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Educational policy analysis archives
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Educational policy analysis archives.
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Embracing pedagogical pluralism : an educators case for (at least public) school choice / David J. Ferrero.
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1 of 21 A peer-reviewed scholarly journal Editor: Gene V Glass College of Education Arizona State University Copyright is retained by the first or sole author, who grants right of first publication to the EDUCATION POLICY ANALYSIS ARCHIVES EPAA is a project of the Education Policy Studies Laboratory. Articles appearing in EPAA are abstracted in the Current Index to Journals in Education by the ERIC Clearinghouse on Assessment and Evaluation and are permanently archived in Resources in Education Volume 11 Number 30August 25, 2003ISSN 1068-2341Embracing Pedagogical Pluralism: An Educator’s Case for (at Least Public) School Cho ice David J. Ferrero Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Seattle, Washington (U.S.)Citation: Ferrero, D. J. (2003, August 25). Embraci ng Pedagogical Pluralism: An Educator’s Case for (a t Least Public) School Choice. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 11 (30). Retrieved [Date] from and curricular beliefs and commitments are expressions of deeper philosophical and ideological worldviews that empirical research can sometimes modify but not ultimately el iminate. The pluralism these views produce is reasonable in that they all represent plausible interpretations of liberal-republican val ues and professional standards of practice; they should be granted some room to flourish under a system of carefully regulated autonomy and choice. Three objections to a conception of school choice grounde d in a notion of reasonable pluralism among educational doctrines ar e addressed: 1) that it would undermine educators' efforts to secur e status for themselves as professionals by admitting that “best practices” in education offer rough guidance at best; 2) that it would leave parents and students vulnerable to quackery; 3) that it aba ndons the common school tradition and its aspirations. I conclude wi th an examination of why the conceptual basis on which a society designs a system of


2 of 21 choice makes a difference. Disagreement and debate within a professional commu nity can be healthy. It sharpens thinking, stimulates inquiry, and expands knowledge. A community without such stimulative controversy would be morib und. At the same time, too much disagreement about too many fundamentals leads to schism. Education is characterized by both kinds of controversy. Competi ng hypotheses about how children learn have spurred wide-ranging research t hat has converged on some core principles to guide professional socialization and practice, at least roughly. On the other hand, the broad consensus about purposes and processes has done little to abate the internecine battles over what these pr inciples imply for practice. The last two decades alone have given us the “reading w ars,” the “math wars,” and the “culture wars,” as well as fierce battles over stan dards, what constitutes a “qualified teacher,” and more broadly, continued skirmishes in the Hundred Years’ War between various types of educational “traditionalis ts” and “progressives.” These battles have been engaged by educators and non-educ ators alike, and a staggering amount of time and energy have gone into waging them. I don’t know how to measure the impact of these perennial confli cts on children, communities, and the teaching profession itself. But I do know t hat civil wars are never healthy, and have wondered for a long time now what might be accomplished if these passions and energies were channeled in more produc tive directions. The differences that set educator against educator are intractable, and all the research in the world will not settle their dispute s. This is because the most important questions that divide them are normative rather than empirical. These divisions go deep. Pedagogical and curricular belie fs are extensions of more comprehensive philosophical doctrines that are in t urn colored by ideological ones. In other words, educational doctrines reflect metap hysical, epistemological, and ethical commitments conditioned in part by identity and a certain understanding of history and society. They constitute what John Rawl s (1993) has termed “comprehensive moral doctrines,” that is “conceptio ns of what is of value in human life, as well as ideals of personal virtue and char acter, that are to inform our . conduct (in the limit of our life as a whole)” (p.1 75). As such, differing pedagogical belief systems ought to receive the same treatment as other forms of pluralism under liberal-democratic regimes—that is, tolerance within reasonable bounds. And given the depth of educators’ commitments to compet ing and mutually incommensurable conceptions of their vocation, it w ould seem that educators have much to gain in terms of satisfaction and effective ness from an arrangement that gave them greater freedom to create schools accordi ng to their ideals with like-minded colleagues—perhaps enhancing, rather th an diminishing, their status as professionals. Such an arrangement would entail a degree of autonomy for educators to assemble for purposes of creating scho ols that realize their ideals within broadly established political and pedagogica l limits. It correspondingly entails choice on the part of both educators and families, becaus e the different kinds of schools created under such an arrangement would cor respond to the values and needs of different students and parents. In short, a system of school choice based on differing conceptions of good schooling would be a good thing for educators—as well as for families and communities—because it cou ld foster the creation of more cohesive learning communities built on common belie fs about teaching and learning.


3 of 21 The argument proceeds in three steps. First I revie w, in a schematic and oversimplified way, how pedagogical and curricular beliefs and commitments are expressions of deeper philosophical and ideological worldviews that empirical research can sometimes modify but not ultimately el iminate. I then argue that the pluralism these views produce is nonetheless reasonable in that they all represent plausible interpretations of liberal-republican val ues and professional standards of practice that they all share at a broad level, and therefore ought to be granted some room to flourish under a system of carefully regula ted autonomy and choice. Next I address three objections to a conception of school choice grounded in a notion of reasonable pluralism among educational doctrines: t hat it would undermine educator’s efforts to secure status for themselves as professionals by admitting that “best practices” in education offer rough guidance at best, it would leave parents and students vulnerable to quackery, and that it ab andons the common school tradition and its aspirations. I conclude with a br ief discussion of why the conceptual basis on which a society designs a syste m of choice makes a difference, and why a basis in pedagogical pluralis m has certain advantages more common bases of choice.This argument differs from other pro-choice argumen ts in two ways. First, in linking education and morality, I am not speaking simply ab out religion, or about marginal cases where religious or ethnonationalist extremist s create endless legal headaches for a dominant liberal and secular mainst ream. The disagreements that concern me fall well within the mainstream of polit ical and professional thought in the United States. The struggles between competing educational theories and methods over the last century and a half do not tes t the limits of liberalism or the Constitution in the same way that faith-based and e thnonationalist resistance to common schooling do. Cases involving religious mino rities and state-operated public schools have been well-considered by others, including Rosemary Salomone (2000) and Stephen Macedo (2000). These treatments have addressed very real and intractable problems created by the presence of illiberal minorities under a liberal-democratic regime, and the philosophical an d Constitutional questions they raise are of the utmost importance to liberal-repub lican theory and practice. But as applied to the questions of schooling and school ch oice, the focus on Constitutionally challenging cases can misleadingly suggest that there’s a well-defined and articulated consensus in the US ov er what should be taught and how, and that those who challenge this consensus ar e somehow unreasonable or even threatening to the liberal-republican order th at the rest of us seek to preserve. The first suggestion can make school choice seem su perfluous or distracting. The second can make school choice sound dangerous, conj uring visions of publicly supported schools that preach hatred, oppression, o r anti-Americanism. I want to focus instead on the fault lines within the loose l iberal and professional consensus where these specters do not present themselves so a cutely. Second, my argument speaks primarily to educators t hemselves. It attempts to take seriously, and treat sympathetically, some of their deepest and most divisive professional convictions. Nearly the entire corpus of school choice literature focuses on why choice is good or bad for students, parents, and civil society. While I think my argument applies to all three, it is tea chers who come closest to having articulated, informed, and deeply held beliefs abou t teaching and learning. And it is largely educators and their organizations that have fueled the “curriculum wars” of


