Within the last decade public schooling in the United States has been criticized quite strongly by both radical and conservative critics, Central to both positions has been a concern with what has been C'J lled the reproductive theory of schooling. According to the reproductive thesis, schools are nOt to be valued in the traditional sense as public sphe res engaged in teaching StudentS the knowledge and skills of democracy. On the contrdry, schools are to be viewed in more instrumental te rms and should be measured against the need to reproduce the values, social practices, and skills needed for the dominant corporate order. Of course, conservative and radical critics have taken opposing positions on the significance of schooling as a reproductive public sphere. For many conSClV3tives, schools have strayed too far from the logic of capital, and because of this, arc now held responsible for the economic recession of the 19705, for the loss of foreign markets to international competitors, and for the shonage of trained workers for an increasingly complex technological economy_ In response to this type of criticism, conservatives have argued that schools need to reform their curricula in order to serve the corporate interests of the dominant society more faithfu lly. I Underlying this theoretical shonhand is the demand that schools place a greater emphasis on charaaer formation, basic skills, and corporate needs. In related fashion, a wave of new "cultural" conservatives have emerged who vigorously defend the public schools as well as higher education as reproducers of dominant cultural traditions. Arguing for curricula organized around the old Great Books or in more reductionist fashion, around a notion of literacy based on the mas-

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