There beats inside everyone the heart of an explorer. The joy of discovery is found in the crisp pages of a new world atlas, the first morning run down a freshly powdered ski slope, the brochure of an exotic vacation destination.
We are all seduced by the opportunity to explore the unfamiliar. Along the way, we hope to discover something about ourselves. What value is our life or our education, after all, if it is totally undifferentiated?
But the destination must not only be different -- it must also be worthwhile, and spiritually fulfilling. NASA's Apollo program was not just about the technological challenge of putting a man or two or twelve on a distant orb; it had a deep emotional appeal as well. The steady series of American spaceflights of the 1960s, culminating with Neil Armstrong's famous step on the surface of the Moon in July 1969, was an ongoing testament to the extent of our country's ambitions, writ large in the sky.
That's what "The Daring Dozen" is about. The twelve people in this month's cover story have all done extraordinary things, but their goals are much greater than their recent accomplishments. They are all carriers of a larger message, which is often a rethinking of the intellectual and emotional components that make up a great education.
In the past few months, we've struggled to narrow down this list. In truth, it's nearly impossible. Throughout the country, there are so many people on every level working to make schools better, whether by rethinking the information we put in students' heads or by changing the food they put in their own mouths. A dozen names are on our list, but a thousand others could have taken their place.
For all the challenges that bedevil public education, a million people within and outside the school walls are trying to figure out ways to improve our educational system. (We'd like to believe most of them read our magazine.) We hope you feel inspired by our Daring Dozen, but consider their larger aim. Many are swimming upstream, but all are making progress. Most have struggled and stalled along the way; none have quit. They are all messengers of a higher order, keeping their feet on the ground but their eyes on the prize. Just like you.
Editor in Chief