4 of 21 the 20th century. (Note 1) Education is their vocation, and educators’ identi ties tend to be far more deeply conditioned by a given concep tion of that vocation than other constituents; they therefore have too much at stake in the outcome of their struggles. Howard Gardner (2000) and Deborah Meier (1995) have written suggestively in this area, Gardner acknowledging th at competing conceptions of good schools might require accommodation and Meier suggesting that school choice might actually be liberating for teachers. L ike theirs, mine is a pro-choice, pro-educator argument motivated by a desire to real ize conditions under which educators can do their best work on behalf of child ren, families, communities, and the republic.I think one of the reasons educators are so hostile to choice is that so many proponents of choice tend to treat public education as a monolithic establishment to be resisted, or reduce what educators tend to see a s a moral project to a system of “service providers” catering to clients, or worse, customers. More strident commentators have construed choice as a way of brea king up unions or the “educational monopoly,” or as an escape hatch for “ underserved” families neglected by the uncaring monolith. This characteri zation cannot sit well with working educators, most of whom feel beleaguered an d hamstrung by policymakers and each other in their efforts to do right by their students. A conception of school choice—and policy in general—t hat recognizes educators’ role as moral agents in the formation of good perso ns restores some honor to the vocation and emphasizes some of the ways in which e ducators and their constituents are allied, rather than opposed. It is time to reframe the choice debate.The Philosophical and Ideological Sources of Educat ional DoctrinesThis section makes what I hope is an obvious point: educational doctrines are not mere preferences or prejudices, but are expressions of belief systems informed by deeper philosophical and ideological convictions. F or purposes of argument it will be helpful to identify some broad categories of com monly recognized educational doctrines. Observers who have surveyed the 20th cen tury have settled on roughly four. (Gutek, 1997; Kliebard, 1995; Pulliam, 1995; Partington, 1987). Their classifications vary somewhat, but they cite the sa me key figures, movements, and permutations, so that these can stand for a rough c onsensus on a classification scheme that captures reasonably well the landscape of competing educational visions in the 20th and 21st centuries. Roughly spe aking, these taxonomists have identified two kinds of “traditionalism” and two ki nds of “progressivism.” Among traditionalists are those who uphold the humanistic and liberal arts model of education focused on high culture and generally (th ough not exclusively) grounded in Western intellectual traditions, and those belie ve that schools should inculcate skills, knowledge, and behaviors that will enable s tudents to become productive worker-citizens. Though they differ from each other in important ways, both kinds of traditionalist favor what might be called academic learning—classroom-centered, text-based, and largely disciplinary. They also sha re a tendency to maintain more authoritative, formal relations between adults and students, and to insist on common standards of comportment defined by prevaili ng cultural norms of civility. Progressivism also comes in two broad varieties. Th e first is what proponents like to call “student-centered,” which tries to organize learning around the talents and


5 of 21 needs of each individual child. It tends to eschew the academicism of the traditionalists in favor of applied, hands-on, “rea l-world” experiences whose content is determined as much as possible by students’ inte rests. The second type of progressivism seeks to use schools as instruments f or reconstructing society by socializing students to what adherents regard as mo re just and humane social norms than are said to be held by traditionalists a nd the society they represent. These two forms of progressivism likewise have thei r differences, but share an approach to adult-child relations that stresses neg otiation and child involvement in codetermining rules of civility and comportment whi le giving as much rein as possible to individual and subcultural self-express ion. These thumbnail descriptions are broadly sketched and oversimplify a messier rea lity, but I trust they look familiar enough to informed readers.In his unusually slim and readable textbook, Philosophical and Ideological Perspectives on Education (1997) Gerald Gutek does the most explicit job amo ng the taxonomists of tracing each educational doctrin e to its philosophical, ideological, and historical origins, and so it is G utek’s analysis I draw on here. What I’ve been loosely calling educational doctrine, Gut ek calls educational theory which is basically a set of normative beliefs about what should be taught and how that derives both from experience and its interaction wi th larger and more comprehensive bodies of thought. Each theory operat es under certain philosophical assumptions about the nature of reality, human natu re, human knowledge, and ethics, and carries with it certain assumptions abo ut the nature of societies, their histories, and the experiences of people within the m. They are, in other words, informed by philosophy and ideology. It is to Gutek ’s credit that he recognizes the distinction. (Note 2) Where philosophy consists of abstractions and stat ements about metaphysics, epistemology, axiology (ethics a nd aesthetics), and logic, ideologies are the concrete and specific belief sys tems of specific groups interpreting their past, assessing their present, a nd attempting to enhance their status in the future. Where philosophy attempts to be universal, transcendental, and contemplative, ideology is partisan, historical and activist. Together, Gutek argues, the two interact in a variety of ways with each other and experience to generate educational theories.So, for example, traditionalists are more likely to subscribe to elements of a realist epistemology that holds that humans discover how the world works through disciplined investigation and reason, whereas progr essives hew closely to Dewey’s claim that humans construct models of reality as they encounter and solve problems in their environment. Likewise, traditiona lism tends to stress the fixed and universal dimensions of human nature, especially th e human capacity for reason, where progressivism emphasizes human plasticity und er varying environmental conditions. (Note 3) And where traditionalists tend to follow Aristotle in thinking of autonomy as something one earns through disciplined mastery of essential knowledge and skills whose standards of excellence are prior to the individual, progressives follow a post-Rousseauian model where a person becomes autonomous by exercising autonomy early and often, and by cultivating a distinctive persona.Ideologically one finds similar patterns. Tradition alism, as the name advertises, has overtones of Burkean conservatism, where tradition is an important social glue and source of collective wisdom, and where effective so cial change must be carried out


