Talk:History of education in the United States

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The article has a nice bibliography. Next it needs an outline, then--finally--some text. I'll try working on it.Rjensen 04:46, 24 January 2007 (UTC)

I added some information from Education in the United States that should be here, but it may need some major cleanup. --Zenosaga 16:36, 8 March 2007 (UTC)


It seems the bulk of this article is not about the "history" of U.S. education so much as it is about the current state of education in the U.S. under NCLB. I know there are only so many hours in a day, and I'm not volunteering to clean things up because I'm not qualified to do so. I found this article because I was looking for information.

To whom it may concern, I found an informative article that might be of some use in that the author has done what someone seems to be attempting to do here, condensing a broad spectrum of facts, but does so without sacrificing cohesion. The article flows like a story and is thus a pleasant read without being light on substance. I have not checked the sources for accuracy, but if the article is accurate, it might be a useful source of inspiration for anyone wishing to breathe some life into the "history" section of this history article.

It also provides some perspective on the so-called struggle over separation of church and state as it has been played out in the field of education, demonstrating that this was a source of friction from the very beginning.

I hate to be a back-seat driver, but here's the article, if anyone's interested.

Here's my four tildes: 01:18, 2 June 2007 (UTC)

I have to concur on the first observation. This article ignores the history nearly altogether regarding its most important aspect: its origins. How so much could be written here without any mention of Prussia, what exactly Mann and Edwards were aiming to copy and why - and how they saw children and the very aim of these new compulsory schools is beyond me. Might as well write a history of the US and gloss over the entire colonial period and start with the first Constitutional Convention. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Rusmeister (talkcontribs) 13:20, 30 August 2010 (UTC)

Well, there is a reference to the Prussian model under "Mann reforms." Student7 (talk) 21:18, 1 September 2010 (UTC)

Thomas Jefferson[edit]

Greetings, there's no mention about Thomas Jefferson in the article and how he helped start and funded the public education throughout the country and helped build the University of Virginia. He thought that public education should be a universal right to everyone no matter what class not a privelage to the wealthy elite. He thought it was important in order for the country to succeed. Otherwise it would have been a backwater country full of mostly low educated ignorants like in the Dark Ages or Medieval Times. The main reason Thomas Jefferson became bankrupt is because of funding support for Public Education and founding the University of Virginia. I saw all of this in the TV show History Detectives who found a document signed by Thomas Jefferson concerning public education. I don't think I'm a good wiki writer but for the people who regularly maintains this article should make a mention about him.--Pilot expert 08:40, 15 July 2007 (UTC) All I know is that when one looks at the history of education in this country they need to think about the Indian Boarding Schools. I didn't see one mention of the boarding schools in the "History of education in the United States". That was the information that I was looking for. Where does the education of indians and the united states history collide? From the beginning...when Indians taught settlers how to survive. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 01:53, 29 October 2012 (UTC)


I was looking for some information for a bulletin board about the history of education, so I began to read through the article for some paragraphs I could utilize. This read-through convinced me of the need for a cleanup of this page.

For instance, I quote from the Standardized Testing portion of the NCLB section:

"On the other hand the subjects that are not measured with No Child Left Behind are the following: History, Civics, Music, and Physical Education. Granted these subjects are hard to calculate but subjects like these impact a student’s life. Not just with their life but they also have effect on their achievements."

I teach English at the high school level, and this feels like the writing of my students--incomplete sentences, interjection of opinion, mishandled punctuation, etc. I haven't got the time to edit it fully myself, but I figured I'd mention the need.

I also agree that this article seems dominated by the current state of Education. This should be a latter section or footnote, not the main bulk of the article. The history covers to about 1925 then vanishes until NCLB appears. What about the intervening 80 years?

Dan P, Amherst MA, 10/4/2007 —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:39, 4 October 2007 (UTC)

