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CSLR Fellow gives community "TED Talk" on educational pluralism
By CSLR | Emory Law | Mar 15, 2018 12:03:00 AM

Ashley Berner, CSLR Fellow, Deputy Director of the Johns Hopkins Institute for Education Policy, and Assistant Professor of Education, gave a 15-minute talk at TEDxWilmingtonED titled “No One Way to School: Educational Pluralism and Why It Matters.” She discussed the United States’ uniform public education system, which developed the mid-19th century, when concerns of too many Catholic immigrants seeking publicly funded religious schools for their children spurned a shift from diverse types of schools to a uniform system that could control what and how American children were taught.

Many countries and cultures fund different types of schools including religious schools, schools run by non-government organizations, and traditional state-run schools. “The United States is an outlier among democracies,” she said.

The uniform system creates disparities as families with economic means can choose private schools when the public school cannot meet their child’s needs, a luxury families of lesser means do not have. “Educational pluralism does not solve all the problems … but it comes closer to fairness than a cultural norm of uniformity,” Berner said.

Pluralistic systems still hold all schools accountable for academic performance. “Educational pluralism is simply a better way to organize and think about public education.”

The talk was based on Berner’s book, Pluralism and American Public Education: No One Way to School (Palgrave MacMillan, 2017).