10th Edition

The American School From the Puritans to the Trump Era

By Joel Spring Copyright 2018
    538 Pages 18 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    538 Pages 18 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This current, comprehensive history of American education is designed to stimulate critical analysis and critical thinking by offering alternative interpretations of each historical period. In his signature straight-forward, concise style, Joel Spring provides a variety of interpretations of American schooling, from conservative to leftist, in order to spark the reader’s own critical thinking about history and schools. This tenth edition follows the history of American education from the seventeenth century to the integration into global capitalism of the twenty-first century to the tumultuous current political landscape. In particular, the updates focus on tracing the direct religious links between the colonial Puritans and the current-day Trump administration.

    • Chapters 1 and 2 have been rewritten to take a closer look at religious traditions in American schools, leading up to the educational ideas of the current U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos.
    • An updated Chapter 15 further links traditional religious fundamentalist ideas and the twentieth century free market arguments of the Chicago school of economists to President Trump’s administration and the influence of the Alt-Right.


    List of Time Lines

    About the Author  


     1 Thinking Critically about History  

    Interpreting School History: From the Right to the Left  

    Purposes of Educational History and Its Effect on Public Images and Emotions Regarding Schools  

    Themes in American Educational History  

    Globalization Framework

    Religious Debates in U.S. Schools from the Colonial Era to the Present

    Schools and the Culture Wars

    Schools as Managers of Public Thought

    Racial and Ethnic Conflict as a Theme in School History  

    The Role in Educational History of Equality of Opportunity and Human Capital  

    Globalization: Consumer and Environmental Education  

     2 Globalization and Religion in Colonial Education  

    Education and Culture in Colonial Society  

    The Role of Education in Colonial Society  

    Historical Interpretations of Colonial Education  

    Authority and Social Status in Colonial Education  

    Colonialism and Educational Policy  

    Language and Cultural Conflict  

    Native Americans: Education as Cultural Imperialism  

    Enslaved Africans: Atlantic Creoles  

    Enslaved Africans: The Plantation System  

    The Idea of Secular Education: Freedom of Thought and the Establishment of Academies  

    Benjamin Franklin and Education as Social Mobility  

    The Family and the Child  


     3 Nationalism, Multiculturalism, and Moral Reform in the New Republic  

    World Culture Theorists  

    The Problem of Cultural Diversity  

    Religion and Liberty

    Noah Webster: Nationalism and the Creation of a Dominant Culture 

    Thomas Jefferson: A Natural Aristocracy  

    Moral Reform and Faculty Psychology  

    Concepts of Childhood: Protected, Working, Poor, Rural, and Enslaved 

    Charity Schools, the Lancasterian System, and Prisons  

    Institutional Change and the American College  

    Public versus Private Schools  

    Conclusion: Continuing Issues in American Education  

     4 The Ideology and Politics of the Common School  

    Three Distinctive Features of the Common School Movement  

    The Ideology of the Common School Movement

    Workingmen and the Struggle for a Republican Education  

    How Much Government Involvement in Schools? The Whigs and the Democrats  

    The Birth of the High School  

    The Continuing Debate about the Common School Ideal  


     5 The Common School and the Threat of Cultural Pluralism  

    The Increasing Multicultural Population of the United States 

    Irish Catholics: A Threat to Anglo-American Schools and Culture  

    Slavery and Freedom in the North: African Americans and Schools in the New Republic  

