Was homework really once considered detrimental to children’s health? Was summer vacation really designed to give children of farmers time to help in the fields? Why do kids have to go to school anyway?
With millions of American students heading back to school today for the 2011-12 academic year, it’s a good time to test your knowledge on the history of the country’s public education system. Here’s a quiz to test your knowledge. Answers are below, with additional information.
1. The Common School Movement of the 1800s was led by Horace Mann and other reformers who argued for the creation of public schools open to everyone. What did they say such schools would do?
a) create good citizens
b) create an American culture and character
c) prevent crime and poverty
d) all of the above
2. In 1900, Edward Bok, the powerful editor of the Ladies Home Journal, wrote an article that was titled “A National Crime at the Feet of American Parents.” What did it say?
a) That too many parents did not send their children to school
b) That children were forced to do too much school work and homework
c) That children were given tests every day at school
d) That children were not fed during the school day
3. True or False
California banned homework in 1901.
4. True or false
American public schools have traditionally been closed in summer because children were needed during the summer months to help their parents on farms.
5. What did the U.S. Supreme Court rule in 1925 in Pierce v. Society of Sisters?
a) That public money could not be used for religious schools.
b) That states could not force children to attend public schools and they could attend private schools instead
c) That state and federal governments could not regulate what religious schools could teach.
d) That state governments could not set qualifications for teachers at religious schools
6. What was the first publically supported secondary school in the United States?
a) Cambridge Rindge and Latin School, Cambridge, MA
b) Woodstock Academy, Woodstock, CT
c) Boston Latin School, Boston, MA
d) Hartford Public School, Hartford, CT
7. What position did Horace Mann, called the father of the Common School Movement, hold?
a) 1st U.S. Secretary of Education
b) president of National Education Association
c) 1st president of the Harvard School of Education
d) Secretary of the Massachusetts State Board of Education
8. In 1954, the Supreme Court ruled in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka. It said that racial segregation in public schools was unconstitutional. Which of the following is true:
a) The only plaintiff in the Brown case was Oliver Brown on behalf of his daughter.
b) Brown v. Board of Education was the first legal challenge to racially segregated schools in the United States.
c) The case was initiated and organized by the leaders of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, who recruited African Americans in Topeka for a class action suit against the city’s school board.
9. Why and when did Congress pass the National Defense Education Act?
a) In 1950, to boost civics education after the start of the Korean War
b) In 1958, to boost math and science education after the Russians sent Sputnik, the first artificial satellite, into space.
c) In 2002, to boost education in intelligence fields after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
d) In 2009, to boost STEM education to create more engineers and highly skilled workers for the national work force
10. The following quote came from where? “If an unfriendly foreign power had attempted to impose on America the mediocre educational performance that exists today, we might well have viewed it as an act of war.”
a) President Lyndon Johnson’s address before signing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965
b) A Nation at Risk report initiated by president Reagan in 1983
c) Introduction to No Child Left Behind law, passed by Congress in 2001 and signed by President George W. Bush in 2002
d) Speech by Education Secretary Arne Duncan in 2010, announcing Race to the Top education reform initiative
11. How many public elementary and secondary schools are there in the United States today?
a) about 50,000
b) about 100,000
c) about 150,000
d) about 200,000
1 d. all of the above
2. b. Bok waged a campaign against homework. He thought kids shouldn’t have to work too hard and thought nobody under 15 years old should have any homework. For older kids, he suggested that it be limited to an hour a day.
3. True. California banned homework for students under age 15 in 1901 though the policy was later reversed. Other school districts across the country did the same thing as a result of Bok’s campaign.
4. It is commonly said that summer vacation is a vestige of America’s agrarian past, when children were required to help their parents on the farm. In fact, extra hands were needed in the fields in the spring for planting and in the fall for harvesting. According to some researchers, the summer vacation does not have rural roots but rather urban roots; it was simply too hot, dusty and unhealthy in the summer to hold school.
5. b. The 1925 Supreme Court ruling in Pierce v. Society of Sisters said that states could not force families to send their children to public schools and that they could go to private schools instead. Many Catholics were reluctant to send their children to public schools and a system of private Catholics schools was created, supported by this ruling.
6. c. Boston Latin School, founded in 1635.
Hartford was founded in 1638, Cambridge in 1638, Woodstock in 1801
7. d. Secretary of the Massachusetts State Board of Education
8. c is correct.
Regarding the other choices: The Supreme Court actually combined five cases under the Brown V. Board of Education of Topeka name. And African-American parents started challenging racial segregation in public education as early as 1849 in Massachusetts.
Sources: http://www.servintfree.net/~aidmn-ejournal/publications/2001-11/PublicEducationInTheUnitedStates.html,The Washington Post, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/09/11/AR2006091100908.html, http://www.will.uiuc.edu/community/beyondbrown/brownfacts.htm, .National Center of Education Statistics
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