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The History of Education in the United States Continues...

The History of Education in the United States Continues...

Module 2.2

Mandated Education Originates...

The Massachusetts Act of 1642 was a law requiring each town to determine whether its young people could read or write. Before this law originated, parents decided if their children would be educated at home or at school. Church and civic leaders of the colonies decided that children were receiving an inadequate education. These leaders felt that organized schools would help to preserve their Puritan religious beliefs. Therefore, the Puritans decided to make education a responsibility of the state, which was how compulsory education originated. Once this law was passed, parents of children that could not read or write could be fined or even lose custody of their children!

The Massachusetts Act of 1647 mandated the establishment and support of schools. This act was referred to as the Old Deluder Satan Act because education was seen as a protection against the devil.

Education for African Americans and Native Americans

Although there were almost half a million African-Americans in the United States around the time of the Revolutionary War, most were slaves. Education for this group was considered the responsibility of the owner and most African-Americans had little or no opportunity to learn skills beyond what they needed to serve their masters. One of the first schools for African Americans was started by Elias Neau in New York City in 1704. This school was sponsored by the Church of England. Neau's school taught African and Native Americans how to read in an effort to convert them. The Quakers, who believed that slavery was wrong, were one of the first groups to establish schools for both African and Native Americans. However, many southern states passed laws forbidding people to teach slaves how to read and write.



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