chapter  5
21 Pages

Public control, choice and the State

The provision of education raises constant questions of diversity. Problems of community participation in education include the important one of choice. Both – and indeed all our discussion – suggest questions about the State, about which theoretical controversies have mounted in Europe and the United States in the 1960s and 1970s. We shall return to issues directly involving politics and the State, but for the moment it is necessary to underline that in the struggle to define diversity and choice and to identify common educational experiences and curricula we are increasingly confronted with United States models. Much of the literature of alternative schooling, for example, is American – though not all from the United States. Some of the best known educational experiments, successes and difficulties in recent years have been connected with places like Philadelphia and Boston and New York. Some of the most interesting analyses of the purposes of secondary education, and the frontiers of secondary schooling, are contained in publications like the Kettering Foundation Report on The Reform of Secondary Education, published in the United States in 1973, with its emphasis on 'a wide variety of paths leading to completion of requirements for graduation from high school'.1 In this report and elsewhere, as David Tyack pointed out in 1977, the accent has been on finding new forms of compulsory education or experience outside school (and of finding work to substitute for schooling beyond a given age).2