The American College and University The colonial colleges were among the first colleges created and were established under religious auspices. It was believed that an educated ministry was needed to establish Christianity in the New World. Harvard College was established in 1636, followed by Yale, William and Mary, Princeton and King's College later to be called Columbia University and there were also others. The general colonial college curriculum included Latin, Greek, Hebrew, rhetoric, and logic. Later philosophy, metaphysics, ethics and mathematics were added. The argument later arose that colleges for agriculture and mechanical science should be established with support from federal land grants, thus the Morrill Act of 1862 was created.
This act granted each state 30,000 acres of public land for each senator and representative of Congress and the income from this grant was to support state colleges for agricultural and mechanical instruction. Many leading state universities today originated as land-grant colleges. It is noted that the largest and most popular higher education institutions is the two-year community college which originated as junior colleges in the late 19th and 20th century. These junior colleges were reorganized into community colleges with the broader function of serving the needs of their communities' educational needs. The greatest growth in American higher education came after World War II with the passage of the G.I. Bill in 1944. To help readjust society to peacetime and reintegrate returning service people into domestic life, this bill provided federal funds for veterans for education.
Seven million, eight hundred thousand veterans took advantage of this bill's assistance to attend technical schools, colleges and universities. This increased growth in higher education enrollments that has continued through today. Since the 1980's the cost of attending colleges have increased rapidly. Rising costs of for Medicare, highways and prisons have caused many states to reduce a percentage of their budget for higher education. Colleges and Universities currently face a very serious challenge: 1. The need to contain escalating costs so that higher education is affordable for most people.
2. The need to maintain high standards of instruction while educating larger numbers of students. 3. The need to train faculty in the new modes of technology to improve instruction. Colleges and universities are making progress in this new age of electronic information technology, yet, a continuing challenge remains at all levels of American education-that is the need to provide equitable and excellent education to an ethnically and racially diverse population.
Education in a Culturally Diverse Society The United States has historically been a racially and ethnically a diverse nation. With the exception of the Native Americans, the roots of Americans can be traced back to other continents primarily Africa, Asia and Europe. African Americans came into the United States primarily through slavery. Slavery was later ended by the Civil War, Reconstruction and the Thirteenth Amendment.
African Americans up until today do not receive an equal education. This began in the U.S. when southern states prohibited the teaching of African American children whether free or slave. In 1865, Congress established the Freedmen's Bureau to assist in the economic and educational transition of African Americans from bondage to freedom in the South. They established schools throughout the South and enrolled 114,000 African American students. These schools were structured after the schools in the North where the curriculum provided reading, writing, grammar, geography, arithmetic, and music. These schools were staffed by a majority of Northern schoolteachers who brought with them their educational philosophies and teaching methods, rather than encouraging educational self-determination they emphasized they emphasized the industrial training and social control which kept African Americans in a subordinate economic and social position.
There were two prominent African American men who lived during this time and made substantial contributions to African Americans as well as the American society. They are Booker T. Washington, who was the leading educational spokesperson for African Americans in the half century after the Civil War. He learned the educational philosophy that industrial education would prepare African Americans to be competent workers. Washington subscribed to the philosophy of moral and economic uplift through work. Washington is a controversial figure in history. It is said he made the best of a bad situation, because although he compromised on racial issues he preserved and slowly advanced African Americans educational opportunities.
The second African American and also a critic of Washington is WEB Du bois who was a sociological and educational pioneer who challenged the segregated system that severely limited the educational opportunities of African Americans. Unlike Washington, Du bois did not take a compromising nor accommodating path on racial relations. They both believed strongly in the dignity of work, but Du bois was adamant that a person's occupation should be determined by ability and choice, not racial stereotyping. Native Americans education before their encounter with the Europeans was largely informal. Children learned skills through social roles, and cultural patterns from their direct experience with tribal life and the traditions of their society. Efforts to "civilize" the indigenous Native Americans were made by European Colonists.
The encounters of Native Americans and European colonists resulted in a change in both cultures. For example, French missionaries, seeking to convert the Native Americans to Catholicism as well as educate the children of French colonists, established schools that introduced French language and culture. The same thing went on in the southwest when the Spaniards tried to control Native Americans. The end result being that two cultures would be produced either Native American and Spanish or Native American and French. Boarding Schools were enacted in the 1890's to 1930's to implement the assimilationist's' educational policy whose goal was to assimilate Native Americans in white society.
When this policy came to an end, Native American's education significantly changed. Hispanic Americans comprise the fastest growing ethnic group in the United States. Hispanic is a collective term used to identify Spanish-speaking people whose ethnic origins can be traced back to Mexico, Puerto Rico, Cuba, or Latin American Countries. Mexican Americans, Cuban Americans and Puerto Ricans all entered the United States in their own unique way and at a different time and historical period. Yet they all experience few educational opportunities.
The Bilingual Education Act in 1968 was a breakthrough for Hispanics along with the 1974 Supreme Court Decision in Lau vs. Nichols, led to the establishment of bilingual education programs. However, recently bilingual education has become politically controversial where some of its opponents want to make English the official language. Asian Americans like Hispanics comprise of many different ethnic groups such as Chinese, Japanese, Filipinos, Indians, Thais, Koreans, Vietnamese, Laotians and Cambodians. Immigration amongst them also took place during different times in history yet they have all experienced educational discrimination to some degree and leaving them with limited educational opportunity in the U.S. World War II and the Chinese Exclusion Act were just a few barriers that Asian Americans faced. After WWII the economic and educational status of Asian Americans improved significantly. After the McCarran-Walter Act of 1952, while retaining limited quotas, repealed the ban on Asian immigration and citizenship.
This dramatically increased the immigration of Asian Americans, and many of the newcomers were professionals with advanced education. Their arrival sparked a rise in higher education among all Asian Americans. Multiculturalism in Historical Perspective An important debate in American education focuses on the question of whether public schools should cultivate a common national character or encourages greater cultural diversity. This question is significant for educational policy and is highly relevant to teachers as they create their own personal philosophy of education. This debate has been given the name the Cultural Wars which have continued into the 21st century. Some argue that a culturally diverse nation such as the U.S. needs a common cultural core to provide a sense of unity while others argue that the U. S is a nation of great cultural diversity and the school should recognize and encourage this, not transmit a monocultural version of American cultural identity as id did in its assimilationist's' past.
Recent Historical Trends Some recent historical trends just to list a few are movements toward gender equity, equal educational opportunities for students with disabilities, increased professionalism of education, and reduction of violence in schools. Title IX of the 1972 Education Amendments to the Civil Rights Act and the Women's Educational Equity Act of 1974 prohibited discrimination against women in federally aided education programs. In 1975, Congress passed the Education for All Handicapped Children Act, which improved opportunities for a group of children who had previously lacked full access to a quality education. War on Terrorism On September 11, 2001, foreign terrorists hijacked and deliberately crashed commercial airplanes into the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Washington D.C. The attack and resulting loss of nearly 6000 lives have changed the way Americans view the world and life in their own country. This was mentioned to show how education is part of our ongoing culture, how schools have responded to crises in the past and how schools can promote democratic values and multicultural understanding in a time of crisis.