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American Education Timeline of Significant People & Events

Every decision in education is political.


The purpose of this page is to consider major events and forces that shaped American education. It includes a list of some key factors that shape education and a timeline of events annotated.

Key factors shaping education

  • Resources available in different combinations provided by the family, community, state, and national government.
  • Education as compulsory
  • Education as a standardized curriculum
  • Teachers as professionals
  • Laws, courts and their rulings related to education

The public schools has served as the single most significant site of the constitutional interpretation within the nation's history. Justin Driver

  • To better understand public education in the United states today, one must consider the judicial systems in shaping schooling across the country by initiating, stalling, and rejecting change.
  • The judiciary does not operate on laws within a vacuum. It is embedded in American culture, which influences and shapes its legal decisions. Therefore, both law and culture must be considered when reviewing judicial decisions.
  • Citizens who seek legal recourse often use the constitution to support their arguements. Arguements for and against: mandatory education, freedom of speech in and out of school (speech restriction, censorship), segregation, integration, …
  • Common strategies they use related to the constitution include:
    1. The constitution doesn’t mention education, therefore, the supreme court should reject or not rule. Counter arguments include rationale such as: the constitutions also does not mention the Air Force, but it does allow it to be authorized.)
    2. Public schools are local government responsibilities. Therefore, federal government should not interfer. Counter arguments often refer to 14th amendment violation.
    3. Local boards have greater pedagogical knowledge than the judiciary to monitor and make decisions. Counter arguments often refer to 14th amendment violation.
    4. De facto (something that has become a standard practice over time (fact) by a dominant group of people. Not necessarily based on law, logic, fact, or ethics). Counter arguments attempt to present errors caused by standard practice or past reasoning.
    5. De jure (something that exists in practice in law written law on paper) as applied to integration and segregation since Brown v. Board. Counter arguments attempt to present errors caused by standard practice or past reasoning.



Covid 19 creates an uncertain school environment. Some challenges include:

  • Lack of knowledge on how serious the viral infection is for different ages of people and the consequences of being infected.
  • The risks on students and teacher for teaching and learning safely in a different kinds of school environments.
  • Lack of initial understanding of the virus, how it is spread, lack of health protocols, and shortages of protective equipment.
  • Not knowing if it is possible to have safe face to face instruction.
  • How to provide equipment and expertise for everyone or some groups to learn virutally.
  • How to help teachers stay healthy and provide support for all changes.
  • How to balance public pressure to close schools with the desire to return to school and normalacy.
  • Uncertainty with public health recommendations and infection rates.
  • Lack of effective and timely testing and tracing.

School attendance increases world wide in the late 1900’s and early 2000’s

While attendance rises achievement remains stubbornly unchanged. Schooling which has remained successful or improves, can be characterized as focusing on personalized adaptive learning to develop every learner’s maximum potential.

Schools remove police from campuses.

Concerns for better use of resources than paying to have police officers and SROs in schools causes action to replace them and reallocate funding. School Boards who cancel contracts with the police depatments and removes SROs from their public schools include: Minneapolis Board of Education, St. Paul, MN, Phoenix, AZ, Oakland, CA, with other schools initiating similar actions.

First rulings on transgender

In Bostock v. Clayton County the United States Supreme Court rules discrimination against employees, because they are gay or transgender, violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the federal employment discrimination law.

Neal Gorsuch writes:

an employer who fires an individual for being homosexual or transgender fires that person for traits or actions it would not have questioned in members of a different sex. Sex plays a necessary and undisguisable role in the decision, exactly what Title VII forbids.

In Adams v. St. Johns County School Board 11th circuit says:

Bostock has great import for [the transgender student's] Title IX claim ... [it] confirmed that workplace discrimination against transgender people is contrary to law. Neither should this discrimination be tolerted in schools. The school board's bathroom policy,as applied to [the student], singled him out for different treatment because of his transgender status.

United States Supreme Court rules vouchers with public funds can be given to private schools as tuition.

In 2018 the Montana Supreme Court rules a recently passed school voucher program has the intent to send money to private religious schools. Which, violates a clause in the Montana Constitution written to prevent public money being given to private religious schools; and struck down the entire program.

The decison was taken to the United States Supreme Court where in Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue the court rules 5-4 the Montana Supreme Court decision violates a families’ free exercise of religion.

SAT test ranges

SAT adds an Adversity Score to test reports

College admission decisions are questioned by the public in the media and in court cases. SAT uses 15 factors, related to cultural, social, and economic background, to calculate an additional score (adversity) for test takers.










Schools resources are still affected by a race based history:

Color of Law cover
  • Three out of four neighborhoods redlined on government maps 80 years ago continue to struggle economically.
  • Non-white school districts, serving the same number of students, get $23 billion less than white districts.
  • For every student enrolled, the average non-white school district gets $2,226 less than a white school district.
  • Poor white school districts get about $150 less per student than the national average, but $1,500 more than poor non white school districts.
  • In 61 metropolitan areas redlining still persists.

Source: NEA Today October 2019

More historical information: The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America. by Richard Rothstein.

The Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century - (Perkins V) Act is passed and signed into law, replacing the Perkins IV Act of 2006.

The act includes:

  • Funds for career exploration and development activities in the middle grades
  • Funds for comprehensive guidance and academic counseling in the upper grades.
  • Empower states and their stakeholders to determine performance goals.
  • Updates and expands the definition of special populations to include homeless individuals, foster youth, and those who have aged out of the foster care system, and youth with a parent who is on active duty in the armed forces.
  • Increases the amount states may spend on students in state correctional systems.
  • Increases the amount states may set aside in a special reserve fund to focus on rural areas, areas with high numbers or concentrations of CTE programs, or areas with gaps or disparities in performance. Source

Bethel Ministries v. Salmon. The religious school sues the state of Maryland for with holding state funds for it's anti-LGBTQ policies, loses, and appeals to the Supreme Court. The school claims it's policies are based on the religious belief: that there are two immutable and complementary genders ... assigned at birth. Therefore, can not be considered a violation of the state's anti discrimination policy, because they don't relate to admissions. Waiting a decision...


Parkland shooting

On Valentines day, 14 students and 3 staff members are murdered at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Students speak out and spark a national response of outrage and organize to respond to school violence with increased activism across the country.

Court rules Gardendale is not permitted to withdraw from the Jefferson County school district to create a separate school district. History:

  • 1965, eleven years after Brown v. Board of Education. Oscar Adams, sued the Jefferson County Board of Education on behalf of Black schoolchildren to end the district’s separate and unequal educational system.
  • 1971 the court approves a desegregation order in Stout v. Jefferson County School Board of Education
  • Alabama law states, a town with a population more than 5,000 can vote to form its own school district.
  • 2012 Glendale, a suburb of Birmingham, AL, seek to follow other White communities and secede from Jefferson County district.
  • 2015 a Glendale group petitions the federal court to do so. Other families oppose the petition and sue to remain.
  • 2017 The court rejects the initial plan. Claims it would move students to more racially isolated schools, schools with less funds, and communicate inferiority to Black students. However, it did accept a more limited plan.
  • 2018 The decision is appealed by both parties. In Stout v. Jefferson County Board of Education the court rules Gardendale is not permitted to withdraw from the Jefferson County school district as the actions were motivated by a discriminatory purpose and hence have no legitimacy at all under our Constitution.

Janus v. AFSCME (American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees).

The U.S. Supreme Court strikes down the fair share fees unions, in 23 states, charge non union members to cover their share of cost to bargain and represent them; for which the union is still legally required to represent when bargaining.

Time magazine cover

Teacher salaries in U.S. Public Schools

See how much your state's Teachers are underpaid ... yes all states.

Teacher strikes in West Virginia, Kentucky, Oklahoma, Arizona, Colorado
Teachers depressed salaries and low per pupil funding causes teachers to strike for modest increases in wages, health & retirement benefits, and greater per pupil spending.

Average Teacher salaries 2003 - 2018

United States Commission on Civil Rights releases a report on the: Public Education Funding Inequity: In an Era of Increasing Concentration of Poverty and Resegregation. The report notes there is still widespread funding inequalities across state education systems that -

"... render the education available to millions of American public school students profoundly unequal." "...low-income students and students of color are often relegated to low-quality school facilities that lack access to teachers, instructional materials, technology support, critical facilities, and physical maintenance." Source

US students are receiving an inadequate education about the role of slavery in American history. Found and reported by The Southern poverty Law Center (SPLC). Teaching hard history: American slavery. SPLC 2018. Atlanta: Georgia.

National Educational Association (NEA) representative assembly pass the following resolution:

“NEA believes that, in order to achieve racial and social justice, educators must acknowledge the existence of white supremacy culture as a primary root cause of institutional racism, structural racism, and white privilege. ... the association will actively advocate for social and educational strategies fostering the eradication of institutional racism and white privilege...“


We Will Rise. Michelle Obama's Mission to Educate Girls Around the World.

The First Lady, Meryl Streep, Freida Pinto and CNN's Isha Sesay take a journey to Morocco and Liberia, where they meet young women overcoming incredible odds to change their lives.

Video, We Will Rise. (1 hour) may need to login through cable provider for CNN.

Additional information

Diane Ravitch Public Education in Nebraska

Source The Voice November 2016 page 11



Washington State Court Rules Against Charters
In September 2015 the court rules, charter schools violate the state's constitution and overturn a 2012 law, which allows public tax money to be used to fund private schools. The ruling contends:

  • The constitution requires the legislature to provide a general and uniform public school system.
  • The entire revenue from the common school fund and state taxes shall be exclusively used for the common school.
  • Common schools defined as schools that are common to all children of proper age and capacity, free, and subject to and under the control of the qualified voters of the school district.
  • Charter schools do not qualify as common schools and can not receive public tax dollars.
  • Washington's charter schools are not governed by locally elected boards, lack democratic transparency and accountability since they are managed by private organizations that appoint their own boards.

Kindergarten & school attendance requirements - 2015

  • 34 states requiring school districts to provide ½ day kindergarten
  • 11 states plus D.C. require full day kindergarten: 11
  • 5 states (Alaska, Idaho, New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey [only Abbott districts must] do not require districts to offer kindergarten.
  • 15 states plus DC require children to attend kindergarten (35 do not)
  • – The most common birth date by which children must turn 5 to be eligible to enroll in kindergarten is September 1 (19 states). Other sates birth date cut-off ranges from as early as July 31 (Hawaii, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota) to as late as January 1 (Connecticut).


School attendance requirements by state


Reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA)
Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)

  • Prohibits the federal government from acting as a national school board. Clearly the intent is deny the U.S. Department of Education the power to compel states to adopt favored standards, policy, or any other school related ideas.
  • Advances equity by upholding critical protections for America's disadvantaged and high-need students.
  • Requires—for the first time—that all students in America be taught to high academic standards that will prepare them to succeed in college and careers.
  • Ensures that vital information is provided to educators, families, students, and communities through annual statewide assessments that measure students' progress toward those high standards.
  • Helps to support and grow local innovations—including evidence-based and place-based interventions developed by local leaders and educators—consistent with our Investing in Innovation and Promise Neighborhoods
  • Sustains and expands this administration's historic investments in increasing access to high-quality preschool.
  • Maintains an expectation that there will be accountability and action to effect positive change in our lowest-performing schools, where groups of students are not making progress, and where graduation rates are low over extended periods of time.


The National Educational Association (NEA) representative assembly adopts the following:

“... we the members of the National Education Association, acknowledge the existence in our country of institutional racism - the societal patterns and practices that have the net effect of imposing oppressive conditions and denying rights, opportunity, and equality based upon race.”


The U.S. Supreme Court refuses to hear the B.H.& K.M. v. Easton Area School District case, upholding the lower courts ruling that wearing rubber bracelets with the phrase "I ♥ Boobies! (Keep A Breast)" may be protected by the First Amendment right to free speech.

On Breast Awareness Day two middle school students were asked to remove their bracelets, they refuse and are punished by being denied to attend extra-curricular activities. The court is informed by the fact: “there were no incidents presented to the Court of any disruption prior to the School’s bracelet ban.”

Summary of professional educator role changes entering 2010

  1. From each teacher finding their own teaching style to teaching being defined by a professional community or board,
  2. From teaching as dispensing information to teaching as facilitating student's construction of knowledge and learning how to learn,
  3. From teaching as technical work to inquiry with authentic instruction,
  4. From controlling student behavior to being accountable for student performance,
  5. From teachers being managed to teachers as leaders,
  6. From learning taking place in the classroom to learning in the world community,
  7. From an undefined knowledge base to a rigorous and broadly defined common core knowledge base for students connected to a teacher's knowledge base on creating curriculum, instruction, and assessment.

Along with new additional ideas like:

  1. Teacher's beliefs and experiences affect what they teach.
  2. Knowledge of children and adolescents is crucial for teaching and student understanding.
  3. Teachers need opportunities to plan, reflect, and analyze to improve their teaching and student learning.



Common Core State Standards adopted by 43 states

The National Governors Association and Council of Chief State School Officers, funded in part by the gates foundation support the writing of the Common Core State Standards. They are concepts and outcomes students should know and be able to do in math and language arts from Kindergarten to hight school to prepare students for college and careers and make them more competitive academically. Source


Supreme Court rules schools have authority to censor student speech that promotes illegal drug use, at school events in Morse v. Frederick

At a school sponsored event, Joseph Frederick displayed a 14 foot banner with "Bong Hits 4 Jesus." during the Olympic torch run through their community. The principal Deborah Morse took away the banner and suspended Frederick for ten days. She used the school policy against the display of material that promotes the use of illegal drugs as justification. Frederick challenged the action on the basis of his right to free speech that was not disruptive. See Tinker v. Des Moines Ind. School District 1969. The US. Supreme Court rules (5-4) that students do have some right to political speech, however, schools may restrict student speech at school sponsored events if the speech promotes illegal drug use.

Supreme Court rules integration plan violates equal protection in Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District No 1.

The Seattle School District has an open enrollment policy to resolve segregation and maintain racial diversity. Parents sue on the basis of race being contrary to the Equal Protection clause.

The U.S. Supreme Court stops their voluntary integration plan by claiming school officials could only consider race to assign students to schools if there is a compelling interest to remedy past intentional discrimination. Further, the court claims the district did not present a compelling state interest for the use of race in their diversity plan to achieve specific educational benefits sufficient to achieve a compelling state interest.

It seems the court failed or was unwilling to consider: segregation today is a result of private choices, which have historically been limited by long imposed discriminatory decisions based on social status and racial heritage.


Selman et al. v. Cobb County School District et al.

Court rules that requiring an evolution warning label on textbooks violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. See 2000

Kitzmiller et al. v. Dover

The U.S. District Court orders the Dover Area School Board not to include the implementation of their Intelligent Design Policy in any schools in the district. The court rules the policy violates the First Amendments Establishment Clause and the teaching of intelligent design in public schools is unconstitutional. See 2000

A challenge to the teaching of evolution: has been tried over and over again: changing from a direct challenge of evolution, then creation science, followed by intellectual design, critical analysis, freedom of speech, academic freedom. … and most likely more to come. Future rulings will depend on the appointment of judges.

When cases specifically target teaching related to evolution, one needs to ask why it is necessary? The only answer can be to promote a religious doctrine over another.


Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is reauthorized again.

School personnel are given more authority for special education placement and better alignment with the No Child Left Behind Act.

Supreme Court rules to retain under god in the Pledge of Allegiance

Elk Grove Unified School District v. Newdow. Michael Newdow claims having his daughter recite under god in the pledge violates the first amendment establishment clause. The court rules recitation of the Pledge in school did not. See 1943


Affirmative action, quotas, and race

On June 23, 2003, the Supreme Court abrogated Hopwood in Grutter v. Bollinger the U.S. Supreme court rules the United States Constitution does not prohibit the law school's narrow use of race in admissions decisions to further a compelling interest in obtaining a diverse student body. The ruling means that universities in the Fifth Circuit's jurisdiction can again use race as a factor in admissions (as long as quotas are not used as in Gratz v. Bollinger (2003). Source

Supreme court rules entrance based narrowly on race unconstitutional in Gratz v. Bollinger

Two White students are denied entry into the University of Michigan’s undergraduate College of Literature, Science, and the Arts, and file suit against their advisor. They claim that the admission policy violates the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection clause. The U.S. Supreme court rules the policy is unconstitutional under the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment since it gives automatic preference to minority students on the basis of race.

2003, 2001, 1999, & 1997

Standardized tests, SAT, as biased admission criteria

Pryor and Spivey (2003) appeal to the Third Circuit Court It rules there is a sufficient claim for purposeful discrimination under Title VI. However, it also rules the claim did not hold, because Alexander v. Sandoval ruling prevents Title VI from being used by private action.

Alexander v. Sandoval (2001) United States Supreme Court decision held a regulation enacted under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 did not include a private right of action to allow private lawsuits based on evidence of disparate impact (meaning it may be considered discriminatory if it has a disproportionate adverse impact against any group based on race, national origin, color, religion, sex, familial status, or disability). Thus, making it difficult for private citizens to sue public entities, by requiring they prove intentional discrimination.

Pryor v. NCAA (1999), Kelly Pryor and Warren Spivey were offered athletic scholarships in 1999. However, neither student was able to meet Proposition 16 guidelines. The Third District Court ruled in favor of the NCAA, but said it could be possible to bring successful purposeful discrimination suits against the NCAA. Pryor and Spivey argued the NCAA knew Black athletes would receive fewer scholarship. The NCAA stated their intentions were to increase Black athletes graduation rates and not to discriminate against any athlete. District court ruled in favor of NCAA and no intentional discrimination.

Cureton v. NCAA (1997), Black student-athletes who met the NCAA grade point average requirement but not minimum SAT score. The district court rules Proposition 16 had a disparate impact on African-American students and violated Title VI. However, the Third Circuit Court reversed the decision. Stating, Title VI only applied to programs or activities using federal funds and since the NCAA does not directly admit students, Title VI does not apply. Furthermore, the Alexander v. Sandoval decision states Title VI only covers intentional discrimination and NCAA argued it wasn't intentional, but trying to insure greater success of athletes.


