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Open Access Conservative Battles for Public Education within America's Culture Wars: poignant lessons for today from the red scare of the 1950s

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Historically public schools and public school teachers have been obvious targets for attacks by conservative critics. However, during the post World War II red scare, the rapid emergence of anti-communist sentiment and super-patriotic zeal dramatically increased their vulnerability. In many respects the arch conservatism of the 1950s has obvious parallels with political trends in American education this century. As in the 1950s, contemporary pressures by well-organised and powerful conservative groups, 'think tanks', politicians, and economic interests have been particularly successful in influencing educational policy and practice on a wide range of issues. Attention to the educational context of the 1950s, therefore, reasonably offers contemporary educators important historical insights into the ways in which socio-political forces profoundly shape and dramatically influence educational policy and practice.

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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: July 1, 2004

More about this publication?
  • Founded in 2003 by the UCL Institute of Education, the journal reflects the Institute's broad interests in all types of education in all contexts - local, national, global - and its commitment to analysis across disciplines using a variety of methodologies. It shares the Institute's aspiration to interrogate links between research, policy and practice, and its principled concern for social justice.

    Drawing on these strengths, LRE is a wide-ranging and engaging journal that features rigorous analysis and significant research across key themes in education, including: public goals and policies; pedagogy; curriculum; organization; resources and technology; and institutional effectiveness. Articles and book reviews are written by experts in education, psychology, sociology, policy studies, philosophy and other disciplines contributing to education research, and by experienced researcher-practitioners working in the field. The highest quality of reporting and presentation are ensured through an independent, anonymised peer-review process. As an entirely web-based open access journal, LRE has been able to offer innovative features and formats including: epistolary conversation; colour photos and illustrations; illustrative video clips.

    LRE welcomes relevant articles and book reviews. Please email them to [email protected]

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