poor article... -- 16:51, 22 October 2007 (UTC)
User: I reverted your wholesale deletion today. It would be better not to delete large sections which you find unacceptable without either 1) explaining your deletion on the discussion page or 2) providing an improved edit. You may be correct in simply deleting the material, but generally you will find greater acceptance for your deletions/edits when working with other editors to improve the article. Also, you may consider drafting an improved article on your own sandbox page and then seeking review of it before transferring and replacing this article. Let me know if I can be of assistance in your efforts to improve the page. --Storm Rider (talk) 16:56, 22 October 2007 (UTC)
Thanks for your note. Kinda surprised someone actually tries to talk to me rather than just reverting it;-) I do know how wikipedia works and so I've come to the conclusion it would be best to simply throw out this part. I've made the experience that sometimes it is better to rewrite parts and even articles completely instead of trying to save material from the old one. But this case is different. I believe the whole part about the No Child Left Behind Act is not what you would look for when reading about the history of education in the US. So there's no need to put up a sandbox for trying to save anything of that essay. There is a separate article which is long enough itself. The need for cleanup has been voiced several times on this talk page but nothing has happened so I volunteered for a start (Wikipedia:Be bold). Neither in the history nor on the talk page I could make out someone who actually cares for the article. I also don't believe in templates crying for help or cleanup or whatever. By the way, there is no need for the bibliography section since there is another article for that too. If anyone wants to have a small paragraph about the NCLB-Act - well, go ahead and look for material in the article history. Other than that, I would say this section should be deleted completely. So yes, you can be of assistance in my efforts to improve the page. Just let me delete the whole section;-) -- 17:27, 22 October 2007 (UTC)
There is significant support for allowing a cncerned editor more freedom for orphaned articles. I appreciate your willingness to explain your edits in the edit summary and encourage you do continue doing so; but when you make large deletions it may still cause other editors to revert you. Just be prudent in your editing; also point people to the discussion page so that they can see your logic and then more easily agree or disagree.
Wouldn't you think that the NCLB policy should go in the history of education to address it's supposed departure from the past? If nothing else a short statement plus a link to No Child Left Behind Act should be sufficient.
The only other thing I can offer is that it is easier to destroy than to create; your continued focus on improving the article is appreciated! Cheers. --Storm Rider (talk) 20:35, 22 October 2007 (UTC)
well, that's what I wrote as a hidden comment in the text. I left one sentence about the NCLB linking to it and then I wrote something like there should be two more sentences describing the NCLB. Sorry, but did you look closely or did you just revert when you saw large parts of the article deleted? So there might be a short paragraph explain what is becoming different but compared to the "time frame of history" of education in the US it is still current events and heavily debated. There is so much more what one would expect from an article "History of education in the US" but I'm not an expert so I don't feel I can contribute a lot. But I do know for sure that all this NCLB stuff doesn't belong here. So will you let me delete it now? ;-) Otherwise you could put in some templates and hope for someone's attention but as I already pointed out I don't believe in such templates. I found it too often that it doesn't help at all. (same thing as with this stupid rating of articles and "this article is part of project: blah" and an attempt to create...) -- 15:57, 24 October 2007 (UTC)

In the section "Attendance", there is a part that says "1.8 million girls between five and fifteen (and 1.88 million boys of the same age)". In order to maintain clarity and simplicity, I will change this to "3.68 million children between the ages of five and fifteen", along with a grammar fix. Blippy1998 (talk) 20:51, 10 June 2013 (UTC)[edit]

Some content is duplicated at the above page. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 10:34, 22 February 2008 (UTC)

Claims about Catholic parochial education[edit]

This needs to be supported by sources. There was more than one reason why Catholic immigrants wanted their children educated in Catholic schools - they were trying to preserve religion, which is somewhat different than "resisting assimilation". Also, in many areas, Irish, the first major group of Catholic immigrants, were subject to much hostility. They set up the first Catholic schools and universities, and dominated the Catholic Church in America for decades.--Parkwells (talk) 20:30, 26 March 2008 (UTC)

Differences between colonies and regions[edit]

There were documented differences between the New England colonies and Chesapeake Bay colonies in their approaches to education before the Revolution, and between the regions in the 19th century, which should be more recognized by this article. Public education was much more widespread in the North and support for education and literacy was part of the culture.--Parkwells (talk) 22:45, 26 March 2008 (UTC)

Merge of Women in education[edit]

I found the above article in the list of those to be wikified. It seems to have some material that might fit in here. It's entirely about the USA. Itsmejudith (talk) 15:04, 19 March 2009 (UTC)


I see what you are saying, but I would disagree with the proposition to merge. While the article may currently include only women from the USA, it is not limited to that. The tittle of the article implies that it could include women in education around the world. If it is found acceptable that extracting women and their achievements from the rest of education history, then this article should just be modified to include women around the world. If it should be merged because it is unnecessary for women to be covered apart from men, then it should be merged with the article, History of education.

--Lexandalf (talk) 21:39, 16 November 2010 (UTC)


There are wide swaths of comments without any in-line footnotes. While the material doesn't look bad, it doesn't always convey credibility either. Student7 (talk) 18:45, 7 October 2009 (UTC)

Problem with literacy rate for 1840 and citation given[edit]

The third citation does not support the article's claim that there was 97% literacy in 1840. The source material gives the ratio for the number of illiterate persons that are white, male and above the age of 20 to the white population at large (yes, including women, children, etc) as 1:25.27. This is not a proper literacy rate! Nor is it a rate of 97% even, as that would mean rounding up from 96.04%. If you look at the data earlier in the very same census, there were 549,905 illiterates above the age of twenty in 1840 and the number of whites aged twenty and above (so, including individuals aged 20 who were not considered in the illiterates number) was only 6,439,699 in 1840 which yields and illiteracy rate of over 8.539%, or a literacy rate of only 91.461%, even when including an deflated overall population compared to the number of illiterates. Another problem with this source is that the census bureau did no actual literacy testing; it was by survey only, and only the male head of household was asked. I think the claim of 97% literacy in 1840 should be removed. (talk) 17:22, 24 October 2009 (UTC)akaGwydionMapDon

