Before the beginning of American public schools in the mid-19th century, home schooling was the norm. Founding father John Adams encouraged his spouse to educate their children while he was on diplomatic missions (Clark, 1994). By the 1840's instruction books for the home were becoming popular in the United States and Britain. The difficulty of traveling to the system of community schools was provoking detractors.
At this time, most of the country began moving toward public schools (Clark, 1994). One of the first things early pioneers did was set aside a plot of land to build a school house and try to recruit the most educated resident to be the schoolmarm. This led to recruiting of graduates Eastern Seaboard colleges to further the education oftheir children beyond what they could do at home (Clark, 1994).
As the popularity of the public school movement began to rise behind Horace Mann many states soon passed compulsory-education laws.
These were designed primarily to prevent farmers, miners, and other parents form keeping their kids home to work (Clark, 1994). Ironically another factor behind public schools was the desire to use them to spread Christian morality, with its concern for the larger good over individualism (Clark, 1994). Massachusetts enacted the first such laws in 1852 requiring children ages 8-14 to be at school at least 12 weeks a year unless they were too poor. The laws proved to be effective, from 1870-1898 the number of children enrolling in the public schools outpaced the population growth.
Except for certain religious sects and correspondence schools home schooling remained limited for most of the 20th century. During the 1960's the hippie counterculture exploded into the scene. This culture led a revolt against the education establishment. Thousands of young Americans began dropping out of society and going back to...