Education Reform

The beginning of the 19th century brought with it an entirely new outlook on the way people viewed public education, as well as a slew of other reforms. Horace man, who many see as the most influential man regarding the development of Americas public education system, called for radical transformations during the mid 1800s. In 1837, as the president of the Board of Education is Massachusetts, Mann immediately begun to make the necessary changes. He fought for free, equal and secular schooling, made available to all social classes, which would be provided by well trained, professional teachers. And by 1870, Mann’s dream had been achieved, with all states offering some form of free elementary schools. However the education reform wasn’t limited to lower level schools. By 1840, there were more than 70 institutions of higher education, and  in 1830 Oberlin College became the first coeducational college in the US. These early reforms laid the groundwork for future advancements in education, such as the ones lead by John Dewey, and without them the education system that we rely on today would be far different.

This picture shows how public education was made free and available to all social classes.

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The Committee on the Horace Mann School respectfully present the following report The usual even current of events at this school under the able administration of Miss Fuller the principal has moved on in its course during the past year and the committee have no changes to recommend or experiments to suggest for trial in the conduct of the school Its management is admirable the corps of teachers exceptional all fully entering into the spirit of the principal and the pupils appear to be possessed with an energy and zeal to acquire knowledge that is most refreshing and agreeable to witness The grand work of this magnificent school magnificent not only in its building and equipment but in its work and influence should be the pride of every member of the School Committee of the city and also of every citizen of Boston and of the State Here are almost miracles performed Those of whom Lucretius despairingly wrote To instruct the deaf no art could ever reach No care improve them and no wisdom teach are here taught not only to speak and to understand spoken language but also everything that is needed to prepare them to be good and useful citizens helpful to themselves and to the community and capable of bearing almost an equal burden with their more fortunate fellows in the battle of life.

This excerpt from the from annual report from the School Committee of the City of Boston shows the impact that the ideas of the early reformers, like Horace Mann, had on America's public education system.

This graph shows the growth in the number of higher level learning institutions in the United States.

The movement to reform public schools began in rural areas, where one-room schoolhouses provided only minimal education. School reformers hoped to improve education so that children would become responsible citizens sharing common cultural values and grow to be better citizens as adults.In 1837, Horace Mann of Massachusetts became secretary of that state’s board of education. He reformed the school system by increasing state spending on schools, lengthening the school year, dividing the students into grades, and introducing standardized textbooks. The North reformed its schools along the lines dictated by Horace Mann, and free public schools spread throughout the region. The South, however, made little progress in public education, partly owing to its low population density and a general indifference toward progressive reforms, which furthered the division between the North and South.

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