States Take a Stand against the Increasing Centralization of Education*
By Sofia Gallo, Lindsey Burke
For much of American history, education was decentralized, seen as a responsibility of families, communities, churches, and local governments.
Parents in the mid-17th century, for example, were not just seen as critical partners in their children’s education, but were expected to be their children’s primary teachers, creating a symbiotic relationship between parent and community values. Over time, however, primary education became more formalized and centralized.
The Colonial Act of 1647 mandated that every town with more than 50 households would hire a teacher, and once a town had more than 100 families, a grammar school would have to be established. In this case, formalized schools served to ensure a shared mission, conserving and maintaining order in the budding community.
Changes to the nature of work from agrarian to factory during the mid-19th century, combined with westward…
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