In the twelve years that I have had this blog, I have not promoted any of the books that I have written. Temperamentally, I am shy about blowing my horn. Family and friends have seen this reluctance to advertise my writings as a false modesty that secretly yearns for praise. Perhaps. But the fact is I have refrained from mentioning by name any of my books on this blog when they were published. Until now.
Consistent readers of this blog know that I have devoted various posts to drafts of ideas and passages that eventually appeared in various books I have written. Comments from readers on these posts have been most helpful in correcting errors and examining issues from a different angle than the one I was using. I have done the same for this new book.
I have been lucky to have many books published over the years. Each one has picked up a part of my six decades as a teacher, superintendent, and researcher. But with the publication of Confessions of a School Reformer (Harvard Education Press, 2021) this week, I am posting this description because this book is special to me in how it entwines my life story from ages 5 to 87 with the larger school reform movements that have swirled about me and others for many decades.
From the publisher’s description of the book:
Cuban begins his own story in the 1930s, when he entered first grade at a Pittsburgh public school, the youngest son of Russian immigrants who placed great stock in the promises of education. With a keen historian’s eye, Cuban expands his personal narrative to analyze the overlapping social, political, and economic movements that have attempted to influence public schooling in the United States since the beginning of the twentieth century. He documents how education both has and has not been altered by the efforts of the Progressive Era of the first half of the twentieth century, the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s through the 1970s, and the standards-based school reform movement of the 1980s through today.
Cuban points out how these dissimilar movements nevertheless shared a belief that school change could promote student success and also forge a path toward a stronger economy and a more equitable society. He relates the triumphs of these school reform efforts as well as more modest successes and unintended outcomes.
Interwoven with Cuban’s evaluations and remembrances are his “confessions,” in which he accounts for the beliefs he held and later rejected, as well as mistakes and areas of weakness that he has found in his own ideology. Ultimately, Cuban remarks with a tempered optimism on what schools can and cannot do in American democracy.
Yes, this is both a personal and analytical book that draws together different strands of my life. I found it most satisfying to write. For which I am most grateful.