The 1980s have witnessed a nationwide movement to upgrade public education, including reform efforts in the New England states. Massachusetts periodically has grappled with the challenge of improving its schools. During the 1960s, the Massachusetts legislature authorized a thorough examination of education in the state. This mandate was carried out by a blue-ribbon panel that came to be known popularly as the Willis-Harrington Commission. In 1965, the commission issued a 624-page final report that included findings and recommendations relating to many aspects of public education in the state. This article chronicles the history of Willis-Harrington and discusses the problems that thwarted implementation of many ofthe wide-ranging changes it envisioned.



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