American education takes roots in private religious institutions, which lead to the development of schooling and literacy, and resulted in the formation of present system of public schooling. Public schooling system was developed due to the demand for education by the increasing population of immigrants, who were of different cultural and religious backgrounds. American education went through stages like the permissive era, encouraging era, compulsory era and freedom or school choice era.
Permissive Period: 1700’s – 1800’s
Permissive period took place between 1700’s and 1800’s; this is when the American government permitted organization of public schools through approval of voters publicly. Permissive era was characterized by total parental approval. Massachusetts General Court (MGC) enacted the first education law which required parents and children’s guardians to ensure that charges could read and internalize the principle of religion and the commonwealth laws. European immigrants contributed greatly to the development of permissive period. There was a great variety of languages spoken, which led to the development of institutions of bilingual education, like German-English schools in Ohio and German schools. Permissive period was perceived positively by the public and private schools, competing for students in the immigrant communities (Urban & Wagoner, 2008).
Permissive period led to beginning of a private academy by Benjamin Franklin. The secondary school offered practical curriculum framework of several subjects in order to develop important skills in students. During this period, a great variety of private schools was established. By the mid-1800s, many parents who did not trust the public institutions could take their children to numerous private schools. These offered unique training that catered for a majority of the immigrant’s culture and religion. Permissive period intended to assimilate different immigrant populations, rather than introduce a bilingual education system.
Permissive period saw the opening of the first public high school in Boston, which encouraged education and literacy skills in the natives. The public schooling system intended to cater for the poor children, whose parents did not have financial resources to pay for private schools. This created a great rift between students in both public and private schools due to the economic status difference.
Restrictive Period: 1880’s – 1960’s
Restrictive period took place from 1880’s to 1960’s. There were several restrictive policies. Policies were enacted due to the fear of competition by the big population of the immigrants, who threatened the public education by their bilingual system of education. This period led to unsuccessful training of Indian students, using their native language by the missionaries. This was due to advocating for the use of English language in schools. Restrictive period led to the fact that immigrants started being examined for knowledge of different languages. European immigrants encouraged importation of ideologies, which were foreign to the American nation. This created pressure and caused advocacy for assimilation of culture and religion.
Encouraging Era: 1827 – 1920’s
Encouraging era began after the permissive period. It made the government encourage establishment of district schools through collection of taxes to support their foundation. Encouraging period was characterized by the authority of parents and children to decide whether to join public or private schools (Urban & Wagoner, 2008). During this period, Massachusetts passed laws that required choosing of school committees by towns, which made public schools fall under the organization of a single authority. Other states adopted this system, and this led to the establishment of school districts. Public schools were encouraged to use the Protestant Bibles in their religious teachings, as opposed to the private schools, which had different teachings depending on the immigrants attending the school.
Before public schools became common, only 1 in 10 people declared themselves literate. Most parents did not trust the quality of public schools, since they preferred the private schools they were used to. These were believed to maintain their culture and religion. Mistrust caused the widespread believe that parents are not always the best guardians of their children, because they decided which schools they should attend. The Maine Supreme Court enacted a law that made it legal for students attending public schools to read Protestant Bibles. Parents created a discouragement, since despite expansion of government’s schools, which their children attended, they took them for tuition in the private schools.
Compulsory Era: 1955
According to Urban & Wagoner (2008), during Compulsory era, Americans took opportunities to learn foreign languages. Creation of a strong military prior to the World War II required skills in Mathematics and Science for commercial and diplomatic reasons. During Compulsory era, the government forced the establishment of school districts, and there was an increase in the taxation to support government schools. This period was characterized by the establishment of the curriculum framework and structure. It is time, when an end to the parent’s authority came, forcing all students at certain levels to go to government schools in the different states. Other states made it illegal for children to attend private schools, even when the parents could afford to pay for the expenses. The period led to the elevation of the United States department of education to the level of cabinet. This was done in order to increase the parents’ trust and ensure that majority of students get enrolment.
In 1958, the American government passed the National Defense and Education Act, which stopped the restriction of bilingual education and promoted learning in foreign languages in both universities and schools. Movements by the civil activists caused the re-establishment of the bilingual education system in order to fight for the equality of the African-American children. In 1964, the Civil Rights Act fought for prohibition of discrimination based on color, race, religion and culture, which encouraged equality and freedom.
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Compulsory era led resulted in the Bilingual Education Act in 1967. This was a great step in the development of education, since it led to the acceptance of the federal policy of education. The policy aided the Indians and Spanish immigrants who were using mother tongue in their education system, without compelling to a new system. There was a minority language transition to English. Compulsory period led to the developmental growth in bilingual education system. Minority languages got empowerment and were involved in important decision making. For the education development of the country, students in the public and private schools had supplies of educational materials, like textbooks and writing materials, helping them to boost their education. District schools had strict requirements to implement vital English instructions in order to help the students be competent in the subject.
Compulsory period led to the development of program classification. There were immersion programs, which did not allow the use of native languages by students. Partial immersion programs allowed the use of English instructions, and provided a short period each day for learning of native languages. Transitional bilingual program provided most instructions in the native language and English. Developmental stage of bilingual education was a dual immersion program where students, using native language and English, were put in the same classroom to learn each other’s language.
Freedom or School Choice Era: 1980’s
Freedom or school choice era started in the 1980’s. There was an expansion of education options for school children and increased authority of parents. During this period, compelling of children to attend government schools stopped and enacting of laws to permit home schooling took place. The rift between the children attending private and public schools reduced, because there were laws for developing of government schools to have better equipment in order to encourage learning in students, regardless of their backgrounds. Some states enacted income tax credits for scholarships given to the children, whose parents cannot afford the school fees. Freedom period led to the development of special education for children with disabilities. This encouraged most of them to attend school and become educated. Freedom in the American Education system encouraged more bilingual education for the immigrants and the natives.
Bilingual education faced several challenges in the political system, since politicians did not believe in the importance of the system. The politicians enacted several policies to hinder the development of the bilingual system. Bilingual program activists argued for the system, but it was in vain, the leaders only wanted the use of English in schools, while bilingual system threatened the use of English language in schools.
Dismissive Era: Late 1980’s
Dismissive period began in the late 1980’s and continues up till present time. This period has caused a great fight for the bilingual education system, since for more than twenty years there was encouragement to apply the program in the American educational system. Leaders were against the use of minority languages in the country. They argued that it was illegal and against American educational policies to adopt a bilingual education system. The arguments emphasized the use of English in job markets, making the minority languages irrelevant to their system. Compliance standards of American offices required an individual to have versed good knowledge of English, and effective administering of programs was encouraged in English.
American education developed throughout centuries and overcame numerous challenges, which resulted in great changes from 1700s up to our time. Bilingual education system though important in the development and appreciation of other cultures and religion, went through various challenges before being finally accepted in the American system. Religion and culture determined schooling of immigrant children. Increase in the immigrant population promoted development of the educational system in America and resulted in numerous changes.