The History of Public Education in the U.S.

Essay by krosek54A, November 2007

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The History of our Educational System

William Ellery Channing once said, "It is a greater work to educate a child, in the true and larger sense of the word, than to rule a state" (Inspirational 1). The education system in the United States has been progressing slowly, but consistently since early colonization. However, every system will inevitably face problems in developing. Throughout the history of the American public schools system, there have been uncountable social, ethical, and financial struggles which have established our present organization.

16th Century philosopher, Frances Bacon wisely stated, "Nam et ipsa scientia potestas est", meaning "knowledge itself is power" (Oxford 28:11). From the beginning of time, people have understood that knowledge is power. During early colonial years several laws were passed in favor of making education more common in society. The Massachusetts Education Law of 1647 was amongst those laws passed, requiring towns of fifty families to hire a schoolmaster who would teach their children to read and write (History 2).

Additionally, towns of a hundred families were required to have a grammar schoolmaster, which created consistency in quality of education (History 2). It was at this point in our nation's educational history that formal schooling as we know it became more valuable, as well as desirable. Author Robin Cook stated, "Education is more than a luxury; it is a responsibility that society owes to itself" (Inspirational 1). Education became more of a social responsibility and educators were formally hired for the sole purpose of teaching the youth of a budding nation. Perhaps even more surprising, considering previous practice, is that they were paid to do so, either by the government or individual families (History 3). Formal schooling was becoming more of a personal responsibility and a priority taken seriously (History 3).

The years...