Big Push For Preschool Education
The United States has been a world pioneer in schooling for the people. It started in colonial days in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Every child was compelled to attend a school, starting at an early age. The reason was double: First, it was necessary to teach all children that humans were born in sin and that they must learn to overcome this inherent trait. Secondly, the hours spent in school kept the kids off the streets where they would commit untold mischief. The schools were, in effect, parochial.
In the early years of the 19th century a new dimension was added. Thanks to the rise of a labor movement, workers won the right to vote, although they did not own property. They were organized city by city. Philadelphia was the first. Their platforms differed to reflect their different circumstances. But they all called for free, universal public school education. Their reason was double: Education would enable workers to tackle jobs that needed learning. They also felt that education would prepare the children of workers to hold posts of public responsibility.
At first, the education was applied to the elementary grades. Then high school education followed. And then came public colleges and universities.
Since the financing of schools was local, wealthy neighborhoods had better schools than poor neighborhoods. Some states came to the rescue by helping out with financial aid where needed. Then came federal aid to education.
The latest step in the progress of American education is a movement promoting preschool education for 3- and 4-year-olds. Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton proposes to spend $15 billion over five years on universal preschool education.
Yes, the United States still is a nation that wisely values education.