The author presents objective data concerning the number, growth, location, staffing patterns, size, and finances of free schools. He then defines four types of free schools: the "classical" free school, the parent-teacher cooperative elementary school, the free high school, and the community elementary school. Distinguishing between pedagogical and political freedom, the author then discusses the varying conceptions of social change associated with each type, with special attention given to socioeconomic factors. The key question framing this analysis is "what role do free schools play—what role can they play—in effecting change in the much larger public school system?"

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