Education in the United States
overview about the educational system of the United States of America
Education in the United States is provided in private and public institutions.
- We know that you highly esteem the kind of learning taught in these Colleges; and that the Maintenance of our young Men, while with you, would be very expensive to you. We are convinced, that you mean to do us Good by your Proposal; and we thank you heartily. But you, who are wise must know that different Nations different Conceptions of things and you will therefore not take it amiss, if our Ideas of this kind of Education happen not to be the same as yours. We have some Experience of it. Several of our young People were formerly brought up at the Colleges of the Northern Provinces; they were instructed in all your Sciences; but when they came back to us, they were bad Runners, ignorant of every means living in the wood...neither fit for Hunters, Warriors, nor Counselors, they were totally good for nothing. We are, however, not the less oblig'd by your kind Offer, tho' we decline accepting it; and, to show our grateful Sense of it, if the Gentlemen of Virginia will send us a Dozen of their Sons, we will take Care of their Education, instruct them in all we know, and make Men of them.
- Letter from Canastego, an Onodaga elder of the sovereign Six Nations, June 18, 1744, Isaiah Smithson; Nancy Ruff (1994). English Studies/culture Studies: Institutionalizing Dissent. University of Illinois Press. pp. 95–96. ISBN 978-0-252-06398-5.
- The whole people must take upon themselves the education of the whole people and be willing to bear the expenses of it. There should not be a district of one mile square, without a school in it, not founded by a charitable individual, but maintained at the public expense of the people themselves.
- John Adams, The Works of John Adams, Second President of the United States: With a Life of the Author, Notes and Illustrations, Volume 9, Little, Brown, 1854, p. 540.
- Why is it that millions of children who are pushouts or dropouts amount to business as usual in the public schools, while one family educating a child at home becomes a major threat to universal public education and the survival of democracy?
- Stephen Arons, Compelling Belief: The Culture of American Schooling (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1983), 88.
- The assumption is all but universal among those who control our educational policies from the elementary grades to the university that anything that sets bounds to the free unfolding of the temperamental proclivities of the young, to their right of self-expression, as one may say, is outworn prejudice. Discipline, so far as it exists, is not of the humanistic or the religious type, but of the kind that one gets in training for a vocation or a specialty. The standards of a genuinely liberal education, as they have been understood, more or less from the time of Aristotle, are being progressively undermined by the utilitarians and the sentimentalists. If the Baconian-Rousseauistic formula is as unsound in certain of its postulates as I myself believe, we are in danger of witnessing in this country one of the great cultural tragedies of the ages.
- Irving Babbitt, "What I Believe" (1930), Irving Babbitt: Representative Writings (1981), p. 16
- Mass public education is one of the great achievements of the United States. ... The U.S. did pioneer it, but it had purposes. One purpose was to drive independent farmers into the industrial system, to induce them to give up their independence, the rights of free men and women, and to submit themselves to industrial discipline and everything that went along with it, to accept a life of wage slavery. ... Ralph Waldo Emerson discussed the fact that the political leaders of his day ... were calling for popular education. When he thought about why they were doing it, he said their reason is fear. "They say this country is filling up with thousands and millions of voters, and you must educate them to keep them from our throats." In other words, educate them, the right way, to passivity, obedience, acceptance of their fate as right and just, conforming to the new spirit of the age, keep their perspectives narrow, their understanding limited, discourage free, independent thought, frighten them into obedience, because the masters are afraid.
- At the instigation of giant corporations, philanthrocapitalist foundations, and neoliberal governments, public education has been restructured around corporate-designed testing based on the implementation of robotic common-core standards. This is generating massive databases on the student population, much of which are now being surreptitiously marketed and sold. The corporatization and privatization of education is feeding the progressive subordination of children’s needs to the cash nexus of the commodity market. [...] Having been reduced to intellectual dungeons, many of the poorest, most racially segregated schools in the United States are mere pipelines for prisons or the military.
- The framers of our Constitution firmly believed that a republican government could not endure without intelligence and education generally diffused among the people. The Father of his Country, in his Farewell Address, uses this language: Promote, then, as an object of primary importance, institutions for the general diffusion of knowledge. In proportion as the structure of a government gives force to public opinion, it is essential that public opinion should be enlightened.
