Ellwood Cubberley (1868-1941)
Applying industrial management theory to school leadership was the idea of Ellwood Cubberley, giving rise to modern school administration. Cubberley was born in Andrews, Indiana, and was educated at the University of Indiana and Columbia University.
After brief stints as a classroom teacher, college instructor and president of Vincennes University, Cubberley became superintendent of schools in San Diego-a position that influenced his long career as professor and dean of the School of Education at Stanford University. Relying on new industrial management theory, Cubberley designed an administrative system for schools, led by a professional class of superintendents and principals. His hierarchical model professionalized school leadership and became the standard in the first half of the twentieth century.
Cubberly is a controversial figure in the history of education. He has been criticized for his emphasis on efficiency and bureaucracy to solve complex educational problems. Many of his views appear to us today as paternalistic, anti-immigrant, and undemocratic. For example, Cubberley wrote: We should give up the exceedingly democratic idea that all are equal and that our society is devoid of classes. The employee tends to remain an employee; the wage earner tends to remain a wage earner
One bright child may easily be worth more to the National Life than thousands of those of low mentality.
For better or for worse, Cubberleys influence on American schools has been deep and lasting. As head of the Department of Education at Stanford University, Cubberley trained a generation of administrators in what was called the science of school management.