This introduction presents an overview of the key concepts covered in the subsequent chapters of this book. The book examines evidence on the impact of excellence and accountability reforms on trends in social studies curriculum, course offerings, and instructional practices, and link these trends to questions about the future of democracy. Frank Ryan raised awareness of this dilemma in an article that appeared in Social Education in 1973. The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) are inquiry oriented and offer teachers greater flexibility, yet they are being implemented within the superstructure of systemic reform. American culture has long been dominated by capitalism and rugged individualism, so it is not too surprising that schools should be influenced by these traditions. The framework for this study is built around an argument that over time a number of key interest groups have struggled for hegemony over schooling and citizenship education, resulting in a long history of conflict and struggle over social studies.