Blog #3: The Story of American Education

September 14, 2013

To what extent did the American system of education succeed or fail at becoming the “great equalizer”?

The American system of education is a work in progress. As I was watching the video, “The History of American Education”, I kept thinking that with each group of folks that gained access to the schools in the United States there were still more groups that were waiting for admittance. The video shows the successes throughout the history of the American school system while also touching upon the many others that were unable to obtain the same level of education as others around them.

From the beginning, American schools were excluding certain groups of people. In order to actually equalize the country, everyone should have equal access to education. I believe we must understand, as a nation, that excluding people based on the religion, race, gender, financial status or any other factor does not create an equal society but rather underscores the idea.

In the video, some of the groups that were unable to obtain access to education in the beginning of our nation were slaves, women, and poor people. This left a great deal of the population unable to attend school at all. This automatically creates a gap amongst people within the nation. Thomas Jefferson believed that in order to maintain a democracy all citizens should be able to attend school yet many folks were left out of the citizen portion of his statement. People that were uneducated to some degree were left defenseless when their children reached the age of understanding; they were unable to educate their children. Meaning that the gaps increased.

Black Americans were unable to attend school. White Women were only able to attend for three years to prepare for marriage. Poor people didn’t have the means to send their children to school. These were all major problems. As these groups fought to obtain their right to an education, many others such as Irish immigrants were alienated at school for their religious beliefs. Native Americans were stripped of their identity and sent to school to learn an unfamiliar religion. Throughout history many groups have been ostracized from American education system. But is the American system of education “the great equalizer”?

I believe that the system is a “great equalizer” as people become more educated it creates a more equal society where everyone has the right and free access to learning. However, I believe there is still work to be done in order to pursue the objective. For example, many parts of our country have underperforming schools, should the location of home that children live in determine their degree or quality of education? I don’t believe so. There are still parts of the country where socioeconomic status has more impact on a child’s learning than their ability to interpret and comprehend information. In summary, I believe that the American system of education is a great foundation for equalizing the nation but there is a still work to be done to ensure that all students receive a quality education and equal access to the American Dream.

Categories: EDCI 506.

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