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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: 23 September 2021

Competing Visions for a Progressive Portland, Oregon

Competing Visions for a Progressive Portland, Oregon

(p.180) 5 Competing Visions for a Progressive Portland, Oregon
The Importance of Being Urban

David A. Gamson

University of Chicago Press

Chapter 5 opens with a portrait of Portland, Oregon School Superintendent Frank Rigler (1896-1913), who had designed a citywide curriculum so precise that he believed that on any given school day he “could sit in his office and know on what page in each book” students worked on throughout the city. Although Rigler received praise for his curricular plans, external school surveyors were shocked to find a system in which teachers were drained of enthusiasm by rigidly uniform prescribed practices. Rigler’s replacement, Lewis Alderman, an ambitious progressive school chief, introduced a wide range of pedagogical and organizational reforms, including a version of the Gary, Indiana platoon school plan. Unlike many other cities, Portland’s school board refused to institute district-wide administrative reorganization, and the system fluctuated between different styles of progressivism, often paralleling the municipal reforms undertaken concurrently. Portland was also pivotal in the debate about a school bill designed to abolish all private schools in the state, a referendum supported by the Ku Klux Klan, who argued that the initiative was an egalitarian approach to leveling society, though it did little to redress deep structural inequities in Progressive Era Portland.

Keywords:   Frank Rigler, Lewis Alderman, platoon schools, school surveys, course of study, Ku Klux Klan, municipal reform, school boards, inequality

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