The american education system essay example

The inception of the Boston Latin School in the New England during the colonial times, precisely the year 1635, marks the beginning of America’s formal education. The school was founded on the principles of equality and being universal. Free public education was established after the revolution and expanded due to efforts by the likes of Horace Mann, Booker T Washington among others (Reese, 2011). However, in recent days many have criticized the education system for not addressing the reality in America and for being too shallow. This paper will try to expound on these notions by specifically dissecting the works of Michael Moore “ Idiot Nation” and Horace Mann’s ” From Report of the Massachusetts Board of Education, 1848″.

‘ Idiot Nation’ Summary

Michael Moore’s “ Idiot Nation” focuses mainly on the collapsing educational system in the U. S., paints American education standards as low compared to other developed countries. The author brings to light failures of the education system by pointing out the lack of adequate financing as the top most cause of this failure. For instance, he states that the nation claims to be the best in the world yet the federal government cuts spending on public libraries (Moore, 2005). The author further reiterates that some of the American Ivy league scholars do not know the precise date when the civil war took place. Moore is concerned that majority of Americans spend more time watching television, for instance he states that they can readily spit out summaries from TV sitcoms and sports information, but millions cannot read and write. Moore cites that many American students are shallow intellectually due to the content that they are taught in school, which is way simplistic compared to what students learn in other countries. The text also states that the American curriculum does not provide for learning a mandatory second language like many non- English speaking countries. Concisely, Moore believes that American corporations as well as politicians contribute greatly to the decline of education standards.


Moore’s criticism seems justified. He asserts that American education is in a bad state due to horrible conditions witnessed. These conditions are evident in public schools that are congested with poor structures that demoralize teachers. Moore goes further to state that the education system concentrates more on archaic class work than on course work that is in line with the reality. He also blames the education system for churning out lazy individuals who do not value true knowledge but are more at home with useless information courtesy of the media. Concisely, the “ Idiot Nation” portrays a nation of people disinterested in education, and an education system in dire need of an overhaul (Moore, 2005).

” From Report of the Massachusetts Board of Education, 1848” summary
The report dwells on the importance of education, specifically the role it plays on social class. Horace Mann notes that the objectives of the schooling system and the government are to allow its citizens an equal opportunity (Compayre, 2002). Therefore, factors such as ethnic background, type of family, home, and other aspects in a person’s life should not be viewed as a hindrance when it comes to acquiring education. Allowing children from all backgrounds equal educational rights hopefully pushes them forward in life by giving them an opportunity to do more than they could have achieved without a good education.


The report talks of the inception of a good American education system. It underscores the need and benefits of a good public school system. Mann stressed the need of forging equality through the education system that embraced all Americans of different backgrounds (Compayre, 2002). He also projected that a good education system would go a long way in turning many Americans from being ignorant into civilized citizens that a modern America could be founded upon (Compayré, 2002). His intent and observations are indeed true concerning the current states of education in the U. S. public schools.

Contrast of the Two Texts

The two texts are both set at different time zones: Michael Moore’s “ Idiot Nation” reflects the present day America, while Horace Mann’s report is based on the past America. Horace Mann report was in support of the public system of education citing that it would elevate America’s growth as a nation. Horace mainly leaned towards having a public that had access to a universal education. He saw this as a good means of enhancing wealth creation and making of civilized citizens crucial for the growth of the young American republic then. Michael Moore on the other hand presents the present state of the American public education system that has failed to meet its core mandate. The mandate was equipping Americans with the right knowledge crucial in pushing their nation further. Moore faults the system for not moving with times and proposes radical changes so as to enhance proper standards.
In conclusion, both Michael Moore and Horace Mann describe the public education system as per the scenario and environment they are in. Horace Mann places the foundation for the public system while Moore evaluates critically the progressive strides made by the same system. Michael Moore gauges the system in terms of quality unlike Horace Mann whose main mission then was to introduce an all inclusive education system for America. I agree with Moore’s constructive criticism of the current state of American education system, which needs to implement changes to achieve positive results.


Compayré, G. (2002). Horace Mann and the public school in the United States. Honolulu,
Hawaii: University Press of the Pacific.
Moore, M. (2005). Idiot nation. London: Penguin.
Reese, W. (2011). America’s public schools : from the common school to ” No Child Left Behind.
Baltimore, Md: Johns Hopkins University Press.