Politics and Society 42 (1):51-72 (2014)

Jaime Ahlberg
University of Florida
Harry Brighouse
University of Wisconsin, Madison
This paper identifies four criteria, all of which an ideal real utopian proposal would meet. We argue for a moderate skepticism that it is possible to give a real utopian proposal to guide the design of education for a society that meets these criteria; both for the practical reason that what happens in schools depends on the background environment within which they operate, and for the principled reason that when educating children we should attend to their individual future well-being in ways that militate against taking the risk that we are preparing them for an environment that they will not, in fact, inhabit. In place of a real utopian proposal, then, we embark on the easier task of defending a moderate set of feasible reforms that, implemented in the context of an unreformed US economy, would make the school system realize, somewhat better than it does, the principles that should guide the design of school systems in ideal and nonideal contexts. These include reducing the size of schools, lengthening the amount of time that children spend in school, and constructing cross-school standards that can guide professional development of teachers.
Keywords Education  Policy
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DOI 10.1177/0032329213512979
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