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Common Schools, Segregation and Pluralism

When considering the history of American education and the establishment of the common school, one topic deserves specific attention. People’s attitudes towards the idea of common school and segregated education had a considerable impact on the further development of the U.S. educational system and the overall society. As far as minority groups are concerned, they wanted to receive more opportunities and become more involved in the political and economic aspects, and they saw educations as the necessary ground to achieve their goals (Childs, 2017, p. 47). At the same time, these groups were willing to have separate schools to avoid violence or mistreatment of their children (Spring, 2018, p. 136). Minority groups demanded the increase in the number of separate schools although they acknowledged the dark side of such establishments (as children still had a low-quality education).

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The white population of the country also had rather mixed feelings concerning common schools. On the one hand, it was clear for them that uneducated minority groups were becoming less productive in the changing industrial world (Kaestle, 2016, p. 37). The White majority also wanted to facilitate minority groups’ assimilation and incorporation in the Anglo-Saxon world (Da Silva, 2018, p. 54). It was expected that Anglo-Saxon values would become the basis for the creation of the nation. On the other hand, Southerners and many people in the North were still biased and could not accept and embrace the principles of equality. Such people continued attacking the representatives of minority groups, which led to further segregation and polarization of the American society. These attitudes of both camps (Whites and diverse minority groups) affected the development of the U. S. educational system with its segregation in the first part of the twentieth century and continuing tensions in the twenty-first century.


Childs, D. (2017). African American education and social studies: Teaching the history of African American education within a critical pedagogy framework. Ohio Social Studies Review, 54(1), 44–50.

Da Silva, J. (2018). School(house) design and curriculum in nineteenth century America: Historical and theoretical frameworks. Springer.

Kaestle, C. (2016). Federalism and inequality in education: What can history tell us? In I. Kirsch & H. Braun (Eds.), The dynamics of opportunity in America: Evidence and perspectives (pp. 35-96). Springer.

Spring, J. (2018). The American school: From the Puritans to the Trump era (10th ed.). Routledge.

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