Harvard Educational Review
  1. Winter 1981 Issue »

    Why Public and Private Schools Matter

    Chester E. Finn, Jr.
    The most important implications of Public and Private Schools, the new study by James Coleman, Thomas Hoffer, and Sally Kilgore, do not concern public policies toward private schools. They concern policies affecting public schools. The study finds that schools do make a difference in how well and how much students learn, that different schools make various kinds of differences, and that academic achievement is associated with the character of the learning environment. Other things being equal—and sometimes notwithstanding that other things are unequal—Coleman et al. note that students will learn more if their school sets high standards, maintains discipline, assigns homework, demands regular attendance, is staffed by dedicated teachers, and offers a rigorous curriculum.

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    Winter 1981 Issue


    Report Analysis
    Public and Private Schools
    Marya R. Levenson, Dawn Geronimo Terkla
    Evidence, Analysis, and Unanswered Questions
    Richard J. Murnane
    The Issue Is Still Equality of Educational Opportunity
    Jomills Henry Braddock II
    Disciplined Inquiry or Policy Argument?
    Anthony S. Bryk
    Why Public and Private Schools Matter
    Chester E. Finn, Jr.
    Unasked Questions
    James W. Guthrie
    Policy Implications of the Public and Private School Debates
    Barbara L. Heyns
    Questions and Answers
    Our Response
    James Coleman, Thomas Hoffer, Sally Kilgore
    Reducing Student Alienation in High Schools
    Implications of Theory
    Fred M. Newmann
    The Allen School
    An Alternative Nineteenth-Century Education, 1818-1852
    Judith Strong Albert
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