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Public Education--America's Civil Religion: A Social History


reviewed by Sally J. Scholz October 27, 2009

coverTitle: Public Education--America's Civil Religion: A Social History
Author(s): Carl L. Bankston III and Stephen J. Caldas
Publisher: Teachers College Press, New York
ISBN: 0807749478, Pages: 216, Year: 2009
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Bankston and Caldas offer an exciting look at the history of education—achieving that delicate balance of being scholarly and yet also widely accessible.  The book begins with Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s call for a civil religion coupled with Robert Bellah’s use of the concept of civil religion to analyze the American context.  The authors use Rousseau and Bellah to create the foundation for the thesis of the book.  Bankston and Caldas aim to show that education is the heart of America’s civil religion.  The argument is really twofold, however.  They argue both that public education is the tool for fostering civil religion and that civil religion places its faith in public education.  As they describe it: “Part of the goal…[is] to describe how education and ideas about education have been produced by changes in American society.  Another part of the goal,…[is] to raise questions about just what we can and cannot do... (preview truncated at 150 words.)


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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record, Date Published: October 27, 2009
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 15814, Date Accessed: 4/29/2017 9:30:41 AM

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About the Author
  • Sally Scholz
    Villanova University
    E-mail Author
    SALLY J. SCHOLZ is Professor of Philosophy at Villanova University. Her research is in social and political philosophy and feminist theory. Her books include On de Beauvoir (Wadsworth 2000), On Rousseau (Wadsworth 2001), and Political Solidarity (Penn State Press 2008). She writes articles on oppression, liberation, solidarity as a moral concept, violence against women, and just war theory. Scholz is currently faculty-in-residence at the Center for Peace and Justice Studies at Villanova where she co-edits the Journal for Peace and Justice Studies.
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