New Book by Sondra Myers Published

    “The People’s Choice: Public Education and American Democracy,” a new book by Sondra Myers, director of the Schemel Forum at The University of Scranton, explores through a collection of essays the critical role public education plays in shaping American democratic values. The book was published by the University’s Panuska College of Professional Studies.
    June 28, 2018
    Sondra Myers, senior fellow for international, civic and cultural projects and director of the Schemel Forum at The University of Scranton, has edited a new collection of essays exploring public education’s critical role in shaping American democratic values.

    Titled “The People’s Choice: Public Education and American Democracy,” the handbook was published by the University’s Panuska College of Professional Studies and features essays by a wide assortment of past and present writers.

    Myers dedicated the book to “the nine out of 10 American students who are educated in public schools.” She actually began work on the book nearly two decades ago, but only recently decided to revisit it on account of what she views as an urgent need to remind people of why public education matters.

    “The erosion of public education as an institution is one of the most profound and potentially tragic problems that we face today,” Myers writes in the introduction. “It presents a danger not only to the institution, but to American democracy itself.”

    Considering the importance of information to the American electorate, public schools serve a deep, fundamental value that must be preserved, according to Myers. As she eloquently puts it, they provide “an entry point into the public sphere, the free and open space, uniquely characteristic of democracy, where all are citizens-not consumers and not subjects – but rather people who are empowered to take responsibility not only for their own personal destinies but for the well-being of their society­ – for the public good.”

    “Given its unique role in American democratic society, opening that first door to our lives as citizens, high quality public education is not a special interest, a lost cause, or a utopian dream – it is an existential imperative,” Myers writes.

    Scranton native and renowned developmental psychologist Howard Gardner, Ph.D., makes his own strong case for the benefits of a quality public education in the book’s preface. He laments that education in the United States has become too much of a “private good.”

    “This sensitively-curated collection reminds us of the original excitement surrounding the idea of public education, the key components of such an education, the public goods that it serves, and the reasons why it needs to be maintained and strengthened,” writes Gardner, the John H. and Elisabeth A. Hobbs Professor of Cognition and Education at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education.

    The book includes essays by iconic American thinkers like Thomas Jefferson, Horace Mann and John Dewey, as well as contemporary voices like Bill Moyers, Nikole Hannah-Jones, Yohuru Williams and Amy Gutmann. The book also has contributions from Scranton High School teacher Edward Dougherty, University of Scranton education professor Catherine Richmond-Cullen, Ed.D., and former Scranton High School student Alison Barrett.

    In the book’s foreword, Debra A. Pellegrino, Ed.D., dean of the Panuska College of Professional Studies, counts herself as a supporter of Myers’ thesis.

    “Primarily, (the book) reminds us to strengthen our public schools rather than privatize them or search for alternatives to them,” Pellegrino writes. “The educational system needs to be valued as a platform where ideas expressed by all individuals will someday change society, making our democracy more inclusive and just.”

    This is Myers’ ninth book. Her others include “The Interdependence Handbook” and “The New Rwanda: Prosperity and the Public Good.”
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