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Public education is offered in public schools or the state schools. The term public education as it is used in state schools does not mean publicly funded education. In the United States, the responsibility of public education goes to the states as well as to the school districts. Jefferson, an American leader, suggested on the need to have public schools and his idea led to the formation of public school systems in the nineteenth century. Religious organizations especially the Congregationalists were at the forefront in championing for children education.
However the idea of education received opposition from persons belonging to different faiths especially the immigrants. In addition the people did accept the use of English as the media of instruction. They widely conflicted the clergy who sought every opportunity to give their religious vies via public education. In the mid eighteenth century, private schooling had become the custom. The public education system has been laden with challenges from the time it was initiated to date. Historical problems mainly include religious biases, racial and gender discrimination. These problems have given way to modern day violence and drug abuse.
After independence, about ten states had specific ways of providing education. Jefferson proposed that education should be controlled by the government without religious biases and compulsory to everyone regardless of the status they had in the society. Other people who supported public education during that time were Rush, Webster, Coram and Washington. It was very difficult to put the idea into practice due to the political mayhem, huge immigration and alterations in the economy.
In the late 19th century, education was only available to the wealthy people and this was highly opposed by the reformers since they wanted an education system that belonged to all children. They argued that common schooling would lead to the creation of good citizens, bring unity to the society as well as eradicate both crime and poverty. So, by the end of nineteenth century, there was free public education for all the American children at the elementary level. The efforts made by the reformers were successful because by the end of the nineteenth century, all the American children were provided with free public education at the elementary level.
The Catholics, however, did not support the idea of common schooling and thus decided to open their own private schools. Later, there were several secondary and college institutions that were built and many students enrolled in them. There were so many things that affected the public education during that time and included things such as the great depression, the Second World War, movements for civil rights, demonstrations from students as well as several political events that occurred in the country. After the Second World War, there were a great number of students enrolling in the state colleges.
The primary authority of public education in the United States was held by the individual states instead of the federal government. Ultimately, every state in the US created an education department and passed laws that were aimed at controlling finance and employment of school personnel. The rules also addressed student attendance ad the school curriculum. These public schools depended on local property taxes so as to meet the huge expenses that were incurred in the school.
In 1990s, all states concentrated on raising the standards of education. The states took more responsibility and involvement after a federal report in 1983 announced low academic achievements in the public schools. The report also suggested that students from other industrial societies outperformed the American students in the academic tests that were done internationally. The statistics also showed clearly that there was a decline in the scores for the American students. This resulted to most of the states implementing reform methods that highlighted repeated tests to be done by the students, more efficient tests to be done in the states and more compulsory curriculum requirements.
To improve on that, American schooling was centralized by the federal government. There was an act developed in 1917 called smith-Hughes that proposed the creation of vocational programs in all high schools. Another bill dubbed G1 bill came into effect in 1944. This bill was an essential federal effort to offer financial help to the military veterans in order to attend colleges. Additionally, laws in the federal civil rights required all schools as well as colleges to abide by the national principles of equality in education.
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The national defense education act in 1958 was passed by the congress and its aim was to improve the public schools by financing them. The congress addressed for the first time many broad problems such as making the poor children access education without any difficulties. Besides, the congress addressed the problem of subjects’ neglecting such as the sciences, mathematics and foreign languages.
Despite the fact that public education was available to all children irrespective of their gender, race or state of the economy, this did not happen in reality. This is because there was discrimination in the schools on the basis of gender and race. This was clearly seen because girls were not admitted in the schools until many years passed after the establishment of the schools. Besides, girls were not taught the same subjects that were being taught to the boys (Maurice, 1994). Since 1950, the federal government has been very concerned with the discrimination issues and supports the idea of equality in schools.
In the traditional era, there was total segregation by race of the public and private schools thus leading to inferior education for the blacks and other minority groups. Teachers who taught in the white schools received a higher pay than those who taught in the black schools. This class and racial segregation was hard to overhaul even via court rulings. In addition, black oppression and historical injustices are downplayed in the curriculum. Persons guilty of black oppression mainly include slave owners such as George Washington and other American presidents. Generally these individuals are portrayed and studied in a positive light their oppressive acts notwithstanding.
The American schools discriminated women and discouraged girls to learn. To curb this, there were prominent women educators who came up and they include Beecher, Willard, Lyon and McLeod. They took part in developing institutions for higher level meant for women and offered subjects that were said to be unnecessary to women by the earlier educators. There was also a women’s rights movement that emerged in 1960 that was meant to boost against discrimination that occurred in women especially sexual discrimination. Federal education amendments in 1972 banned discrimination especially in the education sector that benefitted from federal aid. However after all these measures, discrimination still persisted especially on the basis of sex.
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Public education has been reformed and made better through advancement in technology and the methods used in learning. But there are still other social problems that affect it and they include things such as violence, use of drugs and issues related to sex. Public schools in America have been observed as a system that impress upon the principles of equality and liberty in the person. The education system in America has changed historically according to the mayhem in the society. But the pathetic standard of high school education currently has made the educators worried since they are faced with the challenge of formulating effective strategies in order to enhance the system.