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PART 1. Enduring Issues
ISSUE 1. Should Schooling Be Based on Social Experiences?
YES: John Dewey, from Experience and Education
NO: Robert M. Hutchins, from The Conflict in Education in aDemocratic Society
Philosopher John Dewey suggests that educators shouldreconsider traditional approaches to schooling and give fullerattention to the social development of the students. Noted educatorRobert M. Hutchins argues for a liberal arts education geared to thedevelopment of intellectual powers.
ISSUE 2. Should the Curriculum Be Standardized for All?
YES: Mortimer J. Adler, from "The Paideia Proposal: Rediscoveringthe Essence of Education", American School Board Journal
NO: John Holt, from Escape From Childhood
Philosopher Mortimer J. Adler contends that democracy isbest served by a public school system that establishes uniformcurricular objectives for all students. Educator John Holt argues thatan imposed curriculum damages the individual and usurps a basic humanright to select one's own path of development.
ISSUE 3. Should Behaviorism Shape Educational Practices?
YES: B. F. Skinner, from Beyond Freedom and Dignity
NO: Carl R. Rogers, from Freedom to Learn for theEighties
B. F. Skinner, an influential proponent of behaviorism andprofessor of psychology, argues that learning and motivation arelinked to the influence of external forces. Professor of psychologyand psychiatry Carl R. Rogers offers the "humanistic" alternative tobehaviorism and insists that there are subjective forces in humanmotivation.
ISSUE 4. Should Church-State Separation Be Maintained?
YES: R. Freeman Butts, from "A History and Civics Lesson for Allof Us", Educational Leadership
NO: Robert L. Cord, from "Church-State Separation and the PublicSchools: A Re-evaluation", Educational Leadership
Professor emeritus of education R. Freeman Butts warnsthat current efforts to redefine the relationship between religion andschooling are eroding the Constitution's intent. Professor ofpolitical science Robert L. Cord argues that none of the schoolpractices currently being allowed violate the First Amendment'sestablishment clause.
ISSUE 5. Should School Attendance Be Compelled?
YES: Horace Mann, from Tenth Annual Report andTwelfth Annual Report
NO: Daniel H. Pink, from "School's Out", Reason
Horace Mann, a leader of the common school movement in thenineteenth century, presents the basic arguments for publicly fundededucation in which all citizens could participate and lays thegroundwork for compulsory attendance laws. Writer-editor Daniel H.Pink declares compulsory mass schooling an aberration and finds hopein the home schooling revolution and the ultimate demise of highschool.
PART 2. Current Fundamental Issues
ISSUE 6. Can "Character Education" Reverse Moral Decline?
YES: Thomas Lickona, from "The Return of Character Education",Educational Leadership
NO: Alfie Kohn, from "How Not to Teach Values: A Critical Look atCharacter Education", Phi Delta Kappan
Developmental psychologist Thomas Lickona, a leadingexponent of the new character education, charts a course of action todeal with the moral decline of American youth. Writer-lecturer AlfieKohn sees character education as mainly a collection of exhortationsand extrinsic inducements that avoid more penetrating efforts atsocial and moral development.
ISSUE 7. Should Multiculturalism Permeate the Curriculum?
YES: Sonia Nieto, from "What Does It Mean to Affirm Diversity?"The School Administrator
NO: Thomas J. Famularo, from "The Intellectual Bankruptcy ofMulticulturalism", USA Today Magazine, a publication of theSociety for the Advancement of Education
Professor of language, literacy, and culture Sonia Nietoexamines the realities of diversity in American society that underliean effective approach to multicultural education. Former Englishinstructor Thomas J. Famularo contends that the multiculturalismmovement, rather than representing diversity, is centered on thethemes of race and gender and the debunking of Westernculture.
