When mid-19th-century educational reformers described the system of common schools which they envisioned for the USA, they talked about an institution that would be accessible to all children and that would provide them with a shared educational experience. As these early proponents of public schooling saw it, a system of universal schooling that educated all children had particular virtues for the new republic. It would ensure that all segments of the citizenry would have an equal opportunity to develop democratic character and enjoy the benefits that education brought. Now John E. Chubb and Terry M. Moe come to challenge this ideal with 'an institutional perspective' which seeks to show that Americans would be much better off sending their children to schools of their choice. There are two basic problems with their proposal: One is methodological, the other democratic. Both are explored in this review.
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