6 of 21 incrementally within the tradition to preserve cont inuity and social cohesion. Progressives, on the other hand, tend to subscribe to assorted 19th and 20th century ideologies that view inherited traditions a s at best an encumbrance to social and intellectual improvement and at worst pa rt of an oppressive apparatus of power wielded by elites seeking to dominate others.Once again, this sketch is overdrawn, but recogniza ble. Needless to say, the alignment of particular philosophical and ideologic al frameworks with educational theories is not always as predictable as the rough sketches suggest. It is possible, for example, to be a postmodernist-traditionalist ( e.g., Richard Rorty, 1992), a classicist-feminist-social reconstructionist (e.g., Martha Nussbaum, 1997), or a realist-progressive (e.g., Rousseau). Kliebard call s these “hybrids” (p. 179). Whatever the particular relationship, though, educa tional theory always and inevitably develops out of some broader philosophic al and ideological frameworks. (Note 4) The philosophical and ideological underpinnings of their educational theories and commitments are not always fully artic ulated or even recognized by adherents. In fact, most adherents of a particular set of doctrines most often regard them as “common sense,” a straightforward descripti on of the world (and ethics and knowledge) as it simply is a state of affairs obvious to all but fools, knav es, and enemies of children. But the frameworks are their g uiding thought and action nonetheless.Whatever the particular configuration, educational theories reflect comprehensive worldviews and normative beliefs that profoundly co ndition persons’ consciousness, particularly their conceptions of a good life and j ust society. As with all comprehensive doctrines, secular and sacred, differ ent educational theories are mutually incommensurable. And yet, they represent d isagreements among reasonable people who all subscribe in one way or another to some aspect of post-Enlightenment, post-Romantic liberal and repub lican thought. This acknowledgment is crucial. Most educational theorie s/doctrines in the US share certain aims. They all seek to cultivate tolerant, just, reasonable, critical-minded, and autonomous persons who are productive workers, competent and informed citizens, and adaptive agents able to negotiate a c omplex and changing social, political, and economic environment. It is just tha t they interpret these broadly shared ends through different philosophical and ide ological filters that lead them to construe their educative mandates in sharply confli cting ways. All sides sincerely value republican citizenship and equality for all s tudents. But does equality mean equal access to Euro-American high culture, as huma nistic traditionalists maintain, the equal representation of the literatures of oppr essed peoples, as social reconstructionists believe, or equal opportunity to read what one is most interested in or choose to study films instead, as a child-cen tered progressive might aver? Likewise, does educating for equal democratic citiz enship require that we all become facile in the traditions and discourse of th e civilization that gave rise to citizenship as we understand it, that each subcultu ral group have its own traditions and discursive modes be recognized and incorporated into the academic and social life of the school and public life more broadly, or that children begin making collective and individual decisions about fundament al matters of curriculum, comportment, and dress as early and often as possib le? Each of these positions has plausible arguments on its side, and represents a reasonable interpretation of equality and citizenship. But they are irreconcilab le with each other.


7 of 21 One of the beliefs that all sides share to some deg ree is a belief in the benefits of pluralism to a robust public culture. If so, then w hy not accept pedagogical pluralism for what it is, embrace it, and find a wa y to grant it fuller expression within reasonable bounds?Common Schools and the Profession: Embodiment of “B est Practice” or Established Church?In coming to grips with this diversity of education al doctrine, the first thing to recognize is that this pluralism is OK. In fact, it is natural. As Rawls put it, “A plurality of reasonable yet incompatible comprehens ive doctrines is the normal result of the exercise of human reason within the f ramework of the free institutions of a constitutional democratic regime” (p. xviii). The proliferation of differing worldviews forms the warp and woof of life in a lib eral republic, and suppression of dissent never works for long. So if pluralism of pe dagogical doctrines reflects broader philosophical and ideological pluralism, th e question becomes how best to manage it. Scholarly attempts to address pluralism in schools have focused on the cultural or religious identifications of students, parents and communities, and have largely been proposed within the paradigm of the co mmon school. Crudely put, this scholarship can be cast as a debate between plurali sts, who aver that schools should accommodate and even promote as broad an arr ay of individual and group differences as fully as possible; and assimilationi sts, who argue that common schools should forge a common culture. In recent de cades, the advantage has gone to the pluralists—“we are all multiculturalist s now,” as Nathan Glazer (1998) famously put it.Paradoxically, the overwhelming cultural shift in f avor of pluralism has been accompanied by an unabated attempt to impose a unif orm educational theory (and practice) on the entire institution of schooling. W hether attempting to define national content standards or attempting to establi sh a uniform canon of “best practices,” each group of advocates believes it is trying to do best by kids and society, and therefore must prevail. Yet experience and research have shown that students can thrive in a broad range of schools, fr om Core Knowledge schools and KIPP academies to women’s leadership schools and ex peditionary learning centers. All these types of schools produce graduat es who are literate, productive citizens. As Larry Cuban (2000) observes, there are many different ways for a school to be “good.” As we saw with respect to poli tical and social values, beneath the doctrinal conflict there lies a set of characte ristics that all good schools have in common : They have clear and shared purposes; they believe t hat all children can learn; each school staff has developed a working cu lture that embodies these common beliefs and enjoys collective action; and parents are deeply involved with the school. Thus very differen t concepts of schooling can be embraced without sacrificing the c ore purposes of public education. (p. 152) Variations on Cuban’s list of attributes are found widely in accounts of successful schools. At this level, educators enjoy notable con sensus. For example, in one way or another, Theodore Sizer (1997), Mortimer Adler ( 1982), and Paul Gagnon (1993)


