In 1897, he published his "pedagogic creed." Learning begins "unconsciously almost from birth."
"I believe that the individual who is to be educated is a social individual and that society is an organic union of individuals."
"If we eliminate the social factor from the child we are left only with an abstraction; if we eliminate the individual factor from society, we are left only with an inert and lifeless mass."
Schools are social institutions, he believed. They should be integrated into community life. "Education is the fundamental method of social progress and reform."
He called the ideal school one that serves individual and institutional needs. He said "the community's duty to education is (a) paramount moral duty."
"I believe it is the business of every one interested in education to insist upon the school as the primary and most effective instrument of social progress and reform in order that society may be awakened to realize what the school stands for, and aroused to the necessity of endowing the educator with sufficient equipment properly to perform his task."
Dewey and Mann would be horrified about what's happening today. They'd denounce how education is being commodified. It's mirror opposite of their vision. It's being systematically destroyed.
Budgets are slashed. Teachers en masse are laid off or fired. Hundreds of schools are closed where they're most needed. Inner city kids won't have them in their communities.
Democrats and Republicans are in lockstep on policy at the federal, state and local levels. In the last two years alone, over 250,000 teachers lost jobs. From September 2011 through June 2012, 50,000 lost them.