Maybe this should be under "reporting literacy," or "coming to grips with illiteracy." Removing the best source of information about literacy in 1840 should not be done light-heartedly. Yes, this is a "report." So is reporting the color on one's skin in the 2000 census. Does that make it doubtful? Rejecting this source should be a matter of using a WP:RELY source. IMO, literacy was not that wide among white southerners. But there was high literacy in New England. Elementary schools all over the place since day 1. Student7 (talk) 19:42, 27 October 2009 (UTC)
The problem is not just that the report gives only self-reported data, which, if the source is to be used, needs to be at least noted. The information that was presented was not even supported by the cited source. The data that was being used was the ratio of illiterate white males over the age of twenty to the general population. This does not support a literacy rate of 97% among whites. This is simply an example of the overextension of a source. The source need not be eliminated, but it can't support the myth of near-universal literacy in a time when literacy was a major problem. There are other, more pertinent sources that can show such trends. Here is a secondary source that gives a better characterization of illiteracy going back to 1870. GwydionMapDon (talk) 19:55, 31 October 2009 (UTC)
historians have long ago agreed that census questions that asked people about their literacy is an accurate way to get the information. Researchers matched the census reports with signatures on wills and got very high correlations. Historian Harvey Graff --a leading expert--says "Contemporary literacy research in several countries has established a high level of accuracy in census self-reports." Graff, "What the 1861 Census Can Tell Us about Literacy: a Reply," Histoire Sociale: Social History; 1975 8(16): 337-349. Rjensen (talk) 21:26, 31 October 2009 (UTC)
First, this is not an issue of the accuracy of the source so much as it is that the source was misquoted. It does not contain a proper national literacy rate. If you actually look at the source, you will see as much. The number that was used was not a literacy rate. It was a ratio of the total white population of all ages and either gender, to the number of white males over the age of twenty that were illiterate. As to the accuracy of the census or general information on literacy levels of the period, refer here:,+Charles+B.+Nam# Scroll down and click on the beginning of chapter four (page 111) for the relevant sections. Clearly, the article would not be well served if it is made to continue to state that literacy was near-universal in 1840.GwydionMapDon (talk) 03:40, 1 November 2009 (UTC)

Corporal punishment[edit]

Education today is nothing like education in the 18th and 19th century. A history really should cover major changes. Corporal punishment is one of those major changes. Given liberally at will in the 19th and pretty much phased out in the second half of the twentieth. It is frivolous to skip it IMO. Student7 (talk) 21:29, 18 March 2010 (UTC)

Education of women[edit]

An editor has contributed heavily to this new subsection. Sounds good. I deleted material that seemed extraneous - Northhampton, for example. Philadelphia much larger and more notable I left.

I question the insertion of the material on Georgia. The entire south, outside 4 or 5 coastal cities, seems to me to be a literate backwater for various reasons, until well after the Civil War. So while the clip may be true, it seems anomalous. I would suggest deleting it for that reason. Student7 (talk) 12:06, 4 April 2010 (UTC)

Historians mostly do case studies (because of the need to read all the local records), and the cited research on Northampton is very revealing for the question of why women were educated or not. Southern cities were leaders in education before the Civil War, and should not be whited out in favor of the ignorance of the backcountry. Rjensen (talk) 19:33, 4 April 2010 (UTC)
The section reads: " Northampton, Massachusetts, for example, was a late adopter because it had many rich families who dominated the political and social structures and they did not want to pay taxes to aid poor families. Northampton assessed taxes on all households, rather than only on those with children, and used the funds to support a grammar school to prepare boys for college. Not until after 1800 did Northampton educate girls with public money. In contrast, the town of Sutton, Massachusetts, was diverse in terms of social leadership and religion at an early point in its history. Sutton paid for its schools by means of taxes on households with children only, thereby creating an active constituency in favor of universal education for both boys and girls."
This goes on way too much for this article about Northampton, a town of little import. Not Boston or Philadelphia or Savannah or Charleston. "poor families" irrelevant to education of women, per se. Raises more questions than it solves since New England more democratic than other areeas. Why couldn't majority overrule the minority landholders? Mainly because most of the people were landowners? All has issues within issues that is distracting, to say the least, about education of women. Not a clean cite and gets way off WP:TOPIC. The reader is more confused than enlighted as to why we have it there.
Is the article then about "social structure in Northhampton?" One would think so when they (eventually) come to the end of that lengthy paragraph. After which, believe me, they will quit reading. Why continue with irrelevancies?
Using "examples" anyway is distracting. How is Sutton or Northhampton typical of New England or the colonies? There is nothing here to demonstrate that either of them are typical or untypical. We need higher level summary from author who has studied it, not selected "case studies."Student7 (talk) 12:39, 9 April 2010 (UTC)
Sklar has a very clever research design. All the towns in Mass and CT had very similar social, cultural and political systems, with certain variations (like % rich, and which ones taxed everyone and which taxed just parents). She discovered which combinations of social conditions affected in a major way the education of girls, and reported them clearly. This is the evidence social historians use to generalize about all of New England--where the great majority of people lived in towns like Northampton and Sutton. This is not a matter of "examples" but of advanced historiography designed to produce rich generalizations about the history of education. People who don't like this kind of social history can skip it easily enough. History majors will devour it and move on to the full article. By contrast, very only a small % of women lived in Phily or Boston. Erasing this information from RS will help zero users of Wikipedia.Rjensen (talk) 04:24, 7 April 2010 (UTC)
This may be true, but I don't think the article makes this clear. That is, the material is not convincing as summarized. I've heard of Northhampton. I've never heard of a town in Massachusetts called "Sutton" before. So the author may be reliable, but IMO the presentation doesn't reflect that. I was not questioning the reliablity of the author. Having said that, I don't find a bio on Sklar, otherwise I would suggest using her name. Student7 (talk) 12:39, 9 April 2010 (UTC)

Illiterate women?[edit]

The final statement on women reads: "This educational disparity explains why the inability of colonial women to do more than place their mark on documents is an unreliable indicator of their overall literacy."

