Americans have always argued over their public schools. But for most of our history, these conflicts focused on questions of religion and faith. Now we’re arguing about our conceptions of America, which have become quasi-religious beliefs in their own right. The big question is whether we can present diverse views of America in our public schools, rather than teaching a single story about it.
Jonathan Zimmerman is Professor of History of Education and the Berkowitz Professor in Education at the University of Pennsylvania. A former Peace Corps volunteer and high school teacher, Zimmerman is the author of nine books, including Free Speech and Why You Should Give a Damn (with cartoonist Signe Wilkinson) and Whose America? Culture Wars in the Public Schools, which was recently released in a revised 20th-anniversary edition. Zimmerman is also a frequent oped contributor to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Washington Post, and other popular newspapers and magazines. Zimmerman taught for 20 years at New York University, where he received the school's Distinguished Teaching Award in 2008.
This event is co-sponsored by UVA's Karsh Institute of Democracy and the School of Education and Human Development.