How to Teach the California Child

Part of the Historical Studies in Education book series (HSE)


Despite continuing tension between the United States and the Soviet Union, the late 1950s saw a shift away from the repressive climate of the depths of the Cold War. As the Red Scare receded and the civil rights movement gained momentum, an alternative social narrative of what democracy could mean in the United States began to emerge. After the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision, both black freedom struggles and white southern racist resistance reached American living rooms through the new medium of television. Images such as those of angry white mobs blocking the entry of nine black teenagers into a previously all-white high school in Little Rock, Arkansas, shocked many white Americans. The more liberal climate began to affect electoral politics. In 1958, California Democrat Pat Brown defeated the conservative Republican William Knowland in the race for governor; in that election Democrats captured both houses of the legislature and all state executive offices except for secretary of state, marking the end of a century of Republican dominance. And in 1960, Democrat John F. Kennedy was elected president of the United States in a narrow victory over Richard Nixon.


Progressive Education Grade Teacher Teacher Guide Woman Educator State Superintendent 
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  1. 1.
    Augustin Rudd, Bending the Twig (Sons of the American Revolution, 1957).Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Senate Investigating Committee on Education, Sixteenth Report: Curriculum Changes (Sacramento: State Printing Office, 1958): 37.Google Scholar
  3. 19.
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    Roy Simpson, “Maintaining a Balanced Educational Program,” California Schools 31, no. 2 (February, 1960): 61. The public criticisms of the schools by Rickover and others led to the appointment of the Citizens Advisory Commission, made up of twenty-seven “distinguished citizens of the state,” by the California legislature. The commission’s final report on October 22, 1960 recommended that California create a system of statewide examinations and require that two-thirds of all instruction in elementary school be in “the three R’s.” See Mortimer Smith, “California’s Latest Educational Committee,” Tax Digest 37 (May 1959): 106, 115; Don Robinson, “The Conservative Revolution in California Education,” Phi Delta Kappan 2, no. 3 (December 1960): 95.Google Scholar
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© Kathleen Weiler 2011

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