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Reforming Schools

Working within a Progressive Tradition during Conservative Times

Jesse Goodman

Publication Year: 2006

In Reforming Schools, Jesse Goodman discusses the possibilities, struggles, and complexities involved in reforming today’s schools. Drawing from his own experiences at the Harmony Education Center—a progressive educational center he helped establish in 1990—Goodman offers a vision of how to persevere at a time when many progressive educators are feeling discouraged. He focuses on practical ideas for reform, such as establishing school autonomy; creating democratic structures, rituals, and values upon which school reform discourse can be generated; and by addressing the current conservative agenda, how to influence what happens in our nation’s public schools. By situating school reform within a progressive history of Western society, the author offers valuable insights and ideas that are alternatives to both the conservative and the radical left analyses of schools and society.

Published by: State University of New York Press

Front Matter

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Table of Contents

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pp. vii

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pp. ix-xvi

The beginning of the twenty-first century is not an encouraging time to be a progressive educator. The conservative restoration (Apple, 2001) with its emphasis on testing, accountability, and nationally directed standards is picking up speed. Teachers, as a consequence, are being deskilled (Apple, 1986...

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pp. xvii-xviii

Efforts to reform schools are intimately rooted in the conscious and/or subconscious visions of what one might consider to be a “good society.” As mentioned in the first chapter, this book represents an effort to create images and discuss issues of school reform that are contextualized within a progressive history of the United States. Given the failures of twentieth century socialist...

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1 The Times in Which We Work: The Conservative Restoration

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pp. 1-22

During the last twenty-five to thirty years a resurgence of conservative ideology has swept across our schools and society. This latest “conservative restoration” began within the political realm of society with such events as the signing of civil rights and voting rights laws in 1964, implementation of Richard...

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2 Creating a ProgressiveEducational Organization: Harmony Education Centerin Its Historical Context

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pp. 23-38

The Harmony Education Center came into existence in 1990 as a result of a partnership that was formed between Harmony School and Indiana University. In this section, we briefly recount the origins of this center and provide an account of the historical tradition within which we place our work. This...

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3 The Local Politics of Educational Reform: Issues of School Autonomy

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pp. 39-54

This chapter represents one area of concern linked to the politics that emerged when, acting as external change agents, HEC became involved in several comprehensive, school-based educational change efforts. While many think of school reform solely in terms of curriculum content, techniques of teach...

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4 Constructing a Democratic Foundationfor School-Based Reform Discourse

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pp. 55-80

As stated in the last chapter, increasing a school’s organizational autonomy will not automatically improve the education of children or the quality of teachers’ work in a given building. Although school autonomy is a crucial first step in a very long journey, it is equally important to help schools create a democratic...

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5 Addressing the Conservative Agenda: Discourses of School-Based Reform

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pp. 81-98

As discussed in the first chapter, the United States finds itself in the grip of a conservative restoration.Within the educational realm of society, this shift to the right has resulted in several initiatives such as efforts to privatize education through vouchers, to utilize standardized testing as the only tool for the assessment...

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6 Conclusion: Reflections from the Field

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pp. 99-120

This book has portrayed Harmony Education Center’s reform work in numerous schools and explored a number of issues that emerged from these efforts. As stated in the first chapter, we place our work within the reform leftist tradition found within the progressive history of the United States. In particular, we view this work as contributing to the efforts of other educators and cultural...


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pp. 121-126


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pp. 127-140


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pp. 141-149

E-ISBN-13: 9780791481530
Print-ISBN-13: 9780791467954
Print-ISBN-10: 0791467953

Page Count: 170
Illustrations: 1 figure
Publication Year: 2006