This chapter summarizes the debate over the Progressive Era educational reforms that dominated the twentieth century and continue to shape policy debates. It introduces how ideal bureaucracies would work and shows the limitations of treating schools like bureaucracies. The chapter considers dilemma that the groups of reformers faced: despite increasing involvement by the federal government in American educational policy, American schools were and are fragmented. Before 1989 most policymakers accepted that the greatest flaw in promoting high-quality education was lack of equitable learning opportunities, poor facilities, low funding, and underpaid teaching staff and believed that education should be tailored to a student's needs and interests. The 1990s were tumultuous years for American educational policy. By the time President Bill Clinton took office, policymakers on both the left and right saw that American public education could not sustain majority support without significant concessions to the norm of self-rule and a new definition of democratic understanding.