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Common schooling and multicultural education intuitively seem to be mutually reinforcing and possibly even mutually necessary: each is motivated by and/or serves the aims of promoting social justice and equality, common civic membership, and mutual respect and understanding, among other goals. An examination of the practical relationship between the two, however, reveals that neither one is a necessary or sufficient condition for achieving the other; in fact, each may in fairly common circumstances make the other harder to achieve. In other words, there is no direct instrumental relationship between multicultural education and common schools. Nor is there a clear expressive relationship between the two. Although common schools may serve as explicit, public symbols of our multicultural civic commitment to diversity, mutual respect and egalitarian inclusiveness, many demographically common schools neglect or even betray multicultural ideals, while many restricted entry and even segregated schools may express these ideals better than most comprehensive and integrated schools. Hence, while multicultural education and common schooling do intuitively stand for similar, mutually reinforcing ideals, in practice they may be linked more closely in the confusions and dilemmas of implementation they both raise than in their mutual realisation.