Okay. What does this mean? That women were literate despite their being unable to sign their names? And this proves it how? Student7 (talk) 02:18, 7 April 2010 (UTC)

there is a debate among historians on how literacy can be measured and our page covers both sides of the debate, as is required on NPOV rules. People interested in literacy can find and read the RS for themselves, since we just provide a brief summary. In this case the historical question is reading vs writing, which were different skills that too often get lumped together by folks who don't know history.Rjensen (talk) 04:24, 7 April 2010 (UTC)
Again, I would suggest rewording this so it can be understood by stupid people. A person should not be required to be a historian to read this. Wikipedia is intended to appeal to people needing to research something. Anybody. They shouldn't require a degree in history. Student7 (talk) 12:42, 9 April 2010 (UTC)
How about, "Despite apparent inability to write, colonial women were taught to read the bible. And were therefore literate." Something that doesn't require sentence parsing to understand. Student7 (talk) 12:44, 9 April 2010 (UTC)
I don't think an article on the history of colonial education should be pitched to stupid people unable to appreciate modern scholarship. I expect our largest audience is college students studying education foundations. Rjensen (talk) 02:17, 10 April 2010 (UTC)
Please. Be WP:CIVIL.
Pleasde don't call people "stupid" if you're trying to be civil. Rjensen (talk) 11:42, 12 April 2010 (UTC)
A better likelihood is that the article will be read by foreigners totally unfamiliar with the American Education system. Every American will assume they already know. Think about changing what is now a confusing reference to combined literacy and illiteracy in one sentence. Student7 (talk) 11:27, 12 April 2010 (UTC)
Fix looks good. Thanks. Student7 (talk) 18:05, 14 April 2010 (UTC)

The south[edit]

There was a disparity between eduction in New England and nearly everywhere else. It is no coincidence that 18th (and early 19th) century writers are mostly from New England and nearby. Seldom from the South. The material on Georgia seems to suggest similar attention to education, as they had in the north. This statistic seems like an anomaly to me. I would suggest dropping it or giving information on education in the south in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, which has to be wanting, when compared to other sections of the country. Student7 (talk) 19:35, 20 April 2010 (UTC)

Cleanup and Reorganization Needed[edit]

This is an essential article on the history of education in America, but it lacks the organization and readability it should have.

When discussing any history, the reader benefits when the overall structure is organized in chronological order. The outline should identify primary movements by era. Right now, this article is organized by topics and subtopics which go in and out of any methodical timeline. The article would be of a higher quality if topics could be grouped within an era or movement of educational history.

Suggestions might include: Education in Early America (1800s), The Progressive Movement (1900s to 1930s), Post World War II Era (1940s to 1950s), Civil Rights and Equity in Education (1960s to 1970s), and Return to Traditionalism or Neo-Traditionalism (1980s and beyond). These are just examples. It may be difficult to come to a general agreement on naming and defining each era, but through collaboration and time, it can be done.--MusicTree3 (talk) 21:26, 13 July 2010 (UTC)

The start date of the Progressive movement is not quite as clear as 1900. Some say that it started in the mind 1800s with the work of Herbert Spencer (Kieran Egan, 2002, ISBN 0-300-09433-7). Specifically specifically with the publication Spencer's works: Principles of Psychology (1855) and Education (1861).
Anyway, I would strongly agree that reorganization is in order, but I don't think that it would necessarily be best organized by strict chronicalization. It would be good to try to put as much of that as possible, but much of the history overlaps. For instance, progressive education in the United States is a pretty important topic, however, it's not like it came and went from 1900 to 1930. It is a movement that is still alive and well. So, I think it we should start throwing it into some semblance of chronological order and then deviate from that in such a way as to allow for the overlap in time periods to not mess things up. I would advise against making sections labeled, for instance, "1900s to 1930s". That would undercut the things that are really important about education. I would endorse a method that organizes the article in such a way as to highlight the important components of American educational history, while trying to generally keep it time-lined. (Lexandalf (talk) 02:36, 28 March 2011 (UTC))
I'm big on chronological organization. If you can leave a comment/editor's note about the structure (which overlaps) in a subsection, that might be nice, though we do have editors that automatically erase editors notes! A note might prevent me from absentmindedly trying to "reorganize" it back to chronological sequence some months from now. Thanks. Student7 (talk) 13:12, 30 March 2011 (UTC)
I am not familiar with the "comment/editor's note". How exactly would one do that? Lexandalf (talk) 19:52, 30 March 2011 (UTC)
Just by inserting <!---tags like this: retain by topic, do not resequence by chronology. see discussion.--->. We are actually enouraged to leave these, but, as I'v mentioned, some editors routinely delete them. Student7 (talk) 14:33, 1 April 2011 (UTC)

Delete Bibliography Section[edit]

