Hark back to the original populists of the 1890s and they saw themselves exactly the same way, as champions of common Americans left behind by distant, powerful interests that were driving — and profiting from — economic dislocation and change.
These populists channeled the fears and frustrations of Southern and Midwestern farmers who were straining to keep up in an increasingly industrialized and national economy — and growing more and more resentful toward an emerging modern culture that no longer venerated the yeomen and instead celebrated the captains of industry.
America’s war between the progressives and populists is well into its second century with no resolution in sight. Despite changes in rhetoric and technology, the basic tension about who can be most trusted to decide what’s best for us — the experts or we voters — shows no sign of abating.
Public education has always been central to the American vision and an important part of this debate. That’s what inspired the Scopes Monkey Trial and more recent controversies about creationism. And there’s been a endless debate about whether American education is good enough and, if not, what need be done to make it better. Continue reading Doubting Data and the Debate on Education→