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Summary of American Education by Joel H Spring


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Summary of American Education by Joel H Spring


The present American Education System is dictated upon by prevalent cultural, social and political factors and as such a number of Americans tend to contest the effectiveness of the education offered in American schools. States control the education system in their jurisdiction and thus strive to institute conceptual frameworks in line with the vision of the state administrators. Schools are therefore important institutions in society which inculcate the knowledge, attitudes and values desired for the young to turn out to be considered as responsible societal members. This paper seeks to present a summary of the first and second chapters of Joel H Spring’s 16th edition of the book titled American Education.

Summary: Chapter 1: The History and Political Goals of Public Schooling

Chapter 1 essentially examines issues relating to the purpose and goals of public schools as well as highlighting conflict in interest as a significant deciding factor in the way the Metro area institute conceptual framework for education. The chapter encompasses an agenda that delves into the social, political and economic goals and purpose of schooling or education. The main conflicts of interest and subsequent debates relate to the morals and values which should be inculcated to public school students.

One of the main concepts propagated in this chapter is that education at times does not seem to benefit the learner or even the society. Spring underscores the fact that schools were initially established as a means to reduce social and political unrest by inculcating into future citizens accepted standards with regard to patriotism and political ideals. Education was also aimed at minimizing social tensions through the promise of equal opportunity for education. Thirdly, education was aimed at teaching morality in an effort to reduce crime. Lastly education was viewed as a means for spurring economic opportunity and growth thus could help eradicate poverty.

Initially the US public schools aimed at offering the republican government with educated leaders with the desired qualifications. At present, public schools in the US are viewed as being meritocratic training as well as sorting out citizens while at the same time offering all an equal opportunity to quality education. The social thought of the greater American society is inclined towards democratic leadership. Fairness is considered as the basis for which schools conduct different selection processes appraising talent as opposed to social factors. 

Spring points out the Horace Mann viewed schools as institutions where the socialization concept was upheld so as to achieve desired social and political goals. Through teaching students to be loyal, obedient to rules and service to country, educational leaders were in a position to institute socialization as an instrument for political control. However, educational leaders quickly reached a point of interest with regard as to which morals to inculcate into future leaders. The socialization concept was overridden by the economic concept as crime; teenage sexuality control and substance abuse continue to increase as the population increases. The society still holds schools with high regard as a social institution curing numerous social ills.  

Horace Mann proposed two main economic goals of education as towards enhancing human capital to spur economic development and wealth creation and equal opportunity to end the cycle of opportunity. The No Child Left Behind statute was aimed at ensuring all social classes had equal opportunity in public schools. Human capital as a theory views education as a means to enhance worker quality which in turn improves communal wealth creation initiatives. As such this has worked well with the concept of globalization where American employees are highly paid and sought after thus linking education with business community interests as well as with the aim of international organizations.

Summary: Chapter 2: The Social Goals of Schooling

The policies and strategies undertaken by the schools in the Metro area are still focused on realizing the social goals of education as discussed in American Education. The historical aspects of social goals of schooling were aimed at offering learners a form of recreation, physical health and good nutrition. At present, the social goals of schooling include;

  • Inculcating a sense of cohesiveness within the community through extracurricular activities, after-school programs and building upon the school spirit
  • Reducing the prevalence of crime by teaching acceptable character education and desired moral values
  • Enhancing student health through school clinics, school doctors, nurses and dentists as well as teaching on personal hygiene and physical wellness
  • Regulating teenage sexuality through courses aimed at offering sex education
  • Enhancing the nutritional habits of students through home economics classes and school cafeterias

Schooling therefore fosters social control allowing for better social order, crime prevention and curbing of rebellious tendencies, The school as a social institution has essentially replaced the church, the society and most importantly the family as the preferred social institution for inculcating desired societal values in future citizens. 


The Metro area society equally views the school as the preferred institution where future citizens can receive lifelong instruction on the best moral values to adhere to so as to maintain social order. This summary has provided that as much as there are challenges in the education system, it is still the best institution to mold the child into a law abiding and healthy citizen. The community within the Metro area should thus work towards supporting the efforts of public schools in offering students with quality education, equal opportunity and desired social values. The question of conflict of interest should be relegated for the progressive development of the Metro area with respect to political, social and economic goals. 

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