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Making Schools American

Nationalism and the Origin of Modern Educational Politics

Cody Dodge Ewert

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How school reformers in the Progressive Era—who envisioned the public school as the quintessential American institution—laid the groundwork for contemporary battles over the structure and curriculum of public schools.

Around the turn of the twentieth century, a generation of school reformers began touting public education's unique capacity to unite a diverse and diffuse citizenry while curing a broad swath of social and political ills. They claimed that investing in education would equalize social and economic relations, strengthen democracy, and create high-caliber citizens equipped for the…

How school reformers in the Progressive Era—who envisioned the public school as the quintessential American institution—laid the groundwork for contemporary battles over the structure and curriculum of public schools.

Around the turn of the twentieth century, a generation of school reformers began touting public education's unique capacity to unite a diverse and diffuse citizenry while curing a broad swath of social and political ills. They claimed that investing in education would equalize social and economic relations, strengthen democracy, and create high-caliber citizens equipped for the twentieth century, all while preserving the nation's sacred traditions. More than anything, they pitched the public school as a quintessentially American institution, a patriotic symbol in its own right—and the key to perfecting the American experiment.

In Making Schools American, Cody Dodge Ewert makes clear that nationalism was the leading argument for schooling during the Progressive Era. Bringing together case studies of school reform crusades in New York, Utah, and Texas, he explores what was gained—and lost—as efforts to transform American schools evolved across space and time. Offering fresh insight into the development and politicization of public schooling in America, Ewert also reveals how reformers' utopian visions and lofty promises laid the groundwork for contemporary battles over the mission and methods of American public schools.

Despite their divergent political visions and the unique conditions of the states, cities, and individual districts they served, school reformers wielded nationalistic rhetoric that made education a rallying point for Americans across lines of race, class, religion, and region. But ultimately, Making Schools American argues, upholding education as a potential solution to virtually every societal problem has hamstrung broader attempts at social reform while overburdening schools.

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Making Schools American

Cody Dodge Ewert

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Reviews

Reviews

Ewert demonstrates both the power and the limits of early twentieth-century Progressive reformers, who framed education as the key to national development and identity. At a moment of frayed faith in public education, we need to recapture the Progressives' optimistic spirit while focusing new attention on the injustices they overlooked. This smart and original book can show us how.

In this meticulous study, Ewert examines the way early progressive efforts at civic education transformed the goals of public education for both good and ill by 'draping schools in the flag.' A must-read for everyone interested in civic education and school reform.

The roots of contemporary demands that schools teach patriotic education? Cody Dodge Ewert reveals them in this wisely crafted book. In states as different as New York, Utah, and Texas, Ewert demonstrates how Progressive reformers proposed strengthening public education by ascribing it with patriotic aims—and how their success remains pertinent today.

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About

Book Details

Publication Date
Status
Available
Trim Size
6
x
9
Pages
232
ISBN
9781421442792
Illustration Description
10 b&w photos
Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction. The Main Hope of the Nation
1. Spreading "the Spirit of Patriotism": Recasting Public Education in Late-Nineteenth-Century New York State
2. Schools on Parade: Building a

Acknowledgments
Introduction. The Main Hope of the Nation
1. Spreading "the Spirit of Patriotism": Recasting Public Education in Late-Nineteenth-Century New York State
2. Schools on Parade: Building a National School Reform Movement in the 1890s
3. Americanizing Zion: Public Education and the Mormon Question, 1887–1900
4. Building a "Purer, Better, Braver Citizenship": Civics in Progressive Era Utah
5. Heroic Past, Shameful Present: Progress, Tradition, and School Reform in Texas, 1907–1923
Epilogue
Notes
Index

Author Bio