Attempting to clean up this article. In reading over the past discussions, I'm wondering why the Bibliography section is still here? A separate article with essentially the same content has already been created (and updated by other editors). Although there are some good external links buried in it, this list shouldn't go at the bottom of this article, since it does not consist entirely of external links. If someone wants to salvage any of those links, then delete the Bibliography section, go ahead. MusicTree3 (talk) 18:37, 26 July 2010 (UTC)

keep both. They serve different purposes and different audiences. Readers of this basic survey article need a short basic guide to the vast literature; readers interested in more specific issues need the longer separate version. Rjensen (talk) 06:56, 27 July 2010 (UTC)
Okay by me. Sounds good. I noticed this article was started in 2007 with this core bibliography. By the way, I'm a college student studying the foundations of education. MusicTree3 (talk) 07:40, 27 July 2010 (UTC)
Well, I erased it based on the first comment. Didn't see replies until just now. Be advised that readers tune out after a few articles. If they are serious researchers, not sure why they would be here. A "casual" researcher is looking for a much shorter, pithier list. Same with externals or anything else at the bottom. Or any other list, for that matter. Length is a detriment. Student7 (talk) 19:37, 29 July 2010 (UTC)
I think the compromise is to have a Further Reading section which I added. People's eyes blur? sounds like OR. :) Rjensen (talk) 04:54, 30 July 2010 (UTC)
Long lists are not "reader friendly." It is not in the text, so the remark does not qualify for WP:OR consideration. User friendliness was a topic I studied in graduate school and was used successfully in a corporation I worked for. I found these concepts echoed in Wikipedia policy. Long lists are distracting. See, for example, WP:NOTMIRROR and WP:NOTCATALOG both echoing the same principle of sharing "too much" information.Student7 (talk) 20:51, 2 August 2010 (UTC)
It's not a long list compared to the tens of thousands of scholarly books and articles out there on the topic. Wiki is a good place for students to find termpaper topics, which (for most professors) must be based on published sources. Since we have LOTS of readers for this article (5000 page views a month) we have to serve a diversity of interests. Student7 says he has in mind the corporation he once worked for--but perhaps it would be more useful to think of university students as our target audience.Rjensen (talk) 01:12, 3 August 2010 (UTC)
We are obliged to follow policy here. Policy is not made at the project level for the reason that there are too few people participating. You have not answered the Wikipedia policy concerns mentioned above. Student7 (talk) 19:55, 5 August 2010 (UTC)
. The great majority of long history articles in Wiki have bibliographies or further reading sections. to quote WP:FURTHERREADING: "A bulleted list, usually alphabetized, of a reasonable number of editor-recommended publications that do not appear elsewhere in the article and were not used to verify article content. Editors may include brief annotations." Rjensen (talk) 20:35, 5 August 2010 (UTC)
Another problem that occurs frequently, and the longer lists are more vulnerable, is how to evaluate supposed "important" further reading. Is is just some guy who wants his book on there for WP:SPAM purposes? Or is it really important. When the list gets truly cluttered as this one has, I just skip new entries figuring somebody will come along someday, erase the whole thing anyway. The only hope for the subsection. No way to verify any entry and new entries are screened less the more entries there are. Student7 (talk) 15:36, 9 August 2010 (UTC)


The tenure subsection was deleted, probably for lack of citation. It needs to be reinserted with proper documentation. It is an important part of today's problems with teaching and teachers. The 50s tenure was intended to protect college professors against arbitrary dismissal. Instead it was also applied to elementary and secondary public schools, where there had been no question of challenging teachers for political orientation. This has resulted in accumulating lots of tired/bored teachers who cannot be dismissed without a lot of paperwork, which administrators are loath to process. Student7 (talk) 15:36, 9 August 2010 (UTC)

  • Just have citations if the section is revived. Who said this, and where did they say it, and are they reliable?
    -- Yellowdesk (talk) 02:02, 2 September 2010 (UTC)
Not sure what you mean by "just have citations...are they reliable?" I think reliable citations are needed. If you don't have them, the subsection cannot be revived.
I don't know who said it (might have been my insertion, but I did not track it back). The material appears to be summarized from the linked material in Wikipedia which is not terribly well-cited. The original subsection here read:
"===Tenure for teachers===
Professors were often able to receive tenure in public schools by the 1900s. This trend was applied to K-12 teachers starting around the 1950s. By the 21st century, tenure for K-12 teachers was being questioned and effectively replaced in several states around the country, including the District of Columbia." Student7 (talk) 21:08, 21 December 2010 (UTC)

Transition to modern standards from 19th century[edit]

The history lightly touches upon the transition from local schools to state mandated standards. What happened was this: in the 19th century the states required public schooling. "Standards", if any, were poorly enforced. The states weren't giving any money locally so poorer areas has poorer schools. The state recognized this and didn't really expect much from (say) a rural school.

This changed in the 20th century to "state standards with teeth." There were still variations partly due to local funding for schools, until relatively recently, but there were enforced standards.

Case in point: My great-grandmother, a "graduate" of grammar school by 1875 in New Hampshire, had her teacher's certificate approved by Mrs. X. Mrs. X was the wife of the local Superintendent of Schools, they were considered joint Superintendents, even though Mrs. X could not legally vote! A nice touch there!  :) My g-grandmother badly taught a one-room school for a brief period which challenged her well beyond her meager capabilities.

This had all turned around by 1900 with the state stepping in, setting standards, teachers with bonafide credentials from teachers colleges. This sharp transition from nod-and-wink standards to very real and enforced standards needs to be presented in some general way for the US as a whole. Most states followed this pattern, I would assume, though some cities may have made progress on their own before the state stepped in. Student7 (talk) 18:29, 24 October 2010 (UTC)

Ambiguous Statments[edit]

under the section "Religion and Schools" there is the following statement:

"By 1890 the Irish, who controlled the Church in the U.S."

