Polio Epidemic in 1937 Closed Chicago Schools: Kids Learned at Home from Radio (Michael Hines)

Larry Cuban on School Reform and Classroom Practice

An assistant professor at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Education, Michael Hines researches and teaches the history of education in the United States. His articles have appeared in the Journal of the History of Childhood and Youth and History of Education Quarterly; he is writing a book on race, democracy and Chicago’s schools during World War II.This piece appeared in the Washington Post, April 3, 2020.

A rapidly spreading virus with no known cure or vaccine. Chicago-area schools closed. Experiments in remote learning and concerns over access to technology. This has happened before.

While the challenges to education stemming from the novel coronavirus pandemic may seem unprecedented, educators may be surprised to learn that almost 100 years ago Chicago’s schools faced similar circumstances.

In the fall of 1937, an outbreak of poliomyelitis, or polio, a highly infectious disease that can lead to paralysis and death and is especially…

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