This introductory chapter sets out the book's purpose, which is to examine the larger social, political, and developmental contexts in which educational aspirations and anxieties play out. It suggests that clarity and content in the discussion of education can be gained by deepening our understanding and appreciation of three core ideals—education, justice, and democracy—that structure nearly every discussion about schooling in the United States. The methodology, organization, and structure of the book are also described.
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