Normal Schools by James Hitchcock

Normal Schools

Sometimes the most conspicuous things are the easiest to overlook, precisely because they are taken for granted. In modern America the public schools are considered normative, private schools a deviation, a view that is held even by some people who support private schools. Often such people are required to justify the schools’ existence—why are you not supporting the schools that belong to everybody? Why have you set up a parallel system?

The obvious point, here overlooked, is that in a sense it is the public schools that need to justify their existence, not the private ones, if the question is looked at from the perspective of history.

For all practical purposes, public schools in America began in the 1840s. Before . . .