This volume, like the editions that preceded it, is predicated on the following assumption: Educators must see their work as inextricably linked to conflicts, stresses, and crises of the social world—whether these appear in forms that might be cultural, moral, political, economic, ecological, or spiritual. It is impossible to make sense of what is happening educationally if what is occurring is not placed in the context of the strains, struggles, and contradictions in both our national and global communities. Issues such as the growing administrative control over teachers' lives, allegations about the mediocrity of American schools, the crisis of funding, concern about what is called educational excellence, the impoverishment of increasing numbers of children and adolescents, the influence of the media on young lives, fears about moral degeneration, school violence, bitter contention over the nature of the curriculum and of school knowledge, and widening disparities in educational achievement among ethnic and racial groups all must be seen, at the same time, as both critical issues in American education and as metaphors for the larger human and societal situation. It is this connection that is central to the selection of articles in this book. What happens in school, or as part of the educational experience, reflects, expresses, and mediates profound questions about the direction and nature of the society we inhabit.
We attempted to organize the readings in this book in a thematically meaningful structure. The five sections offer a useful way to make sense of the problems and concerns that confront us. Each section is preceded by a brief essay that introduces the readings. Still the organization must be viewed as only a