Labaree, D.F. 1997. Public Goods, Private Goods: The American Struggle Over Educational Goals. American Educational Research Journal, 34 (1), pp39-81.
According to Labaree, there are three alternative & competing goals for American education:
1. democratic equality: for citizens, everyone needs to know as much as possible, education needs to be accessible to everyone in order to create a true democracy, so anyone can contribute (public good)
2. social efficiency: for workers, everyone benefits from more skilled workers, make education more practical by offering more practical study matters and some degree of stratification (private training for public benefit)
3. social mobility: for individuals, the benefit largely goes to the individual consumer, who gains a salary increase or mainains his/her position on the social scale; this provides further stratification and differentiation between institutions (even with similar programs), as well as within institutions (from remedial to gifted)
“Schools,” Stanford historian David Labaree wrote, “occupy an awkward position at the intersection between what we hope society will become and what we think it really is.” What do we want our schools to do, and for whom?
According to Lauren Resnick [Resnick, L. B. (1987). The 1987 Presidential Address: Learning in school and out. Educational Researcher, 16 (9), pp. 13-20], there are three main views about the role of education in American society:
1. schools should prepare people for economic participation (work)
2. schools should prepare people to learn effectively over the long course of their work lives, and
3. schools should prepare people for civic and cultural participation
and that we as nation struggle with these competing visions and purposes of education.