Jonathan Zimmerman is Professor of Education and History at the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development at New York University. His new book is Too Hot to Handle: A Global History of Sex Education. (March 2015)

He Transformed the Schools, But…

Joel Klein visiting a classroom at Public School 189, Crown Heights, Brooklyn, circa 2002
“Most people want to make sure tomorrow is just like yesterday.” That’s what the famed psychologist Bruno Bettelheim said to Joel Klein over four decades ago, when Klein spent a fellowship year with him at Stanford. But Bettelheim sensed something different about his young disciple. “You’re not like that,” he …

What Are Schools For?

Elizabeth Eckford, one of the Little Rock Nine—a group of African-American students enrolled in the segregated Little Rock Central High School following the Brown decision—pursued by a mob on the first day of the school year, September 4, 1957. Arkansas National Guardsmen sent by Governor Orville Faubus blocked the nine from entering the school; three weeks later President Eisenhower sent federal troops to protect them and enforce desegregation.
One of the first things we learn in school is that America was founded on a set of ideas, not on shared racial or ancestral bonds. All men are created equal. Liberty and justice for all. Out of many, one. Our history reflects the different and often conflicting ways that …