Taylor v. Dewey: The 100-year Trickle-Down vs. Pedagogical Debate/Fight in Education Reform

Cloaking Inequity

We have a seat ringside in the education reform debates that pit pedagogical reformers versus top-down trickle-down reformers. The roots of the debate between administrative versus pedagogical reform philosophies has a nearly 100-year history. The progressive reform era in education in the 1920s came into prominence in the era of prohibition and rapidly changing student demographics. An awakening of social conscience among the muckrakers, prohibitionists, and education reformers spurred the movement dubbed the progressive era. Progressive education reformers, so named by historians, are the precursors of the current educational policy discussions of today.

On one side were the administrative reformers argued that the primary goal of schooling was a uniform structure in the mold of Frederick Taylor industrialism that solely prepared individuals for an efficient placement in the workforce and factories.[1] In today’s language, the tenants of administrative reformism could be considered neoliberal. On the other side were the pedagogical…

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