems, and the tension of majority rule and minority rights in education law."—Harvard Law Review

"Law and the Shaping of Public Education is a significant study that exemplifies recent efforts to join institutional history to the history of social struggles. It deserves to be read in a wide variety of scholarly communities.” — Hendrik Hartog, Science

David Tyack is professor of history and the Vida Jacks Professor of Education at Stanford University. Thomas James is associate professor of education and public policy at Brown University. Aaron Benavot is assistant professor of sociology at the University of Georgia.


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March 1991

LC: 86-040062 KF
272 pp.    6 x 9

The 1987 cloth edition of this book is out of print, but the paperback is still available.

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Paper $21.95 x
ISBN 978-0-299-10884-7
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