Trailblazers in American Education There have been several individuals throughout America’s history who have helped develop, shape, advance, balance, and reform education to what it is today. America’s educational system has a rich background from its roots of one room school houses to our current system of education which offers an array of opportunities for students to obtain a public education.
John Dewey John Dewey was an American philosopher, psychologist and educational reformer whose ideas have been influential in education and social reform. Dewey is known as the founder of the progressive education movement. He argued that it was the job of education to encourage individuals to develop their full potential as human beings. Dewey’s educational theories were presented in a variety of books he authored. Several continuous themes ring true in most of Dewey’s books.
They include his frequent argument that education and learning are social and interactive processes, thus school should be considered a social institution where social reform can and ought to take place. In addition, he believed that students thrive in an environment where they are allowed to experience and interact with the curriculum so all students should have the opportunity to take part in their own learning. He was especially critical of forms of memorization learning where repetition of facts and information was exercised. He argued that children should learn by experience.
Rather than just gaining knowledge, Dewey believed that students should develop skills, habits and attitudes necessary for them to solve a wide variety of problems. Dewey’s legacy of the importance of experiential learning remains to this day. There are a number of schools across the United States that follow his theories and methods of teaching. [pic] Alvarez vs. The Board of Trustees of the Lemon Grove School District.
The history of school desegregation legislation in the United States did not begin with the 1954 Supreme Court’s decision in the case of Brown vs. he Topeka school board, but rather in a rural community called Lemon Grove located in Southern California. It has recently been discovered that the earliest court cases concerning school desegregation occurred in the American Southwest in the 1930s. In these cases, Mexican immigrants and their communities were the targeted groups of segregation by school officials. A significant case during this era was the 1930 decision in Roberto Alvarez vs. the Board of Trustees of the Lemon Grove School District. This was the first successful school desegregation court decision in the history of the United States.
It represents an instance when community members took court action and won their case, despite negative sentiment towards them, to ensure the rights of their children to receive an equal education, making it an important event in both San Diego and U. S. history. The case stands as a credit to the activism of San Diego’s Mexican community who used the public system of justice to ensure that not only Mexican-American children in California, but the rest of the United States had access to a quality education (Alvarez, Jr. , 1984). [pic] Science and Math Education Movement
With the launching of Sputnik in October 1957, Americans became extremely fearful that the United States was falling behind in the areas of technology, science, and mathematics. Citizens of the United States feared that their country could see a shortage of trained teachers, engineers, and highly educated students in the near future if something was not done. In response to public pressure, the federal government passed the National Defense Education Act (NDEA) in 1958. The act supported efforts of academic specialists to revise curriculum according to the latest theories and methods.
Improvements were made in all subject areas and institutes were held to train teachers in the use of new materials and methods (Webb, Metha, ; Jordan, 2010). In addition to enhancing the curriculum, the NDEA also funded programs that provided guidance, counseling, and testing programs for students. According to authors Webb, Metha, ; Jordan, the NDEA set the stage for the federal government’s increased involvement in education (2010). [pic] Out of the Education for All Handicapped Children Act (EHA) of 1975 came the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) in 1990.
These pieces of legislation were a result of the earlier Civil Rights Movement in Education during the 1960s where marginalized groups were fighting for justice and equality within the education system. The federal law, IDEA, was established in 1990. It applies to all children with disabilities from birth to age twenty-one. The statue defines “disabled children” as those with mental retardation, hearing impairments, emotional disturbance, orthopedic impairments, autism, traumatic brain injury, multiple disabilities, or specific learning disabilities.
To receive services under the IDEA, a student must not only have a disability, but the condition also must affect the student’s education. The major principles included in the IDEA are: the right to a free and appropriate education, identification and nondiscriminatory evaluation, an individualized education program (IEP), least restrictive environment, and procedural due process (Webb, et al. , 2010). While the law has transformed and grown over the years, it remains evident in the classroom to this day. It has promoted research and technology development, details on transition programs for post high school students, and programs that educate children in their neighborhood schools instead of separate schools.