The Politics of School Reform, 1870-1940

The Politics of School Reform, 1870-1940

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Was school reform in the decades following the Civil War an upper-middle-class effort to maintain control of the schools? Was public education simply a vehicle used by Protestant elites to impose their cultural ideas upon recalcitrant immigrants? In The Politics of School Reform, 1870-1940, Paul E. Peterson challenges such standard, revisionist interpretations of American educational history. Urban public schools, he argues, were part of a politically pluralistic society. Their growtha€”both in political power and in sheer numbersa€”had as much to do with the demands and influence of trade unions, immigrant groups, and the public more generally as it did with the actions of social and economic elites. Drawing upon rarely examined archival data, Peterson demonstrates that widespread public backing for the common school existed in Atlanta, Chicago, and San Francisco. He finds little evidence of systematic discrimination against white immigrants, at least with respect to classroom crowding and teaching assignments. Instead, his research uncovers solid trade union and other working-class support for compulsory education, adequate school financing, and curricular modernization. Urban reformers campaigned assiduously for fiscally sound, politically strong public schools. Often they had at least as much support from trade unionists as from business elites. In fact it was the business-backed machine politiciansa€”from San Francisco's William Buckley to Chicago's Edward Kellya€”who deprived the schools of funds. At a time when public schools are being subjected to searching criticism and when new educational ideas are gaining political support, The Politics of School Reform, 1870-1940 is a timely reminder of the strength and breadth of those groups that have always supported qfreeq public schools.... and Fulton County, 102 Commercial Club of Atlanta, 162 Commercial Club of Chicago, 66 Commercial High School, in San Francisco, ... 98 Committee of Seventy, 98 Committee on Manual Training, 68 Compensatory education, 204 Compulsory education, 9-10, 15, 37, ... 111-13, 115, 150, 178, 194; in San Francisco, 106, 108 Denman, James, 106 Department of Labor, 200 Depression: of 1890-1900, anbsp;...

Title:The Politics of School Reform, 1870-1940
Author:Paul E. Peterson
Publisher:University of Chicago Press - 1985-07-01


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