8 of 21 have in different ways argued that “less is more”—i .e., that curricula should be selective, covered in-depth, and coherent. The prob lem is that the consensus erodes quickly as one begins to unpack their assert ions: the criteria of selection, the meaning of depth, and the principles of coheren ce differ substantially among the progressive Sizer, the humanist-traditionalist Adler, and the disciplined-based traditionalist Gagnon. Where Sizer calls for themat ic projects as the basis of curricular organization, Adler looks to the Great C onversation among classic Western authors, and Gagnon to the internal structu res of the academic disciplines within the broad sweep of history. Though Sizer and Adler once collaborated for a time on the Paideia project in the 1980s, these thr ee men could not together create and sustain a good, coherent school. Each by himsel f, in cooperation with like-minded colleagues, could.The kinds of conflicts represented by these three f igures play themselves out daily in schools and communities across the US. A great d eal of the acrimony among educators, and the incoherence of American schoolin g generally, stem from adherents of incompatible doctrines being forced to compete with one another for dominance within the common school. In a typical sc hool partisans coexist warily and resent each other’s influence. The traditionali sts lament the lack of rigor, the progressives complain about the amount of required content coverage, and the reconstructionists sneer at the traditionalists’ ea sy absorption of women authors and black inventors. Everyone is dissatisfied.How then to improve the likelihood that that educat ors in a school will develop a cohesive culture, collegial environment, and collec tive mission? A critical enabling condition for these qualities is professional auton omy within a system of choice. This is intuitive for many reasons, but the most re levant here is that one of the inhibitors of cohesive school cultures is disagreem ent over the best curriculum, instruction, and school culture. As noted, every zo ned school is a mish-mash of progressives, social reconstructionists, and tradit ionalists, and each group further contains its own internal factions and fault lines. Genuine collegiality grounded in a set of shared standards of practice and shared norm ative understanding with regard to the work to be done is nearly impossible under these conditions. In a very real sense many teachers cannot even comprehend one another. One reason that comprehensive school reform is so difficult is that any attempt to impose coherence inevitably favors one educational doctrine over ano ther, thereby galvanizing resistance among a plurality of faculty. Some resis t out of sheer lassitude or intransigence, sure; but many do so because they si ncerely hold contrary beliefs about their vocation as educators. To keep the peac e, schools often resort to giving each teacher as much latitude as possible to do as he or she pleases—hence, the oft-cited isolation of teachers and the difficulty of forming genuinely collegial school cultures. Or alternatively, they engage in perennia l rituals of “consensus-building,” which paper over the differences by temporarily ret reating to the level where the consensus Cuban speaks of is possible. If educators could instead form around a particular educational theory, a common definition of citizen, worker, and lifelong learner, one of the chief barriers to cohesion and collegiality would abate. And the way to do this is to allow teachers (and parents an d students) to choose those that best match their own philosophical and pedagogical convictions. (Note 5) The argument that school choice grounded in a recog nition of reasonable pluralism could benefit educators and other school constituen ts is admittedly speculative. But


9 of 21 there is a historical analogy that I think gives us some warrant for considering it. It is worth recalling how Western societies first came be grudgingly to accept pluralism as a fact of life and eventually to regard toleranc e as a prime public value. Prior to the 17th century the notion that political authorit y and social order could exist without an established church was unthinkable. Clea rly, secular authority required divine sanction, mediated through the offices of an established church representing a particular set of doctrines. It took the Protesta nt Reformation and over a century of bloody, destructive conflict to convince people that this belief and the policies that stemmed from it had become sources of politica l and social in stability. Disestablishment and policies of religious toleranc e emerged as pragmatic accommodations to political reality, a way to disco urage people from killing each other over doctrinal differences. It was only later that intellectuals began to theorize tolerance as a positive good, something valuable in its own right and worthy of the strongest protections. Over time, most religious se cts thrived as voluntary associations, and eventually came to recognize thei r common aims and interests. Catholics and Protestants, Anglicans and Baptists—n ot to mention Buddhists and Muslims—now coexist amicably in a way unimaginable to their 17th century predecessors. And all but the most extreme sects co ntribute to, rather than threaten, the common civic culture.I don’t want to press the analogy too hard. For one thing, common schools could be said to have achieved a modus vivendi among different adherents, and dissidents enjoy tenure protections that amount to something a pproaching an official policy of toleration in schools already. More fundamentally, the state has nearly opposite responsibilities with respect to religion and educa tion—it is proscribed from supporting the one and obliged to support the other On the other hand, I am not the first to observe the parallels between theologi cal and educational doctrine. (Note 6) Insofar as the analogy does hold, it suggests that we may have less to fear from educational disestablishment than from a conti nual struggle among adherents of different education theories to establish their “faith” through the vehicle of the common school. And I do think it holds, at least t o a point. Sectarian warfare among Christians obscured a great deal that competi ng groups held in common as Christians Once again, beneath sectarian differences in educ ation lies a great deal that most educators (and parents and the public) ho ld in common. It is quite plausible that as disestablishment paved the way fo r interfaith cooperation among religious sects, giving more freedom to educators t o practice their sectarian creeds within the limits of the broad liberal-republican a nd professional consensus we do enjoy could heal current rifts among professional e ducators and enable greater professional solidarity. It could also prove energi zing, as it did for religious sects, which thrived once their proselytizing energies wer e set free. After all, who among contemporary secularists feel the proselytizing imp ulse more strongly than educators?Three Objections: Professionalism, Quackery, and th e Common School TraditionThe claim that choice might be good for educators m ight provoke at least three objections, reflecting legitimate concerns among ed ucators and the broader public. First, this argument implicitly denies that teachin g is a profession on par with medicine, which has proved far more successful in e stablishing a tight canon of


10 of 21 professional knowledge and best practices. This wil l naturally raise concern among those attempting to raise the status of teaching by analogizing from medicine. Second, allowing a broader array of schools and pra ctices could increase the risk of hucksterism or quackery—that is, it opens the do or to crackpots and assorted extremists, putting families at risk and further un dermining the credibility of teachers. And finally, school choice seems to repud iate the common school ideal on which the modern American public school system w as built. The common school objection should matter to educators as educ ators for two reasons: first, because the civic dimension of schooling forms part of its moral dimension and raison d’etre and second, because public support for schools is said to rest in part on the sense people have that schools serve the pub lic good. School choice grounded in the recognition that peda gogical questions are as normative as they are empirical may prove difficult for professionalization advocates to accept. Educators have sought recognit ion as true professionals for the better part of the last century, a claim that h as rested on the validity of the assertion that educators and educational researcher s possess a scientifically-based based professional expertise n ot available to laypersons. They have never succeeded in securing the legitimacy the y desire, at least in part because the claim to be scientifically-based is spu rious. And where the science is sound, the implications for teaching practice usual ly leave considerable latitude for practitioners. For example, research on learning de monstrates convincingly that the mind actively constructs knowledge through its inte raction with its environment. These findings tell you something about how the min d works and point roughly to phenomena that teachers ought to keep in mind when planning and delivering lessons; however, it does not say anything about th e relative advantages of “discovery learning” versus well-delivered lectures or other modalities. It only tells you that, whichever modality you choose, it needs t o incorporate certain strategies and take certain characteristics of students into c onsideration (Hirsch, 1996; Bransford et al, 2000). (Note 7) Yet partisans of each modality claim the research for themselves, claiming implicitly or explicitly t hat the research discredits their rivals. This partisan appropriation of research hu rts both the credibility of the research and the public reputation of educators by making the former look cooked and the latter half-baked. You just don’t see this kind of persistent doctrinal warfare in mainstream medicine.If these claims sound like the hauteur of a philosopher, consider the following statement by the National Research Council’s Commit tee on Scientific Principles for Education Research: A more global implication of the role of values in education research concerns the extent to which research in education is truly akin to an engineering science. The question of why education has not produced the equivalent of a Salk vaccine is telling. After all, medical research is something of an engineering science in that it brin gs theoretical understanding in the life sciences to bear on solvi ng the practical problems of prolonging life and reducing disease. E ducation research is similar, with the key difference that there is less consensus on the goal. Medical research often has clearer goals—for exampl e, finding a cure for cancer. Because values are so deeply embedded i n education in so many different ways, education researchers do not h ave a singular


