Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Abiel Smith School: Module 10

The 1700’s was a century that started a movement for free African American’s to obtain jobs and education even though there was still much work to be done to abolish slavery all throughout the United States. When Massachusetts ruled slavery illegal in 1783, due to Massachusetts Constitution of 1780. Thus the start of African Americans intergrading into American society, and as with any free individual, African American’s believed they were now entitled to education and “fought against inequalities and discrimination in public schools” (Boston African American National History Site)

Seven years later in Boston Massachusetts, the community and Prince Hall, an abolitionist for African Americans and education set out to petition for African American’s children to have access public education. The black community did not agree with their taxes going to the education of white children, while black children were denied public education. Although it was denied in 1787, members of the black community decided to fix the situation themselves. By 1789, a plan to arrange an African School for children had been accomplished. African American children were taught in Prince Hall’s son’s house, Primus Hall and 9 years later in 1808 the school moved to the first floor of the African Meeting House, the first African American Baptist Church.

By the early 1800’s some children had attended school with white children, however, when the African School moved to the Meeting house many African children’s enrollments were moved to the African School. The African community never gave up with petitions for an African American school to be recognized by the city. The city finally gave in and recognized the school with “partial funding ($200 yearly)” (Boston African American National History Site).

The dedication to Abiel Smith came after his death. He was a white business man who “Left $4,000 for the education of African American children in Boston.”(Mass. Historic Buildings). The Abiel Smith School became the primary school in Boston to educate numerous black children. Due to school segregation in 1849, many African American’s pulled their children out of the Smith School in protest of segregation of education. A bill in 1855, signed by the governor, passed state legislature, which “…outlawed segregation in Massachusetts public schools, although the only segregated system by that time was in Boston”( That fall, segregation ended and black children finally gained the right to public schools. Due to this, the Smith School was closed that same year.

Although Boston was still the only place where education was still segregated it is important to see just how important education and freedoms were to the African community, and also Massachusetts. I chose education for theses blog posts because it is something I care about. However, I did not expect them all to take place in Massachusetts. Massachusetts had very interesting education growth, from laws, to school reform, Horace Mann as a leader of education, and organizing a school for children. It is known that American as a whole has come a long way with public education, but we all know work still needs to be done.

Works Cited
Abiel Smith School Boston. Photograph. Museum of African American History, Boston.

"Boston African American National Historic Site - Abiel Smith School (U.S. National Park Service)." U.S. National Park Service - Experience Your America. Web. 09 May 2011. .

"Museum of African American History, Boston - Black Heritage Trail Site 13." Museum of African American History - Welcome. Web. 09 May 2011. .

Daniel. "Abiel Smith School (1835) » Historic Buildings of Massachusetts." Historic Buildings of Massachusetts. 20 Feb. 2011.

Friday, March 25, 2011

School Reform: Module 6

Image from:Wikipedia

According to, the definition of “reform” is, “to change for the better.” Change all depends on the individual’s perspective of “better”. One might believe free slaves is for the good of mankind because the Constitution claims “all men are created equal”, while another feels it is for the good of the country to keep slaves for the purpose of various labor. Many reform movements surfaced between 1820 and 1840; man of those movements involving an individual’s right. One movement that I will discuss is education and the public school reform. The question is whether or not these movements want “change for the better” or is it just a tactic to wind society into a similar kind. All movements use both methods by groups supporting for a change in rights and groups who oppose that want a homogeneous society explained by Foner, “Nearly all these groups worked to convert public opinion to their case” (Foner 410).

In the case of school reform’s Public Education in Massachusetts, Massachusetts holds a theory that, “…all are to have an equal chance for earning, and equal chances for earning, and equal security in the enjoyment of what they earn”(Horace Mann on Public Schools). This is the belief that every child, every person, deserves an opportunity to explore its intelligence and build on it held mostly to the Northern States. When Horace Mann entered the Massachusetts School Board as Secretary, the one main commitment he felt most passionate about was a free school of public education for everyone to be paid for by tax payers.

Mann was a major supporter of education despite an individuals economic or race status. In a report to The Board of Education to The Slate Legislator Mann explains that education would end poverty, “It does better than to disarm the poor of their hostility towards the rich; it prevents being poor…” (Mass. Education) and would also “restore equality”(Foner 420), and lead to social advancement by, “bringing the children of all classes together in a common learning experience and equipping the less fortunate to advance in the social scale” (Foner 420). Mann’s vision would not only help those in a lower economic status but women as well, as career opportunities open women will be able to apply for jobs as teachers. His belief is that free education was an essential part of being a citizen and participating in a democratic way is part of building one’s well being. Mann wanted a change to better society and especially took into mind for families who could not afford schooling.

