Institute for
Educational Inquiry

Center for
Educational Renewal

National Network for
Educational Renewal

Agenda for Education
in a Democracy

Agenda para la Educacion
en una Democracia

Foundation Support

Board of Directors


Institute for Educational Inquiry
117 East Louisa Street #371
Seattle, WA 98102
Tel: (206) 325-3010

Institute for Educational Inquiry

Why this Agenda is Important

Democracy is both demanding and inspiring. It is more than a lofty theoretical framework designed to settle arguments and resolve disputes. It is more than a set of ironclad criteria for countries to meet in order to become members of an international club. It requires more of its citizens than voting at election time. When we look beyond the political trappings and historical lineage, we find that democracy is about who we are as individuals and how we live together as families, friends, neighbors, and citizens.

People rarely think to ask questions to which the answers might offer a comprehensive view of the state of our democracy. For example: Do we model civility and respect in our interactions with others? Do our communities readily welcome newcomers, even (especially) those who look different or speak differently? Do community leaders such as teachers, parents, and shopkeepers make it clear that racism, sexism, bigotry, and homophobia hold no value?

When we look at democracy in this way, we begin to see how schools in democratic societies are different from schools in non-democratic societies. Although all schools strive to produce literate, socially and vocationally competent people, schools in a democracy must also ready the young for a unique social and political environment. That is, they must help to develop in individuals what we call "democratic character."

What the IEI Does

The IEI works with educators to help improve schools and teacher education to better approximate the ideals of a democratic society. At the same time, it studies the processes used to make such improvements. Thus, it provides an essential link between knowledge of good theory and implementation of effective practices.

As the IEI seeks renewal of schools and the education of educators, it works to develop a broad base of well-educated leaders. It emphasizes reflective practice and inquiry, stressing the value of educators' learning from each other and from those who share their commitment to the education of the nation's young.

The professional development activities of the IEI include long-term programs to expand diversity in teaching and teacher education programs; to help educators engage with community members; to integrate the arts into the preparation of all elementary classroom teachers; to develop the leadership skills of faculty members within schools, colleges of education, and the arts and sciences; and to establish greater understanding between journalists and educators about how to create a well-informed public.

Institute for Educational Inquiry


With funding from over 35 foundations, individual donations, dues paid by the National Network for Educational Renewal (NNER) member organizations, and in a few instances, registration fees for conferences, the IEI has provided professional development and inquiry activities directly to more than 7,000 educators, community members, and journalists. Approximately $14 million has been raised, much of which has been passed on to schools and universities participating with the Institute in its many initiatives.

The IEI currently provides support to the NNER's 42 school-university partnerships; the League of Democratic Schools; the Developing Networks of Responsibility to Educate America's Youths initiative; and the Journalism, Education, and the Public Good program. The IEI also has successfully collaborated with the American Association of School Administrators, the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, Kappa Delta Pi, Phi Delta Kappa, and the First Amendment Center of the Freedom Forum.

Since its creation in 1992, the IEI has conducted and/or provided support to:

  • A gathering of 2,000 educators in 1999 representing major national reform initiatives.
  • 17 national leadership cohorts of 18 to 30 educators from P-12 schools and universities for year-long programs. Participants have created programs in their communities that have reached thousands more.
  • A 3-year program for school and university teams seeking to improve elementary school fine arts education.
  • 4 regional leadership cohort meetings in New Jersey and Colorado.
  • 12 professional development programs for leaders of school-university partner schools.
  • Annual gatherings of 200 to 500 educators affiliated with the NNER.
  • 3 gatherings of educators from 6 states associated with the League of Small Democratic Schools.
  • 5 annual cohorts of journalist fellows from media outlets across the country.
  • 2 national media/education leadership study sessions.
  • A 5-day summer symposium for 36 school and university educators in 2004.
  • A 5-day summer symposium for 21 school and university educators in 2006.
  • A 3-day study session for 100 superintendents and other school district leaders in summer 2005.
  • A 3-year program for colleges of education to increase the diversity of the teaching force.
  • Development of networks in 10 locations convened over 4 years to strengthen engagement of community members with school and university educators to improve schools.
  • Inquiry and evaluation studies regarding general education for undergraduates, dual credit and early college programs, urban school system reform, issues related to strengthening education in a democratic society, and other topics.
  • Support for publication of 18 books and numerous articles and monographs.

The IEI Gets Results

The Institute has been successful in:

Studying Educational Question

Successful inquiry has been made regarding such issues as school improvement in urban settings, general education for teacher candidates, dual credit programs for high school students, increasing diversity in the teacher corps, and concepts regarding democratic character.

Creating Quality Publications and Materials

Since 1992, John Goodlad and colleagues at the IEI have produced 18 books and more than a dozen monographs. Among the most recent books are Education for Everyone, Romances with Schools, The Teaching Career, The Last Best Hope, and Developing Democratic Character in the Young.

Developing and Implementing Effective Professional Development—Participants Rate Programs Highly

  • The programs produce leaders whose teacher preparation programs in NNER settings are described by principals as preparing better teachers than traditional programs.
  • Local educators and communities have increased their capacity to take action to renew education for their youths.
  • Leadership programs have contributed to the growth of the NNER from 16 school-university partnerships in 1992 to 42 partnerships located in 20 states and 1 Canadian province as of 2007.



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