ISSUE 8. Can Federal Initiatives Rescue Failing Schools? YES: Andrew Rotherham, from "A New Partnership",Education Next NO: Lisa Snell, from "Schoolhouse Crock",Reason
Education policy expert Andrew Rotherham argues that newfederally imposed accountability standards will enhance opportunityand overhaul failing schools. Lisa Snell, of the Reason Public PolicyInstitute, describes why President George W. Bush's education planswill not help disadvantaged students in public schools.
ISSUE 9. Do High-Stakes Assessments Improve Learning?
YES: Nina Hurwitz and Sol Hurwitz, from "Tests That Count",American School Board Journal
NO: Martin G. Brooks and Jacqueline Grennon Brooks, from "TheCourage to Be Constructivist", Educational Leadership
High school teacher Nina Hurwitz and education consultantSol Hurwitz assemble evidence from states that are leading themovement to set high standards of educational performance andcautiously conclude that it could stimulate long-overdue renewal. Highschool superintendent Martin G. Brooks and associate professor ofeducation Jacqueline Grennon Brooks contend that the push forstandardized state assessments constricts student learning andprevents implementation of constructivism.
ISSUE 10. Have Public Schools Failed Society?
YES: William J. Bennett et al., from "A Nation Still at Risk",Policy Review
NO: Forrest J. Troy, from "The Myth of Our Failed EducationSystem", The School Administrator
Former secretary of education William J. Bennett and 36other leaders and scholars examine the state of public schooling onthe 15th anniversary of the publication of the U.S. Department ofEducation report A Nation at Risk and issue a new manifestofor needed reforms. Veteran newspaper editor Forrest J. (Frosty) Troycounteracts the continued criticism of the public schools with apoint-by-point presentation of facts.
PART 3. Current Specific Issues
ISSUE 11. Are Vouchers an Appropriate Choice Mechanism?
YES: Gary Rosen, from "Are School Vouchers Un-American?"Commentary NO: National Education Association, from "School Vouchers:The Emerging Track Record", A Report of the National EducationAssociation
Gary Rosen, a Commentary editor, counters what hefeels are cynical criticisms leveled by anti-voucher forces and makesthe case for expanding voucher programs. The National EducationAssociation, a major voucher foe, offers an array of research studiesand reports to substantiate its position.
ISSUE 12. Can Charter Schools Revitalize Public Education?
YES: Chester E. Finn, Jr., Bruno V. Manno, and GreggVanourek, from "The Radicalization of School Reform",Society NO: Marc F. Bernstein, from "Why I'm Wary of CharterSchools", The School Administrator
Former assistant secretaries of education Chester E. Finn,Jr., and Bruno V. Manno, along with Gregg Vanourek, vice president ofthe Charter School Division of the K12 education program, provide anupdate on the charter school movement, which, they contend, isreinventing public education. School superintendent Marc F. Bernsteinsees increasing racial and social class segregation, church-stateissues, and financial harm as outgrowths of the charter schoolmovement.
ISSUE 13. Have Public Schools Adequately AccommodatedReligion?
YES: Edd Doerr, from "Religion and Public Education", PhiDelta Kappan
NO: Warren A. Nord, from "The Relevance of Religion to theCurriculum", The School Administrator
Edd Doerr, executive director of Americans for ReligiousLiberty, asserts that a fair balance between free exercise rights andthe obligation of neutrality has been achieved in the public schools.Warren A. Nord, a professor of the philosophy of religion, contendsthat the schools are still too secular and that a place in thecurriculum must be found for religion.
ISSUE 14. Is Full Inclusion of Disabled Students Desirable?
YES: Jean B. Arnold and Harold W. Dodge, from "Room for All",American School Board Journal
NO: Karen Agne, from "The Dismantling of the Great American PublicSchool", Educational Horizons
Attorney Jean B. Arnold and school superintendent HaroldW. Dodge discuss the federal Individuals with Disabilities EducationAct and argue that its implementation can benefit all students.Assistant professor of education Karen Agne argues that legislation toinclude students with all sorts of disabilities has had mostlynegative effects.
