Thursday, January 19, 2017

Judging Reform “Success” and “Failure”: The Gary, Indiana Case | Larry Cuban on School Reform and Classroom Practice

Judging Reform “Success” and “Failure”: The Gary, Indiana Case | Larry Cuban on School Reform and Classroom Practice:

Judging Reform “Success” and “Failure”: The Gary, Indiana Case

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In previous posts about the label “failure” attached to school reform, I laid out an argument that making such a judgment is tricky. Who makes the judgment and what clock they listen to matters in judging “failure” or “success.” In this post I look at a K-8 school reform from a century ago and ask you whether it was a “failure.”
In 1906 in a town built by U.S. Steel on the shores of Lake Michigan, a new superintendent introduced an educational innovation that hundreds of school districts adopted in the next decade. Visitors traveled thousands of miles to meet Superintendent William Wirt, sit in classrooms of cheerfully decorated schools, and marvel at how children of immigrants learned during the day while their non-English speaking parents attended classes at night. Even though U.S. Steel owned the property and employees largely ran the town, the educational experiment converged with company interests in providing what observers called a productive education for both white-collar and blue-collar employees.
Progressives of the day, imbued with the revolutionary ideas of John Dewey and Frederick Taylor’s scientific management, wrote articles and books praising the combination of work and play, of school and community, of efficiency and civic-mindedness, that put the name of Gary, Indiana on the early twentieth century map of school reform.
The Platoon School (or Gary Plan) was introduced in a remodeled elementary school holding children from kindergarten through the twelfth grade. Administrators divided the student body into two groups or “platoons.” One platoon would be in the classrooms or auditorium while the other would be in theJudging Reform “Success” and “Failure”: The Gary, Indiana Case | Larry Cuban on School Reform and Classroom Practice: 


 


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