The Schools We Deserve: Reflections on the Educational Crises of Our Times

By Diane Ravitch | Go to book overview

21
Prospects

IF there is a single theme that I have tried to stress throughout these essays, it is this: What happens in the schools and to the schools is determined by our assumptions, our ideals, and our policies. As a society, we are responsible for the quality of our public schools because they are what we choose to make them. The policies that we adopt affect the preparation, selection, and retention of teachers; our beliefs about what is important to transmit to the next generation shape the curriculum, the graduation requirements, and the standards of accomplishment in the schools; the funding that is provided for them limits or expands their capabilities; the esteem in which we hold the work of the schools influences able people to teach in them or to shun them; the purposeful decisions made by courts, Congress, executive agencies, and legislatures may place unreasonable burdens on the schools, may assign to them duties that divert them from their proper ends, or may protect them from unwarranted political interference. There is nothing inevitable about the improvement or decline of our schools; the conditions that make schools better or worse are usually the result of our ideas and actions, not

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