  • These cases demonstrate legal actions can create social pressure for change if court decisions do not demand it.
  • Institutions should be wary if they use entrance exams. They should carefully evaluate their admission requirements and be prepared to justify possible effects on graduation rates of their applicant pools. Source


No Child Left Behind (NCLB), increases the federal role in public education. It does not provide national standards, but requires states to develop or adopt their own standards. It focuses on accountability through state-mandated standardized testing and punishment to improve schools and ultimately the education of our youth. Based on the belief data driven decision making (DDDM) should diagnose student needs, implement target support based on data that informs curriculum will improve schools and student achievement.

States are required to use their designated standards and create a system that uses standardized annual testing to collect multiple measures to determine if adequate yearly progress (AYP) is met and report this information to the public and government officials for the evaluative purpose of rewarding and punishing schools through Title 1 funding and corrective measures. States are also required to determine what makes a highly qualified teacher.

Corrective measures:

  • Schools that miss AYP two consecutive years are publicly labeled as in need of improvement and must develop a two-year improvement plan. Their students were permitted to transfer to a better school in the district, if one exists.
  • If AYP is not met the third year, they must provide free tutoring and additional support services for students.
  • If AYP is not met a fourth consecutive year, they are required to take corrective action, which can be replacement of all staff, introduction of a new curriculum, increase class time for students.
  • After a fifth consecutive year, they must develop a plan to restructure the entire school. The plan must be implemented if AYP is not achieved in the sixth year. restructure plans can be to close the school, turn it into a charter school, hire a private company to run the school, or have the state take it over.

Supreme Court rules state vouchers can be paid to religious schools.

Zelman v. Simmons- Harris Ohio enacts a tuition voucher in Cleveland City Schools for students to use in religious and secular private schools. Ohio taxpayers challenged it as a violation of the Establishment Clause. The court rules vouchers are neutral in terms of religion, because children and families, rather than schools, benefit, therefore, did not violate the Establishment Clause.

Supreme Court rules drug testing of students in extracurricular activities legal.

Board of Indian school District #92 of Pottawatomie County v. Earls the district required urinalysis to participate in extra curricular activities. Earls challenged the policy as a violation of students' Fourth Amendment rights to privacy. Court ruled in favor of the District noting the testing was done in a minimally intrusive manner and consistent with the interest of deterring drug use. This builds on Vernonia School District v. Acton 1995 allowing testing of student athletes.


U.S. Supreme Court rules that a school board's mandatory school uniform policy did not violate the First Amendment rights of its students

Canady v. Bossier Parish School Board. In the 1998-1999 school year, the school board implements a mandatory school uniform policy. Parents challenged the new dress code on First Amendment grounds. The Fifth district court ruled dress could be a form of expression protected by the first amendment. However, a uniform policy could be upheld if it supports an important or substantial government interest, an interest unrelated to the suppression of student expression, restrictions to speech were no more than necessary to further the state interest, and it was not meant to curtail any particular viewpoint or message. The court ruled the policy did not.


Rodney LeVake v Independent School District 656, et al.

Minnesota State District Court dismiss the case brought by the school district against a high school biology teacher who argued he had the right to teach evidence both for and against the theory of evolution. The court rules the school district considered the content of what he was teaching did not match the curriculum, which requires the teaching of evolution. Therefore, he does not have a free speech right to override the curriculum. See also 1997 & 2005

Summary of ideas that influenced the Twentieth Century

Political ideas in the 1920's... that influenced educators and the public who made educational decisions were: free public education for all, compulsory education, elementary school goals and objects with a focus on literacy through the subjects of reading, writing, arithmetic and disciplined study to ready students for a more rigorous secondary education. Secondary school goals and objectives were oriented toward college prep for the able, vocational studies for the less able, and preparation for everyone to become productive obedient citizens. Taught by certified teachers, using direct instruction methodologies in group settings and a subject centered curriculum. Quality education was subsidized by women who were limited by lack of professional job opportunities in other areas of employment. This increased the number and quality of professional educators while it depressed wages and reduced taxes. This began to change as employment opportunities opened to women after the mid 1900's.

Educational ideas in the 1920's that influenced education:

  • Information was packaged in subjects, measured with Carnegie Units, in a seven and eight period day, over an average 180 day school year. Information was delivered through lecture and textbooks and assessed with standardized tests which were largely multiple choice.
    Information At the beginning of the century the Committee of Ten standardized information by subjects and somewhat delineated relevant content they important. At the other end of the century professional organizations for different subjects gathered and wrote standards for content, teaching, and administration based on their particular subjects. P21 Partnership for 21st Century Learning wrote standards that included life learning skills. Information selected and described by all these committees some consider ideological or dogmatic. A large segment of the general public believe it is sufficient that content be limited to a collection of common facts necessary to be job ready at graduation. They chide a liberal education that is open to investigation that encourages problem solving and critical thinking about big ideas through alternate paths of study that often culminates in uncertainty and skepticism with the discovery of multiple possibilities. This liberal or progressive education is often coupled with student interest met with student empowerment and choice, which many people believe will result in students making poor choices and not working hard enough to achieve a high quality elite education. Openness allows for many entry points of learning, makes room for different voices, is the best guarantee to discover and fixes errors so children and adolescents learn better and educators learn how to make education better. Learning, education and schooling are always works in progress.
  • Mandatory education for all children and adolescents of a certain age increased the number of students. This created a need for an increase in the total number of schools or for each school to be larger to meet the demand of the increasing enrollment.
  • Education for all. In the twentieth century the idea of a public education for all, equal access, school choice, and the idea all students can learn became stronger as the century unfolded. Toward the beginning of the century, 1918, compulsory education laws existed in all states. However, few people believed all really meant all children. Women, non-white, handicapped, ability, poor, and LBGTQ ( lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questionable people) were mostly thought to be less able or worthy of a high quality education. These changes were influenced by greater acceptance of a more broad definition of all. Events such as in 1920 women were granted the right to vote, 1954 with Brown vs. Board of Education affect on segregation amid separate and equal, 1928 restructure of Native American education, 1969 and later laws for children with learning disabilities, and 1965 Elementary and Secondary Education Act and Title 1 to address socio-economic limitations. ...
  • Limited resources created a desire to find economical and efficient solutions. A simple solution was to put greater numbers of students in schools and increase class sizes. As crowding increased larger building were built and benefited by having greater resources in a common location. This lead to thinking of consolidation of school districts as more efficient and economical. Specialization of teachers in the upper grades. Instead of increasing school districts more and more states choose to consolidate school boards into bigger districts decreasing the number of independent school districts in the U.S.
    1920 - 200 000+; 1952 - 67 000; 1982 - 14 851; 2012 - 12 880; Source
    This decrease in school boards and districts had a significant detrimental effect of reducing the number of school board members. Community leaders who had a vested personal involvement dedicated to know what was happening in their schools to make decisions that would best benefit their students in a democratic manner. For example: if there were 200 000+ school boards in 1920 with an average of 8 members per board, that would be 1.6 million board members. In 2012 if there were12 880, then that would be about 100 000. That is a significant difference that would seem to have a large effect on people's positive involvement in education. Further, if the increase in population from 1920 to today was considered, then the increase of the number of people that each board member represents is even more detrimental to school community relations.
  • Governance. As schools and districts grew so did concerns of governance, quality of instruction, standardization, evaluation, and accountability of teaching and learning. Hierarchal bureaucracies were created, similar to military and factory organizations to address these concerns, too often, with the belief they could be managed with rewards (merit pay, grading, scholarships, ...) and punishment (school closure, expulsion, firing teachers...). Thinking of learning as production on an assembly line factory managed with efficient spending of resources and effective instructional methods to achieve a quality standardized education. Creation of instructional methodologies (mastery learning, directed instruction, cooperative learning, learning cycle ...), effective instructional strategies, teacher proof curriculum, scripted teaching, standardized uniform curriculum, ...
    Control of schools moves from teacher and boards of education to state and national government. With more rules and regulations being imposed top down in the name of accountability and standardization with high stakes standardized tests used to rate students and schools. Eliminating local control and personal choice and empowerment of students and teachers, parents and communities.
  • Validation of organizational patterns and instructional methodologies being substantiated with information analyzed through scientific and statistical means. Standardized testing to sort students and validate achievement, teacher assessment, teacher training with the teacher in a scripted role of technocrat. Required entry level testing, certification testing, teacher observation, peer evaluation... All based on the assumption that if one can define it, then it can be measured.
  • Teachers seek to become seen as a profession and attain better working conditions through collective bargaining by forming the National Education Association (NEA) and American Federation of Teachers (AFT). Teachers negotiated with school boards issues such as: due process, job protection from irrational dismissal, and an equitable wage. However, many studies suggest self-governance or teacher autonomy is more important to teachers than higher wages. Important for not only empowering teachers as professionals, but to also create an environment were students see self-governance in action so they may learn that democracies can be messy, but they can also work.


Twentieth century


Columbine High School shooting

In Columbine, Colorado two high school students murder 12 students and one teacher on April 20. It becomes, at the time, the worst school shooting in U.S. history and prompts significant changes to insure safe school environments. Safety changes like: visitor sign in, locks on classroom doors, locked doors, intruder drills, armed guards, metal detectors, fencing, barriers, ... which change the school experience for all students.


Wisconsin Supreme Court rules the City of Milwaukee can use tax money to pay tuition for pupils to parochial or other religious schools. The court says the program ''has a secular purpose'' and ''will not have the primary effect of advancing religion.''


Reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)

Changes include:

  • Adding regular education teachers to the IEP process
  • Providing students more access to the general curriculum.
  • Include students in state-wide assessments
  • Add ADHD to the list of conditions for eligibility of services under the category, other health impairment.

Freiler v. Tangipahoa Parish Board of Education

The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana rejects a policy requiring teachers to read aloud a disclaimer when teaching evolution. Ruled intelligent design equivalent to creation science and the school board was endorsing a religion that is counter to other religious views with the disclaimer. In 2000 the U.S. Supreme Court declines to hear the School Board's appeal. See also 1994 & 2000


Successful challenge to university affirmative action policy in student admissions in Hopwood v. Texas

Four white students who are rejected admission to University of Texas at Austin's School of Law despite having better combined LSAT and grade scores than 36 of the 43 Latinos admitted, and 16 of the 18 black students admitted challenge the school's admissions policy on equal protection grounds.

Seven years the Hopwood decision is abrogated by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2003.

Regents of the University of California v. Bakke, 438 U.S. 265 (1978).

US. Department of Education urges schools to adopt uniforms as a strategy to reduce school violence. It claims to:

  • Decrease violence and theft.
  • Prevent gang members from wearing gang colors and signs at school.
  • Help students learn to be more disciplined.
  • Resist peer pressure.
  • Identify non students that might be in school.

Brain and emotion

The Emotional Brain, written by Joseph E. LeDoux, an American neuroscientist, may be a landmark for greater acceptance of how little control people have over their emotional reactions and the power of emotions as motivators for the decisions we make. Especially brain and endocrine mechanisms related to memory, pleasure, love, anger, fear, anxiety, and addiction.

Report: What Matters Most: Teaching and America's Future, by the National Commission on Teaching and America's Future, 1996.


  • Standards for teaching
  • Connecting teacher standards to student standards
  • Higher requirements for teacher licensure and renewal
  • Rigorous testing of teacher knowledge
  • Overhaul preservice teacher preparation programs and close program that don't meet national standards.
  • Incentives and rewards for star teachers
  • Peer assistance to help teachers needing improvement
  • Dismissal of teachers not meeting standards
  • Improved working and learning environments for teachers and students.
See also 1986 A Nation Prepared: Teachers for the 21st Century, Carnegie Report


Vernonia School District v. Acton 1995 rules in favor of allowing drug testing of student athletes.

Opponents of bilingual education file lawsuits against school districts to stop bilingual education fail.

Bushwick Parents Organization v. Mills in New York claim that for ELL students to have the same educational opportunities as all other students they need to have the same opportunities as other students, not the different experiences provided ELL students. Additonal attempts also fail. Source

Early 1990's. Home schooling is legal in all fifty states with the help of the Home School Legal Defense Association HSLDA.


The Milwaukee School Voucher Program is passed.

The Milwaukee Parental Choice Program provides public funds for low income students, in Milwaukee, to pay their tuition to private schools. It is the largest such program in the United States.

Wendy Kopp, founds Teach for America

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) 1990.

PL 94-142 is renamed to Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) .

  • The document replaces the term, disability, with, handicap.
  • Requires transition services for students.
  • Adds autism and traumatic brain injury to the eligibility list.
  • Congress is still underfunding services to special needs individuals by more than half of what is promised in 1975 PL 94-142.


Charter schools presented by

Albert Shanker, president of the American Federation of Teachers articulated a vision of a school where students would be diverse culturally, racially, and socioeconomically. Were teachers would collaborate and experiment with fresh innovative pedagogical approaches and curriculum. Where what they learned would be shared with traditional schools to improve them.

In his vision these schools were administratively included within current education schools districts or systems. He believed in democracy and the importance of students seeing it modeled first hand in their classes and by seeing teachers as active participants in the decision making of the charter school. He also believed unions played a critical role in democratic societies and wanted charter schools unionized.

His ideas were sparked with a visit to a school in Cologne, Germany, which was very unlike the traditional tightly tracked German schools. This school had teams of teachers who had considerable input in how the school was run and were empowered to make pedagogical decisions and curriculum choices. Teachers stayed with a class of students for six years. Students were of mixed abilities, family incomes and ethnic origins. Immigrants were educated alongside native students in mixed-ability groups. Resulting in 60% doing well enough to be admitted to a four-year college. This can be compared to 27% of students nationally.

See New York Times: The Original Charter School Vision for additional information.


Edwards v. Aguillard

The U.S. Supreme Court held Louisiana's Creationism Act unconstitutional since it lacks a clear secular purpose, endorses religion, and undermines science teaching when creation science is included as evolutionary science. See 1982 & 1994

New Jersey is the first state to take over a school district. The Prize cover

New Jersey passes legislation in 1987 authorizing the state’s takeover of Jersey City schools the following year. The state goes on to take over operations of the:

  • 1991 - Paterson schools
  • 1995 - Newark public schools
  • 2013 - Camden public schools


For a story of Newark's schools from 1995-2014 see The Prize by Dale Russakaoff. She does an excellent job of presenting an unbiased narrative of Newark's dilemma of how to improve failing schools in a dysfunctional educational and political culture. The complexities of building an education system based on corporate culture, profit, loss, incentives, bonuses, merit pay, closures, and firings. The prize - Newark's billion dollar budget. Where the only winners seem to be students who have parents who are able to negotiate a school system maze and enroll their child in a winning school. To achieve good schools where all students might be successful in Charters and Public Schools she concludes both must operate within a community where parents are involved, that medical and mental health services are available, community jobs or services overcome poverty, trauma, and neglect and students needs and interests are met. Will Newark become the charter school capital of the nation?


A Nation Prepared: Teachers for the 21st Century, Carnegie Report

Claims a professionalized teaching force based on a new system of high standards is necessary for student success. A system with high academic achievement standards for students and high standards for teachers in curriculum, instruction, and assessment. Standards created and implemented by a national board of teachers who would be seen as leaders of the profession. When this is put in place, it claims students would succeed.

Court rules (7-2) student speech may be restricted if it interferes with the educational process in Bethel School District v. Fraser.

Matthew Fraser, a students at a High School assembly, gives a nomination speech for a classmate which includes what some think is graphic and sexual in nature. Matt is suspended three days. The court agreed political speech was protected, but vulgar and lewd speech was not since it was not within the fundamental values of public school education. Upholding his suspension.

In 2007 Chief Justice John Roberts says, "The mode of analysis employed in Fraser is not entirely clear." Chief Justice Burger claims fraser's speech isn't political, yet it is given at a school sponsored event for the purpose of the election of student government and advocated for one of the candidates. The claim it is sexually explicit and graphic is not accurate as he implied sexual references and innuendo similar to TV comedies and PG13 rated movies at the time. Finally, it did not include any standard for assessing a school officials' actions for restricting speech.


Accountability, Back to the Basics, and Standards, 1985.

  • Total Quality Education (TQE) born from Total Quality Management (TQM) who W. E. Demings and others wrote and lectured that: frequent monitoring of a processes is necessary to achieve a quality desired outcome. Not really strong as total curriculum.
  • Outcome-Based Education (OBE) a process to define goals, specific classroom behaviors, and outcomes with emphasis on outcomes. William Spady based it on 1. clarity of focus, 2. top down design, 3. high expectations, and 4. expanded opportunity.
  • Performance Based Education,
  • Standards based education. While standards were being worked on the real impact was more 1990 and beyond. Standards
  • High Performance Learning,
  • Transformational Education,
  • Competency-Based Education

First open enrollment law is passed in Minnesota, 1985.

In 1989 Arkansas, Iowa, Nebraska, and Ohio, pass open enrollment legislation and in 1990 Idaho, Utah, and Washington do.

Open enrollment may be voluntary or mandatory at a state or district level, and may allow intra district or inter district transfer.

  • Voluntary allows individual schools or districts to decide whether they will accept students who live outside their boundaries.
  • Mandatory requires all districts to provide the option and accept student requests, although a policy can be restricted by opt-out provisions, priorities , or desegregation provisions within different laws.
  • Intra district policies allow student admission to a school outside their assigned district.
  • Inter district policies allow student to attend schools across district boundaries as well as within districts.

Supreme Court rules the Fourth Amendment’s more lenient standard of reasonable suspicion may replace the ordinary standard of probable cause.

New Jersey v. T.L.O. A student is caught smoking, teacher searches her purse, finds cigarettes and marijuana. The student is suspended three days for smoking cigarettes in a nonsmoking area and seven days for possession of marijuana. A lower court ruled her Fourth Amendment rights were violate. However, the Supreme court overturned the ruling and says. A search will be permissible when it is reasonably related to the objectives of the search and not excessively intrusive in light of the age and sex of the student and the nature of the infraction.

