This week my education foundation class discussed the origin of public schools and what the purpose of public schools is. Before this week I, just like many people, assumed that pubic education was a right that was written into the Constitution, However, this is not true. As stated in Teacher Wars by Dana Goldstein (2014) ” The U.S. Constitution did not mention education as a right (it still doesn’t), and school attendance was not compulsory” (p. 13). People who valued education had to push to get education for everyone and to get schools to the place they are today.
Thomas Jefferson drafted a declaration to offer people three years of education along making further education available to certain group such as upper class males. The people he wanted to have access to three years of schooling was white males and females. Ever time this was brought to a vote it was defeated. Public education was not a priority for the country and it was left as a state issue and choice. The early schools in america were only available to white children and the school curriculum was based solely on religion. These schools were organized by the town councils, churches, charitable societies, and in the very rural areas they schools were organized by neighbors. The school was only in session twelve weeks out of the year and were on large room. In the 1830’s the common school began to emerge. Two people who had a great deal to do with the rise of the common schools are Catherine Beecher and Horace Mann. Both of these individuals valued education greatly. I feel that Catherine Beecher also played a role in early feminism, even thought she was against the woman’s right movement, because she found a way for women to further their education. Beecher realized that teaching is something women could do that did not exceed the boundaries of the religious aspects of peoples’ lives back then. She then started the Hartford Female Seminary which allowed women to further their education in subjects that were not normally offered to women in that time. Beecher made sure that there was hands on learning and lots of field trips to help the women learn. The women who went to the Hartford Female Seminary went on to become missionary teachers in the school that Beecher and Mann played a role in getting started. Mann helped to lead a push in 1837 to form a state board of education to over see local schools in Massachusetts. After a lot of work done to get the board and funding approved Massachusetts was the first state to have the common schools and mandatory antecedence for children.
A question posed by the course work this week is, what is the purpose of public schools? I think a main purpose of public schools is to give equal opportunity for all children to have an education. Before the common public schools everyone did not have the opportunity to education, even the basics. This was because the schools focused mostly on religion and thing to get the children by as well as most school charging some money in return for the child’s education. Our country was based on freedom and public schools allowed their to be freedom of education. Along with giving equal opportunities for education the public schools allowed for the gap between the poor and the wealthy. Another reason for public schools was is that so everyone in our country gets an education to a certain degree for free. I think that educators and future educators need to know how hard people had to work for there to be public schools for primary education for everyone. I think if we as educators were aware of this maybe there would be a larger passion for fixing our public schools and making them the best they can be for the students.
Brackemyre, T. (n.d.). Education to the Masses: The Rise of Public Education in Early America. U.S. History Scene [blog post]. Retrieved from http://ushistoryscene.com/article/rise-of-public-education/
Goldstein, D. (2014). The Teacher Wars: A History of America’s Most Embattled Profession. New York, NY: Doubleday.
Krutka, D. (2015). Education foundations. Retrieved from https://educationalfoundations.wordpress.com/