Discussion Questions

Did the purpose of education change over the course of the twentieth century? If so, how? If it did not, what did change about education during the twentieth century?

Why do you go to school? Why do your parents and/or the government want you to go to school? Do you agree with their reasons for sending you to school? Why or why not?

Why might the Americanization method of education have become more popular during World War I? And why might it have become considerably less popular afterwards? (Hint: think about the soldiers).  

Why did John Dewey think America should society should fund public education? Why was John Dewey influential?

What is the Department of Education and what led to its founding? 

One of the arguments in the southern states for why they did not enact compulsory education laws as soon as other states was that the average citizen made much less money and could not afford to fund mandatory public schools. What are some issues with funding of public education that still exist today?

One of the incentives that students had to finish high school was that they would make more money in the long run, even though they did not start making money as soon. Are there still similar income differences between high school graduates and non-graduates?

What is tracking and what benefits and costs did it have?

How did the National Defense Education Act contribute to "fighting" the Cold War? How might well trained scientists, linguists, and historians contribute to protecting a nation?

What was the purpose of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA)?  Which group of Americans were affected by the enactment of the ESEA?

Although the Supreme Court cases of Brown v Board were successful in desegregating southern schools in the 20th century, do we still see some forms of school segregation today?  If so, in what forms?

How has "A Nation at Risk" specifically influenced your education on a daily basis today? 

Today, there are concerns about access to quality STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) teachers and classes, especially for girls and members of minority groups. How do these concerns show successes and failures in the widening of access to education in the twentieth century?

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