In dissent Justice Stevens wrote.

“The schoolroom is the first opportunity most citizens have to experience the power of government, Through it passes every citizen and public official, from schoolteachers to policemen and prison guards. The values they learn there, they take with them in life.”

Transforming public schools into Constitutional free zones would harm the nation as a whole by distorting the relationship between citizens and their government as today’s students become tomorrow’s adults, they risk bringing with them impoverished understandings of constitutional protections.


Multiple Intelligences. 1983

Howard Gardner published, Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences. Where he introduced and described eight intelligences.

Description of the first eight and one more he added later

In 1985 Sternberg suggested three fundamental kinds of intelligence: analytic, creative, and practical. These ideas can be used to describe authentic learning. They may also be applied to describe how each of the eight intelligences can be applied analytically, creatively, and practically.

A Nation at Risk: The Imperative for Educational Reform, published by the National Commission on Excellence in Education. 1983.

Claimed American schools were failing and suggested ideas for improvement:

  • Greater accountability in terms of student achievement
  • Standardization
  • Standardized testing
  • More empirical knowledge
  • Greater time for science, mathematics and technology
  • Longer school days, longer school year, and more homework
  • Higher graduation requirements

Two quotes most often reported:

...the educational foundations of our society are presently being eroded by a rising tide of mediocrity that threatens our very future as a Nation and a people..

If an unfriendly foreign power had attempted to impose on America the mediocre educational performance that exists today, we might well have viewed it as an act of war.


U. S. Supreme Court rules denying children an education because of their parents status is not in any state interest.

Plyler v. Doe State law allowed local school districts to refuse to pay for undocumented students and children of undocumented parents. Thus the Plyler School district charged tuition for said students and a case was filed on behalf of these students. The Supreme Court ruled the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, gives all persons equal protection of the laws and to deny them the ability to live within the structure of our civic institutions, would not allow them to contribute in even the smallest way to the progress of our Nation. Additionally the Court said, holding children accountable for their parents’ actions does not comport with fundamental conceptions of justice.”

U. S. Supreme Court rules there must be a legitimate pedagogical concern to remove books.

Board of Education of Island Trees School District v. Pico the board of education over ruled the the recommendations of the school and community and the removal of books (Slaughter house five, Go Ask Alice and Black Boy) from the middle and high school libraries. The Supreme Court rules the board did not have the right to remove books because they disagreed with their content.

McLean v. Arkansas Board of Education

A federal court held a balanced treatment law violates the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution. Concludes the Arkansas statute that requires public schools balance the teaching of creation science and evolution science only purpose is to promote religion since creation science is not factually a science. Therefore, they ruled the law unconstitutional. See 1968 & 1987

Due process for Nebraska teachers

Nebraska Legislature passes LB259 the Nebraska Continuing Contract Law. It establishes the legal basis of fair dismissal procedures and due process rights for Nebraska's teachers.


Castañeda v. Pickard

Castañeda charges the Raymondville Independent School District, Texas, is failing the needs of ELL students as mandated by the EEOA.

The court agrees Raymondville did not meet the requirements of the EEOA.

This results in the Castañeda standard to evaluate if the needs of ELLs, as required by the EEOA, are being met.

The Castañeda standard mandates programs for language-minority students must be:

  1. based on a sound educational theory,
  2. implemented effectively with sufficient resources and personnel, and
  3. evaluated to determine whether they are effective in helping students overcome language barriers.

The Castañeda standard builds on the Lau Remedies, and the Equal Educational Opportunities Act of 1974 (EEOA) to meet the needs of ELL students.

Problems with the Castañeda test include.

  • How to determine if an educational theory is sufficient on which to base a program.
  • What determines sufficient resources and personnel? and
  • The amount of time it takes to evaluate a program to insure it is benefiting students.


1980, 1970, 1960

Computers and Curriculum

Computers added to the classroom and computer labs.

Seymore Papert in Mindstorms (1980) describes three ways for students to use computers, as a tutor, tutee, and tool. Wrote about the use of Microworlds for students to explore concepts, a term coined at the MIT Media Lab Learning and Common Sense Group.

1970 University of Illinois developed computer programs and the Programmed Logic for Automatic Teaching Operations (PLATO) system. Most notably for computerized instruction (CI) in general math and algebra.

1960 Patrick Suppes at Stanford University designs computer systems with branching, feedback, and tracking of student progress.


Otis-Lennon School Ability Test (OLSAT) first edition is published.

It is a group administered ability test of verbal and nonverbal abilities test created by Roger Lennon and Arthur Otis. It is easier and less expensive to administer than the Stanford Binet or Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children, however it's less reliable at higher levels. Source

Questions on what is a basic education for all students is discussed with respect to Vocational Education and in light of the Back to Basics movement emphasis on the three “Rs”—reading, 'riting and 'rithmetic.


Indochina Migration and Refugee Assistance Act.

This act allows approximately 130,000 refugees from South Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia to enter the United States with a special status, and finances their transportation, processing, reception, and resettlement costs. Most were Vietnamese evacuated from Vietnam after the war. They were granted a parole status and processed through the parole system over seen by the Attorney General of the United States. The resettlement process was aided by dozens of immigration agencies throughout the United States.

Indian Education Act.

Education for All Handicapped Children Act (PL 94-142)

Mandates free appropriate public education for all students. Is revisited in 1979 and later in 1990 and renamed to Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

  • Congress pledges to fund 40% of additional costs to provide these services. As of 2019 it underfunds it by more than half.

U.S. Supreme Court rules students have a right to procedural due process within public school discipline actions.

May be the most significant case for the education of students in a liberal democracy.

Goss v. Lopez Nine students were suspended for 10 days and challenge the actions. The Supreme Court rules Ohio created a right to education and that right is protected by the Due Process Clause in the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution.


End of mandatory urban and suburban busing for desegregation and support of white flight

Milliken (Michigan governor) v. Bradley court orders the desegregation plan for Detroit and 85 surrounding school districts lacks evidence of discriminatory intent. Therefore, surrounding districts could not be mandated to desegregate. Claiming:

remedies for segregation and racial isolation that cross district borders are not required, unless it could be shown, that "racially discriminatory acts of the state or local school districts ... have been a substantial cause of the inter-district segregation.

See 1974 Milliken v. Bradley and 1972 Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education

The Supreme Court in Milliken v. Bradley limits the Swann decision by stating students could be bused across district lines only when evidence of de jure (by law) segregation across multiple school districts exists.

Supreme Court rules against the Chinese community, declaring Brown applies to races.

In Guey Heung Lee v. Johnson and Johnson v. San Francisco Unified School District. Lee asks that students not be moved from neighborhood schools with bilingual English-Chinese programs for newcomer Chinese ELL students as required by the integration plan.

Districts required to implement bilingual education programs for LEP (limited English proficiencies) students.

In Lau v. Nichols the United States Supreme Court unanimously rules a lack of supplemental language instruction in public school for students with limited English proficiency violates the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

Justice William Douglass, writes in the court's opinion:

Under these state-imposed standards there is no equality of treatment merely by providing students with the same facilities, textbooks, teachers, and curriculum; for students who do not understand English are effectively foreclosed from any meaningful education…. We know that those who do not understand English are certain to find their classroom experiences wholly incomprehensible and in no way meaningful.


This case first leads to the Lau Remedies and later the Equal Educational Opportunities Act of 1974 (EEOA), which includes.

No state shall deny educational opportunities to an individual on account of his or her race, color, sex, or national origin by … (f) the failure of an educational agency to take appropriate action to overcome language barriers that impede equal participation by its students in its instructional programs.


Dorothy Raffel (14) tries to play competitive high school sports (basketball) in Pennsylvania.

The Women’s Equity Action League files a class action suit (Adams) against the federal U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare for failure to enforce Title IX in the 1972 Education Amendment. The complaint is never fully resolved.


U.S. Supreme Court rules a state can not fund textbook programs for schools who engage in racial discrimination. "Racial discrimination in state-operated schools is barred by the Constitution." Norwood v. Harrison (p. 464-465)


Title IX Education Amendment, Section 1681- Sex.

Congress prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex. Like Brown v. Board of Education a law needs a way of enforcement.

No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.

Title IX basics .pdf

Supreme Court rules School finance is to be decided by the states, as there is no constitutional right for education

San Antonio Ind. school District v. Rodriguez Rodriquez challenged the equality of funding to his property poor school district compared to property rich districts. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled there is no constitutional right to public education and this disparity was not focused on any suspect classification of students that warrant legal protection.

Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education The Supreme Court rules the federal courts have the discretion to use busing as a desegregation tool for racial balance.

Summary of instructional changes in the 1960's, 1970's & shortly beyond

Instruction and planning became systematized, standardized, and proceduralized

Mastery learning and mastery teaching 1967+

Benjamin Bloom, Learning for Mastery (1968). Advocated, mastery learning, instruction that used assessment initially and periodically to identify what students know so feedback with corrective procedures could be determined that match students needs to enhance their learning so they might attain master of content at an accuracy level of 90% or higher. If students didn't achieve mastery, after initial instruction, they would cycle through more instruction. While those who were successful were given enrichment activities to elaborate and deepen their understanding.

Mastery Teaching

Madeline Hunter's approach to master was described in a seven step instructional, which she referred as elements of a lesson design. Briefly the first four steps; were to focus on, define, provide input, and model the intended learnings; followed by three assessment steps: to check for understanding, and assess during guided and independent practice. The planning guide was part of what she called an Instructional Theory into Practice Teaching Model (ITIP).

  • Madeline Hunter Teach More–Faster!. (1967)
  • Madeline Hunter Teaching Is Decision Making. (1979) Educational Leadership 37 (1):62–65.
  • Madeline Hunter. Mastery Teaching. 1982

Source for more information about Madeline Hunter

Constructivist 1967+

John Dewey and others advocated Constructivist teaching early in the early 1900's, however, it wasn't until 1967 that a systematized constructivist instructional theory was introduced: The Learning Cycle by Robert Karplus and Herbert Thier as a conceptual organizer to guide the teacher's interactions with a classroom of students. Three stages: exploration, invention, and discover were included that are characterized by:

  • Student-centered. Accepts students have preconceived ideas they must explore and discover their value based on reasoning and data.
  • Observation of concrete materials to use as evidence combined with primary sources must be used for students to explore, invent, and discover new ideas.
  • People learn by equilibration.
  • People learn with their exploration, categorization, communication, construction, negotiation, translation, extension, reflection, and self-assessment to construct explanations and understanding.
  • Teachers understand learning is interactive and they must encourage students with questions, wait-time and encourages them to be open-minded as they negotiate construction of explanation and understanding.
  • Embedded in the a learning cycle theory is initial recognition of the importance of self, beliefs, motivation, metacognition, cognitive theory, and knowledge expression (how what is deemed important to learn is defined and expressed, as subjects, literacy, integration, curriculum ...).

Cooperative learning 1974+

Early contributions 1900-1950

  • Social theory began to recognize cooperative learning was more effective and efficient in quantity, quality, and overall productivity than working alone.
  • M. May and L. Doob found that people who cooperate to achieve common goals, were more successful, than independent people who completed the same goals. The independent achievers also demonstrated more competitive behavior.
  • John Dewey's contributions to today's cooperative learning theory are: importance of school and democracy, students as active recipients of knowledge, students being engaged in the learning process, students communication with peers, and less teacher lecture.
  • Kurt Lewin’s contributions to cooperative learning are: ideas of the importance of relationships between group members to achieve learning goals.
  • Morton Deutsh’s contribution to cooperative learning was positive social interdependence, and student responsible to contribute to group learning.

These ideas were combined by David and Roger Johnson into a systematized planning and instructional procedure and cooperative learning theory from the mid 1970's into the 1980's and 1990's.

In 1975, they identified that cooperative learning promoted positive relationships between students, positive feelings about the subject matter, better communication, higher achievement, and greater use of higher-order social, personal and cognitive skills. Johnson and Johnson published the 5 elements positive interdependence, face-to-face interaction, individual and group accountability, interpersonal or small group skills, and group processing. Cooperative learning theory, benefits, elements, steps, strategies, and planning information.

Reciprocal teaching 1982+

Brown & Paliscar developed reciprocal teaching, a type of cooperative learning developed for reading. It has been expanded for other subject areas with a more general procedure that can be used with pairs or small groups.


About 70% adolescents completed hight school and earned a diploma. See 1900

Supreme Court rules on the use of intelligence tests to discriminate.

Griggs v. Duke Power Company Black employees sued their employer, Duke Power Company, contending that it violated the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by requiring a high school diploma and a satisfactory intelligence test score for certain jobs previously limited to white employees. The Supreme Court ruled these employment requirements did not relate to the ability of an applicant to perform the job. Therefore, they discriminated against black employees. Source

Kent State Riot. Kent, Ohio May 4, 1970. 2,000 students gathered to protest President Nixon's announcement to invade Cambodia when members of the National Guard fired 67 rounds into the crowd. In the following days small fires were set, window destroyed, and an ROTC building was set on fire. Four protesters were killed, and nine were injured.

After the Brown v. Board of Ed. ruling in 1954, additional cases were brought that questioned the decision’s application. Judges narrowed the application to the ruling by claiming it only applied to segregation created by laws or state action (de jure segregation). Another limitation is the population of students.

In Cisneros v. Corpus Christi ISD the school segregated Mexican American student by claiming, since there was no law or state action for segregation of Mexican American students, any segregation of these students was de facto segregation, and Brown shouldn’t apply. The court rules, both de jure and de facto segregation existed in the Corpus Christi school board decisions about attendance zones, where to build, and student transfers perpetuate segregation.


Congress passes the Children with Specific Learning Disabilities Act. 1969

The first time federal law mandated support services for students with learning disabilities. It was The Elementary and Secondary Education Act Amendments of 1969: Title VI, Included in the Education of the Handicapped Act.

Source: history of disability legislation

National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). 1969

Created to assess the state of education in the U. S. It has been tauted as a model assessment program. It uses a matrix sampling design, does not require any student take the entire test in any subject, combines open-ended questioning with multiple-choice, is a criterion-referenced test, and is designed for longitudinal comparisons. With standards of comparison set high, student performance can cause questionable concerns that can be exploited with both positive and negative consequences.

Sesame Street debut. November 10, 1969

Joan Ganz Cooney, former documentary producer for public television, creates a pioneering TV show to teach young children. The show will evolve beyond teaching the alphabet and how to count, to include many issues relevant to young children. Its theme song Can you tell me how to get ... How to get to Sesame Street is one of the most recognized songs in the world. Sesame Street's setting is, today in a New York neighborhood. Characters are ethnically diverse. Plots are short fast moving vignettes that teach literacy and have themes with positive social messages. It debuts the Muppets created by Jim Henson. The World of Puppetry: A look through theatre history.


Fred Rogers appeared before the United States Senate Subcommittee on Communications in 1969. To gain support for funding for PBS and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, in response to significant proposed cuts by President Nixon. See his 6:50 presentation recorded on Video.

The Supreme court rules for Tinker, but also claims school districts can restrict disruptive speech.

In December 1965 school officials hear some students plan to wear black armbands to school in support of a Vietnam truce. Students are warned that if they do, they would be sent home. Beth Tinker, John Tinker, & Christopher Eckhardt do and are sent home. Their parents file suit claiming a violation of their free speech.

Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District rules (7-2) in the favor of Tinker. Justice Abe Fortas writes in the majority opinion:

  1. Students have freedom of speech or expression:

It can hardly be argued ... students ... shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate.

  1. The state can not prevent students from expressing ideas simply because their message may run contrary to the state's preferred message.
  2. Emphasizes it is the school's responsibility to educate citizens capable of civic discourse and to do so requires free and open debate of all ideas.

The court considers three issues to consider when regulating student speech.

  1. If the school expects the speech to substantially disrupt or interfere with school activities. (Tinker did not.)
  2. If the speech materially and substantially interferes with the discipline in the operation of the school and collides with the rights of others. (Tinker did not.)
  3. School officials can not prohibit expression based on classmate's disruptive reaction to the speech. It must be the speaker themselves that disrupt school activities. (Tinker did not.) This is known as the heckler's veto.

If the [state] can silence the speaker, the law in effect acknowledges a veto power in the hecklers who can , by being hostile enough, get the law to silence any speaker of whom they do not approve. Harry Kalven 1965

Justice Abe Fortas summarizes the contentiousness of free speech.

Any variation from the majority's opinion may inspire fear. Any word spoken, in class, in the lunchroom, or on the campus, that deviated from the view of another person may start an argument or cause a disturbance. But our Constitution says we must take this risk, and our history says that it is this sort of hazardous freedom-that this kind of openness-that is the basis of our national strength and of the independence and vigor of Americans who grow up and live in this relatively permissive, often disputatious, society. Justice Abe Fortas

Mexican American students boycott

On December 9, 500 students walk out of Crystal City High School and begin a student boycott to demand the curriculum, teachers, and administration treat Mexican Americans fairly and respectfully. Among their demands is to respect the importance of bilingual education. Over the days the number of participants reaches over 2,000. After a month of negotiations the school boycott ends on January 6, 1970, The boycott encourages Mexican American parents to run for school board and people in other cities to become active in the civil rights movement. Source


Black studies and Black curriculum demands met

San Francisco State University student groups, Black Student Union (BSU) and Third World Students, go on strike and sit in for four months with 600 arrests. The strike ends when parents and community members come to the defense of the students and a compromise is reached.

Demands met include: a Black Studies Department, Black studies professors (however, demand of Nathan Hare to be its Chair is not met), BA in Black Studies is added, Black students previously admitted without traditional requirements were retained, increase of Black student enrollment, changes to better meet financial needs of Black students, amnesty for some students arrested (some would be put on an unofficial black ball list), and development of a School of Ethnic Studies.