    Native Americans  


     6 Organizing the American School: Teachers and Bureaucracy  

    The American Teacher  

    Revolution in Teaching Methods: Object Learning  

    The Evolution of Bureaucracy: A Global Model  

    The Age-Graded Classroom  

    McGuffey’s Readers and the Spirit of Capitalism  


     7 Multiculturalism and the Failure of the Common School Ideal  

    Mexican Americans: Race and Citizenship  

    Asian Americans: Exclusion and Segregation  

    Native American Citizenship  

    Educational Racism and Deculturalization 

    Citizenship for African Americans  

    Issues Regarding Puerto Rican Citizenship  

    Puerto Rican American Educational Issues

    Conclusion: Setting the Stage for the Great Civil Rights Movement 

     8 Global Migration and the Growth of the Welfare Function of Schools  

    Immigration from Southern and Eastern Europe  

    The Kindergarten Movement  

    Home Economics: Education of the New Consumer Woman  

    School Cafeterias, the American Cuisine, and Processed Foods  

    The Play Movement  

    Summer School  

    Social Centers  

    The New Culture Wars  

    Resisting Segregation: African Americans 

    The Second Crusade for Black Education 

    Resisting Segregation: Mexican Americans 

    Native American Boarding Schools  

    Resisting Discrimination: Asian Americans  

    Educational Resistance in Puerto Rico  

    Conclusion: Public Schooling as America’s Welfare Institution  

     9 Human Capital: High School, Junior High School, and Vocational Guidance and Education  

    The High School 

    Vocational Education 

    Junior High School  

    Adapting the Classroom to the Workplace: Lesson Plans 

    Adapting the Classroom to the Workplace: Progressivism  

    Adapting the Classroom to the Workplace: Stimulus–Response  

    Classroom Management as Preparation for Factory Life  

    Historical Interpretations: Public Benefit or Corporate Greed?  

    Conclusion: The Meaning of Equality of Opportunity 

    10 Scientific School Management: Testing, Immigrants, and Experts  

    Scientifically Managed Schools: Meritocracy and Reducing Public Control  

    Professionalizing Educational Administration  

    Measurement, Democracy, and the Superiority of Anglo-Americans  

    Closing the Door to Immigrants: The 1924 Immigration Act  

    "Backward" Children and Special Classrooms  

    Eugenics and the Age of Sterilization  

    The University and Meritocracy  


    11 The Politics of Knowledge: Teachers’ Unions, the American Legion, and the American Way  

    Teachers versus Administrators: The American Federation of Teachers  

    The Rise of the National Education Association  

    The Political Changes of the Depression Years  

    The Politics of Ideological Management: The American Legion

    Textbook Censorship and the Teaching of Evolution   

    Selling the "American Way" in Schools and on Billboards

    Propaganda and Free Speech in the Schools

    Rugg and Advertising  


    12 Schools, Media, and Popular Culture: Influencing the Minds of Children and Teenagers  

    Censorship of Movies as a Form of Public Education  

    Educators and the Movies  

    The Production Code: Movies as Educators  

    Should Commercial Radio or Educators Determine National Culture?  

    Creating the Superhero for Children’s Radio  

    Controlling the Influence of Comic Books  

    Educating Children as Consumers  

    The Creation of Teenage Markets  

    Children and Youth from the 1950s to the Twenty-First Century  


    13 American Schools and Global Politics: The Cold War and Poverty  

    Youth Unemployment: Universal Military Service and the GI Bill  

    The Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) and the Educational Testing Service  

    The Cold War and Purging the Schools of Communists  

    American Schools: Weakest Link to Global Victory?  

    Global Imperatives: The National Defense Education Act  

    Schools and the War on Poverty  

    Sesame Street and Educational Television  


    14 The Fruits of Globalization: Civil Rights, Global Migration, and Multicultural Education

    Ending School Segregation of National Minorities  

    The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  

    Native Americans and Indigenous Educational Rights  

    Asian Americans: Educating the "Model Minority"  

    Hispanic/Latino Americans  

    Bilingual Education: The Culture Wars Continued  

    The Immigration Act of 1965 and the New American Population  

    Multicultural Education and the Culture Wars 

    Schools and the International Women’s Movement  

    Children with Special Needs  

    The Coloring of Textbook Town  

    Liberating the Textbook Town Housewife for More Consumption  

    Conclusion: The Cold War and Civil Rights  

    15 Globalization, Religion, Free Markets, and Human Capital: From Nixon to Trump

    Free Markets and Human Capital: School Choice and the Role of Schools in Economic Growth and Ending Poverty

    School Prayer and Bible Reading

    Christian Coalition, School Prayer and School Choice

    Christian Coalition: Religious Politics

    No Child Left Behind, Testing and School Prayer

    No Child Left Behind And Religious Conservatives

    The End of The Common School: Choice, Privatization, and Charter Schools

    Trump Administration: Free Markets, Choice, and Privatization

    Educating for the Consumer Economy

    Global Crisis and the Demise of Environmental Education

    Conclusion: From Horace Mann To Donald Trump


    Joel Spring is a professor at Queens College/City University of New York and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, USA.

    'Joel Spring’s The American School points up the fact that, historically, schools have been used as means to gain ideological control over perspective and as means to empower and liberate, both wrapped in democratic shibboleths of “freedom,” “equality,” and “justice.” Furthermore, Spring gives body to the idea that public schooling in the United States is an inherently political undertaking shaped by the various struggles over what democratic justice should mean and how this meaning should be cultivated in the characters who will be entrusted with its realization and direction.'

    —Randy Hewitt, Associate Professor of Philosophy of Education at the University of Central Florida.