The section is talking about immigrants. However, this particular statement is unclear as to wither or not the Irish immigrants, or the Catholic Church in Ireland or something else. To make matters worse, it is uncited. If someone can find some source that talks about it, it needs to be clarified. If not I suppose it needs to be deleted. (Lexandalf (talk) 02:41, 28 March 2011 (UTC))

"South is backwards" vs "South is not backwards"[edit]

First we had a statement which tried to show that the South was backwards by stating that compulsory school laws applied (in 1900) to only 3 Southern states and 32 states outside the South.

Now we have "By 1900, 49 states had compulsory schooling laws. 17 of these states were in the South and 32 were outside the South. 30 states with compulsory schooling laws required attendance until age 14 (or higher)"

Again interesting since Arizona, Alaska, Hawaii, Oklahoma and New Mexico weren't yet states. So there were only 45 states. The last change was summarized as "more accurately reflecting the source." This seems unlikely. Student7 (talk) 19:01, 5 May 2011 (UTC)

@Student7 Indeed I was incorrect. I misread the table. Thanks for the correction. The numbers are now accurate. I double checked them. Lexandalf (talk) 13:38, 6 May 2011 (UTC)

American Mercury quote[edit]

I'm a bit dismayed that you removed the addition I made to History of education in the United States. Though the quote itself isn't heavily sourced/cited...(there is one reference on p 576 of Social education Volume 4)'s the notion of the somewhat sub-par education of the time which the quote so clearly conveys. This isn't my area of expertise...but it doesn't seem that the quote detracts from the article's meaning.Smallman12q (talk) 02:15, 29 June 2011 (UTC)

I am sorry if I hurt your feelings. the sarcastic quote is Original Research from a poor source who was not an expert on education (the American Mercury was long past its glory days in 1940) and in fact was not commenting on actual textbooks but on ed-schools profs. The lead-in ("The growth of public schools led to an increased consumption of textbooks often in a disorganized fashion. These books were often heavily criticized at the time for their incoherence and inefficiency. ") is vague (what decade or century does it refer to) not sourced and I believe it is false (disorganized? heavily criticized?? incoherence???) (look for example at Webster's Speller--by far the best selling early textbook. it's quite good.) I might add that critics in 2011 greatly admire the schools of the 1930s--really smart people became teachers (probably because they could not get other jobs). Rjensen (talk) 04:22, 29 June 2011 (UTC)


It may be this easy. But I live in a white homogenous rural area where, at schools that have the most free lunches, continuously outscore those with fewer free lunches (usually a sign of economic disadvantage). To the bemusement of observers.

Many of them have two parents or live in a family that cares for them. So the "socio" is still there. (That wasn't measured. Just speculating). Student7 (talk) 12:47, 29 June 2011 (UTC)

History of grading[edit]

When US Grant went to school in the 1820s and in my hometown up to the 1880s or so, there was no grading system. You just sat until you tired of studying, or a parent needed you to work, or you passed a college exam and didn't need lower schooling any more. There was no "graduation" because there was no "class"/classification. Education was not metered out in standard doses but given the quick, quickly, and to the slow, slowly. It was very inefficient.

It must have been implemented with the Mann reforms, but can't seem to find it specifically anyplace. It really has to be key to the Mann reforms. So it's missing in other articles as well. Student7 (talk) 00:48, 1 August 2011 (UTC)

good question. It is covered in "Age Grading" in Encyclopedia of educational reform and dissent, Volume 2 (2010) p 33 which says the idea of grades came from Prussia and was promoted heavily after 1848 by Mann and his followers--and we know most states followed the Mann plans. Rjensen (talk) 04:46, 1 August 2011 (UTC)

platoon model[edit]

Stub-sorting Park View School (Washington, DC) I made a redlink for progressive platoon school model, as I'd never heard of it. It looks as if it might be the Gary Plan, but I wonder if someone knowledgeable could clarify? The Gary Plan isn't identified as being "the platoon model". I wasn't sure how many of those 4 words belonged in the link - was it the "progressive platoon model", or the "platoon model" which was progressive? etc. Over to you experts! Thanks. PamD 18:51, 23 June 2013 (UTC)

Colonial Period Additions[edit]

The Colonial Period only has info on the New England colonies. It almost completely ignores the colonies of New Spain and New France, which were incorporated into the rest of the United States throughout the 18- and 1900s. In order to reflect this, and in order to address the questions other people have asked on this talk page about Indian boarding schools (which were a major part of the New Spain and New France colonization efforts), I'll add some information about this but post it here while I'm working on it.

---To be posted above the section currently titled New England---

New Spain

The educational history of colonial America begins with the colonies of New Spain which were established during the 1500s following the discovery of America by Christopher Columbus in 1492. The Spanish colonies became part of the United States throughout the 1800s and 1900s. Queen Isabella I, who oversaw the earliest colonization efforts, was very solicitous for the education and kind treatment of native Americans, and in her Last Will and Testament (chapter 12) she pushed for this to be provided for: "to those Islands and Mainland of the Ocean Sea [we send] prelates, and religious, and clerics, and other people with knowledge and fear of God, to instruct their residents and inhabitants in the Catholic Faith, and to teach and guide them with good manners. ... [And my successors must] not consent or permit that the Indians living in and inhabiting those said Indies and mainland be persecuted in their persons and in their properties; but instead I order that they be treated well and justly." Settlement of the territory of the modern United States began in 1493 with the colonization of Puerto Rico, which became a U.S. territory in 1898. The settlements became organized when the Laws of Burgos were passed by Queen Isabel I's husband King Ferdinand II of Aragon. These laws contained five regulations governing the education of natives and their children. (Provisions 4, 9, 13, 17, and 27.)