The Black studies movement grew from the Black liberation movement, Black power, Black rights, and Civil Rights movements of the sixties.

Source African Studies … History … in The Journal of Pan African Studies, vol.5, no.7, October 2012

Mr. Roger's Neighborhood first appeared as a national program on WQED Pittsburgh PA.2/19/1968.

Over the years, guests have included: Tony Bennett, Yo Yo Ma, Nicolas Ma (Only two times that he performed with his father), John Lithgow, Wynton Marsalis, Whoopi Goldberg, Joe Negri, Judd Apatow, Esparanza Spalding, Bob Rowsharne, Sarah Silverman, Koko, Jeff Erlanger, Ed Zach Perlman, Carol Spinney, Margaret Hamston, Chris Kratt, Joyce DiDonato (wicked witch in Wizard of Oz talks about real & pretend and puts on her witch costume) Big Bird (was only in Make believe since Big Bird wouldn't remove costume) Niki Hoeller, Empire Brass Quintet, Chuck Aber, Ella Jenkins.

Cast members: Michael Keaton, David Newell, Joe Negri, Betty Aberlin, Johnny Costa (house band)

Sample content:

  • 1969 Mr Rogers and a Black police officer (Froncois Clemmons) share a pool and Fred dries his feet.
  • Real v. pretend example with Joyce DiDonato - wicked witch in Wizard of Oz talks about real & pretend as she puts on her witch costume.
  • Big Bird - is only in Make believe since Big Bird wouldn't remove its costume to show the difference between real and make believe.
  • Live birth of kittens.
  • Many documentaries of how different things are made.
  • Describe how to be a good kid.
  • Inspired us to be better.
  • Song - It's You I Like

Sample themes:

  • Friendship and love don't cost anything and are they are so important
  • Feel good about doing and do something
  • Showing what is possible.
  • Modeled love of learning.
  • Be willing to be vulnerable and learn.
  • There is much to learn in the world,
  • Willing to try without a fear of failure.
  • Mistakes are part of learning.
  • Somethings are hard to learn.
  • It's okay to sometimes want to do things and other times not want to do things.
  • Play together grow together
  • It will be OK if you can talk about it

Other significant events: Fred Roger's Timeline

  • April 5, 1955 The Children's Corner premieres hosted by Josie Carey and co-produced by Josie and Fred Rogers. Included the Neighborhood and Make Believe favorites: Daniel Striped Tiger, X the Owl, King Friday XIII and Lady Elaine voiced and operated by Fred Rogers.
  • 1969 - Fred Rogers appears in Congress to support PBS.
  • 1983 - Eddie Murphy debuts his Mister Robinson’s Neighborhood on SNL. Season 9, Episode 2.
  • 2001 - The last new episode of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood airs. (8/31/2001)
  • 2012 - Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood premieres, produced by The Fred Rogers Company.
  • 2018 - Won't You Be My Neighbor movie

Epperson v. Arkansas

The United States Supreme Court held an Arkansas law, that prohibited the teaching of evolution, unconstitutional. It ruled the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution does not allow a state to require teaching tailored to the principles or prohibitions of any particular religious sect or doctrine. See 1982


Professionalization of Nebraska public school teachers.

  • Teaching K-12 is recognized as a profession (LB 457) and the Professional Practices Commission is created.
  • K-12 teachers are given a three year probationary period after which they are protected against unwarranted and unjustified dismissal with a hearing process.
  • Teachers are given the right to negotiate salaries and benefits (LB 485)
  • Falls City Education Association is the first to complete a negotiation agreement and salary schedule under the provisions of LB 485.

Source The Voice February 2017, NSEA at 150.

Public Broadcasting Corporation is created

Carnegie Commission on Educational TV report helps pass the Public Broadcasting Act, which establishes the Public Broadcasting Corporation. See 1969 for funding debate & Sesame Street Debut


Elementary and Secondary Education Act (includes Title 1).

  • Provides federal funding ($4 billion) based on the number of poor students (as part of President Johnson's war on poverty) in a school district through the Title I part of the act. Funding varies from one-fourth to one-half of what is promised for the next fifty years and counting.
  • Funding requires integration as a way to enforce the Brown vs. Board of Education of Topeka ruling.
  • Support services include math and reading for children in low-income schools.
  • Funding requires norm-referenced objective testing measures to identify students and evaluate their achievement.
  • Evaluation measures will have a large impact on student assessment as most districts and a majority of elementary schools in the U.S. use these funds.
  • In years to come Title I would be renamed Chapter 1.

Public reflects on academic and vocational education

Harris expresses his belief on the failure of a curricular emphasis on science, math, and language for everyone and a need for vocational education. However, while each track should prepare every student for different ways of work, all subjects should not be different for students in the different tracks, as all students need and deserve a liberal education:

"Suddenly parents, legislators, and citizens in general have discovered that a Sputnik-spawned curriculum has some drawbacks when applied to schools which serve all youth through their seventeenth year. Suddenly, there are no jobs for the new high school graduate with his modern math, and new physics, and three years of French. Suddenly, there is serious questioning of the validity of a high school curriculum which places two-thirds of its emphasis on the needs of one-third of the students. Suddenly, parents are asking, “Why doesn’t the high school give my boy an education which will prepare him for a job? And so we have come full circle. Vocational education, after dwelling in limbo for ten years, is fashionable again. (Redoubled Efforts and Dimly Seen Goals. Kappan April 1965. p. 360)

Lloyd Williams expresses his belief that both academic and vocational education are important:

"The liberal and vocational disciplines need one another. Life requires them both; an adequate personality demands them both. The vocational aspect of education and of life needs enrichment; it needs to be brought under the scrutiny of critical intelligence; it needs the illumination that comes with comparison; it need the clear delineation provided by historical perspective; it needs the invigoration that comes from lose involvement wit the liberal disciplines. But by the same logic, the liberal disciplines need focus; they need to be pointed in some useful direction; they need association with the practical to overcome their abstract remoteness; they need to be tempered by the world of human problems; they need the enrichment with functional studies. (The Struggle for Balance. Kappan April 1965. p. 359)


Voting Rights Act passes and signed by President Lyndon Johnson.


Largest student led protest is at the University of California Berkeley on December 2, 1964. 1,500 students protest the expulsion of students involved in a Free Speech Movement by camping out in a campus building before being removed by police. Over 750 students are arrested. The university choses not to expel them and lose tuition, which is a large amount of the school's budget.

Civil Rights Act passed and signed by President Lyndon Johnson. Includes lose of federal funds if schools didn't integrate and if they did, they could receive money through the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.


Learning disability.

The term learning disability is used for the first time by Samuel A. Kirk at a conference in Chicago.

James H. Meredith, is the first African American to graduate from The University of Mississippi on Aug. 19, 1963. The University ignored a court order to enroll him until President Kennedy sent U.S. troops, National Guardsmen, U.S. Marshals, and the Governor sent state highway patrolmen to the Ole Miss campus on September 29, 1962. Tear gas and gunfire left scores wounded and two men dead. Source

The U. S. Supreme Court bans organized prayer in schools

In Abington School District v. Schempp on June 17 the United States Supreme Court rules 8-1:

" ... no state law or school board may require that passages from the Bible be read or that the Lord's Prayer be recited in the public schools of a State at the beginning of each school day -- even if individual students may be excused from attending or participating in such exercises upon written request of their parents." Source

1960 see summary of 60's and 70's.

Child Centered Curriculum. 1960+

Personal relevant curriculum

  • Reconstruct society for a liberated existence: Paulo Freire rejects the present Banking Model of Education and calls for more relevant curriculum in Pedagogy of the Oppressed (1970). and continues to speak for change until his last book, Pedagogy of freedom: ethics, democracy, and civic courage (1998).
  • Whole language
  • Open education and open schools
  • Elective movement to provide personal relevance through choice in classrooms with learning centers, multiple activities, mini-lessons, multiple electives,and different tracks to graduation.

See also Progressive Education


The Woods Hole Conference was held, as a response to the Soviet Union's launch of the Sputnik series of satellites, to identify the problems of science education and to recommend solutions.

American educators who, feared the Soviet Union has passed the United States in science, math, and foreign language achievement. Educators meet to discuss and consider what might be done. Their conclusions is to bring together distinguished people from different fields to plan and suggest general ways to improve education. Their suggestions center on conceptual learning of discipline-based subject matter and the need to identify instructional methodology that can improve student achievement.


National Defense Education Act - Millions of dollars are provided to expand math, science, foreign language, and guidance programs.

Iowa tests introduce computerized scoring and reports to schools.

Clifton Hillegass creates Cliff Notes

He creates them as a study guide to use while reading and studying the text for which each is written. He respected intellectual exploration, earned a graduate degree from the University of Nebraska, and endowed a professorship there. Was disappointed when students would misuse them.


Sputnik launch by the Soviet Union on October 4, 1957 and American education is questioned.

Many educators call for teachers and curriculum to include more rigorous subject matter knowledge and information. At first, instructional methods are not mentioned. However, in a few years the quality of instructional methods along with curriculum is considered as necessary for student success. See Woods Hole Conference 1959.


Taxonomies of learning

  • Benjamin Bloom, Handbook I: Cognitive (1956).
  • Krathwohl, Bloom & Masia Handbook II: Affective (1965)

First female professor named at Harvard.

Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin after her death. Astronomer who discovers stars have millions more times hydrogen than previously believed. See What Stars Are Made of: The Life of Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin


Complaints about schools, teachers, and education becomes common

Publications like: Why Johnny Can’t Read, book and magazine article, fuel criticism about education in general, even though most think their schools are okay. It also starts the phonics v. look-say debate, which later becomes phonics v. whole language debates.


Brown vs. Board of Education of Topeka.

The Legal Defense Fund filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of black parents in Topeka, Kansas whose children are required to attend segregated schools for black students. Their attorney, Thurgood Marshall, challenges the doctrine of, separate but equal, created in 1896 by the Supreme Court ruling in Plessy vs. Ferguson.

The equal protection ruling in Brown is later applied to laws and rulings for the right of equal access to public and political areas for all.

The Supreme Court rules 9-0 on May 17, 1954 that:

  1. Where a State has undertaken to provide an opportunity for an education in its public schools, such an opportunity is a right which must be made available to all on equal terms.
  2. Segregation of children in public schools solely on the basis of race deprives children of the minority group of equal educational opportunities, even though the physical facilities and other "tangible" factors may be equal.
  3. The "separate but equal" doctrine adopted in Plessy v. Ferguson, 163 U.S. 537, has no place in the field of public education.

Chief justice Earl Warren

“Today, education is perhaps the most important function of state and local governments. Compulsory school attendance laws and the great expenditures for education both demonstrate our recognition of the importance of education to our democratic society.”


The invention of television causes reformers to believe educational television could improve education by with broadcasts by the best teachers. WQED in Pittsburgh develops arithmetic, reading, and French programs and begins to broadcast them in 1952.


Life Adjustment Curriculum.

Life Adjustment Education for Every Youth is published by U.S. Office of Education and a national conference on life adjustment is held in Washington D.C. Hundreds of thousands of teachers and administrators attend workshops, conferences, and state sponsored committees between 1951 and 1953. Source

The curriculum is meant to provide a better match for most students so they are prepared for adulthood and work. The belief that the current curriculum to be about 60%, who did not benefit from college prep or vocational ed. It was characterized by:

  • Life skills: hygiene, family living, drivers’ ed, and social relations with peers
  • Basic skills
  • Curriculum that is more meaningful and relevant., that allows students to develop at different rates, that is related to student's ability, and had more general and specialized outcomes.
  • Career and vocational education
  • Emphasized the dignity of work
  • Emphasized moral living

For example history became social science, integrated with geography, civics, political science, economics, anthropology, archeology, sociology, and psychology, in units of study of a state, city, or community to make it more dynamic and responsive by including areas of living to meet the needs of the child and adolescent for a social world. Prepare them for group living, family life, to create a home, live healthy, engage in civic and community life, enjoy and protect life. Social studies teachers coordinated their efforts with guidance counselors, who administered personality and ability tests to students to help them make decisions about careers and vocations.

History came to be seen as shallow, chronological, outdated, irrelevant, unnecessary, and impractical. Resulting in students not learning disciplined reasoning about the past to understand how it lead to the present and enables the future. Lost and replaced with an anti-intellectual view that history is bunk resulting in a complacent middle class unaware of their manipulation and ignorant in how to facilitate change.

Thomas D. Fallace believes the responsibility for the mind numbing aspects of the history curriculum after World War II is not John Dewey or the Committee on Social Studies in 1916, but the national and local curriculum writers who added Life Adjustment Education into curriculum. Source


Milton Friedman applies his idea of free market to education.

Friedman proposes changing public education to a free market system with school choice through charter schools, magnet schools, and cross-district choice to achieve greater privatization and marketing of schools.

He and his wife, Rose Friedman, start the Foundation for Educational Choice, later Edchoice.


Ralph Tyler claims curriculum design should include four steps: selecting objectives, determining learning experiences, organizing activities, and planning for evaluation. Curriculum documents followed this procedure and resulted in documents with:

  • Observable behaviors and attitudes,
  • Lists of suggested learning activities, and
  • Suggestions to evaluate student achievement of the desired attitudes and behaviors.
  • Organized content in units based on current interdisciplinary problems instead of as academic disciplines in chronological order.


California judge rules against segregation
Five Mexican American families in Los Angels, CA seek to stop the segregation of their children. In Mendez v. Westminster, Mendez claims Mexicans are not included in the list of groups permitted to be segregated by California law. Westminster claims they were segregated to meet their instructional needs as English language learners. The judge found the segregation mostly based on the last name of the child as Latin or Mexican origin and not educational needs. The judge noted, student needs would be better met if placed among English speakers and integration of students was imperative to perpetuate the American ideas and institutions. Whereas, segregation was misguided and thwarted an opportunity to develop common cultural attitude.


G. I. Bill

This Bill combined with previous bills starting with the Morrill Act in 1863 opened higher education to larger numbers of people. Making the United States a leader in the numbers of people going into higher education.

James Bryant Conant

Becomes President of Harvard University with a reform agenda. While president, Harvard abolished; class rankings, Latin requirements, and athletic scholarships. Harvard begins the use of the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT), co-educational classes, and admits women to Harvard Medical School and Harvard Law School for the first time.

He commissioned a study into what kind of education is needed for a free society. In 1945 their report: General Education in a Free Society proposes student take a balance of science and humanities course work with the goal to achieve a holistic liberal education that fosters creativity, flexibility, and open mindedness.


Supreme Court overturns 1940 compulsory flag Pledge decision.

West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette the school board required all teachers and pupils to honor the Flag. If they refused to salute they were expelled and charged with delinquency. Justice Frankfurter noted, schools in every state had expelled 2 000 students for refusal to cite the Pledge as a result of previous ruling. See 1940

In this case the US. Supreme Court ruled (6-3) a school could not force students to stand and say the Pledge of Allegiance and could not penalize them for not doing so and declare the Constitution protects all citizens against the State and all of its creatures.

Justice Jackson argued,

"If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein."

“That [public schools] are educating the young for citizenship is reason for scrupulous protection of Constitutional freedoms of the individual, if we are not to strangle the free mind at its source and reach youth to discount important principles of our government as mere platitudes.”

This ruling is the first meaningful step establishing student constitutional rights within public schools.

Willard Youngdal, expresses his and others wide held belief on the importance of a liberal education on the kind of education required after the war for people in power who make good decisions.

"only those persons who are liberally educated can be trusted with the planning of the peace. A technically trained specialist does not have the depth of background or breadth of understanding necessary for an intelligent grasp of postwar problems." (Why Liberal Arts Now? Kappan. 1943. p. 136)


Eight-Year Study. 1942.

Conducted by Euros, Raths, Taba, Alberty, Traxler, French, Corey, Ryan, Mackenzie, Harap, and Tyler the study validates the progressive education movement ideas.

The researchers also found that secondary schools in the Eight-Year Study were stimulated to develop new programs which were better for young people, for their success in college, for success in life, and for the future of society. Source

The study includes the following ideas for improved instruction.

    1. Subjects to cut across subject-matter lines
    2. Frequently use cooperative planning and teaching
    3. Explore a wide range of relationships
    4. Provide experiences valid for large groups
    5. Include subject matter which does not require extended drill in specific skills (such as the operations)
    6. Use larger blocks of time than a single period
    7. Used a wide range of source material techniques for gathering information and class room activities. Source

Unfortunately the release of the five volume report is over shadowed by events leading to WW II and the war itself.

See 1919 Progressive Education Association for other characteristics

GED (General Education Development). 1942

In November 1942, the United States Armed Forces Institute asked the American Council on Education (ACE) to develop a battery of tests to measure high school-level academic skills so military personnel and veterans might demonstrate their knowledge to get civilian jobs and enroll in post-secondary colleges and universities. The University of Iowa was contracted to create the test and the test that was created was used until 1978. Since then several revisions have taken place with the latest in 2014 being an electronic version, the Pearson Vue.


United States Supreme Court rules forcing students to recite the Pledge of Allegiance does not violate the student’s first amendment rights.

Minersville School District v. Gobitis. Minersville School expels a student who is a Jehovah’s Witnesses for refusing to recite the Pledge of Allegiance. The court rules reciting the Pledge does not violate the student’s first amendment rights. The court claims it would be improper for the judiciary to overturn educator’s decisions or to debate educational policy, as the court lacks competence to do so. Judges should mind their own business and let educators do their business of molding minds. See 1943


Future Teachers of America

Future Teachers of America is founded by Joy Elmer Morgan who was born in Callaway, Nebraska and graduated from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. He becomes the first executive secretary of the National Teachers Association (NEA) in 1917, is director when NEA has its first Representative Assembly in 1920, and moves its headquarters to Washington D.C. Where it is located today.

Source: The Voice March 2017


First automated test scanner IBM 805 is developed and used into the early 2000's.

Iowa tests are made available outside Iowa.


