Equal Opportunity in Education

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June 10th, 2012
Laura Greenstein

Equal Opportunity in Education
Equal opportunity education has come a long way since the founding of our country. Formal education in early America was reserved primarily for the males of elite, upper-class families. While great strides have been made in promoting educational equality for all Americans regardless of gender, race, religion, disability, or socioeconomic status; equity continues to be a work in progress for our country. Education for women in early America came in the form of what was seen as necessary or appropriate. Early schools for women, known as Finishing Schools, focused on preparing women to be good and moral wives, and mothers with enough education to be the first teachers of their children. The availability for women to receive an education increased significantly in the 1800s. In 1833, Oberlin College became the first college to admit women; though the curriculum focused on promoting motherhood rather than an actual career. When women chose to have a career it was usually as teachers, nurses, or some type of caretaker. Educated women were needed to carry the country through the hard economic times of the early 20th century and the first and second World Wars. However, the G.I. Bill enacted in 1944 caused the enrollment of males to rise at the cost of female applicants (The Reader’s Companion to U.S Women’s History, 1998). It was not until 1972, that American women would see another large step toward gender equality. The Gender Equity provision under Title IX of the Education Act Amendments stated that “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance” (Columbia Encyclopedia, 2008). The decades following the passing of this act has shown tremendous growth in the amount of women attending and...
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