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Unformatted text preview: Unive rsal Education: Growth and Function Education generally refers to a social institution responsible for providing knowledge, skills, values, and norms. Universal education in the United States grew out of the political and economic needs of a diverse and fledgling nation. Immigrants came from many cultures and religious beliefs; consequently, no common national culture existed. Without a cohesive structure to pass on the democratic values that had brought the country's independence, the new nation risked fragmentation. Founding Father Thomas Jefferson and dictionary-compiler Noah Webster recognized in the 1800s that democracy depended upon a well-educated, voting populace able to reason and engage in public debate. The nation did not fully realize their vision of education immediately. Many states saw the nation as a conglomeration of nation states. This fragmented political atmosphere created an education system with no system at all: Each locality administered its own system with no connection to any other locality. To complicate matters, public schools at that time required tuition, making them inaccessible to the poor, unless the poor were fortunate enough to attend for free. Many religious groups opened parochial schools, but, again, only the rich could afford to attend. Only the wealthiest could afford high school and college. Furthermore, while the political structure may have required an could afford high school and college....
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- Fall '10