Common Schools in a Fractured World

Education inequality and the introduction of Common Core make the idea of restoring Horace Mann's ideal obsolete.

Which way is the blackboard?

Photographer: Larry W. Smith/Getty Images

“Are we still making citizens?” That’s the title of an important essay by Leon Botstein, president of Bard College, in the spring issue of the journal Democracy. Botstein worries that we nowadays “defend education in purely economic terms, linking education to work and productivity.” Instead, we should embrace afresh Horace Mann’s ideal of the common school, where education transforms “private individuals with diverse faiths and origins into equal citizens in a democracy.”

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