Reforms in the 1980s

In the 1980's, some of the momentum of education reform moved from the left to the right, with the release of A Nation at Risk, Ronald Reagan's efforts to reduce or eliminate the United States Department of Education. In the latter half of the decade, E.D. Hirsch put forth an influential attack on one or more versions of progressive education, advocating an emphasis on "cultural literacy"--the facts, phrases, and texts that Hirsch asserted every American had once known and that now only some knew, but was still essential for decoding basic texts and maintaining communication. Hirsch's ideas remain significant through the 1990s and into the 21st century, and are incorporated into classroom practice through textbooks and curricula published under his own imprint.

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