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Schooling in the United States: Historical Analyses

Embedded within historical analyses of schooling in the United States are a variety of theoretical perspectives. There is broad agreement about the reasons for the founding of public school systems but considerable disagreement about the factors that have shaped the evolving social role of these systems once set in motion. This entry examines theories about both stages of educational development, with special emphasis on the alternative understandings of the purposes and functions of schooling after the founding of the common school system in the mid-19th century.

In the U.S. context, to speak of theories of the history of schooling is perhaps oxymoronic. Unlike their European counterparts, American historians of education have an aversion to engagement with social theory, which arises from the strong Anglo-American tradition ...

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