- I would therefore call upon Congress to take all the means within their constitutional powers to promote and encourage popular education throughout the country, and upon the people everywhere to see to it that all who possess and exercise political rights shall have the opportunity to acquire the knowledge which will make their share in the Government a blessing and not a danger. By such means only can the benefits contemplated by this amendment to the Constitution be secured.
- The free school is the promoter of that intelligence which is to preserve us as a nation. If we are to have another contest in the near future of our national existence, I predict that the dividing line will not be Mason’s and Dixon’s, but between patriotism and intelligence on one sight, and superstition, ambition, and ignorance on the other. Now in this centennial year of our national existence, I believe it a good time to begin the work of strengthening the foundation of the house commenced by our patriotic forefathers one hundred years ago, at Concord and Lexington.
- Encourage free schools, and resolve that not one dollar of money shall be appropriated to the support of any sectarian school. Resolve that neither the state nor nation, or both combined, shall support institutions of learning other than those sufficient to afford every child growing up in the land the opportunity of a good common school education, unmixed with sectarian, Pagan, or Atheistical tenets. Leave the matter of religion to the family altar, the church, and the private school, supported entirely by private contributions. Keep the church and the state forever separate. With these safeguards, I believe the battles which created the Army of the Tennessee will not have been fought in vain.
- As the primary step, therefore, to our advancement in all that has marked our progress in the past century, I suggest for your earnest consideration, and most earnestly recommend it, that a constitutional amendment be submitted to the legislatures of the several States for ratification, making it the duty of each of the several States to establish and forever maintain free public schools adequate to the education of all the children in the rudimentary branches within their respective limits, irrespective of sex, color, birthplace, or religions; forbidding the teaching in said schools of religious, atheistic, or pagan tenets; and prohibiting the granting of any school funds or school taxes, or any part thereof, either by legislative, municipal, or other authority, for the benefit or in aid, directly or indirectly, of any religious sect or denomination, or in aid or for the benefit of any other object of any nature or kind whatever.
- The United States ... celebrates rote vocational training and the singular, amoral skill of making money. It churns out stunted human products, lacking the capacity and vocabulary to challenge the assumptions and structures of the corporate state. It funnels them into a caste system of drones and systems managers. It transforms a democratic state into a feudal system of corporate masters and serfs.
- Chris Hedges, “Why The United States Is Destroying Education,” truthdig.com April 10, 2011
- The public, therefore, among a democratic people, has a singular power, which aristocratic nations cannot conceive; for it does not persuade others to its beliefs, but it imposes them and makes them permeate the thinking of everyone by a sort of enormous pressure of the mind of all upon the individual intelligence. In the United States the majority undertakes to supply a multitude of ready-made opinions for the use of individuals, who are thus relieved from the necessity of forming opinions of their own. Everybody there adopts great numbers of theories, on philosophy, morals, and politics, without inquiry, upon public trust; and if we examine it very closely, it will be perceived that religion itself holds sway there much less as a doctrine of revelation than as a commonly received opinion.
- Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America, Volume 2, Book 1, Chapter 2, J. Spencer, trans.
- Every child must be encouraged to get as much education as he has the ability to take. We want this not only for his sake—but for the nation's sake. Nothing matters more to the future of our country: not military preparedness—for armed might is worthless if we lack the brain power to build a world of peace; not our productive economy—for we cannot sustain growth without trained manpower; not our democratic system of government—for freedom is fragile if citizens are ignorant.
- President Lyndon B. Johnson, special message to the Congress, "Toward Full Educational Opportunity," January 12, 1965. Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Lyndon B. Johnson, 1965, book 1, p. 26.
