Curriculum: Fountains of Reform

An unnerving degree of chance rules curriculum change in most of the 30,000 local school systems in the U.S. Lacking the financial and scholarly resources to rewrite courses, they have to take curriculums in packages from textbook publishers and teachers colleges. An energetic exception to this educational drift is suburban Cleveland, where 27 private, public and parochial school systems are partners in the Educational Research Council, a nonprofit laboratory for learning founded five years ago with backing from civic-minded Cleveland business leaders.

Its mission is "to help schools change —often radically—what they are doing," and it has become a fountain...

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