B. F. Skinner (1904 -1990) Behaviorism & Cultural transmission theory and philosophy.

Skinner build on Thorndike's ideas that teaching could be reduced to highly controllable methods and explored systematic planning strategies for teaching and learning, teaching as a science, effective instruction, and teaching as a technocrat.

Behaviorism, behavioral psychology, and behavior modification as a philosophy or psychology explains people's actions as a result of their interactions with their environment (stimulus) and the type of reinforcement received as a result of their actions or behaviors (response). Direct instruction, Mastery learning, and educational technology have strong behavioral roots.

It assumes all people have potential and can change their behavior. A teacher could use a behavioral theory with a focus on student behavior. Identify specific objectives that describe targeted behaviors, use action verbs to describe tasks students can do to demonstrate attainment of objectives, sequence learning tasks, decide on types of reinforcements, systematic implementation and timing of feedback and correction, praise, reward, and punishment to shape small incremental improvements toward the target behavior.

In its early years it ruled out consideration of mental activity as not being observable and hence unscientific. Over the years it evolved to being described as a branch of psychology that focuses on the study and alteration of people's behaviors, including their actions, emotions and thoughts.

A focus on behavior is not necessarily behaviorist.

Other related contributors to Behaviorism: A. H. Thorndike, John Watson, John Locke (An Essay Concerning Human Understanding, 1689), Ivan Pavlov,

Harvard adopted the SAT to select scholarship recipients. Decades of research would demonstrate its negative bias against minorities.


California judge rules against segregation of Mexican American students

Alvarez v. Lemon Grove Lemon Grove. After completion of a new school building school officials claim, to best meet educational needs of all Mexican American students it is necessary to segregate them in one school. The California judge ruled state law did not authorize or permit separate schools for instruction of students with Mexican parents or descent.


Depression affects student welfare and school finance

The Great Depression causes many families, who can't provide for their needs, to become dependent on state and federal government for assistance. Education relies on property taxes, which decrease as businesses fail and land values fall. Chicago in 1934 borrows $22 million so it could pay teacher salaries owed for three years of work.

Independent School District (Del Rio, Texas) v. Salvatierra rules Mexican American children could be segregated for instructional purposes based on pedagogical expertise of school administrators, even if it resulted in racial segregation.


University of Iowa begins the first statewide testing program for high school students under the guidance of E.F. Lindquist.


Report - The Problem of Indian Administration - calls for restructure of Native-American education.


Lum v. Rice rules Mississippi did not make a mistake by assigning a Chinese girl to the black school rather than the white school.

Leslie Updegraph, writes on the importance and wide spread belief that public education has a moral responsibility to develop moral character with moral education.

It is now commonly recognized by our present day educators, as well as by a great number of laymen, that the chief aim of education is to develop noble manhood and womanhood. Turning their backs upon the former idea of sharpening the intellect and equipping the individual for personal success, the leaders in American education have replaced this thought with the ideal of molding personalities in such a way that they will use the instrument of the mind for the great good of humanity and live in harmony with the good of the whole. (Kappan. 1927. p. 137)


The Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) first administered.

The SAT is given to 8 000 students, 40% female. It lasted 90 minutes and had 315 questions to assess vocabulary and basic mathematics. It was used to determine if students were qualified for college. It was used to limit admission academically weak applicants as well as undesirable ethnicities.
See also first multiple choice test, 1915.


U.S. Supreme court upholds parent's right to opt out of Public School Education
Pierce, Governor of Oregon v. Society of the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary.

Citizens of Oregon concerned about the influence of immigrants and their foreign values attempt to insure a common American culture for all children by passing laws to require ALL students must attend public schools. Challenges include: parent's choice on how to educate their children and economic issues based on contracts and due process. Ruling includes:

  • Justice McReynolds writes authority on educational matters should not be mistaken for unbridled discretion; and the child is not a mere creature of the state.
  • The U.S. Supreme court rules on choice and forcing students to accept instruction only from public schools infringes on the child's parents or guardian's liberty, protected by the Fourteenth Amendment, to decide how their children are educated.
  • It ruled the state usurped it's right to educate children by making unreasonable demands and over reaching on viable state interests.
  • R. Scott Appleby in the American Journal of Education claims the decision led to a remarkably liberal education policy wherein religious schools are not subjected to state accreditation, but only to minimal state health and safety laws.
  • Justice Anthony Kennedy suggests, it could have been decided based on the First Amendment. However, the First Amendment was not deemed applicable against the states until a few days later.
  • On the economic issue that schools' contracts with parents constitute property protection by the Fourteenth Amendment: The court rules schools were corporations, but they were not technically entitled to such protections. However, it concluded the passage of the Act was not proper power and was unlawful interference of the freedom of schools and families attempting to prevent rather than to rectify a problem. Relating the case to due process.

Source Pierce v. Society of Sisters


The Indian Citizenship Act of 1924, The Snyder Act

The U.S. Congress passes the The Indian Citizenship Act, which provides citizenship for all Indians.


Meyer v. Nebraska rule students and teachers have rights and they are protected by due process.

In Meyer v. Nebraska the U.S. Supreme Court rules the Nebraska Simon Act,

"No person, individually or as a teacher, shall, in any private, denominational, parochial or public school, teach any subject to any person in any language other than the English language."

violates students civil liberties established in the Due Process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, which makes it the first time the court claims students have civil rights in school.

Highlights from the opinion:

    • Liberty protected by Due Process: denotes not merely freedom from bodily restraint but also the right of the individual to contract, to engage in any of the common occupations of life, to acquire useful knowledge, to marry, establish a home and bring up children, to worship God according to the dictates of his own conscience, and generally to enjoy those privileges long recognized in common law as essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness by free men.
    • Practically, education of the young is only possible in schools conducted by specially qualified persons who devote themselves thereto. The calling always has been regarded as useful and honorable, essential, indeed, to the public welfare. Mere knowledge of the German language cannot reasonably be regarded as harmful. Heretofore it has been commonly looked upon as helpful and desirable.
    • [The] Plaintiff ... taught this language in school as part of his occupation. His right thus to teach and the right of parents to engage him so to instruct their children, we think, are within the liberty of the amendment.
    • ... the Legislature has attempted materially to interfere with the calling of modern language teachers, with the opportunities of pupils to acquire knowledge, and with the power of parents to control the education of their own.
    • ... the state may do much, go very far, indeed, in order to improve the quality of its citizens, physically, mentally and morally, is clear; but the individual has certain fundamental rights which must be respected. The protection of the Constitution extends to all, to those who speak other languages as well as to those born with English on the tongue. Perhaps it would be highly advantageous if all had ready understanding of our ordinary speech, but this cannot be coerced by methods which conflict with the Constitution​—​a desirable end cannot be promoted by prohibited means.
    • Wartime circumstances might justify a different understanding, but that Nebraska had not demonstrated sufficient need "in time of peace and domestic tranquility" to justify "the consequent infringement of rights long freely enjoyed.

Source Meyer v. Nebraska

Equal Rights Amendment drafted and presented to Congress

Alice Paul, and other suffragists, argue the nineteenth amendment will not end discrimination based upon sex. Paul drafts the Equal Rights Amendment and presents it as the Lucretia Mott Amendment at the 75th anniversary of the Seneca Falls Convention with the Declaration of Sentiments.

  • Later in 1923, it is introduced in Congress.
  • It has always been controversial regarding the meaning of equality for women. Spokesmen for the working class were strongly opposed, arguing employed women needed special protections regarding working conditions and hours.
  • In 1972, it passed both houses of Congress and was submitted to the state legislatures for ratification.
  • It seemed headed for quick approval until Phyllis Scholarly mobilized women in opposition, arguing it would disadvantage housewives.
  • Congress sets a ratification deadline of March 22, 1979.
  • By 1977, the amendment had 35 of the necessary 38 states needed for ratification.
  • Five states rescind their ratifications before the 1979 deadline.
  • In 1978, a joint resolution of Congress extends the ratification deadline to June 30, 1982, but no further states ratified the amendment and it dies.


John Dewey comments on the regrets of the increased reliance on standardized testing:

Our mechanical industrial civilization is concerned with averages, with percents. The mental habit which reflects this social scene subordinates education and social arrangements based on average gross inferiorities and superiorities.


1921 First Ed. D. degree in education

The first Doctor of Education (Ed. D.) degree is granted by Harvard University.

Higher education degrees are seen as a step towards Education becoming a profession. Henry Holmes, the first dean to train school leaders wanted an emphasis on instruction and administrative. Lawrence Lowell, Harvard president wanted the college to be a research institution and therefore, pressures Holmes to include research and statistic courses and completion of a dissertation.

The first Doctor of Philosophy (Ph. D.) degree in education was granted by Columbia University Teachers College in 1893 and they add an Ed. D. degree in 1934.

The lack of a distinction between the two has devalued both even though studies suggest there is little distinction across universities between the two.

Successful Farming publishes an ad for Case tractors that includes a short essay titled Keep the boy in school. It argues that if you invest in a Case tractor production can be increased without keeping a son home from school to help with planting by horse... and better insure the future of the boy.


Nineteenth Amendment Grants women in the United States the unabridged right to vote.


Progressive Education Association is formed

The association advocates instructional ideas such as the following:

  • Focus on the learner's natural interests.
  • The learner's developmental levels and needs must be considered.
  • Learning is facilitated by the students active construct of their own knowledge.
  • Learning is social and central to learning.
  • The scientific method is the primary tool for learning.
  • Learning is motivated by direct experience.
  • Learners are be empowered with choice.
  • Learning is cooperative with school, home, and community.
  • Schools are laboratories for learning.
  • Individual development is the primary goal of education.

Members included John Dewey, William Kirkpatrick, George Counts, and Boyd H. Bode.

Progressive educational theory and philosophy is associated with Plato who saw mental development as the interaction of child with the environment, John Dewey, and later Jean Piaget where the child is an explorer, scientist, inquiring in the world to construct and organize his or her own development.

Education as Compulsory and Teachers as Professionals 1850 - 1918

Summary of changes 1918 - 1850

In 1918 Mississippi was the last state to make education compulsory for all. This not only made school attendance mandatory, but in time lead to an ever increasing role for state government in education. A role for setting and enforcing rules to regulate schools, teachers, administrators, curriculum, and assessment.

These state regulations along with the increasing numbers of educators who graduated with four year degrees from land grant colleges, normal schools, and Universities such as Chicago and Columbia; the increase in literature relating to education by authors such as John Dewey; and teacher organizations (National Teachers Organization (NEA) and American Federation of Teachers (AFT)) along with a desire for higher wages began to lead to the professionalization of teachers.

Unions, where there are labor and trade disputes groups of people will join together for the betterment of their cause. These groups were historically small and most likely local. History of labor in the United States start with the social studies help center.

The industrial revolution and larger populations of the 1880's gave rise to labor organizations like, The Knights of Labor in the late 1880s, but due to its leadership and poor organization it was unable to survive strong opposition from employers and government officials.

In 1886 The American Federation of Labor was founded and led by Samuel Gompers was much more successful. It started as a loose coalition of local unions that began to coordinate and support strikes. Franklin Delano Roosevelt was elected and in 1933 passed the National Industrial Recovery Act, which declared:

...employees shall have the right to organize and bargain collectively through representation of their own choosing, and shall be free from the interference, restraint, or coercion of employers. the right to organize into unions.

The National Industrial Recovery Act was declared unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1935.

It was replaced with the Wagner Act in 1935. The Wagner Act, legally protected the right of employees to organize in unions.

The Taft-Hartley Act amended the Wagner Act in 1947 to prohibit unfair labor practices of unions. In 1959 the Labor Management Reporting and Disclosure Act, added further restrictions for organized labor.


Mississippi the last state to pass compulsory education laws.

Commission on the Reorganization of Secondary Education (CRSE) NEA

Members were mostly from secondary schools.

Summarized the role of education in a democracy as:

  • Should be guided by a clear understanding of the meaning of democracy,
  • Stated a democracy should organize society so each citizen may develop their personality through activities designed for the well being of their fellow members and society as a whole.
  • Education in a democracy in and out of school should develop in each person the knowledge, interests, ideals, habits, and powers to find their place and use that place to shape them self and society toward noble ends.

Seven Cardinal Principles:

  1. health,
  2. command of fundamental processes,
  3. worthy home membership,
  4. vocation,
  5. citizenship,
  6. worthy use of leisure, and
  7. ethical character.


Critics lament the deminishment of the value of scholarship, intellectual thinking, individualism, academic relevance, reduction of the depth and breadth of learning attributed to these recommendations, and its contribution to the vast numbers of stupid and uninformed as a result of this commission's recommendations. Source


Smith-Hughes National Vocational Education Act of 1917

The Act provides money to train people who enter or might enter agriculture related work. It is the basis for both the promotion of vocational education and the creation of a separate curriculum path. It is an expansion of the Smith-Lever Act of 1914 and the Morrill Land Grant Act of 1859 - 1862. See later G.I. Bill 1944.

Charles Allen Prosser's, Report of the National Commission on Aid to Vocational Education, is instrumental in the passing of the act. Woodlawn High School in Woodlawn, Virginia is the first public secondary school in the United States to offer agricultural education classes under this act.

These acts assume teaching is a profession capable of achieving the desired specified results.

New York Mayor Mitchel wants all New York schools to implement the Gary Indiana plan. Parents are upset with the idea of their children learning industrial skills as they want a path to be lawyers and doctors. Unrest and the election of Hylan as Mayor stops the change. New York goes on to write texts for its own curriculum.

U.S. Army IQ test

Arthur Otis (student of Lewis Terman) and others develop a group multiple choice intelligence tests for the U.S. Army. Two version: 1. Army Alpha (for literates) and 2. Army Beta (for illiterates). Otis creates it to be cheaper and take less time to administer, than Alfred Binet's individually administered intelligence test.

1.7 million WW I recruits took the Army Alpha with results published in 1921. Results cause many to believe schools are failing to educate students as needed for the military.


American Federation of Teachers is found to seek better wages and benefits for teachers.


First Multiple Choice Test

Fredrick Kelly creates the Kansas Silent Reading Test. A timed reading test that can be given to groups of students at the same time, require little or no writing, is easily scored, and claims to be objective.


The Smith–Lever Act of 1914

Establishes the cooperative extension services to educate citizens on recent information and methods in agriculture, home economics, public policy, government, 4-H, economic development, coastal issues, and many other related subjects. The delivery of these services is given to land-grant universities to implement. See also the Smith-Hughs Vocational Education Act 1917.

Judge rules Mexican American children may attend schools of their choice.

Francisco Maestas et al. v. George H. Shone et al. Maestas argued their Mexican-American students were being segregated by race. The school board argued students were separated on the basis of language and since Mexican-Americans were white (based on the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo) the district wasn’t segregating them on the basis of race. Judge Holbrook noted English speaking Mexican Americans were segregated and ruled the board could not prevent English speaking Mexican American children from attending schools of their choice, particularly schools near their homes.


Ford English School is created by Henry Ford to teach basic reading and speaking comprehension skills. Mostly foreign born factory workers attend.


Niagara Movement groupNational Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) was founded

W. E. B. Du Bois was a co-founder of NAACP

William Edward Burghardt (W. E. B.) Du Bois graduated from Harvard and was the first African American to earn a doctorate. He rose to national prominence when he was the leader of the Niagara Movement. A group of African-Americans who insisted on full equal civil rights and political representation for blacks. He and his supporters were opposed to the Atlanta compromise, an agreement crafted by Booker T. Washington which provided that Southern blacks would work and submit to white political rule, while Southern whites guaranteed that blacks would receive basic educational and economic opportunities, see 1881.

Image source.


Carnegie unit is defined to set a standard to consider if students are prepared for college.

Henry Prichett is president of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The foundation emphasizes the role of school as teaching content and recommends a definition of a unit as a course of five periods weekly through out an academic year with a period being about 55 minutes long. The trustees recommend that colleges require the completion of 14 units before admission.

U.S. Steel company opens a new plant in Gary Indiana and builds a city for its employees that includes a new progressive school around the philosophy of learn by doing promoted by superintendent William Wirt's work-study-play program. Becomes known across the country as the Gary Plan or industrial plan and influenced 1917 legislation.


Mary McLeod Bethune

Daytona Normal and Industrial Institute is founded by Mary McLeod Bethune

Mary McLeod Bethune, an American educator, starts a private school for African-American students in Daytona Beach, Florida, which is now Bethune-Cookman University.

  • Elected president of the American Teachers Association, 1924.
  • Appointed director of African American Affairs by President Franklin Roosevelt, 1936.
  • Founds the National Council of Negro Women, 1935.


About 6% of adolescents complete high school and earn a diploma.

Native Americans and education

The Middle Five: Indian Boys at School is a first person narrative of the early education of Francis La Flesche (1857–1932) and four Cover The Middle Five imageclose classmates. 262 pages.

Born on the Omaha Reservation in northeast Nebraska he attended the Presbyterian Mission School for Indian children. The school was first located in Bellevue, Nebraska in 1845, then moved to the reservation in northeast Nebraska in 1857. The book is a series of stories that together document the abuse Indian children suffered in a reeducation curriculum and the antics of five boys as they unite to survive and grab fleeting moments of control when opportunities are presented. Learning how to survive being away from family during the school week or longer. Being told their culture is for heathens and savages and best forgotten. Being required to only speak English and forbidden to speak their Omaha language, even the young children that knew no English, were punished when they spoke Omaha. Having their hair cut, native clothes taken away, sleeping in a dormitory three to a bed... Learning arithmetic, geography, history, and language to the fifth level reader. Stories of being orally quizzed to show off for visitors. Participating in a spelling bee when a visitor requested it so he might present the winner the new spelling book used to give the words for the bee. Story of making sleds that were later stolen by Ponca boys, who they chased down so they might recover their sleds after a good fight. Mental math and problems related to their sled making, and much more. A moving story for those who seek to envision the difficulty in walking among two cultures and becoming educated with some of the best from both to not only survive, but prosper on their own terms.

