HIST 315- Research Proposal
Immigrants Influence on America’s Education in the Early 20th Century
At the turn of the 20th century, America experienced a large influx of immigrants from many countries. Surrounded by a completely new culture, these immigrants were faced with many challenges: one of the biggest was education. As people began to understand the value of education and the potential success that it could bring, the education system was faced with the challenge to accommodate a larger group of people. In addition to changes in the economy and social institutions in America’s society, educators and professionals had to adapt curriculum and practices to reach out to all groups of people. Immigrants had a huge influence on the changes that America’s education system experience. They required more out of schools and these schools had to respond by creating ways to increase achievement for all students. Exploring how immigration produced changes within our education system, and the adjustments that schools had to make during the 20th century provides greater information as to why our education system works the way it does today.
Through researching and exploring the topic of immigrant children’s education in the early 20th century, the use of newspapers proved very helpful. Both well-known newspapers and small newspapers have covered this topic. In July of 1908 the New York Times published an article titled New York Times. “Education’s Uplift for the Immigrant Jew: Enjoying Few Advantages in His Native Country His Ambitions Find Successful Fulfillment Here.” This particular article focuses on a specific group of immigrants and the importance of providing them with an education to promote a successful future. The Washington Post posted an article in February of 1934 titled “Teaching Our Ways to the Immigrant: Teaching the Immigrant American Principles” that highlights the ways in which Americans are educating immigrants about citizenship. The Webster Building not only teaches children, but adults too. This is especially helpful for new citizens who have trouble adjusting to American customs such as language barriers. Lastly, Frank Leslie’s Weekly published an article titled “Should We Turn Away Strangers?” in July of 1914 expressing why the literacy test is unfair for immigrants, important statistics about immigration from the early 20th century, and how the immigrant has raised the standard for education in America. These primary sources provide first hand accounts and perspectives pertaining to the education of immigrants at the beginning of the 20th century; a topic worth exploring and understanding.
In addition to primary sources, secondary sources from education journals have provided more background and history of the education system in America during the early 1900’s while also exploring the effects it has had on immigrants. . “The School Achievement of Immigrant Children: 1900-1930” introduces how public schooling adds to the process of “assimilation” of immigrants into American life. This article also compares the achievement of immigrant children to the achievement of children of native white Americans. “The Detracking Movement” and “School Participation among Immigrant Youths: The Case of Segmented Assimilation in the Early 20th Century” are articles that explore specific practices such as the “tracking” movement that began as a respond to the influx of immigrant children into Americans schools during the early 20th century. “Tracking” students refers to grouping children into different paths based on their ability or past performance. Furthermore, the latter article examines the process of assimilation and how it was not uniform for all groups during a 1920 study of the IPUMS census database. Lastly, the article “A Historical Perspective on Early 20th-Century Immigration” from the journal Zero to three, studies how social policies and practices toward immigrant families were based on negative assumptions about immigrant culture during the early 20th century. Overall, these secondary sources provide vital background information necessary to understand the barriers that immigrants faced as they adjusted to the American education system.
Exploring the topic of immigrant children in the education system of the early 20th century is significant in that it not only provides more insight on how our education system has evolved to meet the needs of this group of people, but it also investigates a historical period of great change. Immigration had a huge influence on the American school system. At the turn of the century, large numbers of foreigners were immigrating to America, the majority of them coming from countries and ethnic groups that were not widely represented in America at the time. In order to adjust to this population change in schools, new methods and practices came about to provide these new citizens with an education that would set them up for future success.
Frank Leslie’s Weekly. “Should We Turn Away the Stranger?” July 2nd, 1914. Accessed January 24th, 2015. Accessible Archives.
New York Times. “Education’s Uplift for the Immigrant Jew: Enjoying Few Advantages in His Native Country His Ambitions Find Successful Fulfillment Here.” July 12th, 1908. Accessed January 24th, 2015. ProQuest Historical Newspapers.
The Washington Post. “Teaching Our Ways to the Immigrant: Teaching the Immigrant American Principles.” February 4th , 1934. Accessed January 24th, 2015. ProQuest Historical Newspapers.
Brophy. Anne M. “A Historical Perspective on Early 20th-Century Immigration.” Zero to Three 29, no. 2 (November 2008): 13-17.
Hallinan, Maureen T. “The Detracking Movement.” Education Next 4, no. 4 (Fall, 2000): 72-76.
Olneck, Michael R. and Marvin Lazerson. “The School Achievement of Immigrant Children: 1900-1930.” History of Education Quarterly 14, no.4 (Winter, 1974): 453-482.
Sassier, Sharon L. “School Participation among Immigrant Youths: The Case of Segmented Assimilation in the Early 20th Century.” Sociology of Education 79, no.1 (January 2006): 1-25.