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The One Best System

The One Best System

A History of American Urban Education

David Tyack

ISBN 9780674637825

Publication date: 01/01/1974

The One Best System presents a major new interpretation of what actually happened in the development of one of America's most influential institutions. At the same time it is a narrative in which the participants themselves speak out: farm children and factory workers, frontier teachers and city superintendents, black parents and elite reformers. And it encompasses both the achievements and the failures of the system: the successful assimilation of immigrants, racism and class bias; the opportunities offered to some, the injustices perpetuated for others.

David Tyack has placed his colorful, wide-ranging view of history within a broad new framework drawn from the most recent work in history, sociology, and political science. He looks at the politics and inertia, the ideologies and power struggles that formed the basis of our present educational system. Using a variety of social perspectives and methods of analysis, Tyack illuminates for all readers the change from village to urban ways of thinking and acting over the course of more than one hundred years.


  • This brilliant and readable book opens a variety of new perspectives on the development of public education in this country…Tyack does the most responsible, nonsentimental social history yet seen, and I think it highly likely that readers will find themselves educated, enlarged, and excited by what he says.

    —Maxine Greene, Today's Education


  • David B. Tyack (1930–2016) was Vida Jacks Professor of Education, Emeritus, and Professor of History, Emeritus, at Stanford University.

Book Details

  • 368 pages
  • 0-7/8 x 5-1/2 x 8-1/4 inches
  • Harvard University Press

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