Of course with any reform or movement there are two sides. Those opposing public schools were mostly southern states and parents. Theses were parents who wanted their children to be schooled within the family at home and not someone else. The South had a difficult time viewing public schools as an advancement for society. In the South, “where literate blacks were increasingly viewed as a danger to social order and planters had no desire to tax themselves to pay for education for poor white children, lagged far behind in public education.” (Foner 420). Those that viewed African American individuals as a threat because they had enough education to read is a perfect example of southern states wanting to build on a homogeneous society. The elite made up most of the United States and in the South social class issues and racism still played a major part. They did not want to give any rights or education to these groups because they were or used to be slaves, or thought educating the poor would be a waste of time.

Although the Southern state’s did not agree with Mann’s vision of a free public school system at the time; the support of the North was enough for Mann to create public schools in every northern state. As stated by the U.S. Embassy in October 2010, “…almost 90 percent of American students attend elementary and secondary schools…” (Us Embassy), and according to the National Center for Education Statistics in 2008 there were 132,656 public schools spread throughout all 50 states in America. Mann could not live long enough to see the incredible outcome of what he fought so passionately for however, it is safe to say he wanted the substantive change in society for the good of his fellow people.

Works Cited
"Fast Facts." (NCES) Home Page, a Part of the U.S. Department of
Education.National Center for Education Statistics. Web. 20 Mar.
Foner, Eric. "Chapter 12: An Age of Reform 1820-1840." Give Me Liberty!
An American History. 2nd ed. Vol. 1. New York: W.W. Norton &, 2009. Print.
"Only A Teacher: Schoolhouse Pioneers." Public Broadcasting Service.
Web.22 Mar. 2011.
"Society Education." About the USA. U.S. Diplomatic Mission to Germany. Web.
21 Mar. 2011. .
"Horace Mann On Public Schools." WebCT. Diablo Valley College. Web. 17 Mar.
2011. />.
Photograph. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. 20 Feb. 2011. Web. 25 Mar. 2011. .

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Massachusetts School Law of 1642 and 1647

When the Mayflower arrived in Plymouth in 1620, far off from their intended destination, priorities mainly consisted of survival and religious faith. Half of the pilgrims perished during their dangerous journey when finally landing in America there was no room for thoughts on education. Fifteen years later the first public school is established in Boston. A year after that Massachusetts establishes their first college, Harvard. It was these coming years that education started to become present as a forward movement towards public education.

The Massachusetts Law of 1642 set motion and laid foundation for a “mandatory” education. This law states that all parents and masters must have their children or dependents educated to read and write so that they may be able to “read the english tongue, & knowledge of the Capital Lawes: upon penaltie of twentie shillings for each neglect therin”. Basic reading and writing comprehension was important to understand capitol laws and religious rites. The law also holds parents and masters accountable for their dependents effectively pursuing the mandates of the law. Also addressed is the possibility of parents or masters not being able to or willing to educate well enough as stated in the law that they must then, “bring up their children & apprentices in some honest lawful calling, labour or imployment, either in husbandry, or some other trade profitable for themselves, and the Common-wealth” The law then states that if select men still find parents and masters being “negligent of their duties” they then,“…said Select men with the help of two Magistrates, or the next County court for that Shire, shall take such children or apprentices from them & place them with some masters for years”. The importance of raising children with an education that would fit their life started to expand to the point where children would be taken from their home and put in another to insure they received the education the legislators wanted. This last part however, leads us into The Massachusetts School Law of 1647, also known as The Old Deluder Act of 1647.

It was found that parents and masters did not take news of the law of 1642 very seriously, and in some ways were brushed off by parents and masters. As a result the law of 1647required, "every township in this jurisdiction, after the Lord hath increased them to fifty households shall forthwith appoint one within their town to teach all such children as shall resort to him to write and read, whose wages shall be paid either by the parents or masters of such children, or by the inhabitants in general, by way of supply". Meaning, any town with 50 or more families must hire someone within the town to teach reading and writing and will be paid by the parents or masters. The law further states that towns with 100 or more families are to form a Grammar School to prepare children for Harvard College, only if they are "fitted" for university. As with the law of 1642, there are repercussions if parents and masters chose to disregard the law that, "every such town shall pay 5 pounds to the next school till they shall perform this order."

Religion and faith had a lot to do with the Massachusetts School Laws. Knowledge of religious rites was a superior way of living and added significant personal growth. The only way for future children to achieve it was some body of basic education, to read and write. Furthermore, the law of 1647 paved the way for our future public school systems while the law of 1642 set the way of mandatory education in America. It is interesting now how religion is no longer allowed to be discussed in elementary schools and sometimes considerably controversial.

Works Cited
"Massachusetts School Laws." Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Web. 15 Feb. 2011. .
O'Callaghan, Christine. "What Does the Massachusetts Law of 1642 Mean? - by Christine O'Callaghan - Helium." Helium - Where Knowledge Rules. Web. 12 Feb. 2011. .
"The Old Deluder Act (1647)." Laughter and Lawter Genealogy Research Center. Web. 15 Feb. 2011. .
United States of America. Commonwealth of Massachusetts. State Online Services. Mass.Gov. Web. 2 Feb. 2011. .
United States of America. Commonwealth of Massachusetts. State Online Services. Mass.Gov. Web. 2 Feb. 2011.