Before the times of the 1830's, education wasn't a central systematic subject for our country. Education was more of a local responsibility that Catholic Churches, or parents took up and taught their own curriculum. With this meant, that if you wanted somewhat of an education, you had to convert and lose all your principles, or only be taught what your parents wanted you to know. If your town was extremely lucky, your local government gave you somewhat of accommodation to the churches in the form of supplies or teaching material or even money.
There was a drive toward a public systematic schooling for the youth, but it wasn't because we thought we needed it for our country but because of the vast amount (2.5 million) of Eastern and Southern European immigrants coming to the US in the 1820's. All of them coming in poor, uneducated, and mostly Protestant. Because of their economic problems and religious views, they could not receive any hope of an education, without giving up their values or finding time outside their jobs. These were the facts of the USA in the 1800's.
The influx of poor immigrants and new forms of Christian religious groups in America caused much backlash against many local independent schools. Many who could not afford such education for themselves or their families protested. This was the first wave of criticism that came with the immigrants, as more lower class Americans realized they were being given unfair advantages as well. Those who could not attend local schools, because the religions were conflicting with their own, also protested, and were the second wave criticism and call for change. These events would become known as the "School Wars" of the 1840's and this would later create a clear divide between public and private schools.