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Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
In Someone Has to Fail, Labaree (2010) offers an admirably concise overview of the history and promise of education reform in the United States, combining insights from the history of education, policy studies, and a refreshingly accurate and nuanced account of what it is like to actually manage a classroom environment. While in this essay we shall raise some substantive questions about some of Labaree's analysis, it is to his credit that we wish to take his work so seriously. Someone Has to Fail offers a reinterpretation of the complexities of education reform, one that is full of useful counterpoints to many of the most common claims made by today's business-minded reformers. Thus, the work is well worth reading. However, we still wish that Labaree had more deeply explored the contexts within which his education "consumers" were making their system-shaping decisions. Such an effort would have offered a more compellingly critical assessment of the importance of curriculum and the struggles over knowledge and culture. It would have brought the experiences and movements of the marginalized closer to the center of its account. And in the process, it might have engendered a somewhat less gloomy perspective regarding the roles that schools might still play in efforts to create a more just society.