Why were both upper- and lower-class Americans willing to support public education with their tax dollars? The authors claim that in early-nineteenth-century America, public schools "existed chiefly to educate the children of the poor."

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In the nineteenth century, American public schools (common schools) were established so that all social classes had the opportunity to receive an education. Prior to this, only private schools existed, which the lower classes could not afford. While it wasn’t the consensus right away, a government-funded school system using taxes from both the upper and lower classes eventually came to fruition. The common reason was simple; all children should learn how to read and write. Children were worth the investment, basically. This would create a more level playing field with employment opportunities and break down the walls between the classes.

Indeed, some authors most likely did believe that the public schools “existed chiefly to educate the children of the poor.” The poor benefited a great deal, which was one of the reasons behind the education movement. The people who disagreed with the movement feared change. Would taxes be too high? Would private teachers suffer a decrease in pay? Would religion be taught sufficiently? However, these fears were laid to rest by the many advocates who believed in education for all.

Many years prior to the education movement, Thomas Jefferson was a big proponent of public education and believed that an educated population would create a freer and happier America. If you would like to read more of his thoughts and learn about the major players behind the education movement, please visit the site linked below.

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This is a good question. In all generations of American history, people were willing to support public education. There are several reasons for this. First, people believe that for there to be a functioning and thriving society, children need to be educated socially and intellectually. In fact, this is the only why society can work well. If they did not do this, the alternative can be disastrous. For example, if they did not educate the poor kids, then what would these children do? They would most likely be a menace to society. Second, for America to be competitive with the world, children needed to be educated as well. Third, in the nineteenth century, there was a religious reason as well. We need to keep in mind that may schools were started as Christian missions.

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