In the early 1800's, very few children went to school, white boys. A man named Horace Mann grew up going to school 10 weeks a year and working on his family's farm the rest of the year. When Mann was older, he became known as "the father of American public schools," because he became the leader of the education reform.
Horace Mann Makes a Change
There were not many public schools, schools payed for by taxes. The few public schools that were around were only open for short periods of time and the teachers had little education and were payed very little.
Education For Girls and Women
Many poor children in cities stole, destroyed property, and set fires. People believed that education could help these children become good citizens and Mann also believed that every child deserved a chance for education.
Education for African Americans
Mann became Massachusetts' state supervisor of education. He spoke out on the need for more public schools and soon he had states in the north and the west following him. By 1850, most white children, especially boys, were attending public schools. But some states still didn't offer public education to everyone.
Our means of education are the grand machinery by which 'raw material' of human nature can be worked up into inventors and discoverers, into skilled artisans and scientific farmers.
Most high schools and colleges still didn't admit girls and in the south, very few girls were able to attend schools at all. Education for girls did make some good progress when Oberlin College opened in 1837 and became the first college to admit girls and boys. Without this step, education for girls and women may have been very different today.
Pre-reform, African Americans were also not allowed to go to school to get education. Majority of schools did not allow African Americans to attend schools so some towns built smaller schools that received less money for African Americans could receive education. Horace Mann realized that there was still a lot of work left to do to education to everyone.