ISSUE 15. Is Size Crucial to School Improvement? YES: Patricia A. Wasley, from "Small Classes, Small Schools:The Time Is Now", Educational Leadership NO: Kirk A. Johnson, from "The Downside to Small ClassPolicies", Educational Leadership
Education dean Patricia A. Wasley contends that schoolsand classrooms must be small if they are to be places where students'personal and learning needs are met. Policy analyst Kirk A. Johnson,of the Heritage Foundation, argues that while small scale is a popularconcept when it comes to class size, the cost is not justified byresearch findings.
ISSUE 16. Should Bilingual Education Programs Be Abandoned?
YES: Rosalie Pedalino Porter, from "The Politics of BilingualEducation", Society
NO: Richard Rothstein, from "Bilingual Education: TheControversy", Phi Delta Kappan
Rosalie Pedalino Porter, director of the Research inEnglish Acquisition and Development Institute, contends that there isno consistent support for transitional bilingual education programs.Richard Rothstein, a research associate of the Economic PolicyInstitute, reviews the history of bilingual education and argues that,although many problems currently exist, there is no compelling reasonto abandon these programs.
ISSUE 17. Does School Violence Warrant a Zero-TolerancePolicy?
YES: Albert Shanker, from "Restoring the Connection BetweenBehavior and Consequences", Vital Speeches of the Day
NO: Pedro A. Noguera, from "The Critical State of ViolencePrevention", The School Administrator
Albert Shanker, president of the American Federation ofTeachers (AFT), advocates a "get tough" policy for dealing withviolent and disruptive students. Professor of education Pedro A.Noguera maintains that the AFT's zero-tolerance stance and other"armed camp" attitudes fail to deal with the heart of the problem anddo not build an atmosphere of trust.
ISSUE 18. Can Self-Governing Schools Rescue Urban Education?
YES: Deborah Meier, from "Can the Odds Be Changed?" Phi DeltaKappan
NO: Emeral A. Crosby, from "Urban Schools: Forced to Fail",Phi Delta Kappan
Deborah Meier, a leading urban educator, contends thatdecaying public schools in large cities can be rejuvenated by theproliferation of self-governing exemplary schools. High schoolprincipal Emeral A. Crosby maintains that only a powerful politicalforce and a massive infusion of funds can halt the downward spiral ofurban school quality.
ISSUE 19. Should Technology Lead the Quest for BetterSchools?
YES: Barbara Means, from "Technology Use in Tomorrow'sSchools", Educational Leadership NO: Jane M. Healy, from "The Mad Dash to Compute", TheSchool Administrator
Barbara Means, codirector of the Center for Technology inLearning at SRI International, explores the roots of educationaltechnology and paints an optimistic picture of its future impact onmeaningful learning. Jane M. Healy, an educational psychologist,raises serious questions about the long-term ramifications oftechnology use in schools.
ISSUE 20. Is Mandatory Community Service Desirable and Legal?
YES: James C. Kielsmeier, from "A Time to Serve, a Time toLearn: Service-Learning and the Promise of Democracy", Phi DeltaKappan
NO: Institute for Justice, from "`Compulsory Volunteering':Constitutional Challenges to Mandatory Community Service",Litigation Backgrounder
James C. Kielsmeier, president of the National YouthLeadership Council, depicts service-learning as a crucial componentfor citizenship and a fulfillment of John Dewey's "involvement inreal-world activities" goal. The Institute for Justice, a nonprofit,public-interest law center in Washington, D.C., argues thatgovernment-mandated service is unconstitutional and negates the spiritof voluntarism.
ISSUE 21. Should Alternative Teacher Training BeEncouraged? YES: Robert Holland, from "How to Build a Better Teacher",Policy Review NO: Linda Darling-Hammond, from "How Teacher EducationMatters", Journal of Teacher Education
Public policy researcher Robert Holland argues thatcurrent certification programs are inadequate, especially given thegrowing shortage of teachers. Educational professor LindaDarling-Hammond offers evidence of failure among alternative programsand responds to criticism of standard professionalpreparation.