Kaestle's Pillars of the Republic
Pillars of the Republic
Common Schools and American Society
Carl F Kaestle
PrefaceDuring the three decades prior to Civil War, the
North created common school systems. Their goal was an improved
and unified school system. Included in this mix are: rural
district schools, urban charity schools, battles waged by
reformers, teacher's institutes and graded schools. There wasn't
opposition to schooling, just how it would be achieved. It was a
republican govt, of Protestant culture, with the development of
capitalism. These ideologies rankled the non-North, non-
Protestant, non-capitalist communities. MULTI-CULTURALISM OF
TODAY!! However, these opposing ideas helped form the shape and
content of American common schooling by 1860. Schools were the
principal agent providing the cognitive and moral teaching in
America. Society educates in many ways: family, church, community;
but the state educates through the school.
"Common School" means elementary school intended to serve all
the children. It was not "free school." Parents were often
required to pay part of the cost for common school. The history of
common school is complicated by local variation.
Great quote: "Some books are to be tasted, others to be
swallowed, and some to be chewed and digested."
1 Prologue: The Founding Fathers and EducationBegins the
discussion about education in America. Rudimentary learning was
widespread in revolutionary America, the British fostered
education. Early education saw the Bible as an early book for
salvation. They valued education accomplished through parental
initiative and informal, local control of institutions. Attendance
was voluntary and funded locally. Much education came through
family, church and the workplace. Education did not come from
above. The Founding fathers (FF) worried about the republic
falling into anarchy. They pinned their hopes on the creation of
a republic. Education could be important in reconciling freedom
and order. Education was important to prepare men to vote and
women to train their
sons. Moral training produced virtuous
citizens. More than the 3R's: ethics, principles of law, commerce,
money, and govt were necessary. The natural virtue could not be
assumed. America looked to schools to do this.
Education was crucial in departing from corrupt Europe.
Jefferson tried to establish a step system in VA. Rush in PA.
Webster was concerned with a common language and culture. Samuel
Harrison Smith, a Washington editor, wrote:
Writers like Smith stressed liberty and unfettered intelligence.
Others stressed moral training for the survival of republican
institutions. They reconciled freedom and order in different
ways. Gov Clinton of NY warned that the war had created a
"chasm in education" in 1782 and urged schooling for its citizens.
Robt Coram of Del thought schools outside large towns were
despicable and that teachers were shamefully deficient. These
opinions prompted prominent men to push for state laws requiring
free local schools. Jefferson pushed the three-tiered system.
Rush in PA too. Reason for failure in both VA and PA was because
of "ignorance, malice, egoism, fanaticism, religious, political,
and local perversities." Also a resistance to new taxes and
control outside local community: the very tenets of the war.
- An enlightened nation is always most tenacious of its rights.
- It is not in the interest of such a society to perpetuate
- In a republic the sources of happiness are open to all without
- If happiness be made at all to depend on the improvement of the
mind and the collision of mind with mind, the happiness of an
individual will greatly depend upon the general diffusion of
- Under the republic, man feels as strong a bias to improvement
as under a despotism he feels an impulse to ignorance and
By 1795, three North states had three distinct approaches. In
1789 Mass required towns of 50+ to provide school for 6 months.
200+ had to add classical languages. Since 1784, NY had a Regents
and money did reach the local level. 37% of all children reported
receiving funds. The most impressive was in CT of 1795. CT sold
its western land for $1.2 million which created a school fund.
They collected $2 per $1000 assessed value. This interest paid for
teachers. this led to using local taxes for common schools.
rather than consider top down we should 1)ask what kind of
schooling did ordinary people want and 2)what were the results of
the institution? What did they want and what did they get?
The gulf of two extremes: need for order yet avoiding anarchy
(chaos) were the concerns of the Founding Fathers.
2 Rural Schools in the Early Republic Were the rule. Most
Americans lived in small rural towns. 95% of pop in 1790 lived in
communities of 2500 or fewer. 91% in 1830. Schools were
controlled by a small locality and financed by property taxes, fuel
contributions, tuition payments, and state aid.
