Free Law Of Compulsory School Essay Sample

Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Family, Children, Students, Law, School, Religion, Timeline, Home

Pages: 2

Words: 550

Published: 2021/02/24

Education is a field in the US that is well researched and receives support from both state and federal governments. Entire academic programs are dedicated to prepare quality teachers at all levels for students of all ages. However, this was not always the way. Early in the history of the United States, when most families farmed and children were considered to be of more help in the home, education was not required and most children did not go to school. Parents could choose if to send their kids to the few schools there were, which were mostly private or religious (Compulsory Education, 2014). All this changed in 1852 when the US government passed the mandatory education law that makes school attendance required for all youth of certain ages (“Historical Timeline,” 2006). This law helped the US to develop the great educational system it has today that, even though there are many criticisms, gives youth a good chance at being successful in the future.
Before the US government set laws for education, states began to make their own laws. At first, US colonies did not have any laws about education. Massachusetts was the first state to make decrees and laws about education in 1647, when they made a law that every town with more than 50 families must have an elementary school, to make possible for all Puritan children to read the Bible to be sure they were educated on religious topics (“Historical Timeline,” 2006). This was similar to laws passed in Europe in the 1500’s,and in fact being able to read the Bible was the reason for many education laws throughout Europe and the early US (Compulsory Education, 2014). As more colonies became states, the schools that established were mostly still private or religious (Compulsory Education, 2014).
For many years after that, all over the US states and even in Massachusetts, parents could freely choose if to teach their children at home, send them to a religious or private school, or keep them at home or send them to work. At first, many families kept children at home, especially girls, to help with chores such as helping on the family’s farm, or helping to cook and care for the family (“Historical Timeline,” 2006). In the 1800’s, during the time of the industrial revolution when many people began to farm less and work in newly available jobs, many more children got jobs in factories that were dangerous and made them work long hours and jeopardized health and safety for the child workers (Compulsory Education, 2004). The concern over these many child workers was one of the reasons for compulsory education laws. Also, as many immigrant children from Ireland came to the US, people became more concerned about the assimilation of these new children and believed education could be the best way (Simpson, 2004).
In 1837, Horace Mann was named the first secretary of the State Board of Education in Massachusetts, and in 1852 passed the first true compulsory education law (Simpson, 2004). This compulsory education law made it so that every city and town had to have a free public school and not just religious or private schools, and that all parents had to send their children to one of the schools (Compulsory Education, 2004). If they did not they could have to pay a large fine or even have their children taken from them and put with another family (Compulsory Education, 2004). This free and required school made education available to poor children who previously were mostly sent to work because their families needed money and could not afford to pay for private schools.
Even though schooling in the US began as mostly religious, school is now supposed to teach all children the same academic information, even if they are still religious such as Catholic schools. This ensures that all students learn the most important information for their future and are not given misinformation. Furthermore, ensuring that children have to attend school and not be forced to work when they are young and should be learning saves them from exploitation and prepares them well for the workforce. Many countries that do not have or enforce laws about schooling continue to have problems with labor exploitation of children, such as India, where children who can afford an education will succeed as adults but those who cannot remain poor and have no good job opportunities and are forced to labor (Khattar, 2009). Education is very important for not just success but also survival - studies show that in developing countries, children of women who can read have better chances at survival (Scommegna, 2013).
I believe that the US decision to make school compulsory in 1852, and laws passed after that which aimed to improve the quality of and access to education and ensure that teachers were trained properly, were critical in improving quality of life and opportunities for success for youth and adults in America. Since 1852, the US system of education has grown much stronger and better. There are many reasons why it is a great educational system. In my opinion, the fact that the US has had many years to research and develop better ways of teaching and learning because it has had over 200 years experience with education has given the US a strong foundation on which to build a better educational system. Compulsory education laws make it so that all students, not just the wealthy, benefit from these improvements.


Compulsory Education Laws: Background. (2014) FindLaw © Thomson Reuters. Retrieved from
Historical Timeline of Public Education in the US. (2006 Apr 13). Race Forward: The Center for
Social Justice Innovation. Retrieved from
Khattar, Sakshi. (2009 Jun 15). Education is key to abolishing child labor. The Times of India.
Scommegna, P. (2013). Mothers' Reading Skills Linked to Improved Child Survival and Student Achievement. Population Reference Bureau. Retrieved from
Simpson, B. (2004 Nov 29). The Common School Movement and Compulsory Education.
Mises Institute. Retrieved from

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