Reform of Public Edcation

Sydney Rutkoski

Pre Reform

Most students were educated at home by their parents typically through the bible

New England was the most educated area

In the South Blacks were not allowed to read and write

Only the rich could afford to higher tutors to teach their children

Schools that were open only ran for a few months

There was very harsh punishments and disciplinary measures taken

Leaders and Their Philosophies

Noah Webster

  • Saw a need for English text books
  • Wanted to see education not mainly centered around religion
  • Was a teacher for a few years and recognized that working conditions were poor and the pay was low
  • Felt that schools were overcrowded and wanted to decrease class size
  • Wrote a the Speller, grammar books, and spent many years writing his extremely famous dictionary
  • Wanted to "rescue" the English language because he felt the British had corrupted it
  • Believed the study of English grammar should be thought before that of Latin and Greek
  • Had a system of spelling and grammar that was taught depending on the age and level of the students so they could better understand and grasp the information

Horace Mann

  • Secretary of the Massachusetts Board of Education
  • Most prominent spokesman on the reform
  • Felt public education would stabilize society putting everyone on an equal playing field and adding harmony to the country.
  • Created a 6 month minimum school year and looked to increase in to 10
  • Wanted the state to pay for children's education and not the people
  • Standardize textbooks
  • Put students in grades
  • Require a certain amount of days attended


  • Wanted to make public education available to more children, i.e. poor, girls, and in some cases even African Americans
  • The public should be educated and informed because the government was run by the people.
  • Better qualified teachers who were well trained, temped, and paid
  • More subjects taught other than just reading, writing, and arithmetic
  • Make students prepared for the competitive nature of a capitalist economy
  • Wanted to keep the citizens up to date with the every changing country

American Education in the 1800s Song

Positive Effects of the Reforms

  • Literacy rates increased
  • Every one could attend school regardless of their financial status
  • Citizens of America could be active participants in the government and the community

Negative Effects of the Reform

  • People with no children were frustrated with the use of tax money on schools
  • Slaves were not allowed to attend public schools

US History & Gov. Project: Education movements in the 1800's