“What Porto Rico Can Do for the United States”: The Imperial Roots of the School Survey and Statistics Movement in the United States, 1898-1915
In the early twentieth century, as the American empire expanded overseas, the United States created school systems in the new territories of Puerto Rico and the Philippines. These sites became spaces for experimentation of progressive educational ideas. In Puerto Rico, the lack of funding to expand the quantity of schools led administrators to focus on improving the quality of schools through the use of statistics and school surveys. One administrator in particular, Leonard P. Ayres, helped trial the use educational statistics on the island and then brought back his ideas to the mainland. The significance of Ayres’s experience in the colony and his future career in education back in the US helped shape the direction of American education through the twentieth century to today.