Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2003

Center/Program

Center for Public Research and Leadership

Abstract

It is a pleasure to address such well-informed, insightful and well-intentioned responses to our Article. Intellectual predispositions and differing assessments of the prospects of reform aside, it is striking that so many participants have firsthand experience of the new model school, the new politics in all their mystery, and even non-court-centric judicial review.' It is clear that something is afoot, and not just in academic circles, when observers as different as Diane Ravitch, the critic of Deweyan latitudinarianism, and Gordon Whitman, the community organizer, are both surprised to discover that standardized testing can go hand in hand with individualized education in improving schools for the most vulnerable students. 2 In the main, therefore, we are engaged in an intramural discussion about how to characterize and assess the developmental possibilities of a new species of public institution whose mere appearance confounds traditional taxonomies.

Because reactions to this novelty nonetheless strongly reflect the educational, political or policy, and legal expertise of the respondents, we divide our own necessarily selective commentary accordingly. We begin, however, with a compressed restatement of our core argument, emphasizing what we take to be its most attractive institutional feature: the ability to make progress on apparently intractable problems even in the absence of anything like a fully specified concept of the eventual solution or a rich consensus on the ultimate goals of education. I.

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