Education for Public Democracy

By David T. Sehr

Subjects: Education
Series: SUNY series, Teacher Empowerment and School Reform, SUNY series, Democracy and Education
Paperback : 9780791431689, 208 pages, January 1997
Hardcover : 9780791431672, 208 pages, January 1997

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Table of contents



Part I. American Democracy: Privatized or Public?

1. Democratic Ideology, Hegemony and Education

2. Ideological Roots of Privatized and Public Democracy: Contrasting Locke and the Federalists with Rousseau and Jefferson

3. Privatized Democracy: Nineteeth- and Twentieth-Century Ideology and Practice

4. Public Democracy

5. Education for Public Democratic Citizenship

Part II. Democratic Education? Tales from Two Schools

6. Structure and Organization of Two Democratic High Schools

7. Curriculum and Pedagogy in Two Democratic High Schools

8. Promoting Public Democractic Citizenship: Students Responses to School Programs

9. In Search of Public Democratic Education



Examines the kinds of school structures and educational practices that nurture the development of young people as public, democratic citizens.


Education for Public Democracy identifies two competing traditions of American democracy and citizenship: a dominant, privately-oriented citizenship tradition and an alternative tradition of public democratic citizenship. Based on the second tradition, public democracy, the author outlines a set of qualities an effective democratic citizen must possess, as well as a number of ideal school practices that promote these qualities in young people. This discussion provides a framework for analyzing two democratic urban alternative high schools.

The book provides an essential bridge between democratic theory and promising school practices that promote public democratic citizenship. Its insights will be indispensable to teachers, school administrators, teacher educators, and theorists who seek to recreate American education in the service of a revitalized democracy.

David T. Sehr teaches English to new immigrant students at Clifton High School in Clifton, New Jersey. He is the former Director of the Center for Educational Change at Brooklyn College.


"For the last fifteen years, it seems that our society has lost sight of the relationship between democracy and education. Much of the public and scholarly debate has focused on the relationship between education and our market economy. I like the fact that this book moves beyond abstract theorizing about democracy and education by contextualizing this discussion within the lived experience of teachers, administrators, and students in two high schools. " — Jesse Goodman, Indiana University