Tennessee courts were trying a high-school biology teacher, John T. Scopes, for teaching evolution to his class. Even William Jennings Bryan showed up for the prosecution as he was an intense Presbyterian but died soon after. Scopes was found guilty and was fined $100.
During this time, science and progressive education was attacked by a newly formed group called the Fundamentalists. They were ardent religionists that thought teaching evolution was destroying the faith in God and the Bible. They advocated laws forbidding the teaching of evolution which was called "the bestial hypothesis." The Scopes Monkey Trial garnered much press attention as many newspaper reporters came down to watch the trial play out. Even though the trial ended in the Fundamentalists' favor, they were ridiculed for their cause because of the way the trial played out.
Professor John Dewey from Columbia University believed in "learning by doing" which formed the idea of progressive education. He believed in education for life and to promote education to all people. Also, science took off in this era as the Rockefeller Foundation did great research to stop the hookworm affliction. Better nutrition and health prolonged the life of infants. All these indirectly had an impact to the economy as there would be more and better workers in the workforce.