Schooled to Order: A Social History of Public Schooling in the United States

Schooled to Order: A Social History of Public Schooling in the United States

Schooled to Order: A Social History of Public Schooling in the United States

Schooled to Order: A Social History of Public Schooling in the United States

Excerpt

A history of American public schooling reduced to graphs would tell a simple story of almost continuous growth. In every category, the graphs would incline upwards, recording a steady rise in the number of students in school, the time they spent there, the teachers who taught them, the schools that housed them, and the dollars expended. The upward trend would continue unbroken from the 1820s until the 1970s. We cannot, at this time, chart the downward course that has commenced (if only temporarily) in the mid-1970s. We know only that that part of the American public that votes on school bond issues and makes its opinions known to professional pollsters is no longer willing to spend as much money or place as much trust in public schooling as it once was.

It is too soon to predict the future course of public schooling in America, but a good time to reconsider the past. To understand why Americans have grown disillusioned with their public schools we must look beyond the immediate present to the larger history of the United States and its public schools.

The public schools of this country--elementary, secondary, and higher--were not conceived full-blown. They have a history, and it is the social history of the United States. This essay will not attempt to present that history in its entirety but will . . .

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