A revolutionary proposal for a conceptual and organizational framework for US public education that benefits all citizens.
In Educational Pluralism and American Democracy, education policy expert Ashley Rogers Berner envisions a K–12 education system that serves both the individual and the common good. Calling for education reform that will enable US public schools to fulfill the longstanding promise of American education, Berner proposes a radical reimagining of both the structure and content of US public school systems. She urges policymakers to embrace educational pluralism, an internationally common model in which the government funds diverse types of schools that deliver more universal content.
Providing an incisive assessment of democratic education throughout the world, Berner argues that educational pluralism can build students’ exposure to diverse viewpoints and shared knowledge within distinctive school communities. She shows how pluralism steers a middle path that enables equitable access, promotes academic excellence, and avoids the zero-sum games that characterize US education policy. Pluralism, she observes, will ultimately serve democracy by defusing polarization and increasing social mobility, political tolerance, and civic engagement.
In this thought-provoking proposal, Berner lays out a roadmap for big-picture reform, expertly delineating the mechanisms through which educational norms can change. A practical conclusion describes concrete moves that advocates can pursue to garner support and advance new legislation.
Ashley Rogers Berner is director of the Johns Hopkins Institute for Education Policy and associate professor of education.