This chapter suggests that the dominant problematic within educational research. It argues that a theory of class formation that was sensitive to the peculiarities of the American experience provides a theoretically compelling way of understanding the relationship between education and social reproduction. The chapter examines three facets of working-class experiences related to schooling: school attendance, working-class educational politics, and the nature of working-class childrens' experience of schooling and the effect of this experience upon the reproduction of inequality and the reproduction of class relations. The transformation of the social and opportunity structure profoundly altered the structural conditions facing the working class. By 1832 there were strongly based and self-conscious working class institutions – trade unions, friendly societies, educational and religious movements, political organizations, periodicals – working class intellectual traditions, working class community patterns, and a working class structure of feeling. Like work and community politics, schooling has been central feature of American working-class experience since the late nineteenth century.