As Public as Possible

Radical Finance for America’s Public Schools

A witty and provocative treatise on the policies we’ll need to make our public schools work for all children

“With the debate over the parameters of public schooling raging in state legislatures, at school board meetings, on social media, and in classrooms themselves, there’s rarely been a more crucial time to define what a truly public school system should look like—and what it would take to get there.”
—Mark Lieberman, Education Week

From the anti-CRT panic to efforts to divert tax dollars to charter schools, the right-wing attack on education has cut deep. In response, millions of Americans have rallied to defend their cherished public schools. But this incisive book asks whether choosing between our embattled status quo and the stingy privatized vision of the right is the only path forward. In As Public as Possible, education expert David I. Backer argues for going on the offensive by radically expanding the very notion of the “public” in our public schools.

Helping us to imagine a more just and equitable future, As Public as Possible proposes a concrete set of policies aimed at providing a high-quality and truly public education for all Americans, regardless of wealth and race. With witty and provocative prose, Backer takes the reader on an enlightening tour of radical policy alternatives. He shows how we can decouple school funding from property tax revenue, evening out inequalities across districts by distributing resources according to need. He argues for direct federal grants instead of the predations of municipal debt markets. And he offers eye-opening examples spanning the past and present, from the former Yugoslavia to contemporary Philadelphia, which help us to imagine a radically different way of educating all of our children.

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