Keeping progressive educational
discourse alive during conservative
times: Harmony Education Center
and the National School Reform
During the last 25 to 30 years a resurgence of conservative ideology has swept across United States' schools and society. This latest ‘conservative restoration’ began within the political realm of society with such events as Richard Nixon's ‘southern strategy’ that successfully incorporated the Dixiecrats into the Republican Party and the subsequent election of Ronald Reagan which, in turn, set the stage for the ‘dixification of America’ (Cummings 1998). Space does not allow for, nor is it necessary to present, a comprehensive review of the conservative ideology, policies and practices that have swept the United States during the last two decades of the twentieth century as others (see, for example, Wallerstein 1995; Barber 1998; Blau 1999; MacEwan 1999; Brock 2001) have already explored this phenomena from several perspectives as it has materialized within several realms of society. As Apple (2001) and others (see, for example, Miller 1995) recently discussed, the educational ramifications of this restoration included (among other things): public supported vouchers for children going to private schools, high stakes testing, legislation of curriculum content, emphasis on drilling and memorization, internal racial segregation through tracking, the deskilling of teachers, and a deepening of ‘savage inequalities’ (Kozol 1991) related to the inequitable resources provided to wealthy versus impoverished children.
One response within the educational sphere of US society to this turn of events has been the establishment of various networks designed to promote more thoughtful, authentic and meaningful discourses than that encouraged by current educational policy makers who are fixated narrowly upon the