The Once and Future School: Three Hundred and Fifty Years of American Secondary Education

By Jurgen Herbst | Go to book overview

13

The High School Under Siege

The Comprehensive School's First Decade

By 1920 the publication of Cardinal Principles and the incorporation of vocational education in the programs of the comprehensive high schools had put American secondary education on a new course. The high school set out to transform itself from a school for a selected few into a home for the many. At the end of the decade the U.S. Office of Education certified success: secondary education was being democratized. Public high school enrollment had climbed to 46.6 percent of the age cohort. Additional thousands were reached through vocational programs in regular high schools and continuation and evening classes. In junior high school classes the replacement of traditional academic subjects such as arithmetic or algebra with "general mathematics" for all brought students of various interests and abilities together. The same unifying effect was at work in high school choruses, glee clubs, bands, and orchestras, in courses in art appreciation, and in interscholastic contests of various kinds. 1

The Bureau of Education report, however, did not mention-as George Counts had done in 1926-that general courses usually required "less intellectual power" and that the school was still a primarily collegepreparatory institution in which the addition of the vocational programs served to heighten, rather than to lessen, social distinctions. 2 Other studies showed that although Cardinal Principles had "contributed much to the cause of reform," and had gained the endorsements of many "educational leaders," its principles were "by no means fully conformed with" in school practice. A 1928 survey carried out for the Department of Superinten-

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The Once and Future School: Three Hundred and Fifty Years of American Secondary Education
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • List of Tables ix
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • Preface xiii
  • 1 - The Origins of Secondary Education 1
  • 2 - Grammar Schools, Colleges, and Academies in Early America 11
  • 3 - The Nineteenth-Century Liberal Arts College 27
  • 4 - The People's College 41
  • 5 - State Systems of Secondary Education 53
  • 6 - Midwestern Democracy 65
  • 7 - Between Town and Gown: the High School in Wisconsin 79
  • 8 - Growing Pains 93
  • 9 - The Committee of Ten 107
  • 10 - From Manual to Vocational Education 117
  • 11 - The Legacy of Vocational Education 131
  • 12 - Toward the Comprehensive High School 141
  • 13 - The High School Under Siege 157
  • 14 - The High School in Search of Itself 171
  • 15 - End of an Era 187
  • 16 - From the Twentieth to the Twenty-First Century 201
  • Notes 215
  • Index 249
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