11 of 21 practical goal that drives their inquiry. (2002: 85 ) None of this gainsays the legitimacy or value of ed ucational research, or its relevance to practice. It simply urges modesty abou t claims that a given pedagogical practice is “research-based,” as well a s greater candor about the degree to which values-based convictions drive what one does in the classroom with (or without) the research. Nor should any of this be taken to deny that teache rs require special skills and knowledge to do their jobs well. Quite the contrary ; teaching requires considerable knowledge and skill. It just does not narrow the fi eld of “best” education practices to a point where educators can declare a single best, empirically verifiable educational theory. In short, the research tells us what adher ents of a particular education theory must take into account if they want to succe ed under the terms of their doctrines, but it still doesn’t tell us which doctr ine we should all subscribe to. Again, education simply isn’t medicine.But the medical model is not the only professional model available to educators. Journalists, clergymen, and tradesmen all enjoy leg itimacy as experts, and considerable respect from non-practitioners. And al l hew to certain standards of vocational practice that permit a wide range of leg itimate variation. Respectable journalistic styles range widely, as do the ideolog ies that inform them—from National Review to The Village Voice and from literary journalism to Gonzo. Yet all honor a similar code of ethics with respect to stan dards of veracity, confidentiality of sources, and so on; and all hew to certain canons o f rhetoric and style. Likewise with clergymen, tradesmen, and other practitioners of honored vocations. Each has standards of practice, but standards defined flexib ly enough to allow highly diverse approaches. These standards are nonetheless tight e nough to enable us to discern masters from quacks. Even modestly discriminating r eaders recognize the difference between The New Yorker and The Weekly World News (a supermarket tabloid). It is possible, then, that educational pr ofessionalism conceived more modestly could actually enhance teachers’ status by aiming for a more plausible standard of professional legitimacy; one that, like journalism or ministry, allows a range of approaches within a more parsimoniously de fined set of standards where there is broad consensus among educators and between educat ors and informed constituencies.Could a more flexible conception of professionalism nonetheless open the door to quackery? There are, after all, avid readers of The Weekly World News Religious cults abound. Fly-by-night hustlers have cashed man y a check just before the new roof collapsed. Worse, it is usually the least well informed who are most susceptible to quackery, and the children of the ill-informed w ho are most vulnerable. Society simply cannot tolerate the educational equivalent o f The Weekly World News or the Branch Davidians. The individual and collective sta kes are too high, especially for disadvantaged children.These concerns may have force in an unregulated env ironment where persons share no core values to bind together and sustain a public culture, no rough consensus about desirable educational outcomes, no standards of justice or means to enforce them, or no way to judge good from bad t eaching. But none of these background conditions obtains in the United States. Once again, rough consensus


12 of 21 on these standards does exist, despite differences with respect to how they are to be defined, codified, and instantiated.In the trade and ministerial vocations, professiona l standards are maintained internally, and laws exist to protect persons from libel, fraud, o r outright abuse. The regulatory bar could be said to be pretty low, espe cially for journalists or ministries, but there is no reason it cannot be set higher in e ducation, in recognition of the higher stakes attached to it. Choice proponents hav e long recognized that choice requires standards and accountability provisions to help families and communities make good decisions (Finn, 2002). Defining standard s broadly enough to accommodate legitimate differences among sectarians without undermining their value as standards poses both political and technical challenges. Fig uring out how to assess student achievement of standards poses si milar problems. But they are surmountable. Surely it is possible to strike some satisfactory balance between the need for meaningful standards and the accommodation of reasonable differences. The common school objection poses the strongest cha llenge to the move toward a system of choice grounded in a recognition of reaso nable pluralism. The common school by definition militates against it. It is an honorable institution through which Americans have expressed their liberal-republican i deals for the better part of two centuries. In it, children of varied ethnic and soc ial backgrounds are supposed to mix and mingle and emerge as a unified citizenry wi th a common civic identity and equal opportunity for future prosperity. Some latte r-day champions of the common school have even suggested that the common school s erves as a sort of training ground for citizenship by acting as a goad to local political engagement (Gutmann, 1999). A system of choice is said to undermine all these aims. Choice proponents have responded to the equity and civic challenges by pointing out that common schooling as it operates in practic e in fact produces profound inequities, and that private schools have done at l east as good a job forging the kinds of citizens we say we want—law-abiding, toler ant, engaged—as public/common schools. This rebuttal has some force The common school simply hasn’t lived up to its promise as equalizer of oppo rtunity or forger of competent citizens and, furthermore, a system of choice does not require us to abandon either ambition. Constitutional law, liberalism, and repub licanism provide fairly robust guidelines for ensuring that schools serve certain public, collective purposes and forge shared civic values robust enough to maintain a liberal-republican polity. And while Macedo and Gutmann are certainly correct in a rguing that many of the political and social virtues we take for granted—su ch as tolerance and willingness to work together—actually require active cultivatio n or “conscious social reproduction,” there is no reason why baseline beli efs like these cannot form the criteria by which schools are to be approved, accre dited, and evaluated. Even libertarian-leaning choice proponents have acknowle dged that school choice does not preclude regulation to ensure that schools prom ote academic and civic standards (Moe, 2002).But then the school choice critic can ask, with som e plausibility, why we don’t just draw on these resources to improve common schools? Choice advocates have an answer to this, too—that political control of schoo ls will by its nature always frustrate the goals of reformers; a market-based sy stem would deliver most of what we want from schools more efficiently (Chubb and Mo e, 1990). I would like to take


