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For more than a century, American educators and education policymakers have chosen sides in a great debate about the nature and function of American high schools.
The origins of this long-running argument can be traced to 1893, when the influential Committee of Ten, a blue-chip panel of educators, issued a report proposing that all public high-school students receive a strong, liberal-arts education.
While the Committee of Ten membership leaned toward college (in addition to the college presidents, it included two headmasters and a college professor), the Commission for the Reorganization of Secondary Education was dominated by members of the newly emerging profession of education, specifically, professors from schools and colleges of education.
Thus focused on high school as an increasingly independent entity, the And they won because supporters of comprehensive high schools defined equal education as equal access to different and unequal programs.
Ever since then we have been fighting about whether our high schools should be college prep for the masses or, as another blue-ribbon panel would put it 90 years later, a “cafeteria-style curriculum in which the appetizers and desserts can easily be mistaken for the main course.”There have been, of course, winners and losers on both sides throughout this long discussion, as our high schools have grown into multibillion-dollar institutions serving, or ill serving, hundreds of millions of American adolescents.
Yet the question of winners and losers in this debate about our secondary schools is, to borrow a phrase, academic.
While the Committee of Ten did suggest different programs of study for high schools (for example, programs specializing in classical languages, science and mathematics, or modern languages) and introduced the concept of electives to American high schools, its guiding principle was that all students should receive the same high-quality liberal arts education.
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As a result, my life quickly became a litany of Tube Station instructions.
The staff at Vaiala Beach School wish all our students and families a very Merry Christmas. The school office will be closed from Friday the 21st December and will reopen on Tuesday the 16th January 2018.