Education: Multiple Choice

At one school, students lie on the floor listening to Beethoven and Wagner, learn math by playing with dice and cards, and stroll the halls in jeans and T shirts. At another, there are spelling bees, reading drills, a strict dress code—and paddlings. The two schools seem so different they could be on opposite sides of the planet. But both are located in Pasadena, Calif, (pop. 113,000), a Los Angeles suburb, and are part of a school system that offers one of the nation's most diversified educational programs.

In recent years, Pasadena has had an increasing need for variety in education. An...

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