Anthropologists assert that cultures advance only when independence replaces dependence – that is, only when imposition by outsiders is replaced by initiative from within. In other words, the natives of a culture are the only ones who can move that culture forward. Non-natives may provide valuable advice, but any imposition of their views threatens independence and thus progress. If one looks at individual schools as separate cultures, therefore, the key to educational progress is obvious: ______.

Which one of the following best completes the passage?

[A]. individual schools must be independent of outside imposition.
[B]. some schools require more independence than others, depending on the initiative of their staffs and students.
[C]. school system officials must tailor their initiatives for change to each individual school in the system.
[D]. outsiders must be prevented from participation in schools’ effort to advance.
[E]. the more independent a school is, the more educational progress it will make.
Answer: A

The argument compares schools to cultures; schools would have to progress the same way cultures progress. Cultures cannot progress if outsiders impose their views. So the same must be true for an individual school: If a school is to progress, it must be free of outside imposition. Choice (A) carries out this analogy between schools and cultures.

(B) The author doesn’t mention degrees of independence, or degrees of initiative; he merely claims that the only way a culture can progress is if it is independent of outside imposition.

(C) We’re told that progress for an individual school, or culture, requires independence from outside imposition. The idea of school system officials deciding what changes to make is directly counter to this.

(D) goes too far. The author never says outsiders must be totally shut out if progress is to be achieved; in fact, he admits they can provide valuable advice. (E) A similar story: this choice interprets independence as sufficient for progress, when in fact, all we’ve been told is that it’s necessary. Certainly, there are other factors that could come into play.

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