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For the past one hundred years, Americans have argued and worried about the quality of their schools. Some charged that students were not learning enough, while others complained that the schools were not furthering social progress. In Left Back, education historian Diane Ravitch describes this ongoing battle of ideas and explains why school reform has so often disappointed. She recounts grandiose efforts to use the schools for social engineering, even while those efforts diminished the schools' ability to provide a high-quality education for all children. By illuminating the history of education in the twentieth century, Left Back points the way to reviving American schools today.