Free Public School Movement (Great Events from History: North American Series)
Article abstract: The birth of the concept of education as a responsibility of a democratic government.
Summary of Event
The free public school movement of the late 1820’s and the 1830’s had its roots in the latter part of the eighteenth century when a number of states had drafted constitutions containing clauses urging public aid to education. Nevertheless, the idea that education was a function of the government of the state rather than of family, church, or philanthropy took hold only gradually. Teaching was generally done by low-paid, untrained young men who regarded it as a temporary occupation. It was not until the early nineteenth century that some states began to enact laws leading to the establishment of public or common schools. Even then, such schools were generally created for, and attended by, pauper children. Moreover, although most states established permanent school funds to supplement local support of schools, few states resorted to direct taxation as a means of financing education.
The free school movement should be understood within the context of Jacksonian democracy and the reform movement of which it was a part. Free public schools were one of many organized efforts for self-improvement which included such other notable developments as the lyceum movement for adult education, lending library societies and associations, literary societies, and debating societies. During the first two...
(The entire section is 1598 words.)
Want to Read More?
Subscribe now to read the rest of this article. Plus get complete access to 30,000+ study guides!