Later he attended George Washington University Law School in Washington, DC and earned undergraduate and master's degrees. He was the first Native American anthropologist. Worked with the Smithsonian Institution, documented his Omaha and Osage culture. Worked as a translator and researcher with anthropologist Alice C. Fletcher. Made valuable original recordings of Native American songs and chants. Collaborated with composer Middle Five imageCharles Wakefield Cadman to write the opera, Da O Ma starting in 1908 until it was performed in 1912. It is an opera based on his stories of Omaha life. Source

His sister, Susette (Bright Eyes) La Flesche also attended the Mission school and was an interpreter for chief Standing Bear when he was on trial. Standing Bear v. George Crook See 1879. And when he was an expert witness on Indian issues and during his lecture tour of the eastern United States, 1879-1880. She was accompanied by her brother Francis who shared translation duties. Source She was also a journalist for the Omaha, NE World-Herald and The Independent newspaper in Lincoln, NE.

His half sister, Suzanne LaFlesche Picotte (1865–1915) also began her education at the Presbyterian Mission School. Then she attended the Elizabeth Institute for Young Ladies in Elizabeth, NJ and later the Hampton Institute in Virginia. After that Alice Fletcher, whom Susan cared for during an illness, and Dr. Martha M. Waldron, a physician at the Institute, who helped her become the first person to receive federal aid for professional education by getting funds from the U.S. Office of Indian Affairs to attend the Women's Medical College of Pennsylvania. She graduated in 1889 at the top of her class and become the first female Native American physician (Omaha). She practiced medicine in Bancroft, NE and its surrounding communities. She also advocated for public health, Native American issues, and the legal allocation of land for members of the Omaha tribe. Source

College Entrance Examination Board is established.


In Cummig v. Richmond County Board of Education the U.S. Supreme Court rules the school board did not violate the Constitution when it closed the only black high school and kept the white high school open. The decision based on Plessy v. Ferguson claims it was reasonable that separate but equal could apply as the black elementary school was kept open and since there was a small number of black high school students, they could attend a black school else where.


Edward Thorndike (1874 -1949)

1898 - The idea that teaching could be reduced to highly controllable methods.

See Skinner 1934.


Supreme Court rules, in Plessy v. Ferguson, that separate rail cars for black and white passengers did not violate the 14th Amendments equal protection clause as long as the difference is reasonable. The separate but equal decision makes racial segregation legal and delays ruling equality as a universal standard. The court attempts to establish a distinction between civil and social equality to justify white supremacy.

First lab schoolJohn Dewey image

John Dewey (1859-1952) as a Professor at the University of Chicago found the first lab school to test progressive education techniques (1896).

  • 1896 School and Society
  • 1897 My Pedagogic Creed
  • 1899, 1900 The School and Society lectures
  • 1902 The Child and the Curriculum
  • 1916 Democracy and Education: an introduction to the philosophy of education
  • 1938 Experience and Education

Termed mis-educative experiences as that which has the effect of arresting or distorting the growth of further experience. Which is a barrier to freedom. 1938 Experience and Education pp 64-65


The Atlanta Compromise

Booker T. Washington gives his Atlanta compromise speech in Atlanta. It enables him to rise to national prominence with support of the rich white upper class. The speech introduces his belief that Blacks should be patient, accept a working class existence, and avoid confrontation over Jim Crow segregation. He says Blacks should make progress through self-help, education, and entrepreneurship. He mobilizes a national coalition of middle-class Blacks, church leaders, White philanthropists and politicians around his ideology that Blacks should be educated as a working class, which he institutes at Tuskegee University, and does not seek equality with Whites.

W. E. B. Du Bois, at first supported the Atlanta compromise but after the founding of the NAACP in1909 he challenges Booker T. Washington with a more demanding style of leadership for the Black community. It is years after B. T. Washington's death that the Civil Rights movement and the NAACP take a different stance.


National Education Association's Committee of Ten
Chair Charles W. Eliot

Affirm the purpose of high school is to emphasize mental discipline through language, humanities, and science.

  • The report includes answers to a set of eleven questions
  • Outlines curricular knowledge for 1. Latin; 2. English; 3. Greek; 4. other modern languages; 5. mathematics; and 6. physics, astronomy, and chemistry; 7. Natural history (biology, botany, zoology, and physiology), 8. history, civil government, and political economy; 9. Geography (physical geography, geology, astronomy)
  • Recommends 12 years of education, 8 - elementary and 4 - high school.
  • Addresses tracking, or course differentiation based on postsecondary pursuit and unanimously states every subject should be taught in the same way and to the same extent to every pupil no matter what.
  • Claims it [standardization] would promote equality in instruction.
  • Claims this [standardization] would also simplify school instruction and training of new teachers
  • Identifies a need for more highly qualified educators.
  • Proposes universities enhance training by offering subject-education courses, and lowering tuition.
  • Provide pay for classroom teachers, superintendents, principals or other leading teachers to show other teachers how to [teach] better.
  • Democratize education and access to it.

Minority report focuses on considerations for deviation of the recommendations by local schools.

Source Report

Ellen G. White - Christian education and Seventh Day Adventist Church. She first wrote on education in some essays on education in 1872. Later she wrote detailed descriptions for a Christian educational system 1893, 1894 and 1903. Her writings include:

  • Education is God's glorious purpose of the human race.
  • Christian Education is essential for a healthy society.
  • The most important factor in education is the parents.
  • Parents early interactions with their child is critical.
  • Teachers should teach with self control, patience, forbearance, gentleness and love.
  • School should be a sanctuary.
  • Education is necessary for the whole body, mind, and spirit.
  • One needs to learn:
    • To care for themself and the living environment.
    • Respectful for self, others, & cultures.
    • Education needs to be place based.
    • Education should be practical.
    • Job skills.
    • Healthy living.
    • Good vegetarian diet.
    • Community living.
    • Community service.
    • That science teachs how God works

Source Blueprint for Learning.


The Committee on Secondary School Studies
by NEA (National Education Association)


  • The average length of a school term is 135 days with the average attendance per student being 86.
  • High school is very similar to college curriculum.


  • A more standard curriculum to benefit students and provide a common academic background in preparation for university.
  • Specific subjects to be taught: Latin, Greek, English, modern languages, mathematics, science, history, and geography.
  • Leaves vocational education as an option, but desired subjects to be taught in the same manner and extent to every pupil no matter their intended educational goals.
  • Claim secondary schools do not wholly exist for the purpose of preparing boys and girls for college, but to prepare them for the duties of life. However, since preparation of students for college is so important for the welfare of the nation, the small numbers who can achieve a college education, and whose parents are able to support them, which should be the incidental and not principle object becomes or stays the main goal. Which is rationalized with the idea that the best preparation for college is also the best preparation for life.

So the major objection of favoring utility over classical traditions is chipped away and the focus of secondary education remains college admission with the belief a focus on higher ed. is also preparation for life.


Maria Montessori - (1870-1952) Italy

Montessori teaching method, is a child centered approach that allows and encourages students to freely interact with a real world kind of environment, provided by the teacher, for them to independently explore their interests. The teacher controls the environment to provide order and set limits. Students begin their learning by playing, which provides opportunities to develop social, emotional, and intellectual growth with real world concrete experiences to take initiative and become self-confident independent critical thinkers.

College entrance exam

Harvard President Charles William Eliot proposes a common entrance exam to be used by all colleges and professional schools in the U.S.


Adolf Kussamaul, German physician

Uses the word: dyslexia to describe a very great difficulty in interpreting written or printed symbols.


Tuskegee University - a dream of Lewis Adams.

W. F. Foster, approaches Lewis Adams and asks him what he wants to help him turn out the African-American vote in Macon County for his re-election to the Alabama Senate. Adams answers: he wants an educational institution for his people. After elected Foster gets the legislature to appropriate $2,000 for teachers’ salaries and forms a board of commissioners to get the school organized. Members included: Lewis Adams, Thomas Dryer, and M. B. Swanson. George W. Campbell, who becames the second commissioner and selects Booker T. Washington from Hampton Institute as their first teacher. Source
See 1895 The Atlanta Compromise.


Standing Bear v. George Crook, Native Americans are ruled persons

Presiding Judge Elmer Dundy of the US District Court in Omaha, NE (15th and Dodge?)

Standing Bear and other Ponca Indians are living; on their reservation in Niobrara, NE. Farming and sending their children to school before being removed and taken south to Indian Territory in Oklahoma. There crops do not grow and 158 people die. Among them his son. Honoring his son's wish, to be buried in his homeland, a small group head north and are captured on the Omaha reservation. They are brought to Omaha, NE where a writ of habeas corpus is filed at the court house at 15th and Dodge.

The case centers on: do Indians have a legal right to a writ of habeas corpus (a court order, that literally meaning to produce the body, or a court order to bring a person into the court room to decide if the person has been detained, jailed, or imprisoned legally). Standing Bear's attorneys argue the government has no justification to arrest and detain them. They claim the law is clear. It says nothing about being a citizen. It says only: any person or party has a legal right to apply for a writ.

The government's attorney argues the court overstepped its legal boundaries and has no legal right to compel the government to justify its arrest and relocation of the Indians, because an Indian has no legal right to sue in federal court. Further no writ has ever been issued for an Indian and can not be.

Dundy rules: It is illogical to assume that since no Indian ever sought a writ of habeas corpus, that Standing Bear could not seek one. The court has jurisdiction, because Standing Bear and the Ponca were restrained of their liberty in violation of a treaty provision and only the federal court can determine if the prisoners' constitutional rights were violated.

He writes:

"It would be a sad commentary on the justice and impartiality of our laws, to hold that Indians, though natives of our own country, cannot test the validity of an alleged illegal imprisonment."

As to who could legally apply for a writ. The government steadfastly argues only citizens could. And since Indians are not citizens, they could not sue. However, Dundy rules person not citizen is the required criteria and writes:

" ... a reasonable definition of a person can be found by consulting a dictionary. "Webster describes a person as‚ a living soul; a self conscious being; a moral agent; especially a living human being; a man, woman or child; an individual of the human race."

This, he said, "is comprehensive enough, it would seem, to include even an Indian."

Dundy says, Standing Bear and the Ponca have done all they could to terminate their tribal allegiance (expatriate) to become independent farmers, provide education for their children, and adopt the ways of civilization.

He notes that on July 27, 1868, Congress declares the right of expatriation (to withdraw oneself from residence of one's native country) is a natural and inherent right of all people, indisputable to the enjoyment of the rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

All this leads Dundy to the decision:

"An Indian possesses the clear and God-given right to withdraw from his tribe and forever live away from it, as though it had no further existence."

Finally, does the government have a legal right to remove Standing Bear and the Ponca from the Omaha Reservation and send them back to the Oklahoma Indian Territory?

An Indian, “possesses the clear and God-given right to withdraw from his tribe and forever live away from it, as though it had no further existence.”

Finally, did the government have a legal right to remove Standing Bear and the Ponca from the Omaha Reservation and send them back to the southern Indian Territory?

Dundy writes, no such power exists. The government can not arbitrarily round up Indians who had severed their tribal ties and simply move them whenever and wherever it wanted. Unless, they were deemed detrimental to the peace and welfare of the reservation. But in such cases, the law requires they must be turned over to civilian's not military' authorities.

In summary, Judge Dundy concludes,

  • An Indian is a PERSON within the meaning of the laws of the United States, and has therefore the right to sue out a writ of habeas corpus in a federal court.
  • General Crook illegally detained the Ponca prisoners.
  • The military has no legal authority to force removal of the Ponca to Indian Territory.
  • Indians possess the inherent right of expatriation as well as the more fortunate white race, and have the inalienable right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness ...
  • And, since they have been illegally detained in violation of their constitutional rights, the Ponca must be discharged from custody.

Judge Dundy does something unprecedented:

He grants the hearing and declares, for the first time in the nation's history, an Indian is a person within the meaning of U.S. law with legal rights Whites are required to uphold. Unfortunately, Judge Dundy does not address the issue of citizenship for Indians. It would not be until 1924 when Congress passes the Citizenship Act, which provides citizenship for all Indians.


First use of the idea of dyslexia

Adolf Kussamaul, German neurologist, uses the phrase, word blindness, to describe a person with complete text blindness in spite of being sighted, having intellect, and the powers of speech intact.

1875 First official college football game is played in New Jersey: Rutgers vs Princeton



Susan Blow travels to Germany where she observes classrooms inspired by the work of Friedrich Froebel. She watches young children learn language, math, and science through play. She returns to America and works to provide this kind of education to young children.

She opens the first kindergarten in September 1873 at Des Peres School in Carondelet within the Saint Louis School District.

Her kindergarten classroom is bright and cheerful with tables and benches and many plants, books, toys, balls, blocks, and other simple objects for children to use to play and learn about colors, shapes, language, numbers, and health issues about keeping clean, eating well, and getting regular exercise.

Source: State Historical Society of Missouri

  • Margarethe Schurz, opens a kindergarten in Watertown, Wisconsin in 1856.
  • Elizabeth Peabody, opens one in Boston in 1873.
  • The National Education Association, supports kindergarten in 1872, and establishes a department of kindergarten instruction in 1884. Source

1870 Christmas is declared a federal holiday

1869 Transcontinental railroad is opened for through traffic on May 10, 1869 with a ceremonial driving of the last spike. The spike, referred to as the golden spike, is driven with a silver hammer, at Promontory Summit, Utah.


Nebraska State Education Association (NSEA) is founded in Brownsville, Nebraska on October 16, 1867. It is the oldest professional organization in Nebraska. At the time less than 40% of school aged children attended school.

1863 November 19

Lincoln's Gettysburg Address imageLincoln's Gettysburg Address

In Lincoln's words, the power of the address is about what the civil war preserved...

"One nation over state's rights to go their own way. A unity of national majority rule. "... that this nation shall have a new birth of freedom; and that this government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."
Hay version.



Morrill Land Grant Acts 1859 - 1862

Congress passes the Morrill Land Grant Act in 1859. It allocates land to states based on the number of senators and representatives each state has in Congress to fund agricultural schools similar to Michigan State University at the time. However, it is vetoed by President James Buchanan.

In 1861, it is amended to include teaching of military tactics as well as engineering and agriculture. This change, and the fact some states that did not support it were now in the Confederacy, is signed into law by President Abraham Lincoln in 1862. See later acts, The Smith–Lever Act of 1914 , Smith-Hughes Act 1917, and later G.I. Bill 1944.


First black teacher and school in Virginia
Mary Peake & Hampton Normal School

With the Union Army in control of Fort Monroe in Hampton, Virginia, Union Major General Benjamin Butler decrees any enslaved people who cross into Union lines are contraband of war and would not be returned. This brought many enslaved people to the first self-contained African American community.

Mary Peake imageMary Peake, a free Negro, is asked to teach the refugees, even though an 1831 Virginia law forbid the education of slaves, free blacks and mulattoes. She teaches her first class, on September 17, 1861 under an oak tree, that will later be the site of the first Southern reading of the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863.

The Emancipation Oak still stands and is on the grounds of Hampton University.

Mary Peake's class evolves to became the Butler School for Negro children, where students were taught reading, writing, arithmetic, geography, and grammar, as well as various housekeeping skills. Then in 1868 The Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute, which today is Hampton University, is opened next to the Butler School.

The Butler School, is succeeded in 1889 by the Whittier School, which is a lab-school or teaching school for the Hampton Normal School.

Source and additional information about the history of Hampton University


National Education Association

Ella Young

NEA is founded to professionalize teaching. Previously National Teachers Association (NTA). Membership is limited to gentlemen and women are honorary members. However, Hannah Conrad and Agnes Beecher are included on the list of original members. In 1866 the constitution is ammended. Gentleman is changed to person.

In 1910 women reject nominations by the nomination committee and elect Ella Flagg Young as their first female president. Previously the first female superintendent of Chicago schools and Illinois Education Association president. Source NEA

See also 1937 Future Teachers of America


Massachusetts became the first state legislature to pass a law banning segregated schools.


The Ashmun Institute receives its charter from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania on April 29, 1854.

It is the nation's first degree-granting Historically Black College and University (HBCU). Located in southern Chester County in Pennsylvania. In 1866 it is renamed Lincoln University in honor of President Abraham Lincoln. The history of Lincoln University dates even earlier to 1794 when John Miller Dickey, and his wife, Sarah Emlen Cresson contribute to the education of African-Americans in Philadelphia. Source


Compulsory education state law

In 1852 Massachusetts is the first state to pass a law for compulsory education. It requires every town to create and operate a grammar school. It also allowes fines to be levied on parents who do not send their children to school and if they do not comply, they could be found unfit to properly educate their children, and their children could be taken and apprenticed.

Compulsory education laws are passed in other states until the last state, Mississippi, does in 1918.

Massachusetts originally enacts the first compulsory education law in the American colonies in 1647.

Early American education and its roots: 1776 - 1850

Summary of changes 1776 -1850

Education during this time is seen as the responsibility of the family. However, as more people want to educate their children they collectively organize to provide schooling. With one of their educational goals being to maintain a democracy for all rather than an elite minority, they begin to work through government to provide schooling.

Thus, education becomes a governmental function seen as an important way to establish a capable citizenry to maintain a democracy. A citizenry composed of people beyond the sons of the elite affluent families or a few who were lucky and gifted enough to rise to the top. As to whether people understood majority as a simple majority or a majority more toward all with the inclusion of all diverse kinds of people is not fully defined and would lead to controversies in years to come.

Early American Education is also evolving from the influence of ideas brought to America and applied with an American flavor. Among them the exploration of universal education for larger numbers of children, education outside the home, increases in the percentage of girls and women being educated, funding of schools by cities and states, classical education, and larger class sizes.

Most schools still have a strong religious influence and high ethical standards.

Curriculum is narrowing in a sense to reading, writing, and arithmetic in the younger grades and in the secondary preparation for college and university. Trades and agriculture are kept outside the curriculum and are learned from family members, apprenticeships, or on the job training.

