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What should the aims of education policy be in the United States and other culturally diverse democracies? Should the foremost aim be to allow the flourishing of social and religious diversity? Or is it more important to foster shared political values and civic virtues?
Stephen Macedo believes that diversity should usually, but not always, be highly valued. We must remember, he insists, that many forms of social and religious diversity are at odds with basic commitments to liberty, equality, and civic flourishing. Liberalism has an important but neglected civic dimension, he argues, and liberal democrats must take care to promote not only well-ordered institutions but also well-ordered citizens. Macedo shows that this responsibility is incompatible with a neutral or hands-off stance toward diversity in general or toward the education of children in particular. Extending the ideas of John Rawls, he defends a "civic liberalism" that supports the legitimacy of reasonable efforts to inculcate shared political virtues while leaving many larger questions of meaning and value to private communities.
Macedo's tough-minded liberal agenda for civic education offers a fundamental challenge to free market libertarians, the religious right, parental rights activists, postmodernists, and many of those who call themselves multiculturalists. This book will become an important resource in the debate about the reform of public education, and in the culture war over the future of liberalism.
Diversity and Distrust is a powerful book that examines closely the connections between liberalism's democratic principles and diversity, religion, and public schooling. Macedo has presented a very thoughtful analysis of what it means to craft a civil society based on shared moral principles. Macedo argues for a firm approach to democratic liberalism and diversity. He also offers a hard challenge to free-market libertarians, the religious right, parental-rights activists and multi-culturalists.
— Dr. Paulette Patterson Dilworth
Introduction: The Place of Diversity
1. Diversity Ascendant
Public Schooling and American Citizenship
2. Civic Anxieties
3. Civic Excess and Reaction
4. The Decline of the Common School Idea
5. Civic Ends: The Dangers of Civic Totalism
Liberal Civic Education and Religious Fundamentalism
6. Multiculturalism and the Religious Right
7. Diversity and the Problem of Justification
8. The Mirage of Perfect Fairness
9. Divided Selves and Transformative Liberalism
School Reform and Civic Education
10. Civic Purposes and Public Schools
11. The Case for Civically Minded School Reform
Conclusion: Public Reasons, Private Transformations