13 of 21 a similar, but less market-oriented approach and su ggest that, especially in an age of assertive pluralism such as ours, the common sch ool actually works against its own best intentions by embroiling schools in ceasel ess conflicts over the same sorts of normative questions that inhibit collegial ity among educators, thereby undermining cooperation between schools and their c onstituents. I aver that perhaps school choice conceived as accommodation of persons’ reasonable differences with respect to pedagogical doctrines, could actually enhance civic comity among American subcultures in the same way i t could enhance professional collegiality among American educators, while boosti ng support for public schooling. The problem with the common school is that it doesn ’t seem to produce the civic outcomes it strives for. Doctrinal conflicts about everything from math curricula to dress codes continually factionalize and polarize t he very persons who most need to work together to makes schools successful. Again defenders of the common school argue that these conflicts are a good thing, because they represent direct democracy in action, from which students and adults alike learn how to be engaged citizens. What they tend not to note is that the pr ocess rarely generates satisfactory, consensual resolutions. Rather, dispu tes are decided by factional wrangling, power politics, and litigation. These me ans of adjudicating conflict have produced timorous, incoherent, mediocre schools and fractious, litigious school constituencies. These supposedly democratic practic es have largely interfered with both good pedagogical practice and civic comity. In other words, the common school may have become a source of instability inad vertently subverting its own best intentions.This claim makes sense when we pause to consider a basic precondition for citizen consent to state rule. As William Galston (2000) ha s recently rehearsed it, “Genuine civic unity rests on unforced consent. Sta tes that permit their citizens to live in ways that express their values are likely t o enjoy widespread support, even gratitude. By contrast, state coercion is likely to produce dissent, resistance, and withdrawal” (p. 108). This truism holds at the loca l level, as well, where district policies and school practices inevitably alienate s ome group or another. Despite the best, most sincere intentions of school and distric t personnel, some constituents inevitably experience their actions as coercive. Co nservative Christians are a good example. As Michael Apple and Anita Oliver (1996) h ave documented, their militancy is often provoked by their marginalization within the public school system. The same phenomenon has been observed among ethnic subcultures. Fears not just of unfair procedural treatment (e.g. dispropor tionately high assignments to low academic tracks), but also substantive fear of “dec ulturalization” and “linguistic genocide” have tended to galvanize ethnic self-asse rtion and resistance (Spring, 2000). (Note 8) Similar alienation among professional educators (an d parents) has given rise to a bevy of organized dissident groups, each of which f eels itself oppressed by a dominant educational establishment. Members of the progressive Coalition of Essential Schools and traditionalist Core Knowledge Foundation, for example, each see themselves as virtuous minorities fighting the good fight against the educational establishment. And curiously, each sees each other and the point of view they represent as embodying all that’s wrong w ith the establishment. Meanwhile, the field is rife with groups who milita te for or against phonics instruction, multiculturalism, school uniforms, bil ingual education, and so on, all


14 of 21 galvanized by real or perceived slights by a real o r perceived establishment. The proliferation of these groups ought to strike us as odd: When a profession is at war with itself over whether young children should rece ive direct and systematic instruction in textual decoding or be immersed in “literacy rich environments,” something has gone terribly, dishearteningly wrong.The liberal-republican state still has a prerogativ e ensure that its citizens are educated to achieve reasonable standards of intelle ctual competence, and to endorse understandings of justice, tolerance, and p ublic spiritedness consistent with itself. It’s just that the usual mechanisms fo r coping with the demands of pluralistic constituencies in common schools— facti onal wrangling, litigation, dilutive accommodation—have proved unsatisfactory t o nearly everyone. A system of public school choice that recognized a diversity of goods with respect to what’s worth knowing and how it is taught could defuse som e of the acrimony and restore some of the coherence. The potential benefits are t wofold. At the school level, it has the potential to enhance professionalism and co llegiality among teachers by allowing them to form communities of practice aroun d some core conception of the pedagogical good. This makes possible agreement on principles, practices, and strategies to guide the work of the school. It like wise provides a substantive basis for parent and student buy-in up-front. So right aw ay, two key features of strong schools—quality teachers and engaged students and p arents—can more easily gain a toehold.At the community level, support for schools might a ctually be enhanced under a regime of public school choice, because fewer peopl e would feel compromised, silenced, or alienated. Accommodation could certain ly defuse a lot of conflict not just among educators, but between educators, famili es, and communities. Choice alone would not be enough. A spirit of tolerance wo uld also need to be cultivated in localities so that certain kinds of schools were no t prevented from opening because of local majority bias, which would only shift the current acrimony to slightly different terrain while continuing to hold children hostage t o doctrinal zeal. If this spirit were achieved, however, choice could actually make it ea sier for local citizens to like each other and their schools, which would represent a significant step forward. To make the conceptual shift to school choice, we d on’t have to give up our commitment to basic fairness, common civic culture, academic standards, or certain common features of schooling. Nor should we We simply have to find better institutional mechanisms for realizing them. If, at a certain level of abstraction, we all believe in problem-solving, lit eracy, and life-long learning; cooperation, justice, freedom, republicanism, patri otism, and tolerance; active student learning, curricular coherence, and authent ic assessment; but let our ourselves get bogged down in doctrinal disputes abo ut what kind of school best honors these, then we are all perhaps better served by allowing a reasonable pluralism to prevail. Paradoxically, a policy of pe dagogical disestablishment could diminish sectarian rivalry and pave the way for gre ater interfaith cooperation, to the benefit of the common good. (Note 9) ConclusionMy argument is not intended to imply that educators should exercise sole, or even primary authority over the kinds of schools that wi ll be offered. The emphasis on


15 of 21 professional educators does recognize that educator s (and parents/citizens-turned-educators) are more likely to have at least a semi-coherent and semi-articulate educational philosophy. They wi ll largely determine the kind of schools available, and will continue to work to con vert others to their pedagogical worldviews. The emphasis on pedagogy and philosophy also recognizes and honors the pluralism that exists among reasonable, well-intentioned educators. Nonetheless, parents, community members, and other educational constituents also have worldviews and interests that demand voic e and accommodation. My argument is compatible with other values-based rati onales for choice, such as those put forward by Salomone (2000) and Galston, w hich are grounded in parental values and children’s differing needs. The eventual landscape of schools would over time be shaped by the ongoing negotiations amo ng educators, families, and other constituents.The pluralistic model of school choice grounded in educators’ (as well as communities’ and parents’) philosophical commitment s also has some compatibility with the market-based model. Student achievement an d life outcomes would still be a chief criterion for judging school quality. Schoo ls would, in effect, compete with one another for the loyalties of students and paren ts. But there are substantive differences, as well, with consequences for how we think about choice and frame education policy generally. The chief difference li es in the conceptualization of schooling itself. Where the market model tends to c onceive schooling as a service commodity, with educators as “providers” and famili es (and businesses) as “clients” or “consumers,” the model sketched here comes close r to John Davison Hunter (2000) and Robert J. Nash (1997) who conceive schoo ls as moral communities. I think this model more accurately reflects both how constituents experience schooling and how we should conceive it. The problem with the market model is that it provides meager conceptual resources for sc hools (or their authorizers) to exercise legitimate normative authority or impose r easonable expectations on students, families, business, and other constituent s—there are, after all, no consumer obligations, only rights. Social progressi ves as well as conservatives have good reason to preserve a conception of school ing that recognizes, affirms, and supports the formative mission of schooling.At the same time, the pluralistic model in some sen se gives more power to families in that it urges policymakers to consider a broader range of goods when ascertaining school quality than students’ academic achievement. Charter proponents have been frustrated by how difficult it can be to close a low-performing charter school in the face of family and community protest. This attachment to low-performing charters—irrational from a market pe rspective—reflects the diversity of goods that schools provide for teachers, parents students, and communities. By honoring these, a pluralistic model would make scho ol accountability more complex—a potential downside from the point of view of school quality measured primarily in terms of test scores or college going rates, but a potential enhancement for those who believe there is more to schooling th an academic achievement. If my argument has merit, the next step will be to sketch policy implications. Suffice it to say for now that while I think it makes a sub stantive difference in how we frame and think through policy questions, it does not by itself solve any of the implementation challenges that other school choice models face. Academic and civic standards would still need to be established. (Do we permit schools that teach


