Becoming Good American Schools: The Struggle for Civic Virtue in Education Reform


This book brings to life an ambitious American education reform agenda: transforming schools into places that foster meaningful engagement with ideas, caring people, principles of social justice, and democratic processes. It draws on longitudinal, comparative case-study research to tell the stories of sixteen schools in California, Illinois, Massachusetts, Texas, and Vermont that sought to alter their deep structures and daily practices. Their stories illuminate contradictions deeply rooted in American culture_incongruities that not only threatened their efforts, but also revealed the limits of technical and rational approaches to school reform. The accounts in this book attest to the power of committing to public virtue and the struggle of educators to transform that commitment into changed school practice. The authors argue that better schools will come only when policy makers, educators, and citizens move beyond technical and bureaucratic reforms to engage in the same educative, socially just, caring, and participatory processes they want for schoolchildren. Those processes constitute betterment_both the means and the ends of school reform. Becoming Good American Schools is for administrators, policy makers, practitioners, and citizens who are prepared to blend inspiration and caution, idealism and skepticism in their own pursuit of good schools.

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