Cody D. EwertNov 21, 2023
Making Schools American
Nationalism and the Origin of Modern Educational Politics
Johns Hopkins University Press 2022
In recent years, public schools have become one of the central battlegrounds of American politics. Making Schools American: Nationalism and the Origin of Modern Educational Politics (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2022) lucidly explores how schools acquired such a critical role in the United States and its nation-building projects. Its author, Cody Dodge Ewert, illustrates how school reformers in the Progressive Era celebrated public education’s unique capacity to unite a diverse and diffuse citizenry while curing a broad swath of social and political ills. Pitching the school as a quintessentially American institution, these reformers’ lofty visions and nation-building projects inspired a historic expansion in public schooling, laying the groundwork for contemporary struggles over the structure and curriculum of public schools.
Making Schools American carefully historicizes this varied progressive movement, examining case studies in New York, Utah, and Texas which all shed a unique light on the development of American education and the broader debates of the turn-of-the-twentieth-century United States concerning what it meant to be an American.
Thomas Cryer is a PhD Student in American History at University College London, where he studies race, nationhood, education, and memory through the life, scholarship, and activism of the historian John Hope Franklin.