Theory During the Common School Movement
The only efficient way to produce individuality and harmony of natural feeling and character is to bring our children into the same schools and have them educated together.
-- Calvin E. Stowe, 1836
The signing of the peace treaty in Ghent on April 19, 1783, signaled the end of the Revolutionary period and the beginning of the era of national development. It was also a period of reconstruction and the resetting of national programs. Although the ideas of seeking reform in education began during the colonial period--when Massachusetts passed legislation in 1642 and 1647--they began to take shape only after the Revolutionary War. The change in the political status of the country required a corresponding change in the educational system. In order to accomplish this objective the new nation needed to follow the provisions of the U.S. Constitution closely.
Those who were motivated to seek reform were guided by a vision of the future and by the knowledge that the Constitution was not as rigid as to preclude new efforts to bring about meaningful change in the various national institutions, including developing a new theory of education. The fact that the Constitution allowed room for amendments to address issues that did not exist at the time it was completed suggests a degree of flexibility. Those who sought reform were not directly guided by provisions of the Constitution, but by their observations of the nature of change they envisioned.
In the 200 years that the Constitution has been in effect, there have been twenty-six amendments to the original document, suggesting the conclusion that it can, indeed, accommodate change to bring about improvement. The last of these amendments, giving those eighteen years of age the right to vote, was ratified by the states on July 5, 1971. 1 Richard M. Nixon was the first president to benefit from it, just as Warren G. Harding was the first to