History of American Education

Every human infant comes into the world devoid of the faculties characteristic of fully developed human beings. The process of growing up is the process of the development of the child’s faculties. The overwhelmingly important aspect of the growing-up process is mental, the development of mental powers, or perception and reason. Margaret Szasz`s `Education and the American Indian: The Road to Self-Determination Since 1928

Margaret Szasz traced the evolution of federal American Indian educational policy during a critical p of time beginning with the Meriam Report in 1928 through the Kennedy Report of 1969 and the consequent passage of the Indian Education Act. These reports which resulted from intensive government sponsored studies of conditions in American Indian life, provided the impetus for important changes in Indian Administration and ultimately influenced a federal policy shift away from the earlier assimilationist ideology toward a culturally pluralistic perspective which fostered the possibility of self determination for American Indian nations.

In American Indian education from 1928 to 1973 there are two types of studies that have become popular. These are historical monographs on regional or tribal education and general accounts of contemporary Indian schooling. The Meriam report suggested that education should be the primary function of the Indian bureau. It advised that Indian education be geared for all age levels and that it be tied in closely with the community.

It encouraged construction of day schools to serve as community centers and proposed extensive reform of boarding schools, including the introduction of Indian culture and revision of the curriculum so that it would be adaptable to local conditions. In addition, the report attacked the physical conditions of the boarding schools, the enrollment of preadolescent children, and the inadequacy of the personnel. It recommended that salaries and standards be raised and that a professional educator be appointed Director of Education.

(Margaret Connell, 1999)Utilizing archival materials, congressional records, and interviews, Margaret Szasz focuses on those systems of Indian education directly impacted by the federal government and federal policy. The assimilation programs of the Dawes Act era, the reform movements of the New Deal with the accompanying positive attitude toward Indian cultures, the economic impact of World War II and the disastrous termination measures of the early 1950s are analyzed for their effects on education in day schools and the on- and off-reservation boarding schools directed by the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA).

She presents the emerging power of “Self-Determination” from the supportive legislation of the Kennedy/Johnson years and the setbacks of the Reagan era to the present administration, and the resulting growth of yet another genre of education for American Indian people – tribally controlled schools and colleges. Szasz closes the most recent chapter in American Indian education policy with the story of the rise and expansion of tribally controlled colleges concluding that “their commitment to community, to students, and to future leadership among tribal peoples suggests that they serve as the hope for the future for American Indians.

Szasz closes the most recent chapter in American Indian education policy with the story of the rise and expansion of tribally controlled colleges concluding that “their commitment to community, to students, and to future leadership among tribal peoples suggests that they serve as the hope for the future for American Indians. ” In this work Szasz has shown herself again to be the consummate researcher, presenting a sensitive but objective, comprehensive account of federal American Indian educational policy. Education in United States was segregated upon race.

For the most part, African Americans received very little to no education before the civil war. In the south where slavery was legal, many states enacted laws which made it a crime for blacks to even be able to read, much less attend school alongside white classmates. After the civil war and emancipation blacks still received little help from the states themselves. The federal government under the radical republications, set up the freedman’s bureau to help educate and protect former slaves and passed several civil rights bills, but neither survived the end of reconstruction in 1877.

The idea of equality in America has owed much to its proven ability to get used to varied and often argumentative environments by meaning different things to different minds, and furnishing rival interests with equally satisfying terms of moral reference. All of which throws some doubt on the undeniable character claimed by the Republic’s founders for human rights determined forever by the laws of nature. The idea of equality been able to stamp an unmistakable and lasting imprint on social institutions.

The Great Awakening, within certain very marked restrictions and with correspondingly limited consequences, was probably the first such period after colonial institutions had taken a settled shape. Accordingly it is chronologically the first to appear in the pages that follow; and because it’s religious character merges with the theme of the attitude of the state towards the individual’s moral identity, giving the subject an inherent unity which bears on all other aspects of equality, two separate chapters are dedicated to that dilemma.

The American Revolution and its consequences composed another period of upheaval. For all the rhetoric and invocations of principle that accompanied the election of Thomas Jefferson in 1800, and the policies of Andrew Jackson from the early campaigns for his election through his veto of the Bank bill and other pronouncements to his retirement in 1837, the administrations of these publicly dedicated reformists did little to deflect the advancing inequalities that characterized the distribution of wealth and all that followed from it.

The Jacksonian affirmation could be described in terms of the comparatively new concept of equality of opportunity, an imperfectly digested notion which actually conflicted with other egalitarian precepts, held by some of Jackson’s contemporaries to be of even more urgent importance.

