The year is 1897 and Tom Johnson is a fairly new teacher.  He wants to lead an initiative to have one pencil per child, but the atmosphere is almost toxic.  Under William McKinley, educators have moved from public servants to using a business model.  Schools have shifted from one room school houses to education factories, largely due to the reforms proposed by industrial robber barons like Andrew Carnegie.  Society is growing more urban, more industrial, more fragmented. It's an age of early American imperialism, of social conservatism mixed with progressivism.

I admit, here, that I take historical artistic liberties.  While McKinley led many reforms, he never referred to it as Caravan to the Top. I'm using history as a lens to discuss my own story and the current context of the twenty-first century. Thus, I use Edison Projectors (a historical name) or Kodak or AT&T, but I also talk of SmartCharts or PowerSlides or Nong Networks (all fictional).