The Making of an American High School

The Credentials Market and the Central High School of Philadelphia, 1838-1939

David F. Labaree

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"One of the most valuable studies to come out of the current campaign to uncover and reassess the roots of our peculiar American public school system."—Fred Somkin

"Labaree’s case study provides important insights into how a public high school of the past functioned effectively. This is certainly information worth having as we struggle to make the public high school an effective institution for our educational present and future."—V.P. Franklin, Journal of American History

"Labaree makes a persuasive case for an economic approach to understanding the growth and specialization of secondary schooling in the United States."—William W. Cutler, III, History of Education Quarterly

"David Labaree’s study of the pre-eminent high school of Philadelphia is a major contribution to our understanding of the tensions between democratic opportunity and meritocratic credentialing in education. . . . The Making of an American High School is an immensely valuable study—a major achievement for a first book."—Marvin Lazerson, Historical Studies in Education (Journal of the Canadian History of Education Association)

"A good choice [of subject]. . . . Labaree has made imaginative use of the sources, including the principals’ annual reports, minutes of faculty meetings, individual student records, and three earlier published histories. Using both qualitative and quantitative methods of analysis he develops a theoretical framework for understanding not merely education but American society in general. . . . The Making of an American High School is a well-researched book with a definitive thesis worth arguing about."—Noel Ignatiev, Journal of Social History

"[A] fine study. . . . This book should find a useful niche in advanced courses in the sociology of education and organizations, as well as courses in the history of education. It is an excellent model of what well-conceived and well-executed historical case studies can achieve."—David H. Kamens, Contemporary Sociology

"This study is cogently argued and adequately documented. Labaree has used quantification to good advantage, underscoring various points, for example, the class backgrounds of school graduates from 1850 to 1920, with elaborate charts and tables. . . . His interweaving of neo-Marxist theory and hard data offers much to consider in understanding formal education and the development of modern society."—Ronald D. Cohen, American Historical Review

"Labaree has provided readers interested in social and educational history with a fascinating view into the development of the modern American high school."—Victor D. Brooks, Pennsylvania History

Co-winner of the 1998 American Educational Studies Association Critics’ Choice Award for outstanding contributions to an area related to Educational Studies

Co-winner of the American Educational Research Association’s 1989 Outstanding Book Award

Winner of the 1989 Outstanding Book Award given by the History of Education Society

Co-winner of the 1989 Outstanding Book Award given by the American Educational Research Association

ISBN: 9780300040913
Publication Date: March 11, 1988
224 pages, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
How to Succeed in School Without Really Learning

The Credentials Race in American Education

David F. Labaree

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