It was only with the tremendous upheaval wrought by the Civil War, and then after more moderate policies had failed for political reasons that the principle of the equal protection of the laws, with all that it could be held to require in making sure that the laws themselves were genuinely equal, was written into the Constitution and transformed from a common and weak ideal into a optimistic commitment of government. The language of equal protection, however, soon proved to be as flexible as the blurred idea of equal prospect.

Soon after achieving the modest and, as it seemed, short-lived triumphs of the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments, egalitarians lost their grip on American development more completely than ever before. The idea of equality thus revealed over the two hundred years of the nation’s independent survival a tenacity which afforded a strange kind of glamour to American claims and pretensions, and a kind of explanation to the offer or threat of social justice which America had always seemed to hold out to the common people in face of the empires, monarchies, priesthoods, and social hierarchies of the Old World.

This tenacity of egalitarian principles owed a great deal to the historical structure of American institutions and to the formal and constitutional beginning of the American nation; and in the same way the idea owed much of its strength to the fact that equality had entered into the language of justice in a more explicit and more public manner than in most simultaneous political systems.

The movement in this course, through which equality began to define the obligations of government to the people, had its deeper origins in the nineteenth-century America, gained power to affect the character of religious, legal, and political institutions in the middle of the nineteenth century, and emerged in the higher reaches of popular thought as a successor to the idea of the Great Chain of Being. (Pole, 1979) Development of common schools 1820 – 1890

The motivation to provide a public school education for all children was twofold. First was the desire to indoctrinate them with religious teachings to assure the continued existence of a devotee and moral populace. A second motivation for providing public education was the need to educate for social, economic, democratic and national reasons. There was a common belief that the democratic representative government would fail unless the state took a real responsibility in educating the children of all people.

Common schools at this point were in bad shape, they were poorly attended, and basically taught by whomever available. The direction of education at this time was influenced by the teaching methods of Prussian schools, as developed by Pestalozzi. These schools were opened through all over the state. The shift towards accountability, outcomes, and higher expectations in our schools is leading us in the right direction, although we recognize that schools face legitimate difficulties during this change process.

But the response to these challenges should not be to back down on expectations for students with disabilities and those who have been perceived as unable to meet the standards. Policymakers and practitioners must remain committed to the goal of closing the achievement gap for all students. To lessen this commitment would be to return to the days and the mindset that only some students could and deserved to be taught to high standards.

We now know that by setting high expectations, and helping students, teachers, administrators, and family members reach those high standards, we can close the achievement gaps for all students. The educational landscape for students with disabilities is undergoing vast changes. Thanks to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and its push for increased access to education for students with disabilities, and the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), with its push for improved student outcomes, educators across the U. S.

are reexamining their practices to find ways to close the achievement gaps between groups of students. Students with disabilities are a focus of this attention, as schools and states labor to improve their academic outcomes. The Progressive Era 1890 – 1950 The Progressive era has long been noted as an era of national administrative expansion combined with the growth of newer progressive and egalitarian idealism. One would expect this era to be one of great expansion of the central administrative capacity in the area of education as well.

Curiously, this outcome is not what we find. To explain this puzzle, we must remind ourselves of what the Federal government had already given the states to promote education rich tracts of land that came to form the endowments that states built upon during this period. By the end of the 19th century and continuing into the early 20th, the development of secondary education for the masses was well underway. Between 1890 and 1920, the US secondary school population grew from 360,000 to over 2.

5 million. Educational Equality and its future in America Justice is the first virtue of social institutions, and of the institutions which regulate schooling no less than others. Education policy, just like social policy more generally, should be guided principally by considerations of justice and only secondarily by pragmatic considerations such as what compromises must be made with existing social forces opposed to justice in order to optimize the justice of the existing institutions.

The “equally good provision” for each individual child is the meaning of equality in education. Different readers will interpret “equally good provision” differently depending on their conception of what constitutes a good education. The equality consists in ensuring that social class background and racial background have no impact at all on achievement and that inequalities of achievement that have a significantly unequal impact on the life prospects of individual children are unjust.

Equality led reforms might deploy choice, but they do so only in the service of equality, either because choice will directly produce greater equality or because permitting choice will allow policymakers the political freedom to implement other measures that will produce greater equality. Reference: 1. J R Pole, The pursuit of Equality in American History, University of California Press, 1979 2. Matthew Hirschland, Sven Steinmo, The federal Government and American Education, University of Colorado, Boulder, 2001 3. Margaret Connell Szasz, Education and the American Indian: The road to self-determination since 1928

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