Schools were not "little red schoolhouses." They were
unpainted log or clapboard buildings on non-idyllic locations. The
only requisite was to have in the center most location. 60-70
scholars in room for 30. School was a day care center with kids
under 2 attending. Young kids went to get out from under foot.
They were called "abecedarians" who did the alphabet twice a day
for 5 minutes each session. Study was memorizing the alphabet then
one syllable words and vowel exercises. They started writing on
slates and then with quills in copy books. Texts came from home
and were John Dilworth's, an Englishman, until Noah Webster
developed his Blue Back Speller. The Bible was the reading book.
Foreign languages were often taught. Religious exercise was
reflective of the locality.
Urban schools used older students, "monitors," to assist in
educating the younger scholars. This was not done in rural schools.
On corporal punishment: Some teachers were simply compassionate,
gentle people; some may use some corporal punishment; some felt
discipline was crucial. THINK HOLOFERNES IN LLL. Idea was
Govern from a sense of right and justice when you can,
from a feeling of fear when you must For early 19th
Cent teachers did not stay at it long, wages were low, and the
short sessions required teachers to get a second job. Teacher
certification began to be considered at this time. Parents had
considerable power in the early days because the teachers stayed in
the houses of the scholars unless the teacher's parent lived in the
town. This was good for two reasons: parents could influence the
teacher to their ways and see the character of the teacher and the
teacher could get to know the parents.
Girl's education was added because they were capable of
education like the boys, but more importantly as mothers they had
to educate their kids, esp sons, at home. Girls education was
segregated. District schools were tightly tied to communities by
being inexpensive and under tight local control.
3 Urban Education and the Expansion of Charity Schooling
Changes in the organization and funding were the key developments
in urban schools. Rural schools were funded by local govt and
parents. Under represented group were day-laborers. Wealthy found
tutors or boarding schools. Another form of common pay schools
were "dame" schools operated by women in their homes. Education
also came from apprenticeship or church charity schools. Rural
Americans ignored republican theorists to advocated a school system
to save the nation who saw problems from resourceless and aliens.
In 1791 a NY newspaper wrote about schooling for the poor:
"exposing them to innumerable temptations to become not only
useless, but hurtful members of the community who seldom keep any
govt in their families so their children contract bad habits of
idleness and mischief and wickedness." Thus began the indictment
of the urban poor. Thomas eddy of NY said: "the great preventative
of offenses is doubtless an early attention to moral and religious
instruction." Although many looked to England for moral change,
they did not have the same passion in educating the poor. How
could reformers look to England when it chose to improve American
education? Heck we just separated from them and they
maintained status levels of people, a hierarchy and they believed
education would cause disorder. To the Americans "Prevention was
better than punishment and cheaper." Charity schools provided a
moral education, which many believe crucial in a republic.
Americans believed in education for social stability, they feared
ignorance. Mass education was not opposed in America because we
did not have a formal nobility and no powerful church hierarchy.
America did not fear a literate public. Charity schools laid the
basis for a free school system. Quakers were a leading religious
group in education esp with free Blacks. A problem was the educated
Black had no future after a good education. Reformers wanted to
save the children from their parents which made all parents seem
bad. Where is the balance? Thus the NY Free School Society was
born in 1805.
Lancaster introduced a plan which found older
scholars drilling younger scholars. This
recitation. This monitorial system had all students in an active
learning mode. AN EARLY FORM OF CONSTRUCTIVISM This became
very popular and became known as the Lancasterian system. A large
number of scholars could be schooled by a few or with little
effort. It seemed a panacea which provided cheap, efficient,
elementary education. It allowed pupils to advance according to
industry and application to their studies and were not held back by
the duller scholars.
Sunday schools and infant schools also thrived. Sunday schools
were not religious, they just met on Sunday a day kids were not in
school. It was trying to use al possible time to educate. In
trying to save the kids from their parents, infant schools emerged.
Kids @ 2 were admitted and cared for. It also got the kids from
underfoot. Young children needed kindness more than discipline;
curiosity more than authority, and real words more than words.
CONSTRUCTIVISTS The early part of the 19th Century was a
time of outreach for the poor and everyone pitched in.
