Fellow 1998-99

Walter Feinberg

Education Policy, Organization, and Leadership

Professor of educational policy studies

Professor Feinberg has a Ph.D. in philosophy with a concentration in social and educational philosophy from Boston University; he has been at the University of Illinois since 1967. His scholarship focuses on issues relating to education and democracy. In his most recent book, Common Schools/Uncommon Identities: National Unity/Cultural Difference (Yale, forthcoming 1998), he addresses the question of whether public schools have any obligations to help cultural subgroups maintain their cultural identities. In his current work, he explores the problems of teaching common values in a pluralistic, democratic society. One of the stated reasons for the development of the common school was to transmit the core values thought to be required for the continuation of a democratic society. Yet one of the problems with the idea that there is a set of core values is that defining and teaching “approved” values seems to many to be impositional and elitist, and thus antithetical to other democratic ideals. Although this issue has always been the source of considerable concern and conflict, its significance increases as America becomes more diverse. In this new study he will examine this issue and whether core values can be defined and taught in ways that minimize the concerns of imposition and elitism.