Arthur E. Bestor, Jr. (1909–1994) - American EducationAmerican professor of history, constitutional scholar and author of Educational Wastelands: The Retreat from Learning in Our Public Schools, a 1953 work that described and analyzed the deterioration of American public schools. An educational conservative and opponent of PROGRESSIVE EDUCATION, Bestor pointed out that the transformation of American high schools from an elite to a mass institution was destroying the quality of education. Universal high school education, he predicted, would force public schools to have to provide for the emotionally disturbed, the handicapped, the learning disabled, the mildly retarded, the semi-literate from other lands and a host of other children with social problems which public schools are not equipped to solve.
In trying to provide “something for everyone,” Bestor warned, the schools were gradually providing nothing for anyone. He charged that secondary education had deteriorated to the point where students had to be taught in college what they should have learned in high school. “The idea that the school must undertake to meet every need that some other agency is failing to meet, regardless of the suitability of the schoolroom to the task, is a preposterous delusion that in the end can wreck the educational system.”
A graduate of Yale University, Bestor was born in Chautauqua, New York, where his father was president of the Chautauqua Institution. He taught at Yale, Columbia University’s Teachers College and the University of Washington and was the first constitutional scholar to call for the resignation of President Richard M. Nixon.