Education

Faces of a Century

December 15, 1999 1 min read
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A California asparagus farmer and his wife. A small-town superintendent from northern Michigan. A Nobel Prize-winning economist. Nine Arkansas teenagers. A 3rd grade teacher from Iowa.

These are some of the people who—in ways big and small, for better or sometimes for worse—shaped American education during the 20th century. Along with others both famous and forgotten, they’ve left a mark over the past 10 decades.

The 100 selections in this last installment of Lessons of a Century (though not exactly 100 people, since some entries include more than one person) show how forces and thinkers far removed from the classroom often shape what happens when the teacher closes the door and the pupils open their books. And how students, teachers, and principals can themselves make a difference.

In schools, universities, town halls, statehouses, homes, churches, and— increasingly throughout the century—the courts, decisions and policies and ideas and people molded the way in which the nation educates its children.

With “Faces of a Century,” Education Week concludes its yearlong series of monthly special sections, Lessons of a Century.

Funding for this series is provided in part by the Carnegie Corporation of New York and the Ford Foundation.
A version of this article appeared in the December 15, 1999 edition of Education Week as Faces of a Century

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