Public education faced severe problems during the Great Depression of the 1930s and again in the past decade. Here, David Tyack and Elisabeth Hansot examine the two periods and argue that the latter decade presented educators with a crisis of much greater dimensions. Both were times of serious financial strain and rigorous fiscal retrenchment, but education and educators still thrived during the Depression: enrollments rose, and professional morale and public support for education both remained high. By contrast, the 1970s and 1980s presented educators with unforeseen and unpredictable shortages of students as well as of money, and hastened the fragmentation of what had previously seemed a nearly universal faith in our nation's public schools. Despite the differences in the periods, the authors argue that both decades of "hard times" demonstrate the degree to which schooling is "embedded" in the habits and patterns of our national life.
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