Improving public education. The demand for free public education grew during the 1830s as the franchise expanded. Education was deemed important for creating an informed electorate. In addition, factory workers wanted their children to have more opportunities than they had had, and schooling was seen as a way to assimilate the children of immigrants through the inculcation of American values. Already-existing schools generally taught the “three Rs”—reading, writing, and arithmetic—to a room full of boys and girls whose ages might have run from three to eighteen. Reformers found that system inadequate for preparing students to succeed in a rapidly changing society. Massachusetts, as it had during the early colonial period, took the lead in promoting education. In 1827, the state
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