- Transforming hereditary privilege into ‘merit,’ the existing system of educational selection, with the Big Three [Harvard, Princeton, and Yale] as its capstone, provides the appearance if not the substance of equality of opportunity. In so doing, it legitimates the established order as one that rewards ability over the prerogatives of birth. The problem with a ‘meritocracy,’ then, is not only that its ideals are routinely violated (though that is true), but also that it veils the power relations beneath it. For the definition of ‘merit,’ including the one that now prevails in America’s leading universities, always bears the imprint of the distribution of power in the larger society. Those who are able to define ‘merit’ will almost invariably possess more of it, and those with greater resources—cultural, economic and social—will generally be able to ensure that the educational system will deem their children more meritorious.
- Jerome Karabel, The Chosen: The Hidden History of Admission and Exclusion at Harvard, Yale, and Princeton (Houghton Mifflin: 2005), pp. 549-550
- Education is the first step to empowerment. We need to see the power of our contributions to feel more inside ourselves, more inside our bodies, more inside our culture. And now [after the experience of putting together “Latin History for Morons”] I feel like we Latinx people created America.
- John Leguizamo, "Broadway's John Leguizamo shares four favorite Latino heroes", Arturo Conde, NBC News, (Nov. 16, 2018).
- You see all these white heroes, everybody is white, all the literature classes—your Shakespeare, your poetry — everybody’s white, and you start to feel less than.
- John Leguizamo, "Broadway's John Leguizamo shares four favorite Latino heroes", Arturo Conde, NBC News, (Nov. 16, 2018).
- There was a little bit of improvement in my son’s education, but Latin American and black contributions—and I don’t mean to lump us together—were nonexistent in my public school. Even when I went to college, there was nothing. When I was studying the Civil War, there was nothing about everything we did, not one mention of any participation or contribution, ever. And it would’ve changed my life.
- John Leguizamo, "John Leguizamo Is Here to Explain Latino History for You", Patricia Garcia, Vogue, (April 6, 2017)
- I started to think why people feel comfortable disrespecting us in a way that’s just not normal or natural. And I started to think that it's because our contributions aren't in history textbooks.
- John Leguizamo, "#NBCLatino20: Broadway's Professor, John Leguizamo", Raul A. Reyes, Marshall Crook and Geraldine Cols Azócar, NBC News, (Sept. 14, 2017).
- Upon the subject of education, not presuming to dictate any plan or system respecting it, I can only say that I view it as the most important subject which we as a people can be engaged in. That every man may receive at least a moderate education, and thereby be enabled to read the histories of his own and other countries, by which he may duly appreciate the value of our free institutions, appears to be an object of vital importance, even on this account alone, to say nothing of the advantages and satisfaction to be derived from all being able to read the Scriptures, and other works both of a religious and moral nature, for themselves.
- Abraham Lincoln, Address Delivered in Candidacy for the State Legislature (9 March 1832)
- But it was in making education not only common to all, but in some sense compulsory on all, that the destiny of the free republics of America was practically settled.
- James Russell Lowell, Among my Books, New England Two Centuries Ago.
- I also desire to encourage and foster an appreciation of the advantages which I implicitly believe will result from the union of the English-speaking peoples throughout the world and to encourage in the students from the United States of North America[,] who will benefit from the American Scholarships to be established for the reason above given at the University of Oxford under this my Will[,] an attachment to the country from which they have sprung but without I hope withdrawing them or their sympathies from the land of their adoption or birth.
- Cecil J. Rhodes, The Last Will and Testament of Cecil John Rhodes, ed. W. T. Stead, p. 24–29 (1902). The will was dated July 1, 1899.
- Slavery is but half abolished, emancipation is but half completed, while millions of freemen with votes in their hands are left without education.
- Robert C. Winthrop, Yorktown Oration, (Oct. 19, 1881).
- National Center for Education Statistics
- Information on studying in the US
- High School Grade Point Average Calculator – Standard grade point average calculator for US High Schools.
- Information on education in United States, OECD – Contains indicators and information about United States and how it compares to other OECD and non-OECD countries
- Diagram of American education system, OECD – Using 1997 ISCED classification of programmes and typical ages.
- Brown University Library. Education. Research Guides.
- Fordham University Libraries. Education. Research Guides.
- Harvard Graduate School of Education – Gutman Library. Research Guides.
- University of Texas at San Antonio Libraries. Education. Research Guides.