October 1, 1997

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Vol. 17, Issue 05
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The champions of school reform have labored through many dark nights since A Nation at Risk, Horace's Compromise, High School, and In a Different Voice arrived on our bookshelves in the early 1980s. There has been study after study, book after book, yet the long shadow of business-as-usual seems to hang over most of America's schools. Or does it?
Sixteen thousand parents in New York City signed up last spring for 1,300 privately financed vouchers that would enable their children to attend private schools. ("16,000 N.Y.C. Parents Apply for 1,300 Vouchers to Private Schools," April 30, 1997.) That's a ratio of 11-to-1, or greater than the odds of getting into Stanford. In San Francisco, the city's open-enrollment system generates similar ratios when 2,000 apply for a high school with 160 seats in the freshman class. Certainly we have evidence that parents want school choice and that they will compete for it. But does this improve schools?
On June 15 of this year, President Clinton, speaking at the University of California, San Diego, issued a call for "a great and unprecedented conversation about race" in the United States. A week earlier, he had appointed a seven-member advisory panel headed by historian John Hope Franklin to guide efforts over the coming year to promote such a national dialogue and to devise concrete strategies for addressing lingering issues of discrimination. The project, which is to include town hall meetings and other public forums beginning this fall, will culminate with the release of the distinguished panel's report to the president next summer.
FOUNDATION SUPPORT: Coverage of specific topics in Education Week is supported in part by grants from the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the CME Group Foundation, the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, the Joyce Foundation, the NoVo Foundation, the Noyce Foundation, the Raikes Foundation, the Wallace Foundation, and the Walton Family Foundation. The newspaper retains sole editorial control over the content of the articles that are underwritten by the foundations. Additional grants in support of Editorial Projects in Education’s data journalism and video capacity come from the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust and the Schott Foundation for Public Education. (Updated 1/1/2017)

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