Colleges and universities begin to increase in number and begin to alter their European medieval curriculum in ways to make it more American.

Curriculum includes traditional content in subjects or topics. Texts used for instruction are increasingly being written in English, as opposed to Latin and Greek. This creates a decline of the use of Latin in the classroom and requirements for Greek are removed, except for students who prepare for the ministry.

Other changes are the continual addition of seat time in school and the addition of courses such as natural science, trade, commerce, agriculture, and merchandise.

From 1790 - 1800 the use of syllogistic disputations at most colleges is reduced and the use of forensic debate increased.


Compulsory education state law

In 1852 Massachusetts is the first state to pass a law for compulsory education. It requires every town to create and operate a grammar school. It also allows fines to be levied on parents who do not send their children to school and if they do not comply, they can be found unfit to properly educate their children, and their children can be taken and apprenticed.

Compulsory education laws are passed in other states until the last state, Mississippi, does in 1918.

Massachusetts enacts the first compulsory education law in the American colonies in 1647.


Roberts v. Boston - a case seeking to end racial discrimination in Boston public schools

Sarah Roberts, a five-year-old African-American girl, Sarah C. Roberts, is enrolled in an underfunded all-black school. She is denied admission to the nearer whites-only Smith school on the basis of her race, Her father writes to the state legislature for a solution.

The solution first involves the Massachusetts's Supreme Court, where Roberts asks for integration and is denied it in 1846.

Some African-Americans argue for integration and others argue for separate but equal schools. Some Blacks and Whites question the education their children would receive from integration. see Atlanta Compromise. While, others recognize, true equality can only be achieved through integration.

  • In 1855 the issue is brought to the Massachusetts state legislature which writes and passes a law banning segregated schools. It is the first state law prohibiting segregated schools.
  • Roberts appeals to the U.S. Supreme Court and it rules in favor of Boston, finding no constitutional basis for the suit. See Robert Morris lawyer, the first Black attorney to ever file a lawsuit in the United States, who argues this case.
  • The Roberts v. Boston case is cited in both the Plessy v. Ferguson decision in 1896, which rules in favor of separate but equal; and in Brown v. Board of Board of Education decision in 1954, which rules against separate but equal.



Seneca Falls Declaration of Sentiments and Resolutions

First three declarations of Woman's Rights are written at the convention held at Seneca Falls on July 19-20, 1848.

... "Resolved, That such laws as conflict, in any way, with the true and substantial happiness of woman, are contrary to the great precept of nature, and of no validity; for this is "superior in obligation to any other.

Resolved, That all laws which prevent woman from occupying such a station in society as her conscience shall dictate, or which place her in a position inferior to that of man, are contrary to the great precept of nature, and therefore of no force or authority.

Resolved, That woman is man's equal—was intended to be so by the Creator, and the highest good of the race demands that she should be recognized as such." ... Entire text ...


The Philadelphia Riots (Prayer Riots, Bible Riots and Native American Riots)

They are several riots between May 6 and 8 and July 6 and 7, 1844, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and the adjacent districts of Kensington and Southwark. Thirteen people die, Catholic Irish churches are attacked and two burn to the ground.

A major issue is whose religious interest would be represented in school, not a separation of church and state issue. The city is divided by anti Catholic and a Nativists anti immigrant sentiments. The use of a protestant Bible in public schools, derogatory religious and heritage wording in other texts and language by the teachers spark the riots. Source


Prussian / German influence

Prussia's defeat by Napoleon Bonaparte, 1806, motivates the government to implement sweeping educational reforms. King Frederick William III designs a system to create citizens who would obey and submit without question. It is a three tier design:

  1. 1/2% of students taught how to manage: materials, men, and situations.
  2. 5-8% of students, prepared as politicians, doctors,lawyers, & engineers.
  3. 92-94% of students, to learn to be obedient, cooperative, and have the correct attitudes, be literate, and know the official state fabricated history.

The purpose to make 95% of the citizens subservient to the ruling house and state. Source: Schools on Trial, Nikhil Goyal p. 43-44.
See 1873 kindergarten, 1837 Horace Mann

Elizabeth Barrett Browning writes the poem The Cry of the Children. to create greater support for child labor laws to remove children from suffering and dying in factories and other means of employment.


Catharine Beecher advocates: public education needs women teachers

Catharine Beecher sees public school enrollment grow and the quality of teachers decrease. Concerned that children's moral, physical, and intellectual development might suffer, she advocates for a greater role of women in education. She believes this would: improve public schools as women are natural teachers, provide opportunities for women to become better educated, provide women job opportunities, and met the increasing demand for teachers. She works toward these goals:

  • 1821, becomes a schoolteacher.
  • 1823, co-founds the Hartford Female Seminary, to train women to be mothers and teachers.
  • 1829, publishes an essay on the importance of women as teachers, Suggestions Respecting Improvements in Education.
  • 1830, moves west and campaigns for more schools and teachers on the Midwestern frontier.
  • 1841, publishes, A Treatise on Domestic Economy. In it she stresses the importance of women's labor and claims a single woman could be a teacher and could choose not to marry.
  • 1852, founds the American Woman's Educational Association to recruit and train teachers.


Unfortunately as more women become teachers, the social esteem for the teaching profession declines. However, with teaching being one of the few educational opportunities for women it provides many gifted teachers to the profession that in later years will seek different occupations, which some claim as a reason for a decline in American education.


Great School's Debate of 1840

John Hughes, Bishop of New York, petitions the New York public schools to fund Catholic schools to offer proper religious training to their congregation's children. Religious instruction in public schools includes basic prayers and passages from the Protestant, King James Bible without commentary or interpretation, which he deems insufficient and inappropriate. He also complains about derogatory ethnic Irish passages in the textbooks. Much of his congregation is Irish immigrants.

  • After a three day debate, his petition is rejected.
  • However, legislation in 1842 declares no sectarian religious instruction is to be offered in public schools.
  • A committee reviews textbooks for ethnic bias and removes offensive passages.
  • The public response in 1843 is to elect a school board that rules: reading the Bible in class is not - sectarian.
  • John Hughes creates Catholic Schools for Catholic children to attend, which result in the expansion of the parochial school systems in the U.S.

The inclusion of Bible reading in public schools persists across the U. S. until 1963 when the U. S. Supreme Court bans organized prayer in the schools. Source


First public Normal schools

A normal school trains high school graduates to be teachers by teaching standards or norms, hence its name. Most such schools are now called teachers' colleges. In the United States and Canada they trained teachers to teach in primary school. In Europe they educated teachers for primary, secondary, and post-secondary levels.

In 1839, a public Normal School was established in Lexington, Massachusetts. It operates today as Bridgewater State University.

In 1685, Jean-Baptiste de La Salle, founded the Institute of the Brothers of the Christian Schools, in Reims, France. The first normal school.


Horace Mann accepts the position as the first Secretary of Massachusetts School Board 1837.

Horace Mann ( 1796-1859) advocates for a free common school for all children paid with taxes from all citizens. Summary of his work, philosophy and policies:

"No one did more than he to establish in the minds of the American people the conception that education should be universal, non-sectarian, free, and that its aims should be social efficiency, civic virtue, and character, rather than mere learning or the advancement of sectarian ends." Public Education in the United States (1919) Ellwood P. Cubberley. p. 167.

Horace Mann stamp

While Mann and others in this time want each student to develop their innate capabilities of a diverse self-culture, not job creation, but enlightenment. Some who follow see a bureaucratic system to create obedient productive workers.

Publicly funded schools are created and controlled by local and state government with a narrow New England Puritan centric curriculum.

While Secretary of education the state of Massachusetts:

  1. Advocates for a common texts as a standard curriculum.
  2. Advocates for expertly trained teachers, high salaries, and improved curriculum and instruction.
  3. Establishes Normal Schools to regulate teacher preparation.
  4. Implements state collection of education data;
  5. Establishes state approved school libraries in each district, who were assigned the responsibility for the adoption of textbooks.

Horace Mann suggests the purpose of collecting educational data [assessment]

  1. To evaluate the effectiveness of educational systems and programs to provide feedback to students and teachers,
  2. To measure student achievement in a manner that would equitably describe student's level of knowledge and skill and classify students for various purpose: one being certification, and
  3. To suggest reform to change and improve teaching and learning.
  4. Under his supervision Massachusetts is first to use standardized written examinations (1938). Source

Horace Mann was self educated by reading books he paid for by braiding straw. He Graduated Brown University. His valedictorian oration was The Gradual Advancement of the Human Species in Dignity and Happiness. He taught Latin and Greek at Brown, got a law degree, was elected to MA House, Senate, and then President of the Board of Education. The first in the United States.

Visited Germany and brought back ideas in 1843 that became the Prussian German Influence

African Institute, later renamed Cheyney University (1914), was founded with support from Richard Humphreys to help young African Americans get a skilled trade. It offered basics in reading, writing, math, mechanics, and agriculture. Richard hoped a domino effect would be created as students from his Institute would spread education among other young, blacks.

First Kindergarten.

In Germany Friedrich Froebel (1782 -1852) establishes the first kindergarten. He believes children need to play and interact socially with other children to learn. Therefore, his writings and practices for kindergarten are thought to be outrageous by many in German communities who believe children need more discipline and burn his book (The Education of Man).
See Kindergarten in U.S. 1873.


Mc Guffy Readers.

William Holmes McGuffey publishes his first McGuffey Reader. Samuel Worcester and his publisher file suit for plagiarism. McGuffey removes all passages listed in the suit and republishes. McGuffy makes several revisions over the years that his readers are printed. Source and Samples


The Commonwealth of Massachusetts

Passes a law that towns, of five hundred or more families, shall establish and maintain high schools with a ten month program.


University of Virginia is founded by Thomas Jefferson


First training school for teachers

The first training school for teachers, Concord Academy, in the United States is founded in Concord, Vermont, by Samuel Read Hall. His, Lectures on School Keeping, published in 1829, is the first American instructional book for teachers. He is also involved with teacher education at Phillips Academy’s, Holmes-Plymouth Academy, and Craftsbury Academy. He establishes the American Institute of Instruction, the oldest educational organization in America.

See also 1839, first public Normal Schools

Public money for private schools

New York City gives public money to religious organizations (Catholic, Presbyterian , Quakers, Jewish, Methodist, Lutheran, Episcopalian, and Baptist) to use for non religious educational purposes. The Free School claims New York is the only city where religious schools receive common funds and petitions the Board of Alderman, “that our civil and religious rights are abridged and injuriously affected by the operation of the Common School System,” and payments should be stop. The board agrees and stops payments. Source


Federal funds are allocated for schools on Native American reservations.


Mass instruction, monitorial system, peer tutoring

Mass instruction, peer tutoring, monitorial system, and mutual instruction is included in the Bell-Lancaster or Lancaster method. Named after the British educators who independently developed it, Dr Andrew Bell and Joseph Lancaster. It starts with a large open room with seating for thousands. It has a raise areas for a teacher with students seated on benches rising on auditorium style seating with least advanced learners at the front and advanced at the rear. Around the sides are learners who are teaching assistants, who act as peer tutors. It increases class size and decreases the cost of instruction. Lancaster's motto: He who teaches, learns. It is criticized by taking the teaching assistants or tutor away from their own learning. Reformers import it to America. DeWitt Clinton in New York, later to Philadelphia, and Washington D.C. It is soon declared a failure by parents, students and teachers.

Noah Webster publishes A Compendious Dictionary of the English Language, the first American dictionary. Today it is the Merriam-Webster Dictionary.


Dickinson College and Benjamin Rush on education.

Dickinson College is named after John Dickinson, governor of Pennsylvania and leader in the American Revolution. However, it is Benjamin Rush who envisioned it, wrote its charter, and works to get it approved by the Pennsylvania legislature on September 9, 1783, six days after the signing of the Treaty of Paris. Making it the first college created in the new nation. Previously, it was a grammar school in Carlisle, PA founded in 1773. Source

Benjamin Rush (1745-1813) was a strong supporter of education, especially for women. He believed education was essential for the prosperity and independence of the nation. He supported free schools in every town with a hundred or more families, to teach reading, writing, arithmetic, republicanism, and character to unite the country. While Rush advocated for women to be educated his views did not rise to the level of gender equality. See more in Benjamin Rush and Women's Education: A Revolutionary's Disappointment, A Nation's Achievement by Jodi Campbell. See also Benjamin Rush's Views on Women's Education by Jean S. Straub.

First American spelling book by Noah Webster

Noah Webster is paid to write an publish his first speller. The first of a three part series

  1. A Grammatical Institute of the English Language.
  2. A grammar and
  3. A reader.

His goal is to provide the country with a standard system for an American national language, pronunciations, spelling, and ideas to unify a national culture. Criticized for the wording of the title he revises and reprints it in 1787 with the new title, The American Spelling Book. It sells more than 15 million copies by 1837 while the U.S. population in 1840 is 17 million.

Noah believes Americans need their own national government distinct from the rest of the world. Their own history, character, and Americanized language. He advocates to remove all English books and creates an American history and language. Therefore, his spellers have a nationalist tone and many non English spellings. It is the fore runner of the Noah Webster's dictionary See 1806.


Bill for public education

As part of his work in revising the laws of Virginia during the late 1770s and early 1780s, Thomas Jefferson puts forth a bill that becomes one of his most enduring works on the subject of education: Bill 79, "A Bill for the More General Diffusion of Knowledge."

When presenting this bill he claims to insure public happiness people who are endowed with genius and virtue must receive a liberal education, at the publics expense, so they may guard the sacred rights and liberties of their fellow citizens.

The Bill is presented in the Virginia House of Delegates in 1778 and 1780, but does not pass. James Madison presents the bill several more times while Jefferson is serving as Minister to France. In 1796 the Act to Establish Public Schools is passed.

1776 -1841

Johann Friedrich Herbart - believes education should focus on moral character

1746 -1827

Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi - writes How Gertrude Educates Her Children

Colonial Education and its roots: prior to 1776

Summary of changes prior 1776

Early periods of education is characterized by what each person, family, or parent felt is appropriate for them, their family, and children. They were free to determine how they and their children were educated within their particular economic situation. It would involve children modeling their parents or other adult or skilled person. Parents teaching their children and others within a household. Parents and families hiring others as nannys, tutors, private teachers, or contracting to teach them at home. Some would send their kids to private lesson, private schools, apprenticeships, into indentured servitude, and sold or forced into slavery.

Three famous Americans were apprentices: Ben Franklin printer. George Washington mason surveyor. Paul Revere silversmith.

As populations grew families began to collaborate and meet at churches, libraries, community centers, museums, informal day care centers or dame schools to provide basic literacy and numeracy skills in an affordable way. These were more like individual and small group lessons than school. Schooling experiences and advanced learning was very limited and thought necessary for only a few.

Schooling focused on reading with initial instruction beginning with a Hornbook, to teach letters. Hornbooks were first used in England as early as 1450. Much education was centered around religion and high ethical standards. There was no standard primary or secondary curriculum which resulted in a diversity of study related to agriculture, military, trades, scholar, and religious sects. Often a book or list of books was used as the curriculum, usually classical authors. Early Americans, Adams, Jefferson, and Franklin have lists of recommended books along with other recommendations for learning that can be found in writings they sent to their children and other acquaintances.

Colleges and universities began to appear and used a European medieval curriculum. Attendance was limited to white males who could afford to support the use of their time in study or those who were talented toward this type of learning, motivated to learn, and lucky enough to attain financial support privately and or in a few cases publicly.

Curriculum included content in subjects or topics such as: Latin and Greek composition, classical literature, rhetorical studies, logic, ethics, philosophy, criticism, classical readings followed by original orations and writings based on classical models, arithmetic, algebra, geometry, logarithms. Later sciences (chemistry, botany, astronomy), history, geography, natural and civil law, civil history, laws and government, politics, trade, commerce, agriculture, merchandise, and modern foreign languages were added to the curriculum.

Instructional methods included, reading, lecture, recitation, translation of text, syllogistic disputations and declamations. Disputation is an academic exercise in oral defense of a thesis by discussion or debate using formal logic. Sample Declamations are students interpretations of famous speeches they re-give to demonstrate their ability to understand and apply the purpose and power of the speech and skill in public speaking. Samples

Tutors were hired to teach one or a small number of students in several areas who would be tested by the college president or select members of the educational community to see if they were ready to be admitted, move from course to course or advance to the next year, and ready to graduate. Tutors were replaced with faculty who were assigned to teach specific subject areas. At Harvard the first appointment was in 1722 in religion with other subject areas added until 1766 when the tutorial system was abolished and professors and tutors were assigned subjects rather than classes of students to prepare in all areas.


The tutorial system of one person instructing one person or a small group of students in all areas was abolished at Harvard and professors and tutors were assigned subjects rather than classes.


John Morgan and William Shippen, Jr. founded the first medical school in North America

The Medical School of the College of Philadelphia.


Emile cover Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712 -1778) Romanticist, Maturationist, and writer who wrote: Emile or a Treatise on Education.

This book is considered the first educational philosophy book as well as the first child psychology book. Thus, Rousseau is sometimes referred to as the father of modern child psychology.

Rousseau claims children have a natural goodness and can become critical life long learners and educated citizens if they can survive a corrupted society. These ideas lead to child labor being seen as exploitation instead of a form of moral education and protection from idleness and laziness.

From his ideas two philosophical learning theories or educational philosophies emerge.

Maturationist theory based on the idea learning comes from within each child. It can be thought of as genetically determined and naturally unfolding as each child grows. Rousseau and others would disagree over the amount of predetermined innate, inherited, genetic influence there is as opposed to the amount of environmental or external influence.

Romanticism theory based on the idea the inner good will dominate over the inner bad. The child is like a plant who will grow according to the genetic information provided in the seed. A good or bad environment to nourish it will maximize or retard its growth.


Anthony Benezet created the first public girls' school and first School for black children in Philadelphia

Anthony Benezet began teaching in 1739. In 1742, he moved to the Friends' English School of Philadelphia (now the William Penn Charter School) and in 1750 began teaching night classes there for black slaves.

