'Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed...': A Historical Commentary on the Carnegie Council's Turning Points

Document Type


Publication Date



This essay offers a historical commentary on Turning Points: Preparing Youth for the 21st Century, the 1989 report on middle school education by the Carnegie Council's Task Force on Education of Young Adolescents, The report's opposition to tracking and its advocacy of teacher empowerment, initiatives that have been popular with school reformers of the 1980s, does distinguish Turning Points from earlier proposals for educational change. Most of the report, however, seems to recommend policies that bear a striking similarity to the kind of changes promoted by the advocates of efficiency oriented school reform earlier in the century. The essay examines the historical antecedents for two of these policy recommendations, curriculum integration and school‐based health services. In considering these earlier attempts at reform, this essay identifies flaws that may mitigate the effectiveness of the policies recommended in Turning Points but which the authors of the report fail to mention .