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Fanaticism and Schooling in the Democratic State

David Blacker
American Journal of Education
Vol. 106, No. 2 (Feb., 1998), pp. 241-272
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1085452
Page Count: 32
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Fanaticism and Schooling in the Democratic State
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Abstract

The very idea of public schooling is currently under sustained challenge from an array of groups with sectarian social, political, religious, and cultural agendas. Some of these challenges come in the form of policy initiatives such as school vouchers, charter schools, "parents' rights" movements, and the rise of home schooling and other forms of nonpublic schooling. In the face of this momentum, the democratic state must continually find ways to balance individual parental and community rights against the public interest. But the state cannot bend over backward to meet every demand and, in particular, those of fanatics, whose agendas include commandeering educational institutions or opting out of "the system" altogether. By providing a conceptual framework for identifying and assessing fanaticism, and then by making the case that in a democracy fanatics should not be allowed to run schools of any kind, this article seeks to establish an outer boundary for what forms of school initiatives ought to be permissible. Among a range of examples included for discussion are the claims of certain fundamentalist parents and the racialist "Christian Identity" religion that undergirds much of the militia movement.

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