A cycle of American educational reform : Garfield and Bellingham High Schools in the state of Washington, 1958-1983
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This thesis examines the educational experience from 1958 to 1983 in two Washington State high schools: Bellingham High School and Garfield High School, Seattle. It focuses on what happened to the structure, curriculum content and environment within these schools, and also discusses the process of centralisation in Washington State educational administration. The period of study was bounded by two reports: James Bryant Conant's The American High School Today (January 1959), and A Nation at Risk (issued in 1983) by the U.S. Secretary of Education, Terrell Bell, and the National Commission on Excellence in Education, reports which were issued in response to the Cold War and to growing international economic competition. Conant and his generation of educators sought a system of secondary education that, by opening educational opportunities to all young Americans, would close the critical Soviet- US gap in missile and space technology, and would give the Cold War victory to the United States. However, national policies, state administration and socio-cultural change in American life all contributed to a shift in classroom emphasis away from traditional academics and measures of students' achievement during the quarter-century after Conant - a condition made clear by the National Commission in 1983. Whatever the other values of these educational reforms, they had a negative effect on student attitudes towards academic achievement, resulting in a disengagement from all aspects of school life. Despite cultural differences, the parallel institutional experiences of Bellingham and Garfield, and the similarities that emerged between the schools' administrative structures, educational goals, teaching strategies and learning styles, imply that class was also an important factor shaping the educational experience in the United States during the 1960s and 1970s.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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