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Journal of Law & Education

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In Five Miles Away, A World Apart, James E. Ryan concludes that the educational reforms of the hour, school accountability and school choice, will exacerbate rather than undermine the systematic educational advantages enjoyed by wealthier Americans. Paul Peterson, in his Saving Schools, argues that increasingly centralizing American schools have become sufficiently centralized that, as a labor-intensive industry, few productivity gains are available from governance reform, even as demand escalates for the customization of education to individual needs. Both volumes therefore pin their hopes for change upon political geography-the relationship between people and educational institutions in space. Ryan argues that changing demographic trends with respect to wealth and race create a window for interest convergence between whites and minorities and between rich and poor. Peterson concludes his volume with a fascinating chapter on virtual education, which untethers education from institutions like school districts that are based upon physical location. I suggest that virtual schooling also offers important, and unsettling, possibilities when analyzed in Ryan's interest-convergence framework. This is true particularly because of the likely impact online education will have upon the religious-school sector.