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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

Choice and common culture

We need to find a way to have school choice and to teach our "shared inheritance" as Americans, writes Fordham's Checker Finn. He worries that we're pulling apart.

Dutch families choose between a variety of government-funded schools with different teaching approaches and religious affiliations.

"Most other modern industrial democracies manage to balance school choice on the one hand with national unity on the other," he writes. "The schools may be independently operated and diverse in various ways, but they generally adhere to a common core curriculum."

Other countries manage to "strike a balance between the wishes of parents and the civic imperatives of the state," says Ashley Berner, the director of the Johns Hopkins Institute for Education Policy and author of No One Way To School, in an interview with Robert Pondiscio.

In most other countries, “public education” is "a broad term for the government’s funded commitment to educate the next generation," says Berner. "As but one example, the Netherlands funds 36 different kinds of schools on equal footing — Montessori, Catholic, Islamic, secular, among others." Thirty percent of students attend what we'd call "district schools."

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