Education and women teachers
by Irina Kalandia, student at HoMe:) on May 14, 2009
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Education and Women Teachers ...
Education and Women Teachers
Roots in history:
From the landing at Plymouth Rock to today, educators and community members have debated over the best way that government should fulfill its responsibility to educate citizens. Underlying these debates are three central questions: What is the purpose of a public education? Who is to receive the educational
Services provided by the public? And, how does government ensure the quality of these educational services? In various forms, these questions lay beneath all educational changes and reform measures in American history.
Today, school choice, bilingual education, and testing are the hot issues being debated in communities, government chambers, and newspaper op-ed pages. These reform initiatives have lofty goals of increasing access, raising standards of quality, spawning innovation, and empowering students. But as promising as each of these initiatives may be, each produces unintended consequences, thus increasing the complexity of the debate.
Our goal in this material is not to encourage debate but to start deliberation. Contemporary issues cannot be reasonably discussed outside the context of history. To understand where we want to go, we need to first understand how we have come to this point. What follows is an exploration of these issues and their antecedents in history. These topics and timelines are intended to inform community members about the legacy of these vital issues in education today.
Public education today is a product of more than a century of reform and revision. In each era, visionary individuals have taken the lead and transformed the system to meet their ideals. Below are some of the women and men who have shaped our experience of school. One of them was Catherine Beecher, A rebellious nature that surfaced in her youth and continued through her adult years led to challenge accepted notions of femininity and the education of women in the nineteenth century. Born in East Hampton, New York, and raised there and in Litchfield, Connecticut, Beecher’s aversion to the social expectations for women in her well-heeled sphere expressed itself early in the founding of the Hartford Female Seminary.
In her teachings and writings Beecher extolled the power of women in the family by advising them to assume control over domestic affairs. To Beecher, the role of women as mothers served a great purpose in the health of American democracy. She believed women’s education should prepare them for roles of responsibility and that higher education for women should train them as teachers-a natural public extension of women’s role in the family. Beecher published many pamphlets promulgating her positions, and also founded the Western Female Institute in Cincinnati and the Milwaukee Female Seminary.
Linda Brown Thompson- As a third-grader in Topeka, Kansas in the 1950s, Linda Brown Thompson is often credited with single-handedly bringing down segregation in America. The truth is far more nuanced and interesting.
In fact, Brown’s family was just one of thirteen African-American families recruited in Topeka by the NAACP. In 1950, the national civil rights organization was busy enlisting plaintiffs nationwide in preparation for a legal assault on the “separate but equal” Supreme Court ruling that had permitted segregation in American schools for half a century.
In the fall of 1950, the Browns and 12 Topeka families were asked by the NAACP to try and enroll their children in their neighborhood white schools, with the expectation that they would be rejected. The NAACP then filed a lawsuit against the Board of Education in Topeka. That lawsuit and others brought on behalf of plaintiffs in Virginia, South Carolina, Delaware and Washington, DC were presented together on appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. By alphabetical accident, because Brown’s name started with a ‘b’, the landmark 1954 decision that ended legalized segregation in America went down in history as “Br
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