16 of 21 Afrocentrism or give “equal time” to creation scien ce?) “Reasonable pluralism” would have to be defined. (Is it reasonable for a s chool’s dress code to require girls to wear head scarves?) Assessment systems would nee d to be devised that preserved rigor without unfairly favoring some kind s of schools over others. Fair and adequate funding formulae would need to be deve loped. Public information and transportation systems would need to be establi shed. Regulations and incentives would need to be crafted that ensured th at all families and students—irrespective of special needs, home langua ge, race, ethnicity, or income—had full access to high quality schools. Dec isions would have to be made about where to draw the line on school features tha t seem designed to appeal primarily to a single ethnic or religious group. (Note 10) (Head scarves, creation science, and Afrocentric schools are unlikely to dr aw many students from outside certain very particular subcultures.) Labor and cer tification issues would need to be addressed, new organizational networks formed, new ways of delivering electives, sports, and extra-curriculars. And so on.These and many other problems of principle and prac tice would remain to be solved. But if designed correctly, a system of choi ce that honored the convictions of educators (and other constituents) would take some of the most intractable issues off the table, especially those that touch us most closely—curriculum, pedagogy, and standards of personal comportment. The liberal arts school could coexist with the project-based school, the JROTC academy with th e school for peace and social justice, the school that requires uniforms with the one that allows students to collectively renegotiate the dress code every six w eeks. Once all sects feel secure in the practice of their faith, might better school s and stronger professional solidarity follow? We won’t know unless we call a t ruce in the pedagogical holy wars.ReferencesAdler, Mortimer J. (1982). The Paideia Proposal: An Educational Manifesto New York: Collier. Bransford, John D., Ann L. Brown, and Rodney R. Coc king (2000). How People Learn: Brain, Mind, Experience, and School Washington, DC: National Academy Press. Bryk, Anthony S., Valerie E. Lee, and Peter B. Holl and (1993). Catholic Schools and the Common Good Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Chubb, John and Terry Moe (1990). Politics, Markets, and America’s Schools. Brookings Institution Press. Committee on Scientific Principles for Education Re search. Scientific Research in Education Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 2002. Cotton, Kathleen (2001). New Small Learning Communities: Findings from Recen t Literature Portland, OR: Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory. Cuban, Larry (2000). “Why is it so hard to get ‘goo d’ schools?” Reconstructing the Common Good in Education: Coping with Intractable American Dilemma s Eds. Larry Cuban and Dorothy Shipps. Palo Alto, CA: Stanford University Press. Cushman, Kathleen (1999). “How small schools increa se student learning (and what large schools can do about it,” Principal 79 (2): 20-22. Finn, Chester E. (2002) “Real accountability in K-1 2 education: the marriage of Ted and Alice,” School Accountability: An Assessment by the Koret Task For ce on K-12 Education Eds. Williamson M. Evers and Herbert J. Walberg. Palo Alto, CA: Hoover Institution Press.


17 of 21 Gagnon, Paul (1993). “What should children learn?” Atlantic Monthly Dec: 65-78. Galston, William A. (2002). Liberal Pluralism: The Implications of Value Plural ism for Political Theory and Practice New York: Cambridge University Press. Gardner, Howard (2000). The Disciplined Mind: Beyond Facts and Standardized Tests, the K-12 Education that Every Child Deserves New York: Penguin. Glazer, Nathan (1998). We Are All Multiculturalists Now Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Gutek, Gerald L. (1997). Philosophical and Ideological Perspectives on Educa tion 2nd ed. Boston: Allyn & Bacon. Gutmann, Amy (1999). Democratic Education 2nd ed. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press Hirsch, E.D., Jr. The Schools We Need and Why We Don’t Have Them New York: Doubleday. Hunter, John Davison (2000). The Death of Character: Moral Education in an Age W ithout Good or Evil New York: Basic Books. Kliebard, Herbert. (1995). The Struggle for the American Curriculum: 1893-1958 New York: Routledge. Macedo, Stephen (2000). Diversity and Distrust: Civic Education in a Multic ultural Democracy Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Meier, Deborah (1995) The Power of their Ideas Boston: Beacon. Meyer, John (2000). “Reflections on education as tr anscendence,” Reconstructing the Common Good in Education: Coping with Intractable American Dilemma s Eds. Larry Cuban and Dorothy Shipps. Palo Alto, CA: Stanford University Press. Mitchell, Katharyne (2001). "Education for Democrat ic Citizenship: Transnationalism, Multiculturalism and the Limits of Liberalism," Harvard Educational Review, 71(1): 51-78. Moe, Terry M. (2002). “The Structure of School Choi ce,” Choice with Equity Ed. Paul T. Hill. Palo Alto, CA: Hoover Institution Press. Nash, Robert J. (1997). Answering the Virtuecrats: A Moral Conversation on Character Education New York: Teachers College Press. Nussbaum, Martha (1997). Cultivating Humanity: A Classical Defense of Reform in Liberal Education Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Paris, David C. Ideology & Educational Reform: Themes and Theories in Public Education Boulder, CO: Westview Press. Partington, Geoffrey (1987). "The Disorientation of Western Education: When Progress Means Regress," Encounter Jan: 5-15. Powell, Arthur (1996). Lessons from Privilege: The American Prep School Tr adition Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Pulliam, John D. (1995) History of Education in America 6th ed. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall. Ravitch, Diane (2000). Left Back: A Century of Failed School Reforms New York: Simon & Schuster. Rawls, John (1993). Political Liberalism New York: Columbia University Press. Rorty, Richard (1992). “Two Cheers for the Cultural Left.” The Politics of Liberal Education Eds. Darryl J. Gless and Barbara Herrnstein Smith. Durham, NC: Duk e University Press. Salomone, Rosemary (2000). Visions of Schooling: Conscience, Community, and Co mmon Education New Haven, CT: Yale University Press. Sizer, Theodore (1997). Horace’s Hope: What Works for the American High Sch ool New York: Mariner Books.


