Yesterday, on the Wall Street Journal's expanded opinion pages, Alan Ehrenhalt reviewed Bill Bishop's new book, The Big Sort. Its thesis:
As Americans have moved over the past three decades, they have clustered in communities of sameness, among people with similar ways of life, beliefs and in the end, politics.
Both men are concerned about this trend, representing as they think it does a decline in interaction among people of differing views. I see the results of this trend where I live in Takoma Park, Maryland, known as the Berkeley of the Washington, D.C., region. (In October 2004, a college kid in a DNC t-shirt almost fainted when he asked me to donate to "get that bum out of office" and I told him I was actually in the Bush Administration. "I haven't even come across another Republican," he replied.)
And I agree that this development isn't great for civic discourse or, ultimately, our democracy. But it might not be so bad for our schools. After all, one of the primary motivations of the school choice movement (which I support) is the ability for parents to sort themselves into schools that match their own personal beliefs about what good education looks like. More conservative parents can get a back-to-basics school and more progressive parents can get something more along the Montessori model. Nobody has to compromise...