Research Outline

US Education - Fact Check


To fact-find how and when the US educational system was developed.

Early Findings

  • Children have been educated in school settings since the 17th Century in the United States, with the Bostin Latin School opened in 1635.
  • The school curriculum focused on the "virtues of family, religion, and community."
  • Education reformation was "championed by Horace Mann" who wanted to see state sponsored education which incorporated a standardized curriculum which was financed through local property taxes.
  • Elements which contributed to the desire to reform education included "industrialization and the rise of the factory system", population growth and the expanding migration of settlers.
  • Mann had a political ideology in which he believed that a cohesive society required a foundation of universal education. "His message to the working classes was the promise that "education … is the great equalizer of the conditions of men, the balance wheel of the social machinery" (Cremin 1957, p. 65)."
  • Mann's idea of common (public) schools funded by taxes came into being when he was elected as the"first secretary of the Massachuesetts Board of Education" in 1837. The common school saw children of all ages brought together in a single room and taught by one teacher.
  • However, New York's education system "paved the way" for Mann having introduced private schools as the venue to educate their children. In 1812, the state of New York created the role of "state superintendent of schools", which was followed by several other states in the 1820s. The position had become more widespread by the 1830s.
  • Mann, who is often referred to as the "father of the common school", influenced other educators which saw a wave of education related journals and periodicals being published between 1825 and 1850. Mann edited the first journal, the Massachusetts Common School.
  • Other educators of note during this period included Henry Barnard who edited the Connecticut Common School publication, Samuel Lewis and Calvin Stowe (Ohio), as well as Catharine Beecher who sought to demonstrate women were teachers "and exemplars of self-improvement."
  • There were limited resources in early common schools which were "sparsely decorated and furnished" with limited chalk, slates and books.
  • Mann also sought to improve the conditions of teachers through better pay and more resources. Both Mann and Henry Barnard worked hard to create minimum standards for "building, teachers and classroom resources."

Early Findings

Our initial hour of research as found a range of facts and insights regarding the birth of common or public school education in the early 1800s in the United States.