Episode 5: The Great Equalizer

This episode delves into the history behind American public schools. Why did we establish public schools and how is that motivation connected to our school practices? Can this help explain some of the differences in education from country to country?

Voices in this Episode
Selena, Serafin, Mia, William, Angel, Shiraj, Roya, Vishnu, Juan, Yesica, Ruth, Lingerr, Siobhan, Juliana

Further Exploration

This episode touched on a lot of topics.

For more on the history of American public schools:

American Educational History: A Hypertext Timeline

“School Days” from the Backstory Radio podcast

Thomas Mann's Twelfth Annual Report to the Board of Education (1848)

For more on testing in education:

"Exams Around the World" a photo essay from The Atlantic

"Lessons From the Past: A History of Educational Testing in the United States" from Testing in American Schools: Asking the Right Questions

“Pass/Fail: An American History of Testing” from the Backstory Radio podcast

"U.S. Tests Teens A Lot, But Worldwide, Exam Stakes Are Higher" from NPR

For more on inequalities in education:

"The Decline in Intergenerational Mobility After 1980" from the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis

"The Decline of the 'Great Equalizer'" from The Atlantic

"The Problem We All Live With, Part 1" and "The Problem We All Live With, Part 2" from This American Life

"Raj Chetty in 14 charts: Big findings on opportunity and mobility we should all know" from Brookings

"The Return of School Segregation in Eight Charts" from Frontline

"Three Miles" from This American Life

"Updating ‘No Child Left Behind:’ Change, or More of the Same" from Origins


See the bottom of the Points In Between page for transcripts to all episodes.