What Do We Want Our Schools to Do, and For Whom?
"Schools," Stanford historian David Labaree wrote, "occupy an awkward position at the intersection between what we hope society will become and what we think it really is." What do we want our schools to do, and for whom?
Schools, like most organizations, have many goals. These goals often compete with and displace each other. Relying heavily on the work of David Labaree, I will discuss three central goals of American schools – social efficiency, democratic equality, and social mobility. Throughout the history of American education, these goals have been running against each other in a metaphorical horserace. While they are not mutually exclusive, the three goals introduce very different metrics of educational success. More often than not, they sit uncomfortably with each other.