Private and public did no mean in 1830 what they mean today in
education. Eventually educational leaders consolidated various
charity schools under one organization. In NYC they created The NY
Free School society in 1805. Using the Lancasterian system and
other things the Society became the largest school org in NYC in
1835. This consolidation occurred in many big cities as well as in
4 Social Change and Education in the American Northeast, 1830-
Schools began because of local custom not state initiative or
policy. Thus schools sessions were brief, facilities were crude,
and teachers were one step ahead of the kids. Uniformity was only
in the strong Protestant religion, by popularity of certain texts,
and informal traditions. America did not have a school system.
Many believed in having one: Jefferson in VA, Rush in PA, Gideon
Hawley of NY, and James Carter in MA. New reformers appeared after
1830 as did cotton, which changed everything. Technological change
came to the countryside, capitalism boomed, new non-English
immigrants came in. Pop increased by 35% from 1840 - 1850.
Everything became unequal, inequitable and classes formed.
Capitalism was associated with increasing literacy and learning.
Publishing became important and newspapers increased from 138 - 387
from 1840 - 1860. The role of the schoolmaster was changing also.
Less corporal punishment. Moral persuasion was encouraged and
There were four significant developments in moral discipline:
- moral discipline became associated with schooling.
- the state, through local committees, asserted the authority of
teachers over children in competition with parents.
- new pedagogies, like Lancaster, challenged old , traditional
- public saw relationship between personal morality and social
Prevention became big as did capitalism. Promptness and industry
were crucial capitalistic mores instilled in education. Work
discipline would lead to self-help as well as stability.
SUCCESS BREEDS SUCCESS Also discipline was needed for the
order in schools and parents wanted their children to behave and be
obedient. Capitalism, which fostered commerce, geography, and
communications, schooling created literate students in math and
other intellectual skills. SCHOOL TO WORK, TECH PREP, VE
Americans were worried about disorder and looked to schools to
provide common language, common social mores, equality, and popular
economic conditions. Urban schools began to adopt graded schools
with standardized curricula and supervisory personnel. Cultural
uniformity and educational uniformity went hand in hand. Noah
Webster was important in this. Immigrant groups split on issues of
assimilation and cultural pride. Public schools responded as the
public looked to public education to resolve cultural conflict.
Thus assimilation became the central preoccupation of educators.
Another bone was teacher education. Prussia had a model the
Americans liked. The Prussians trained and certified their
5 The Idealogy of Antebellum Common-School Reform
With a quickly changing society, educators advocated moral
education and good citizenship. All were confident that improved
public education could alleviate a host of problems.
Ideology is used in this book to mean a set of
apparently compatible propositions about human nature and society
that help an individual to interpret complex human problems and
take action that the individual believes is in his or her best
interest and the best interests of the society as a whole.
Ideology is the aspect of culture that attempts to justify
and defend a set of social relations and institutions of the
dominant social group. The author introduced a variant of the
ideology: cosmopolitan which advocates govt action to
improve economy, shape the morals, and unify the culture. From
protestantism, republicanism, and capitalism; cosmopolitanism
justified the govt interventions. This thrust needed to be more
aggressive as more people entered America. America was growing
more complex and the need for "cosmopolitan" methods were
necessary. But still there was opposition to centralization and
state regulation from "localists." The sacredness of the Republic
required local control and participation in institutions. The
survival of the republic depended upon the morality of the people.
This was seen in Benjamin Rush's "republican machine": the citizen.
However, growing fear came from: manufacturing, immigration, the
decline of landholding, fragmenting of Protestant religion, and
growth of cities. With a growing democracy and a growing diversity
self-sacrifice and sub-ordination seemed more relevant. In
schoolbooks and popular essays the image of the republican citizen
is of a man who is constructive, on occasion critical, but always
cautious and respectful. They taught liberty but ... Horace
Mann suggested schools should not allow controversial issues to be
Schooling should stress unity, obedience, restraint, self-
sacrifice, and the careful exercise of intelligence. The parts
made up the whole: the citizens created society, therefore the
individuals education was crucial. The general thought was this:
"the child uneducated in knowledge and virtue is educated in the
school of depravity. And what is true of the individual is true of
communities." All needed moral education.
