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I earned my Ph.D. in the history of American education from Columbia University in 1975. It is a fascinating field of study, because the early history continues to be relevant to contemporary debates. At present, the nation is led by people who disparage public schools. They know nothing of the struggles to establish public schools that are open to all, supported by taxes, and tuition-free. I was fortunate in that my mentor was the great historian of education, Lawrence A. Cremin. I can’t help but wonder what he would say if he saw what is happening today, with the rise of a movement to undermine public education and turn it over to corporate chains, religious schools with uncertified teachers, home schooling, computer-based instruction, and all manner of substitutes for public schools staffed by qualified and certified professionals. The fact that this destructive strategy is supported by the federal government is simply bizarre.
This report is a useful overview of the early establishment of public education, even before the adoption of the Constitution. The report was written by Alexandra Usher for the Center for Education Policy.
Read the report here.