The Importance of Being Urban: Designing the Progressive School District, 1890-1940

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University of Chicago Press, Jul 8, 2019 - History - 340 pages
From the 1890s through World War II, the greatest hopes of American progressive reformers lay not in the government, the markets, or other seats of power but in urban school districts and classrooms. The Importance of Being Urban focuses on four western school systems—in Denver, Oakland, Portland, and Seattle—and their efforts to reconfigure public education in the face of rapid industrialization and the perceived perils [GDA1] of the modern city. In an era of accelerated immigration, shifting economic foundations, and widespread municipal shake-ups, reformers argued that the urban school district could provide the broad blend of social, cultural, and educational services needed to prepare students for twentieth-century life. These school districts were a crucial force not only in orchestrating educational change, but in delivering on the promise of democracy. David A. Gamson’s book provides eye-opening views of the histories of American education, urban politics, and the Progressive Era.

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District Progressives and the Progressive School District
1 The Race for Urban Status
2 The Plans and Principles of District Progressivism
3 Educating Efficient Citizens in Oakland California
4 Pioneering Practice in the Public Schools of Denver Colorado
5 Competing Visions for a Progressive Portland Oregon
6 Evolution Not Revolution in the Public Schools of Seattle Washington
Designing the Democratic School District
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About the author (2019)

David A. Gamson is associate professor of education in the Department of Education Policy Studies and the Educational Theory and Policy Program at the Pennsylvania State University.

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