Alongside the related virtues of self-control, self-sacrifice,
and restraint stood industry. Hard work is very important. With
industry also came the indolent and their children had to be
rescued. Jacob Abbott created a character named Rollo who was a
symbol for industry. Women were expected to cater to their husband
in the form of domestic tranquillity, a good husband, and care of
children. Women had 3 roles: as wife create a sanctuary at home
from work, as homemaker manage a frugal and healthy home, as mother
nurture and instruct children. This created a liberating and
constraining effect: if mother was to teach she would have to
learn, and if she were to maintain the home she needed to be
taught. Many school texts were geared in this education
of the women. Angell's Select reader discussed this. Washington
Irving's "The Wife" provided guidance. However Catharine Beecher's
Treatise on Domestic Economy was the most important source
and this and others tried to promote dignity, complexity, and
importance to housework. The education of children fell to
mothers. Too much intellectual training for girls was frowned on.
They required more home economics instruction. Between 1750 and
1850 children were viewed as innocent and vulnerable and the role
of mother was very important. However, if you were born to a
thief, then cultivation could help but the character never removed.
You could cultivate a potato but you can't turn a potato into an
apple. This was an argument in keeping Blacks from schools.
Human potential was still fettered in racial and national
stereotypes. "Soft pedagogy" wants children to internalize
discipline rather than having authority imposed, to have teachers
rule by "moral suasion" rather than by coercion.
Owning property was an important element of stability and
virtue. Property and education were powerful tools in America.
Equality of opportunity was associated with property.
These opportunities are open to white native males, not women,
blacks, or immigrants. It was expected that the children would
follow in their families steps. They stayed in the same station of
The superiority of Protestantism and the special destiny of
America blinded them to many forms of equality and justice. They
saw republicanism associated with Christianity. They were fanatic
zealots. God justified much of their behavior.
There was widespread consensus for common schooling. Schools
should instill a "humanizing culture." Reformers asked for
authority mixed with affection, discipline more internal than
imposed, morality by example than precept, and lessons emphasizing
understanding more than rote memorization. To make GOOD CITIZENS
not precocious scholars. Jews acquiesced, but Catholics did not.
The Prot-Cath rift was not good. The increase of immigrants
demonstrated that Americans did not share a common culture and that
it was up to schools to deal with the problem. Noah Webster
attempted consolidation of language in his texts. "When foreigners
are in the habit of congregating together, they retain their
Intellectual education did not receive as high a priority as
moral education in discussion. However a great deal of
intellectual work was done.
Here then are the native protestant tenets:
- republican govt depends on indiv char.
- flaws in indiv char are responsible for poverty.
- dev of proper char depends on women.
- Christianity supports lots of things: domestic female
subordination and private property.
- private property spurs industry.
- Christianity is the same as democratic republican govt.
It called for govt to provide schooling that would be common,
more equal, more dedicated to public policy and centering on
Protestantism, republicanism, and capitalism.
6 The Common-School Reform Program
In Gettysburg in 1826 Thaddeus Stevens said: "Education. May the
film be removed from the eyes of PA and she learn to dread
ignorance more than taxation. European examples spurred PA to
develop state-sponsored schools. Still many opposed taxation for
education. calvin Stowe of Ohio: "The whole world seems to be
awake and combining in one simultaneous effort for the spread of
education, and sad indeed will be the condition of that community
which lags behind in the universal march." In 1840, Gov Wm Seward
of NY: "a reform of the educational system has been too long
'postponed, omitted, and forgotten.' He introduced legislation to
establish a state superintendent of instruction, county
superintendents, state-aided libraries, and improved education for
blacks." free school advocates aimed for more schooling for each
child, more state involvement, more uniformity, and more pervasive
public purpose for schooling. They called their work a "crusade"
and communicated often with each other, imitated each other's
innovative ideas, and devised ways to disseminate and publicize
their methods. Although new england was the core of the reform,
elsewhere in America reformers looked to Europe. CONSIDER VE!!
The common school phenomenon was all the rage.
Reformers used the reports of schools to push their reforms:
short terms, irregular attendance, bad facilities, shortsighted and
penurious district control, poor teachers, insufficient
supervision, lack of uniformity, indifferent parental support. The
many studies of the time show children between 5-15 were the core
of kids to attend school. Attendance was a crucial element in the
reform movement and focused on slums and tenements. In factory
towns children followed their parents to the factory. The Peltz
Committee in 1837, reported on children in Phil PA's cotton mills.