The earliest Spanish school in a U.S. territory was the Escuela de Gramática (Grammar School), established in Puerto Rico by Bishop Alonso Manso in 1513, in the area where the Cathedral of San Juan was to be constructed. The school was free of charge and the courses taught there were Latin, literature, history, science, art, philosophy and theology.[1] In the mainland United States, Spanish colonization began in 1526 with the community of San Miguel de Gualdape. Assuming it followed the plan of the Laws of Burgos, it would have provided educational opportunities to Indian youth. Fr. Diego de Landa described the Spanish catechetical schools for Indians in 1566: "The method taken for indoctrinating the Indians was by collecting the small children of the lords and leading men, and establishing them around the monasteries in houses which each town built for the purpose. ...[T]hey gathered them in for catechism...[and the children,] after being taught, informed the friars of idolatries and orgies... The admiral and the royal judges always backed up the friars in gathering the Indians to catechism, and in punishing those who returned to their old life. ... In this way the children made remarkable progress in the schools, and the others in the catechism. They learned to read and write in the Indian tongue, forming a grammatical system, so as to study it like the Latin."[2] (talk) 14:27, 29 August 2013 (UTC)dmar198

During the 1500s Spanish colonies could be found on the east coast from Florida up to Georgia and in the American mid-west from the Mexico/New Mexico border to Kansas. By this time settlements were well-organized communities of natives under the leadership of a Spanish governor and a traveling priest. These communities were called pueblos or villages at the time but are known to history as Indian Reductions. Fr. Alonso de Benavides described their schools in 1634: "In every pueblo where a friar resides, he has schools for the teaching of prayer, choir, playing musical instruments, and other useful things. Promptly at dawn, one of the Indian singers, whose turn it is that week, goes to ring the bell for Prime, at the sound of which those who go to school assemble and sweep the rooms thoroughly. ... After mealtime, it always happens that the friar has to go to some neighboring pueblo to hear a confession or to see if they are careless in the boys' school where they learn to pray and assist at Mass."[3] In 1674 Bishop Calderon of Santiago wrote to Queen Mother Marie Anne and stated, "The children, both male and female, go to church on work days, to a religious school where they are taught by a teacher whom they call Athequi of the church; [a person] whom the priests have for this service."[4] This description indicates that the colonies of New Spain had facilities for female education at least by the 1600s. It is not clear how far back this goes; the 1512 laws of Burgos, from over a hundred years earlier, did not specify whether instruction should be for males only: it uses the word hijos, which means sons, but can include daughters if they are mixed in with the boys. (talk) 15:09, 29 August 2013 (UTC)dmar198

---To be posted below the section currently titled New England---

New France

The colonies of New France began at about the same time as the colonies of New England, i.e. in the early 1600s, and were incorportated in the rest of the United States during the 1800s. The Jesuit Relations, which contain some of the first accounts of France's early colonization efforts, are filled with descriptions of the Jesuit missionaries' attempts to educate the natives in the territory of New France. Translations of Catholic doctrines into the native languages survive from these years as a testament to the attempts of the Jesuit fathers to bring the natives to a state of literacy. Fr. Pierre Biard was already writing about this in 1611: "Now the Jesuits...resolved not to baptize a single adult, unless he had, according to the Holy Canons, been well initiated and catechized. For they well understood that to do otherwise would not only be a profanation of Christianity, but also an injustice towards the Savages. ...[F]or these reasons the Jesuits, delaying the Baptism of those who desired it, put themselves to work with all possible diligence to translate into Canadian the Lord's prayer, the Angelic salutation, the Creed, and the Commandments of God and of the Church, with a brief explanation of the Sacraments, and some prayers, for this was all the Theology they needed."[5]

During the 1600s French colonies could be found on the east coast in northern Maine and in the west from Illinois as far south as Louisiana. The first French colony with a school for students in a modern U.S. State was Acadia, a French colony that at the time included part of Maine. Its capital was Quebec City, near the border of Maine and Quebec, and by 1639 this city had an Ursuline boarding school for girls and several schools for boys, which are described in Volume 16 of the Jesuit Relations. In 1727 the Ursulines moved to the French colony of Louisiana, where they operated a school for girls that continues to this day. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:07, 29 August 2013 (UTC)

