The City of Chicago recently embarked upon a pioneering effort to transform the quality of its public school system. The concept of decentralization that allows for neighborhood councils, greater decision-making at the local level, and increased parental involvement in the schools is not a new one. Similar governance structures of a century ago fell victim to class and ethnic factionalism. The progressive vision of a homogenous society assumed a passive clientele and a consensus culture. Particular educational programs brought diverse groups closer to the mainstream, but the resultant mass culture accommodated pluralistic values rather than the sought-after homogeneity.

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