Not literally in high school, because interestingly enough Hoover never attended. But how is he taught in high school?
In the last post, commenters Patch and mute lamrackian suggested they were taught that Hoover actually cut spending (along with some surprisingly leftist stuff*). This was genuinely surprising to me, for one thing because that was not my experience, and also because historians actually edit these history textbooks. Hoover's response to the New Deal is not some kind of mystery, and I don't think the editors would have let that through. So I did some googling, and so far I haven't found any evidence that this is how it's taught in public schools at least. In fact, they're even more generous than calling him a "do-nothing president":
- Education.com's AP History site explicitly says it is wrong to say that Hoover did nothing. They mention the RFC, the business conferences, the agricultural lending, and voluntarism. Like I found in many sites, they do make a point of stating that Hoover adamently refused to provide unemployment relief or welfare.
- The Cliff's Notes discussion says all the things that education.com did, but it also adds discussion of his public works spending. Again - it highlights the point that while he increased spending he refused direct relief.
- Historyteacher.net says the same thing - mentions loans to business, tax increases, public works, and business conferences and notes that he opposed direct relief.
- McGraw-Hill's website on the matter makes almost exactly the same points that Historyteacher.net did. Plus it adds detail on the funding level of the RFC.
- Totallyhistory.net... same thing. Mentions RFC and spending on construction, notes that he opposed direct relief measures.
- APstudynotes.org... same thing. Mentions spending on railroads, public works projects, RFC. Mentions he opposed direct relief.
My take-away is this:
1. The high school history picture of Hoover seems to be strikingly consistent across teacher resoruce sites, textbook sites, AP sites, and Cliff's notes. And it seems to be entirely accurate.
2. Either Patch and mute lamrackian had the unfortunate experience of being taught by a very leftist teacher with no interest in accurately communicating history, or they are remembering their experiences through their own libertarian lens.
I tried googling "Herbert Hoover cut spending", and I get two things: Krugman's writing, and a whole bunch of conservative and libertarian blogs and newspapers suggesting that Hoover did not cut spending.
This does not look good for Krugman, and this does not look good for people who claim that the average person is under the impression that Hoover cut spending.
Bob Murphy, in the prior comment section, agrees with me that they probably teach the right history in high school. He still maintains that the average NY Times reader thinks Hoover cut spending. I kind of doubt that myself. I'm guessing the average NY Times reader thinks he was a "do nothing president" too. I asked Kate last night what she thought Hoover's response to the Depression was. She said she didn't know, but I think that answer may have been strategic... sometimes I pester her into longer discussions and she probably figured better to be neutral than stake out a position that might lead to me talking history :)
* For example, apparently they were taught that Standard Oil was a bad influence on the country... the lesson I personally remember most about Rockefeller in my public school history class was not that he was a bad guy, but that story about how he switched from using 40 rivets in his oil drum to 39 rivets, and how much money that saved because Rockefeller was so intent on increasing the efficiency of the oil industry (story told in more detail here). I remember being impressed by both Rockefellers hands-on approach and how much money attention to detail could save.
For the Weekend...
14 minutes ago