Exporting Democracy/Defending Democracy

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


Helen Heffernan marshaled her energies and resources to support Corinne Seeds in the fight to save UES, but she also faced opportunities and dangers of her own in the immediate postwar years. In June 1945 Heffernan’s old enemy state senator John Harold Swan, who had unsuccessfully attempted to pass legislation eliminating Heffernan’s position, inserted a statement into the Senate Journal repeating his earlier accusations that the “products” of the public schools were not being adequately trained because of “those who have infected public education with the pernicious doctrines of so-called ‘progressive education.’”1 The major source of these doctrines, Swan wrote, was an individual who was “in many quarters recognized as an able, intelligent educational leader,” but who was leading in the wrong direction. Swan pronounced: “Until such leadership is changed, elementary education will be in an increasingly desperate plight.” He therefore recommended “an immediate change in the chief of the Division of Elementary Education in the State Department of Education.”2 Swan then inserted passages from Heffernan’s writings into the Senate Journal as proof of her dangerous and irresponsible ideas.3 Swan was unsuccessful in the attempt to have Heffernan fired, but she soon came to the attention of other foes.


Elementary School Public School Social Study Elementary Education Progressive Education 
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    Helen Heffernan, “Methods in the Social Studies,” CJEE 13, no. 4 (May 1945): 244–52; HelenHeffernan, “Discussion, a Technique of Democratic Education,” CJEE 14, no. 1, (August 1945): 146–52.Google Scholar
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© Kathleen Weiler 2011

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