Long-Term Trends in Schooling: The Rise and Decline (?) of Public Education in the United States
In recent decades, there has been rising anxiety about the quality of the public education in the United States. However, it is important to note that this has not always been the case; in fact, the United States has long been a leader in terms of the public provision of education at all levels of schooling. This chapter documents this history, describing the conditions in the early years of the country that were conducive to the rise of universal public education, in particular the relative homogeneity of the population and the local nature of the provision of public education. These factors increased local support and enabled the educational system to be responsive to local needs. In more recent history, however, there has been substantial change in the demographics of the United States; this chapter also explores how well the public education system has been able to adapt to these changes.
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