In this paper, I will present an innovative vision of the publicness of schools and democracy by focusing on the hope for learning and living in a way that transcends cynicism in the global era. Since the late 1990s, interest in the reconstruction of publicness in education has grown amid the move from post-World War II educational systems to globalized social and political contexts characterized by the overwhelming victory of neoliberalism. Japanese educational reform has put emphasis on the “zest for living” and has fostered marketization, liberalization, and deregulation. Students’ cynicism about learning has been reinforced by social changes such as growing income inequality, sluggish labor markets, and social and family crises. In the global era, the ray of hope for learning and living consists in building educational democracy and enacting school reform based on innovative learning philosophy and methods.