Michigan was considered a leader in educational development and has been advancing since its beginning. “During British rule, public schools were established for children of soldiers and families living at, or near, military outposts, while private schools were opened for the offspring of officers and wealthy merchants,” (Rubenstein and Ziewacz). The Puritan belief helped to shape Michigan’s education system, because it saw education as godly and ignorance as the tool of the devil. Although it was rarely collected, in the beginning, the state was taxing the parents of the children attending public school $2-$4 per child. After discovering that this was not the best way to receive money for the schools, the state took most of the necessary money from the sale of land and put it toward the schools, but still needed help from the parents to cover the costs. John Pierce began the first superintendent with the dream of making completely government funded schooling for poorer families so their children could receive an education also.
It did surprise me that Michigan had so many one room schools, and that they kept that structure until the late 1920s. That was even after the introduction of specialized subject texts in the 1870s, when they thought it would be important to form union districts to provide a high quality education. Along with that, the schools had extremely low standards for teachers, most of them only needing the ability to, “read, write, do arithmetic, and be able to defeat the strongest boy,” (Rubenstein and Ziewacz). The teachers having the upper hand on the students often mistreated them as well, taking punishments too far and scaring the child with different physical injuries.
The forefathers felt that education was so necessary that they wrote it into the Constitution, because they wanted to safeguard it from the possibility of changes in simple laws. They wanted to provide a solid ground for the education of the Michigan children, so it would always be there for them although there would be small changes along the way. Most of those changes were hopefully for the better, because it was one of the most important things that they had in that point in time. Education would be one of the few things that those individuals would be able to learn and keep to better their lives.
Rubenstein, Bruce A., and Lawrence E. Ziewacz. Michigan: A History of the Great Lakes State, 5th Edition. John Wiley & Sons, 2014.