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The History Of The American Education System: A Look At The 1900s

2059 words - 9 pages

The History of the American Education System: A look at the 1900s

The dawn of the 1900s brought with it progressive education. With a growing
population due to an influx of immigrants, many cities decided to build more schools.
Chicago was one such city.

Before 1889, the city of Chicago had only five high schools. By 1990, the
Chicago Board of Education had developed the Chicago Normal School, 15 high
schools and 234 elementary schools. These schools provided not only education for students but also job opportunities for many individuals. This dramatic change opened up positions for 5,709 teachers (filled by 394 men and 5,315 women), who were paid about $325 per year.
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In the early 1900s, schools experienced an ongoing debate between teaching
evolution vs. creation in schools. The apex of this debate occurred in 1925 with the Scopes Monkey Trial. In this trial, John Scopes, “a high school science teacher in Dayton, Tennessee was tried for teaching the theory of evolution,” (Family Education 2004). Teaching students the theory of evolution was illegal under the Butler Statute, which stated that any theory in discrepancy with creationism couldn’t be taught in publicly funded schools. Scopes was convicted and fined $100 but the conviction was later over-ruled on the basis of technicality.

In 1939 school buses became yellow. Frank Cyr, a teacher, organized a conference with transportation officials and specialists from school-bus manufacturing and paint companies to discuss what colors should be used. “They chose yellow with black letters for the colors of the bus - the easiest ones to see in the early morning and late afternoon. After World War II, in 1945 the G.I. Bill of Rights was introduced. When they returned, it became necessary to reintegrate “returning servicemen into the civilian economy and into the national life,” (American Education Web Project 1999). During this period, the G.I. Bill of Rights offered college scholarships, in addition to educational and other benefits to veterans of the
war.

By the 1950s, elementary schools in America began resembling schools today. A typical school day began at 9am and ended at 3pm, with 18 other children in the classroom. Boys were expected to wear nice pants and a shirt, while girls wore dresses. The desks were wooden with flip-tops, storing pencils, papers, books for social studies, science, math, reading, spanish, in addition to materials for art and music. The grading system for elementary students was U or S, while the older children’s grades were based on the traditional A-F scale. (Thinkquest 2000) During this decade laws were passed and technological advances were made that would change education forever. In 1954 Brown Vs. the Board of Education stated that separate but equal schools were unconstitutional. Schools were found to be unequal, which was not the plan intended. Eventually students of different races would be taught in the same institutions. (Schugurensky 2003). In 1957 the Soviet Union launched the first simulated satellite, Sputnik, which began the “Space Race”. American schools began panicking that their science and math programs were not up to par. They didn’t want Soviets to out-do Americans in technology, so schools adopted more advanced math, science, and technology programs that would help us advance. (Family Education 2003)

The sixties and seventies were the decades of ethical issues being presented among both families and schools. In 1962, during the Engel vs. Vitale court case, the Supreme Court ruled that the state could not enforce prayer...

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