Synopses & Reviews
What constitutes better schooling for today's youth? In 1984 educational theorist Theodore R. Sizer formulated nine Common Principles to answer this question and launched The Coalition of Essential Schools, an organization of schools attempting to change their own structure, curriculum, pedagogy, and power relations according to Sizer's Principles. This important book, the first comprehensive look at Coalition schools, charts the course of reform at eight charter member schools. The Coalition now counts over 900 private, parochial, public, urban, suburban, and rural secondary schools among its affiliates nationwide. Donna E. Muncey and Patrick J. McQuillan, experts in anthropology as well as education, conducted a five-year ethnographic study to understand what happened in Coalition schools. The authors looked at curricular and pedagogical developments; how changes affected individual students, teachers, administrators, and other school personnel; and how American cultural beliefs influenced efforts to change. The schools' reform experiences differed: some efforts were sustained when others stalled, change divided some faculties while others found a sense of shared purpose, and the principals of some schools facilitated change while others clearly inhibited it. This compelling book, written for all who are concerned with education in America, offers a wealth of insights into the complexities of change efforts in individual schools and in classrooms.