In 1754, he left the Friends' English School and began the first public girls' school on the American continent. Students included Deborah Norris and Sally Wister.

In 1770, he founded the Negro School at Philadelphia for black children. Abigail Hopper Gibbons taught there.

He also founded the first anti-slavery society, the Society for the Relief of Free Negroes Unlawfully Held in Bondage. After his death in 1784, Benjamin Franklin and Dr. Benjamin Rush reconstituted this association as the Pennsylvania Society for Promoting the Abolition of Slavery.


The College of Philadelphia (later the University of Pennsylvania)

The College of Philadelphia began college prep in 1751. It is believed to be the first curriculum that developed a curriculum that was not based on the traditional medieval curriculum and with out religious objectives.

In 1752 William Smith published A General Idea of the College of Mirania. F

He sent a copy to Franklin, who was impressed so in May 1754 Smith was appointed to teach logic, rhetoric, ethics, and natural philosophy at the College of Philadelphia.

In March 1755 he was made provost. While this curriculum had subjects similar to those of Harvard, Yale, and Princeton there was a different emphasis. A three year program of study with the first year of Latin and Greek composition; arithmetic, algebra, geometry, and logarithms; and classical and rhetorical studies. The second year included more mathematics, logic and ethics, and added natural philosophy and classical readings followed by original orations written using classical models. The third year included natural and civil law, civil history, laws and government, trade and commerce, and more natural philosophy. Emphasis was one-third classics, one-third mathematics and science, and one-third logic, ethics, metaphysics and oratory. The new emphasis continued with syllogistic disputations and declamations as an instructional method and for student assessment.



First women physicians in the United States

Elizabeth Blackwell stampElizabeth Blackwell becomes the first woman physician in the United States. Her sister, Emily Blackwell, becomes the. Together the sisters open the New York Infirmary for Indigent Women and Children, the first hospital with an all women staff. They add a Women’s Medical College with a rigorous progressive curriculum. Elizabeth's writes, lectures, and promotes medical education specifically for women. Emily becomes a very qualified: obstetrician, gynecologist, surgeon and also professor.

Benjamin Franklin helped open the The Philadelphia Academy and Charitable School or
The Academy and College of Philadelphia -

This may have been the first American academy. In 1749 Benjamin Franklin drew up the constitution and was appointed its first president. It opened as a secondary school on August 1751, was granted a charter in 1755, and graduated its first class, seven men, in May 1757.

It was a secondary school to prepare people for life or to enter business and other vocations. Students studied English, instead of Latin, the classics, modern language, and science. Secondary schools became popular, because they provided preparation for university cheaper than hiring tutors. Academies were sported by endowments, tuition, and in some cases state governments. Academies filled a need until compulsory public education became the norm. See 1852.

1749 - Pamphlet coverBenjamin Franklin wrote a pamphlet titled: Proposals Related to the Education of Youth in Pennsylvania in it he offers hints of a Plan for the Education of the Youth of Pennsylvania. The above link has facsimile of the original and electronic full text. This document describes what Franklin and other learned people of the time were thinking about the importance of education for the collective good. The exert below characterizes their educational philosophy.

... "THAT some Persons of Leisure and publick Spirit, apply for a CHARTER, by which they may be incorporated, with Power to erect an ACADEMY for the Education of Youth, to govern the same, provide Masters, make Rules, receive Donations, purchase Lands, &c. and to add to their Number, from Time to Time such other Persons as they shall judge suitable.

That the Members of the Corporation make it their Pleasure, and in some Degree their Business, to visit the Academy often, encourage and (* 2) countenance the Youth, countenance and assist the Masters, and by all Means in their Power advance the Usefulness and Reputation of the Design; that they look on the Students as in some Sort their Children, treat them with Familiarity and Affection, and when they have behav'd well, and gone through their Studies, and are to enter the World, zealously unite, and make all the Interest that can be made to establish them (* 3), whether in Business, Offices, Marriages, or any other Thing for their Advantage, preferably to all other Persons whatsoever even of equal Merit. And if Men may, and frequently do, catch such a Taste for cultivating Flowers, Planting, Grafting, Inoculating, and the like, as to despise all other Amusements for their Sake, why may not we expect they should acquire a Relish for that more useful Culture of young Minds. Thompson says, "


Eight women converted a house to a convent school to educate girls of all races and classes in the French quarters of New Orleans, Louisiana. The group would later build the Ursuline Convent that relocated multiple times over the years. In 1729 they took in 30 orphaned Natchez Indian girls. Over the years they have been willing to educate all races, classes and free or slave. Being catholic and female created special problems for colonial and later times as they worked to achieve their mission. them to over come. Source


Benjamin Franklin, who never attended college, visited Harvard.

Later, he wrote. [Harvard as] "the Temple of Learning, where, for want of a suitable Genius, ... [students] learn little more than how to carry themselves handsomely, and enter a Room genteely, (which might as well be acquir'd at a Dancing-School,) and from whence they return, after Abundance of Trouble and Charge, as great Blockheads as ever, only more proud and self-conceited." Source Later he opened his academy.


Dame schoolsdame school image

Dame schools were usually in the homes of the women (dames) who taught the children. The curriculum was letter & number recognition, reading & writing simple words, and memorization of prayers. Similar to many preschools from 1950-2015.

Etching at right is from 1713.


First American school for slaves and Native Americans in NYC

Elias Neau asked and received support from the Church of England and the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel to open a school for slaves and Native Americans in New York City. A 1764 report stated: “not a single black” instructed and baptized through the school “had turned out badly or in any way disgraced his profession.” This encouraged additional support for schools assisting African Americans and Indigenous people in other places.


John Locke wrote An Essay Concerning Human Understanding. The book is divided into four parts. The following are some key ideas presented.

  1. Argues humans are born without innate ideas already in their mind.
  2. Argues everything in our mind is one of two types of ideas: Sensory ideas or ideas create by the mind with its own operations.
  3. Presents a philosophy of language. Language of words that do not refer to things in the world but to the ideas in our heads formed in general terms from specific objects of the world.
  4. Presents his theory of knowledge. Knowledge as the perception of internal relationships among the minds ideas. Relationships such as: identity, diversity, relations, coexistence, and actual existence. All which exist at three levels.
    1. Intuitive, which he claims is self-evident and at the top. Examples: Something is either present or absent. Two is more than three. Black is not white.
    2. Demonstrative is created with reason and is in the middle. Examples: Two apples in one hand and three apples in another hand equals five apples. A feather fall slower than a coin, because air slows it. and
    3. Sensitive knowledge is that which comes from our senses and is at a lower level more of a pseudo- knowledge. Illusions can trick us. Smell like a rose, but is it a candle, perfume, shampoo? Water or a mirage?

Look into his book Some Thoughts Concerning Education (1693).


Father of modern education?

John Amos Comenius, Czech Jan Ámos Komenský, (1592,-1670,), Czech educational reformer flees the Thirty Years’ War and goes to Poland. There he plans how to rebuild his homeland, after the war, through educational reform. He advocates: all children should attend school full time, be taught the Czech, and European culture, with efficient methods that are natural and centered on the way children learn, which he describes in his books: The Great Didactic (for educators) and The School of Infancy (for mothers).

To make the European culture accessible to all students, he believes it is necessary to learn Latin. However, he doesn’t like the present grammar rule based instructional method and advocates for a natural way to learn it. He writes textbooks, Janua Linguarum Reserata that presents facts about the world, side by side, in Latin and Czech. A language teaching revolution at the time. His book is translated into 16 languages. Source


The Massachusetts Act of 1647 or the Old Deluder, Satan Act

Mandated each town, with fifty families or more, establish a grammar school, where a master shall instruct youth to be fitted for university. It was referred to as the Old Deluder, Satan Act because education was seen as protection against the devil, whose purpose was to keep men from the knowledge of the scriptures. Made towns responsible for educational facilities.


The Massachusetts Act of 1642

Required each town to determine whether its young people could read or write. If children were determined as not being able to read, have knowledge of the Capital Laws, instructed in religion and generally be brought up to be able to achieve higher employment. Parents and people with apprentices, who did not, could be fined or even lose custody of their children. Made parents responsible for their children's education. Source


First printing press in the American Colonies is assembled at Harvard College.

1636 , 1723

Harvard University first named New College

Harvard University, the oldest institution of higher education in the United States, was founded in 1636. The oldest institution of higher education in the United States with its mission to train clergy. Harvard received its official name on March 13, 1639, when John Harvard donated half of his estate and his library of over 400 books. .. see also 1209 Cambridge...

Harvard curriculum (1636) was designed as a four year program of study. However, it was initially reduced to three years because of poor selection of its first master and withdrawal of students as a result of his tyrannical teaching methods.

The curriculum included logic as a basic subject necessary for disciplined thinking, divinity, history and the nature of plants taught in the first year. Rhetoric (effective persuasive speaking or writing) and other compositional techniques were studied by reading a collection of literary pieces which students critiqued by giving two speeches in Latin and Greek before small groups weekly and also monthly before the entire school. Students translated the Old and New Testament from Hebrew into Greek at daily prayer services. Arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, politics and ethics in the later year curriculum. However, politics was Aristotle's Politica and ethics was a practical subject, separate from religion. Instructional methodology followed the advice of Pierre de La Ramee that students should listen to a lecture on each subject, followed by individual study, recitation, discussion, and disputation. In 1655 the first year was expanded to two years with more Greek, Hebrew, logic, and metaphysics returning to the originally plan of four years.

M.A. degree was a three year post-graduate program of individual study with no residence requirement. Study was guided by a minister. A sermon presented to the student body and a written synopsis or compendium of logic was required. Natural philosophy, moral philosophy, arithmetic, geometry or astronomy were studied and presented problems three times and twice had to present a solution in a rhetorical speech before the society. However, flexibility seems to have been allowed in permitting other activities as substitutes.

By 1723 freshman year curriculum was a review of Latin and Greek grammar, a beginning study of Hebrew, and logic. Sophomore curriculum included a continued study of logic, classical literature, and beginning to study natural philosophy. The junior curriculum added ethics, geography, and metaphysics with more natural philosophy. The senior curriculum added arithmetic, geometry, and astronomy.



First Latin Grammar school in Boston opened. Latin grammar school curriculum was meant for the class of people who would become leaders of religion and government. Clergy, ministers, governors, mayors, lawyers, judges, and other learned men.


Elizabethan statutes of 1561

Required each student be proficient in rhetoric, logic, and philosophy, and to be tested in them by public disputations before earning a degree. This included the seven liberal arts: the trivium of grammar, rhetoric, logic; and the quadrivium of arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, and music (see 55). With the three philosophies: natural, moral, mental added in the later years. Instruction was by tutor, who was responsible for four or five students.


Bacon image

Sir Francis Bacon (1561-1626) published his Novum Organum, where he describes a system of logic he believes is superior to Aristotle's syllogism (360 BCE ) or deductive reasoning. It becomes known as the Baconian method, inductive reasoning and the scientific method

He believed it was the best way to draw conclusions about the natural world. An inductive approach of skeptical observation and experimentation with facts and explanation leading to conclusion. Because of this he has been called the father of empiricism and the father of the scientific method.

"British - Francis Bacon - Google Art Project" by British (School, Details of artist on Google Art Project) - UwEFEzZpMHs4JA at Google Cultural Institute, zoom level maximum. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons.

Pilgrims land on Plymouth Rock. Their religious views, ethics, and ideas on education will dominate education in the New England colonies and influence American Education.

1466 -1536

Desiderius Erasmus -


Thomas Aquinas -


First recorded student protests at the University of Paris led to the school being closed for two plus years.


Cambridge was found in 1209 by a group of scholars who left the University of Oxford after a dispute with the towns people. It is the second oldest English-speaking universities and the fourth-oldest university in the world that is still operating.

1284 Cambridge curriculum was to perfect the student's knowledge of Latin and Greek, introduce him to the method of scholasticism, and respect of the authority of the ancients. There was no prescribed course of study other than attendance of public lectures for three years, study theology, Old Testament languages, Hebrew, participate in disputations, and, give three personal opposing responses.


The birth of a common culture of education

Charlemagne (Charles the Great or Charles I) recognizes unity can be achieved through a common culture. A culture centralized with a strong central government (becomes the Holy Roman Empire) that uses religion and education to achieve this unity. He creates a more fair rule of law empire, fuller participation of the church in the daily life of the people, encourages a common language by making Latin the official language of the state, and develops education for all citizens.

To achieve his educational goals, Charlemagne recruites teachers from England and Ireland. Alcuin (732–804) of Britain, is recruited to be head of the palace school. He develops programs to bring literacy to European clergy and their followers. As head he becomes very influential in promoting scholarship and the founding of a library in York. Many of his students go on to staff schools across Europe at all levels and many people benefit by by their educated minds and the quality curriculum the bring with them.

  • Charlemagne and Alcuin realize shared learning is part of a shared culture and their abilities to implement their ideas across a diverse population unite much of Europe and create the Holy Roman Empire.
  • A curriculum of three basic subjects (trivium) of grammar, rhetoric, and logic is their core and becomes the curriculum of secular knowledge for liberal arts Universities.
  • Their curriculum evolves and expands over the years after Charlemagne and Alcuin. By the 12th century, it includes seven subjects: the trivium and a quadrivium, consisting of arithmetic, music, geometry, and astronomy.


Saint Augustine

354 - 430 philosophy of education - learners must be aroused by the teacher to discover that which they already hold within themselves.


Quintilian 35 - 95

Institution oratoria was the model used to educate an ideal citizen as an orator. The curriculum of the Trivium and the Quadrivium was used in schools and universities into the 1900's. Trivium included: grammar, rhetoric, and logic; and the quadrivium included: arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, and music.

C. E. -------------------- B. C. E.

220 BCE

World's first university

Ahvaz Jundishapur University of Medical Sciences in Khozettan, Iran was started.

323 BCE

Greek Hellenistic education goal is to prepare free adult males with sound minds and sound bodies (mental & physical abilities) to make sense of the world and be good citizens. Humanism explores the nature of the world with humans at the center. Later in Latin humanitas means a cultured free man. Much later becomes humanistic education.

Education to make an educated adult. It is not child centered as suggested in Emile. Everyday Greek education and later Roman education is the responsibility of a pedagogue: male nanny, often a trusted slave, who cares for a child and nurtures them to learn how to behave in life and inspire them to learn for life. Source As well as taking them to a teacher to teach literacy, rhetoric, reasoning, and ethics.

360 BCE

Aristotle - 380 - 322 BCE

Continued with teaching of rhetoric and added syllogism, use of logic as a device for determining the truth. (Categorical syllogism uses two premises and a conclusion: All humans are vertebrates; no insect is a vertebrate; therefore no humans are insects.

He teaches:

  • Education should be controlled by the State.
  • People learn to be virtuous with practice.
  • Ethics, involves performing just acts.
  • Learning becomes doing or acting.
  • If what is being done is virtuous, then learning is intrinsically valuable for the individual and society: the State.

He argues:

  • All citizens should participate in a Democracy. Therefore, a welfare state is necessary so all people live out of poverty and can contribute to the government.
  • In Politics: some people should rule and others should be ruled is not only necessary, but expedient. All relations are relations of hierarchy: man rules over animals, men over women, masters over slaves. Slavery was not a matter of law but a matter of nature. Those who are by nature possessions are those who have a lesser capacity for reason ... better for them to be slaves and under the rule of a master. Reasoning used to justify slavery into the 1800's.
  • If what is being done is virtuous, then learning is intrinsically valuable for the individual and society - the State.

407 BCE

Plato and Socrates 427 - 347 BCE

Socrates develops a philosophy of education - learning happens when the teacher asks key questions. Socratic Method. Source The Republic. Key beliefs and ideas.

Education is based on interests, abilities, and stations in life.

Utopian ideal is to produce philosopher kings or guardians to rule to the State.

Built on Greek rhetoric: the art and process of effective public speaking. First taught by the sophists (480 BCE).

Dialectic reasoning or dialectics (Socratic method, Hindu, Buddhist, Medieval, Hegelian dialectics, Marxist, Talmudic, and Neo-orthodoxy), and modern debate. All involve conversations between two or more people arguing different points of view for the purpose of establishing truth with reasoned argument.

Socrates values truth as the highest value. Truth discovered through conversation with reason and logic (dialectic reasoning). Logic, not emotion, to discover truth for persuasion and make choices to guide one's life. To Socrates, truth, not art, was the greater good to guide one's life. Therefore, Socrates opposed the sophists and their teaching of rhetoric as art and as emotional oratory requiring neither logic nor proof.

Dialectic method, rhetoric, and debate can have fundamental differences. In theory debate may be considered as unemotional and committed to rational argument. However, in practice debaters can present emotionally charged ideas to suppress rational thought, hoping to persuade others to their point of view. See rhetoric (480 BCE) and sophists

480 BCE

Sophists - 480 - 390 BCE

Sophists are the first teachers of rhetoric (the art (arte) and process of effective public speaking). In the Greek world Sophists are wise men who teach by example: skills of civic life and explore a wide range of human experiences about Greek culture. Not being Athenians, they often clash culturally and philosophically with Athenians.

Sophists taught art and thought is has the highest value in life. Therefore, it should be used to make choices and people should seek it out in all things. The artistic quality of a speech or oration is the power it had to motivate, influence, and please people. Therefore, oration is taught as an art form, used to please, motivate, and influence other people through quality speaking.

It is most likely the historical basis for Declamations, which are student’s interpretations of famous speeches regiven to demonstrate the student's ability to understand and apply the purpose and power of the speech and skill in public speaking. Samples

Rhetoric is a method or art of speaking or discourse/ conversation to persuade, inform, or motivate an audience. Concepts of rational appeal (logos), emotional appeal, (pathos), and ethical appeal (ethos) are all intentionally used to persuade and convince people of a particular idea or argument. Read more about rhetoric.

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