11-14 hrs of work, 1/5 employees under 12, no education, 1/3 under
18 could read. A shorter work day would harm business. the
committee argued in a republic education of the citizens is more
important. CERTAINLY WE SEE THAT NOW: DETROIT ETC. These
investigations led to child labor laws which meant employees did
not hire children or ignored the laws. Families needed the
additional income. However it wasn't the working wafe which
bothered the reformers as much as it was the street-wandering
youth. They also discouraged kids under 4 to attend.
Enrollment says nothing to the quality or quantity of education
received. Irregular attendance was more harmful than lack of
uniformed texts. By lengthening the school year, officials expected
to make it a habit and to make teaching a profession. The quality
was also in question. Local control misused expenditures, teacher
training, and organization of schools. The move from district
control looked like a better move. the effort was to centralize:
consolidating districts into town systems, develop mechanisms for
state supervision and regulation, and encouraging the transition
from private to public control. Consolidation would both raise and
equalize school expenditures; it would make for better teacher
hiring practices, too. Small districts were the paradise of
ignorant teachers. "Union schools brought kids together from many
districts. this was not a problem for urban schools so
consolidation was a rural issue. Reformers established the office
of superintendent to oversee the schools and to control state
funds. Although Horace Mann was successful in MASS his success was
not transferable as seen in NC. Reform depended on social
structure, politics, demography, and resources. The office of
superintendents were to persuade and not coerce. They were to
promote educational concepts in essays, mollify parents, involve
parents, unify texts used and generally bring uniformity and
quality to state education initiatives.
A third reform was against private schooling. Private schools
drew off the most intelligent men, complained Horace Mann, this is
not republican. Private schools also soaked up resources. There
was a trend which saw public schools push private schools out. Not
until after the Civil War would public schools see competition, but
from Catholic schools. Although a group of wealthy folks continued
to support private schools, public schools improved. However,
private schools provided transition to college and to the education
of leaders, thus high schools needed to evolve. And this depended
on the support of the poor and middle class. They were established
in NYC in 1849 and were called the "splendid crown of our Common
School system." High schools were an urban thing. 1821 saw Eng
HS in Boston as the 1st hs. It was more symbolic since attendance
was real low. These high schools fostered intergenerational change
from manual to non-manual occupations.
This reform movement put considerable financial strain on local
school districts. Per pupil costs became a benchmark. Female
teachers were preferred because they were cheaper and because of
their natural superiority as instructors of young children. The
system saw male "principal teachers" with 6-8 female assistants.
It worked because in the newly highly organized school, reformers
wished to bridge the gap between family culture and school culture
with females. Hiring females made sense. In 1800 most teachers
were male, in 1900 most were female. This improved the quality of
life for most women. Emma Willard was an early advocate.
Reformers pushed for longer terms for year-round employment,
better wages, improved teacher training, more communications
through professional journals, and improved hiring practices.
There was a move to make teaching a more honorable profession.
Journals proliferated either as independent or as superintendent
generated. Though subscription rates were low, shared copies
probably reached many more teachers than was suspected. These
journals were important nonetheless. Another way to disseminate
educational reform ideas was via the teacher's institute. Prussian
schools were a model for teacher training. Teacher training was
accomplished in four ways: 1)through the example of the instructor;
2) through his incidental remarks about teaching methods during
regular lessons; 3)through his weekly lectures on the art of
teaching; and 4)through practice teaching in a model school.
Grading students became another of the reformers concepts. This
created levels of achievement and competition. This grading began
to organize kids by age. Educators lauded this idea of grading,
but also warned not to make it personal. Grading spurred industry,
thus it was morally sound. The merit system evolved from this.
Reformers were not for lock-step, they were for innovation,
change, and the adaptation to local circumstances. Uniformity of
texts was still a difficult matter thereby undermining efficiency
and professional expertise. Much was accomplished and established
in education by these reformers from 1820 to 1860.