no--the areas have not been incorporated into the Reliable sources (except for New Orleans). for example, the parts of Illinois & Maine involved had no schools when it became part of US. Rjensen (talk) 01:12, 30 August 2013 (UTC)
1. The title of the page is history of education, not history of schools, and the examples I provided were examples of systematic forms of education.
2. In addition, the evidence indicates that the missionaries typically didn't build specialized school buildings but rather educated the natives within the churches. Should we really not include those educational efforts just because they were done in churches rather than dedicated buildings?
3. Acadia did have a school building that served students from the territory of a modern U.S. State (Maine). The building was just located on the other side of the modern border. It still operated for members of a modern U.S. territory.
4. The New England section mentions that teaching was often done within churches. Why can't we say the same thing about the colonies of New France and New Spain? dmar198 19:09, 30 August 2013 (UTC)dmar198 — Preceding unsigned comment added by Dmar198 (talkcontribs)
all material has to be about the United States--not Mexico or Canada. The New France material for example is entirely about places located inside Canada. Put it in the Canada-Education article. The Spanish educational system likewise belongs in a separate article. Indian education is an interesting topic, but it should be treated separately. Above all Original research in primary sources is discouraged by Wiki rules--best to use reliable secondary sources that specify areas that became part of USA. The missionaries seldom used church buildings. Rjensen (talk) 04:12, 31 August 2013 (UTC)
The material I provided was not entirely about Mexico and Canada. New Spain and New France both included territory in the modern US. I included one description of a school in Mexico and one of a school in Canada, and those can be removed, but I think they are applicable because the school policy they employed there is helpful for understanding their educational policy, which extended into modern US territory as well (not to mention the school in Acadia served people from the territory of modern Maine, which makes it a special circumstance). As for "all material has to be about the United States" -- in the Colonial period, there was no United States. We are talking about the territory that became the United States, and the French and Spanish colonies were in that territory just as much as the English colonies were. If you removed the section about New France and the description of the school in Mexico, that would still leave two descriptions of schools in colonial Florida and New Mexico, {edit: and the grammar school in Puerto Rico, which is a U.S. territory} and your criticisms don't apply to those ones. Could we compromise by re-putting those sections in, without the sections about New France and the school in Mexico? (talk) 23:37, 31 August 2013 (UTC)dmar198
New France did not engage in any educational activities that covered the uninhabited part of Maine that went to the USA many decades later. Queen Isabella had little impact on U.S. education. Florida--the Spanish all left before it became part of US--there was no continuity. There was continuity in Puerto Rico but Puerto Rico is always treated quite separately by US historians. New Mexico perhaps deserves a couple lines at best (and needs a RS). Rjensen (talk) 01:20, 1 September 2013 (UTC)
Cool. I'll work on finding a secondary source re: the New Mexico stuff. Re: Florida, St. Augustine has been continually inhabited since 1565. The 1674 description of schools I provided was about the Spanish Florida colony, I'll look for a secondary source about that too. (talk) 02:04, 1 September 2013 (UTC)dmar198
there is no continuity in education in Florida between the Spanish, British and American eras--all the Spanish settlers left by 1822 (there were a few Spanish soldiers when the Americans took over--they soon left.) Rjensen (talk) 02:18, 1 September 2013 (UTC)
Oh, I see what you are saying. But I don't see why the education system would have to have operated through U.S. annexation for it to count. Some of the one-room schools in the Southern colonies were very temporary, but since they show the state of education at the time they still get attention. 1600s Florida is just as relevant as 1600s Georgia. Why should the one's temporary colonial education system get attention while the other one does not? (talk) 02:58, 1 September 2013 (UTC)dmar198
there is a continuity of people & institutions in New Mexico & Georgia who joined in the US, but not in Florida--all the Spanish left and took their ed system with them. Rjensen (talk) 03:18, 1 September 2013 (UTC)
I understand that. But I don't see how that makes it less a part of the history of a modern US territory. Look at it this way: if there was an article about the history of education in Florida, it wouldn't be right to ignore all the stuff that happened before the US got hold of it. The history of education in the States goes back to when the States were still colonies. Florida's educational history begins there in the same way that New England and the South's do. If we're going to include the educational history of colonial New England, therefore, I think we should include the educational history of colonial Florida. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 03:34, 1 September 2013 (UTC)
Spanish Florida was a different world--never part of the US intellectually, culturally politically or in terms of real people or policies. Different culture, language, heritage and the only traces left are some place names. Colonial Georgia by contrast was fully integrated into the US. That's how all the RS have treated the issue--better look at Cremin vol 1 Rjensen (talk) 03:54, 1 September 2013 (UTC)
I understand that New Spain had a different culture than New England and the South, but cultural continuity shouldn't exclude the consideration that this territory's history had significant formal systems of education during its colonial period and is a part of the modern USA. Going by the title of the article and the example of the sections on the New England and Southern colonies, we should be summarizing what was done in the territory of the modern US States during colonial times, not just where the culture was continuous with the thirteen English colonies. If a State's educational history would include it in more detail, then it should be summarized here, and the stuff I posted would be included in the histories of each of the States mentioned if there were specialized articles about them. (talk) 14:00, 1 September 2013 (UTC)dmar198
the US has a continuity with New England in 1640 century that is very important--see Harvard University. but not with Spanish Florida. Rjensen (talk) 11:00, 2 September 2013 (UTC)
I get that there's cultural continuity between early US culture and the culture of the English colonies, and that there wasn't any (substantial) continuity with Spanish Florida. I don't think we have a disagreement about that, honestly. But I don't see how that answers my point, which is that regardless of culture, there was an educational history in the territory of colonial Florida that is not being reflected here and would be reflected in an article about the history of education in Florida, and that this article should be a summary of information that would be presented in the history of each US territory. Territorial history should be the focus for good reasons, including the fact that we have a "Colonial Period" section at all, because that is necessarily about the history of the territory of the modern U.S. (talk) 22:39, 2 September 2013 (UTC)dmar198
is there some zen about the geography of Florida? Its Spanish educational era is part of the history of Spanish Florida & that has zero to do with USA (the subject of this article). Rjensen (talk) 06:53, 3 September 2013 (UTC)

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