What is the Common School Movement? [Contributions of Horace Mann]
The common school movement was built upon the theory that schools should have a commonality in “beliefs, aspirations and values” notes Gutek, (1995, p. 456). Many notable politicians and educators endorsed the common school movement, including Horace Mann, known as the “father of the common school movement”, notes Barnard et al. (p. 456-457).
Mann believed in the responsibility of the upper class, such as American industrialists and businessmen, and convinced them to support the common school movement through legislation (p. 458). Mann further believed schools should be supported by the state, and be governed by elected, local school boards, which fell in line with the tenth amendment to the constitution which left school systems up to the state powers rather than the federal powers (p. 459-460). The common school movement is the precursor to the modern day public education system.
According to Gutek, the state of Massachusetts was a leader in the common school movement, and served as a model to other New England and Midwestern states. The common school movement did not catch on with the Southern states until after the Civil War. Do you suppose that part of the issue with the Southern reluctance to education had to do with the distance between family homesteads and plantations?
Gutek, Gerald L. (1995). A history of the western educational experience. Long Grove, IL: Waveland Press, Inc.
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