18 of 21 Spring, Joel H. (2000). Deculturalization and the Struggle for Equality: A Brief History of the Education of Dominated Cultures in the United States McGraw-Hill. Wasley, Pat, Michelle Fine, M. Gladden, N.E. Hollan d, S.P. King, E. Mosak, L.C. Powell (2000) Small School, Great Strides: A Study of New Small Schools in Chicago New York: Bank Street College of Education.About the AuthorDavid J. Ferrero, Ed.DDirector of Evaluation and Policy Research, Educati on Bill & Melinda Gates FoundationPO Box 23350Seattle, WA 98102 David Ferrero is Director of Evaluation and Policy Research for the education division of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, an d a former high school teacher. His scholarship and other writing have lately focus ed on applications of contemporary Anglo-American political philosophy to questions of educational policy and practice.NotesSee Kliebard (1995) and Ravitch (2000) for two of t he more comprehensive accounts of this history. 1. Most commentators do not. They tend instead to rega rd the conflicts among educational theories as primarily “ideological.” Am ong partisans the ideological label is slur, implying insidious motiv es on the other side in contrast with the benign and virtuous motives of on e’s own. It is always the other side that’s ideologically motivated. In schol arly treatments, where ideology is recognized as informing all sides, ther e is a tendency to regard ideology as a kind of false consciousness, a filter that interferes with consensus-building (Paris, 1995). Even Kliebard (19 95), whose historical examination of the conflicts among different educat ional theories is admirably even-handed, reduces the conflicts to “symbolic pol itics,” something vaguely irrational and ultimately ineffectual. 2. This is illustrative, but overdrawn. Traditionalist s recognize the influence of environment, and progressives the power of human re ason. Nonetheless, differences in emphasis at the philosophical level lead to considerable divergence at the pedagogical and practical. 3. Despite appearances, origins, and the avowals of so me adherents, no position on the square is innately more politically conservative or progressive than the others. Jesuit education, for example, ten ds to be pedagogically traditional; yet the social mission of the Jesuits is progressive. Likewise, multiculturalists tend to regard themselves as poli tical progressives, and tend to ally with pedagogical progressives as well. But multiculturalism originates in the ethnonationalist desire to hold on to a reified cultural identity over and against a broader and more inclusive civic identity which is characteristic of certain conservatives. Religious fundamentalists, w ho like the Jesuits tend to 4.


19 of 21 be pedagogically traditional, are simultaneously re actionary conservatives and social reconstructionists of a different stripe There is some suggestive literature on the possible benefits to learning of voluntary association within schools. See, for exam ple, Bryk et al (1993), Powell (1996), and Hunter (2000). 5. John Meyer (2000) actually defines educational theo ries as religions, using a set of criteria similar to those Gutek uses to defi ne philosophy and ideology. Cuban (2000) likewise treats educational theories a s quasi-religions: “By World War I, these competing progressive and tradit ional ideologies constituted different faiths in the best way of rai sing children. . This century-long see-saw struggle of ideas is, then a m uch deeper religious conflict over what role schools should play in soci ety writ large and, more specifically, how children should be schooled” (pp. 156-7). He draws here on several historical studies by Tyack and Hansot trac ing the origins of different educational theories to religious sources. 6. Nor does it settle the epistemological debate betwe en realists and pragmatists, as the question remains open whether t he mental constructs correspond to something about the way the world act ually is or are simply useful fictions that help humans solve problems in specific contexts. 7. I don’t mean to imply here that we should encourage a system of school choice based on religious or ethnic identification. At the same time, there is no denying that the pedagogical traditions and the philosophies and ideologies that inform them developed out of partic ular cultural milieux. In a culturally pluralistic society, especially one char acterized by aggressive subcultural self-assertion, we could expect a degre e of interaction between pedagogical creeds and cultural affiliations. Might pedagogical creeds be used as cover for cultural or religious ones? If so might a system of choice predicated on differing conceptions of best curricu lum and pedagogy provide ethnic, religious, or socioeconomic groups a pretex t for self-segregation? It is certainly possible, but it isn’t as inevitable as i t might at first seem. For example, in a recent case in Vancouver, British Col umbia, Hong Kong immigrants’ traditionalist pedagogical values clash ed with the local native majority whose values were more progressive. Despit e the case study author’s attempt to characterize the conflict as ra cially motivated, it is noteworthy that the immigrant’ educational values—c haracterized as Confucian and “Chinese” in origin—converged with th ose of conservative Christians in the area (Mitchell, 2001). Meanwhile, contemporary progressives working in the urban core of cities such as Chicago Providence, and New York are demonstrating that progressive pedagogy—on ce regarded as effective primarily with white, suburban, affluent students—can also work for disadvantaged urban minorities (Cotton, 2001; Wasle y, 2000; Cushman, 1999). These examples suggest that the interactions among pedagogy, philosophy, ideology, and culture are complex and p otentially serendipitous. They hardly point to school choice grounded in peda gogical pluralism as a panacea for segregation or balkanization; but they do suggest policy and recruitment strategies mitigating these risks throu gh a diverse array of schools that appeal across ethnic and religious lin es. 8. These are empirically testable assertions, but as c hoice proponents are fond of saying, we have to try these policies in order t o research their effects. 9. See footnote 8 above. 10.


20 of 21 The World Wide Web address for the Education Policy Analysis Archives is Editor: Gene V Glass, Arizona State UniversityProduction Assistant: Chris Murrell, Arizona State University General questions about appropriateness of topics o r particular articles may be addressed to the Editor, Gene V Glass, or reach him at College of Education, Arizona State Un iversity, Tempe, AZ 85287-2411. The Commentary Editor is Casey D. Cobb: .EPAA Editorial Board Michael W. Apple University of Wisconsin David C. Berliner Arizona State University Greg Camilli Rutgers University Linda Darling-Hammond Stanford University Sherman Dorn University of South Florida Mark E. Fetler California Commission on Teacher Credentialing Gustavo E. Fischman Arizona State Univeristy Richard Garlikov Birmingham, Alabama Thomas F. Green Syracuse University Aimee Howley Ohio University Craig B. Howley Appalachia Educational Laboratory William Hunter University of Ontario Institute ofTechnology Patricia Fey Jarvis Seattle, Washington Daniel Kalls Ume University Benjamin Levin University of Manitoba Thomas Mauhs-Pugh Green Mountain College Les McLean University of Toronto Heinrich Mintrop University of California, Los Angeles Michele Moses Arizona State University Gary Orfield Harvard University Anthony G. Rud Jr. Purdue University Jay Paredes Scribner University of Missouri Michael Scriven University of Auckland Lorrie A. Shepard University of Colorado, Boulder Robert E. Stake University of Illinois—UC Kevin Welner University of Colorado, Boulder Terrence G. Wiley Arizona State University John Willinsky University of British Columbia


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