California in a Time of Excellence: School Reform at the by James Andrew LaSpina

By James Andrew LaSpina

Follows California's efforts at reforming the general public college process from 1983 to the current.

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However, neither Wise nor Cuban seem to address the issue that the most ardent conservative advocates of local control have come to have as their chief apostle in the 1980s—Ronald Reagan—as David Gardner’s account of events in the last chapter surrounding A Nation at Risk stunningly reveals. For embedded in his tale is the larger political paradox of that decade, which is that state and federal mandates could just as easily be used to reduce equality as well as quality, and that ultimately the public realization of one condition, morally as well as pragmatically, cannot be separate from the other.

For two years he stumped the state telling anyone who would listen that lasting reform of California’s public schools could be done only by a return to “traditional 36 California in a Time of Excellence education” (Honig 1985, 41). That meant a core academic curriculum, with more attention given to the humanities and the sciences. The cafeteria-style general education curriculum prevalent since the 1960s had in his view watered down academic subjects. The Riles approach to beef up general education with more vocational courses would only reinforce the drift away from tradition.

Muir goes on to say that Hart “had found that he could fit all the pieces of his knowledge together into a pattern: energy, tort, crimes, health, [and] education” (1982, 33). But after Proposition 13 passed the following year, Hart, like Honig, saw that the emerging pattern for education was redrawing the lines of power back to Sacramento. As one surveyed this power shift, the pattern presented something of a paradox, one which would politically constrain the kind of education reform that was possible.

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