Schooling the Poor: A Social Inquiry into the American Educational Experience

By Stanley William Rothstein | Go to book overview

1
Pauper Schools

At the end of the Revolutionary War, education all but disappeared from the United States. In the expanding towns and villages of the new nation, on the frontier and in busy seaports, there was little or no money for formal instruction because of the massive debts incurred during the war with England. For decades afterward, the problem of educating increasing numbers of urban poor and immigrant children would remain a constant and growing concern for the new republic. 1 From the 1790s to the early decades of the next century, tens of thousands of indigents, who had little in the way of formal schooling, scratched out the barest living as unskilled laborers. For centuries past, these unschooled poor had been able to apprentice themselves in guilds, on farms, or as manual laborers. However, from the 1790s onward, the movement from rural to urban settlements caused the poor to expand their presence across the face of the nation. 2 When the Free School Society finally organized itself in 1805, more than 90 percent of the people in the United States had failed to complete a fifth grade education. 3

There were many who believed that the children of the poor were potential sources of social unrest and crime; urban youth, especially, were seen as noisy, disrespectful, disobedient savages. 4 Moreover, the presence of these poverty-stricken families was a constant rebuke and embarrassment and a living refutation to the conventional wisdom of the day: it was generally assumed that equality of opportunity and

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Schooling the Poor: A Social Inquiry into the American Educational Experience
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Critical Studies in Education and Culture Series ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Series Foreword ix
  • Preface xiii
  • 1 - Pauper Schools 1
  • Notes 24
  • 2 - Houses of Confinement 27
  • Notes 42
  • 3 - Schooling the Poor 45
  • 4 - Organizational Perspectives 61
  • Notes 76
  • 5 - The Birth of Modern Schools 79
  • Notes 95
  • 6 - New Divisions: The Emergence of the High School 97
  • Notes 115
  • 7 - Agents of the State: Ambivalence in the Teacher's Position 117
  • Notes 139
  • 8 - The Other Side of Segregation: Ethnographic Glimpses of an Inner City Junior High School 143
  • Notes 166
  • 9 - Language and Pedagogy 169
  • Notes 183
  • Selected Bibliography 185
  • Index 187
  • About the Author 191
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