This meandering, provocative, and complex personal piece explores George Packer's own experiences, fears, misgivings, and concerns about contemporary education. Essentially, he grapples with what seem to him the ironies and contradictions of meritocracy and what he senses is a loss of direction. He writes about sending his own two children to various schools, public and private, in New York City and applying, with and without success, to others, in a climate of intense anxiety. "The system," he opines, "has hardened into a new class structure" whereas the original, admirable, and worthy purpose of common schools in the U.S. was to teach democracy. He questions the indignation and rage of what he calls "a new progressivism" that, in his view, has begun to interfere with children's learning and early experiences of diversity and democracy. He writes, "the battleground of the new progressivism is identity," pointing to affinity groups, studies of genocide and slavery, and emphases on activism, privilege, wokeness, and injustice as a monoculture, or unrelenting single truth, that has taken over our curricula. Packer ultimately fears that it is "harder to retain faith" in our democracy, something essential in the education of our young people. In the end, Packer raises an essential question: "that pragmatic genius for which Americans used to be known and admired, which included a talent for educating our young – how did it desert us?"