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School syndrome: Understanding the USA’s magical belief that schooling can somehow improve society, promote access, and preserve advantage

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Abstract:

1The US is suffering from a school syndrome, which arises from Americans’ insistence on having things both ways through the magical medium of education. Society wants schools to express the highest ideals as a society and the greatest aspirations as individuals, but only as long as they remain ineffective in actually realizing them, since one does not really want to acknowledge the way these two aims are at odds with each other. Schools are asked to promote equality while preserving privilege, so perpetuating a system that is too busy balancing opposites to promote student learning. The focus is on making the system inclusive at one level and exclusive at the next, in order to make sure that it meets demands for both access and advantage. As a result the system continues to lure one to pursue the dream of fixing society by reforming schools, while continually frustrating one’s ability to meet these goals. Also, a simple cure cannot be found for this syndrome because no remedy will be accepted that would mean giving up one of the aims for education in favour of another.

Keywords: educational markets; educational policy; history of education; school reform

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/00220272.2012.675358

Affiliations: School of Education,Stanford University, 485 Lasuen MallStanford,CA,94305, USA

Publication date: 2012-04-01

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