The Loss of Public Ownership

For the past two decades, research institutions like the Kettering Foundation that study societal trends have been warning our nation that the long-standing relationship between the public and our public schools is hanging by a thread.  In his book, Is There a Public for Public Schools?, Kettering Foundation President David Mathews wrote in 1996 about the loss of public ownership in our nation’s public schools.  A decade later, he revisited the issue in Reclaiming Public Education by Reclaiming Our Democracy:  “Unfortunately, a good many people today no longer believe that they own the public schools or that they have the responsibilities that ownership implies.  This is not an issue of whether people are confident that these institutions are doing a good job, feel close to them and would pay taxes for their support.  Ownership is a more fundamental issue:  When people drive by a schoolhouse, will they say, ‘this is our school” or only ‘that’s the school’?  What they say will influence the future of public education in America.”

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