"Excellence for all" might, at first glance, appear to be nothing more than a rhetorical flourish. Who, after all, would oppose the idea of a great education for every student? Yet it is hardly a throwaway phrase. Rather, it represents a surprising fusion of educational policy approaches that had been in tense opposition throughout the twentieth century--those on the right favoring social efficiency, and those on the left supporting social justice.
This book seeks to understand why the "excellence for all" vision took hold at the time it did, unpacks the particular beliefs and assumptions embedded in it, and details the often informal coalition building that produced this period of consensus. Examining the nation's largest urban school districts (Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York), the author details three major reform efforts in chapters titled "The Right Space: The Small Schools Movement"; "The Right Teachers: Teach for America"; and "The Right Curriculum: Expanding Advanced Placement."