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The Importance of Being UrbanDesigning the Progressive School District, 1890-1940$
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David A. Gamson

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780226634548

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: January 2020

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226634685.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 04 August 2021

Educating Efficient Citizens in Oakland, California

Educating Efficient Citizens in Oakland, California

(p.96) 3 Educating Efficient Citizens in Oakland, California
The Importance of Being Urban

David A. Gamson

University of Chicago Press

Chapter 3 traces the evolution of the modern city school system as enacted by leaders in Oakland, California. Despite their reputation as quintessential “administrative progressives,” due to their swift adoption of efficiency-oriented practices after World War I, some Oakland leaders dedicated energy to implementing a series of broad pedagogical initiatives that contravene standard narratives portraying administrators as unimaginative central office bureaucrats. Indeed, teachers implemented remarkably creative instructional practices, some designed to engage students in problem-solving, others implemented to help struggling students return to grade level. The chapter devotes special attention to Superintendent Fred Hunter (1917–28), an aggressive, nationally prominent innovator who asserted that he was “democratizing” his schools and providing equal educational opportunities to meet the needs of all students. In practice, the application of such opportunities meant working with Lewis Terman’s protégé, Virgil Dickson, to spread IQ testing throughout the district while designing curricula to match ability levels, backgrounds, and prospective futures. Hunter’s ascent was facilitated by the local business community, and his tenure paralleled periods of local labor strife, ethnic and racial tensions, and the rise of the Ku Klux Klan, all of which serve to illustrate the close connections between civic organizations and school politics.

Keywords:   Fred Hunter, San Francisco Bay Area, administrative progressives, pedagogical progressives, Ku Klux Klan, civic organizations, instructional practices, democratic education, Lewis Terman, Virgil Dickson

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