The Public Schools

The Public Schools

The Public Schools

The Public Schools

Synopsis

From curriculum standards and testing to school choice and civic learning, issues in American education are some of the most debated in the United States. The Institutions of American Democracy, a collection of essays by the nation's leading education scholars and professionals, is designed to inform the debate and stimulate change.
In association with the Annenberg Foundation Trust at Sunnylands and the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania,The Institutions of American Democracyis the first in a series of books commissioned to enhance public understanding of the nature and function of democratic institutions. A national advisory board--including, among others, Nancy Kassebaum Baker, David Boren, John Brademas, Ellen Condliffe Lagemann, David Gergen, and Lee Hamilton--will guide the vision of the project, which includes future volumes on the press and the three branches of government.
Each essay inThe Institutions of American Democracyaddresses essential questions for policymakers, educators, and anyone committed to public education. What role should public education play in a democracy? How has that role changed through American history? Have the schools lost sight of their responsibility to teach civics and citizenship? How are current debates about education shaping the future of this democratic institution?
Among the contributors are William Galston, Director of the Institute for Philosophy and Public Policy at the University of Maryland;Clarence Stone, Professor in the Department of Government and Politics at the University of Maryland - College Park and editor ofChanging Urban Education and RegimePolitics: Governing Atlanta, 1946-1988(University Press of Kansas, 1998).; Susan Moore Johnson, Pforzheimer Professor of Education in Learning and Teaching, Harvard University; Michael Johanek, Executive Director of K-12 Professional Development, College Board; Kathy Simon, co-executive director of the Coalition for Essential Schools and author ofMoral Questions in the Classroom(Yale University Press, 2001); and Jennifer Hochschild, Professor of Government and Professor of Afro-American Studies at Harvard University and author ofFacing Up to the American Dream: Race, Class, and the Soul ofthe Nation(Princeton University Press, 1995).

Excerpt

Jaroslav Pelikan

There is no reference to schools in the constitution of the United States, and yet education has made possible both its original composition and its ongoing implementation. The absence of explicit language about schools, in the original document as well as in any of its amendments (so far, at least), has not prevented education from becoming, over the years, both a major constitutional issue in its own right and the primary occasion for democratic debate over and judicial interpretation of the Constitution's provisions, and for legislative action at the local, state, and federal levels. Two of the most persistent and intractable problems in American society, and therefore in the application of the Constitution to its changing realities, are (to put them in their constitutional context): the tension between the establishment clause and the free exercise clause of the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights as this amendment defines the relation between government and organized religion; and the guarantee of the right to vote and of equal protection under the law for all citizens regardless of "race, color, or previous condition of servitude" as this is set down in the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments.

Balancing the requirement that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion" against the no-less-binding stipulation "or prohibiting the free exercise thereof" has proved to be a difficult assignment in many areas of political life. The employment of clergy as chaplains in the armed forces—wearing military uniforms, carrying military rank, and receiving a salary from the federal government—has seemed to many to privilege the free exercise clause at the expense of the establishment clause. Governmental restriction on the distribution of religious tracts, whether, under the First Amendment, it is seen as pertaining to the freedom of the press or to the freedom of religion, can be construed . . .

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