7 Ins and Outs: Acquiescence, Ambivalence, and Resistance to
Common-school reform was not easy. It as a battle with many
skirmishes on separate issues. Opponents to reform were not:
political madmen, ignorant demagogues, hack politicians, penny-
pinching bumpkins, unassimilated foreigners, and undemocratic
elitists. Did middle-class imposed education on working class to
maintain control. Workingmen's associations supported tax-
supported common schools from 1825-35. They wanted better than
charity schools, demanding a fair shake. They knew a separation in
education would separate the classes and we would be like the
Europe we just left. Workingmen were hard workers, frugal, moral,
and enterprising. They were the stuff of Horatio Alger stories.
Knowledge is power. Opponents spoke of self-help, self-educated
successes from the past and present. Self-made men were admirable:
Ben Franklin? Supporting a more egalitarian public school system,
workingmen groups which formed unions became more concerned with
their own working conditions and their influence became less, but
their legacy of less privileged education lived on. Everyone
shared the view of morality, respectability, and self-improvement.
Robert Owen was a critic of the capitalistic element in
education. he had definite socialistic educational views, which he
published, about education. Following the Pestalozzian
Maclure added his own brand to Owen's New Harmony. Traditional
schools killed time and imprisoned children for 4-5 hours only to
release them for 8 hours of retaliation and havoc. In his schools,
children would constantly be occupied in useful things, they would
get a practical education, converting life itself into a play. SEE
MANN. New Harmony failed!! One reason may be that it attacked or
threatened Protestantism or Christianity in general because of its
Issues of control, centralization, and bureaucratization became
an issue when Beverley, MA which was still in the district mode
chose to close its high school. An ensuing battle waged.
Eventually the school was reinstated, but this showed the weakness
of the centralized system because those in power were insiders and
the dissenters were outsiders. Opposition to consolidation and
increased cost of education was based on tradition, parent's
prerogatives, minority rights, religious freedom, and theories of
limited govt. Taxation was a great issue. There was much
resistance to the paternal arm of the state in educating the
willing and the unwilling and using tax money to do it. HENCE
VOUCHERS ARE EQUITABLE. Centralized control, avidly pursued by
professional educators and spokesmen for 'progress' was the most
controversial of antebellum reforms. Opponents emphasized it
removed educational control "one step farther from the people."
Politics hampered effective BOE's as did religious beliefs.
Reformers saw the struggle as one of enlightenment over ignorance.
They failed to see there were principles on the other side.
Essentially to professionalize, homogenize, and organize schooling
threatened local control. Local control left much to parents.
parents would decide when and for how long, and they paid. parents
had much control over the selection of the teacher. There was and
is much animosity between teacher and parent. In general, parents
wanted schools to train their children in basic skills and
attitudes. They lost authority and control over their children's
education. this was the trade-off. The resistance came from
whites. The immigrants accepted this as a way to learn English,
math, and American society seemed a benefit not to be missed. The
school was considered the filter to the immigrant waves. catholics
in particular became the rogues and Catholic schools popped up.
What was happening was that parents were being seen by their
children as bad and this angered the non-Protestant groups. Public
schools taught children to feel ashamed of the creed of their
forefathers." Non-English Protestants were assailed as were non-
English speaking immigrants. Reformers worked on the premise that
the dominant culture ruled and all others should assimilate.
The question of blacks in education is pervaded by conflict and
disappointment. Blacks couldn't vote, opportunities for higher ed
and jobs was denied them. Education did not help blacks in the job
market. African schools cropped up and were segregated. Blacks
accepted this so they could get an education. When some black
leaders began to press for truly common schools they met resistance
from: white segregationists and from black separatists. Without
equality of opportunity there will be class oppression and class
war. MASS instituted integration in 1855. NYC and PA responded by
making segregation okay.
American Indians faced a policy of extinction and removal, not
assimilation. Hispanics not considered. Women the largest out
group crossed racial, religious, ethnic, and class lines.
