This essay is part of an exchange, with Johns Hopkins professor Ashley Berner, discussing the variety of educational models in place around the nation and around the world, assessing the benefits of each, and considering the potential for American education to move toward greater pluralism.
Thank you again for kicking off and advancing our conversation.
I’d like to close by making two points, both responsive, though in different ways, to issues you’ve raised.
Pluralism: Concept vs. Practice
First, I recognize the definition that you use for “educational pluralism.” It reflects a set of arrangements seen in various forms in other nations and not seen in the United States. I understand and appreciate why this is your preferred model. I also appreciate that articulating the ideal is helpful when thinking about reform.
The purpose of my response was to discuss what America has and how we got it. I did this as a way of trying to describe our complex K-12 landscape and explain the long train of decisions and events that shaped it. I also believe that the most successful reform efforts begin with a clear sense of what is and why it is. I’ve found that most policymakers are pragmatic, so reasoning from the particular laws, regulations, and practices that they know (and often that they crafted) is the best way to get traction.
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