The Common School Movement
Edu 1010-005, Orientation to Education
October, 5 2010
The common school movement was a turning point in America for education. There are a few key points that made this movement happen, also a couple of people. This movement gave all children the opportunity to a free education in America. There was a tax put onto every family to support free schooling. Horace Mann was a great contributor and pushed for the movement, which he succeeded in. Henry Barnard was also a contributor in making sure this movement was passed and went into effect. The common school movement provided a way for Americans to have a better life. To this present day the common school is still used. Education needed a reform and the 1800s started the path for many educational opportunities.
During the early nineteenth century education became an issue. The early nineteenth century is known as, “The Common School Movement”. This movement was the starting point for education in America; it allowed free education for all children in the United States. There are many reasons why it was the educational reform for America. Horace Mann and Henry Barnard are the two men whom made the common school movement a success. The movement was challenging at first, people were wary because of religion and taxes. The common school movement was the best educational step for America in the 1800’s. It was a stepping stone that defines America’s education today.
The Common School Movement by definition is a common attempt to make education available to all children in the United States. During the early 1900s only the wealthy children got an education because it cost money to go to school (Don Kauchak, 2011). This was unfair to the poor families that could not afford to pay for an education. In small towns there may have been a school if the people of the town found a way to fund it. Sometimes parents would pay in providing food, fire wood for the school, but in most cases it was cash (Victory of the Common School Movement, 2008). This put a strain on families, therefore only wealthy kids attended more than anyone. Horace Mann contributed to the common school movement and helped it succeed.
Horace Mann was an attorney and interested in politics and law. He was the president of the State Senate in Massachusetts that he became involved in the movement to concentrate control in education in the hands of the state (Brouillette, 1999). He wanted to make education available to all children in the United States, starting with Massachusetts. Horace Mann believed that public education was the key to developing our country and improving the quality of life for the people (Don Kauchak, 2011). He believed that in doing this America would be better off and providing Americans with the opportunity to get better jobs, and be successful. Matthew Brouillette stated that, “The movement was the fight to bring education under control of the government was essentially a fight over the schools role in shaping the character of the American people”. This was a religious part in the reform, and still is today. Public schools values and curriculum to this day are based upon traditional protestant Americans from the nineteenth century.
Massachusetts became the leader of education in the United States due to Mann’s involvement in the State Senate. He was the Secretary of the Massachusetts State Board of education from 1837-1848. While on the board Mann worked towards three objectives. The first being state collection of education data. Second the state adoption of textbooks, through state approved school libraries. Lastly, state control over teacher preparation by the establishment of “Normal Schools” (Brouillette, 1999). Normal schools were two year institutions developed in the early 1800s to prepare prospective elementary teachers. Most of today’s state colleges started out as normal schools. Henry Barnard was also an influence in the common school movement.
Henry Barnard was the first United States commissioner of education in 1867. He was a Whig member of Connecticut State Legislature in 1837; he helped in the legislation that created a state board of common schools (Henry Barnard). He was focused on schools, wages, and teachers. Barnard worked in Rhode Island to study their schools. In 1845 he became Rhode Island’s state’s first commissioner of education. He worked hard to get teachers’ wages increased, buildings repaired, and teaching was improved. Barnard worked hard and also became the principle at a normal school. He helped get education going in Connecticut and Rhode Island.
Throughout all of this parents were seeing education as a way to help improve their children’s lives. By the beginning of the Civil War over fifty percent of children were enrolled in elementary school (Don Kauchak, 2011). Some were not happy about the tax support to increase education, but it was the best thing that happened in the United States to allow free schooling to all children. Public support began to grow and the school system was created. State departments of education were formed and teacher training improved the quality of teachers. As the industrial revolution took off, that’s when they say the common schools began to flourish (Victory of the Common School Movement, 2008). Thanks to Horace Mann, Henry Barnard, Protestant Whig party the United States was able to break through and gain an opportunity for good education.
The common school movement was the turning point in America’s education. If the common school movement had not occurred, the United States may not have been successful. The movement allowed free public education to all children in the United States. Also, it expanded into laws and expectations for education today. Horace Mann and Henry Barnard worked hard to get free education and thankfully they succeeded. Today free education is a promise and by law in most states children have to attend until sixteen years of age. The common school movement had to happen to make education and the people of the U.S successful.
Brouillette, M. J. (1999, July 16). The 1830s and 1840s: Horace Mann, the End of Free-Market Education, and the Rise of Government Schools. Retrieved October 05, 2010, from http://www.mackinac.org/2035
Don Kauchak, P. E. (2011). Introduction to Teaching. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson Education.
Henry Barnard. (2010). In Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved October 05, 2010, from Encyclopedia Britannica Online: http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/53618/Henry-Barnard
Victory of the Common School Movement. (2008, April 03). Retrieved October 5, 2010, from www.america.gov: http://www.america.gov/st/educ-english/2008/April/20080423212501eaifas0.8516133.html
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