Catholics forced some concessions. Manual laborers were not served
well. However, state school systems prevailed, professional
training started, there was a shift from private to public admin,
and a shift from district control to centralization. Reforms
prevailed gradually and imperfectly because they served the
dominant group and their ideology: republicanism, Protestantism,
8 Regional Differences in Common-School Development
The Midwest followed those of the Northeast pretty much. Schools
in the South did not copy the Northeast. Public purse provided
elementary ed for poor white only. All others fended for
themselves. The missionary effort failed in the South. Slavery,
sparse pop, periodic economic crisis, and aristocratic attitudes
foiled New England reformers. Midwest profited by large Northeast
migration. Why did reform succeed in the North and fail in the
South? The Midwest followed the laws of the Northwest Ordinances
of 1785-87. It provided for common schooling. Education did not
prosper in the new lands because the settlers had more immediate
concerns, like shelter, clearing lands, growing food, etc.
Schooling was local, voluntary, and entrepreneurial. The NE
public-school model was a myth, the ordinances of 1785-87 were
ineffective, and use of state taxes for ed were in the future. The
real models were early local controlled NE models. Schoolhouses
built became a center of activity in day and night. In sum the
story of the Midwest is much like the East.
In the South there was much less enthusiasm for local common
schools and more successful resistance to state systems. Academies
were most dominant. Religious groups also prospered in the South.
"Old-field" schools, so-called, because they occupied old log
cabins in fields left to fallow were started by small communities
and taught elementary education or subjects as needed. Some
benevolent societies created charity schools but not as in the
Northern cities. The Lancasterian system was used in some areas,
but it was not widespread. No slaves were educated except those on
plantations used for tutoring. Quakers were a major educational
force of slaves in the South. Slaveholders saw a correlation
between education and freedom. A very republican concept, so they
discouraged educating slaves. Southern states created laws
designed to prohibit teaching slaves to read. Some slaveholders
believed the best slave was one who could read the Bible. It seems
ironic that VA, home of Jefferson, should be considered "the banner
state of ignorance." The Southern states established a Literary
fund which needed to be applied for to get funds to support a local
school. Few communities did so. Education was essentially for the
poor and the rich. The middle class had to fend for themselves.
Southerners displayed more reluctance than northerners to tax
property for school costs. Slaves were property. Sparseness was
one reason for poor educational initiatives, but so too was the
point that the South was a one crop region: cotton. When it was
good great, when not, then life was horrible. Civil War also
interrupted education but this was later. Southern aristocratic
ideas prevented education and they were always critical of Northern
ways, so educational reform was criticized because it was Northern.
Why educate when we had slaves, a superior work force. Since
slaves were 3/5 votes, slaveholders had more votes than non
slaveowners or smaller slaveholders. States were divided. Non-
slaveowners continually pressed for middle class education. NC was
an anomaly in antebellum south. It did enact a BOE with a
Northerner in the head seat, Wiley. The South also wanted more
homegrown teachers, texts, and curriculum. Racial justice was a
liability in cosmopolitan school reform for Mann and for the
Southern abolitionist, Henry Ruffner.
In the Midwest and South were heavily agricultural and sparsely
populated. They had fewer cities and smaller ones. State lands
and funds for education mismanaged. Yet by 1860 all Midwest states
established state regulated, tax-based school systems while few
southern states did. The Midwest's agricultural base was more
diverse, the South was one crop. The South rejected most Northern
concepts: republicanism, Protestantism, and capitalism, while the
9 Epilogue: The Legacy of Common Schooling
School reformers eventually won. It was difficult to be against
progress and education fostered progress. This chapter needs to
be reread often. Was it perfect, No. However most communities
devoted some time and money to education. Women were crucial in
the reform plan. Urban schools were highly structured. Common-
schoolers believed schools could solve problems of diversity,
instability, and equal opportunity. Cosmopolitan ideal proposes a
more centrally directed and more standard application and delivery
For what it is worth, My opinion
Schools are the domain of the country. We rise and fall by our
citizens. We are all responsible for the education of our
citizens. We profit by the education of our citizens. I am glad
to see our educators, business leaders, and politicians on the same
page in regards to education. Education is in the forefront.
Politicians are raising the standards and providing the monies for
texts, hardware, and software. Businesses are involved in school-
to-work programs, tech prep, Virtual Enterprises, and the like.
Educators have come to find a balance between love of necessity of
education. Teacher pay is still low, but all else is a lot better
now than 6 years ago. I think one of the main contributing factors
to this situation is the Internet. More on that later.