October 17, 2011
Horace Mann was an educator and a statesman. He greatly advanced the cause of universal, free, nonsectarian public schools. Mann’s preferred cause was education. His remark that while “other reforms are remedial; education is preventative.” In 1837 Mann became Secretary to Massachusetts Board of Education. Most of his educational policies stemmed from his belief in the perfectibility of humanity and society through adherence to naturally revealed moral citizenry. During Mann’s tenure he increased the funding available to schools, improved the preparation and support of teachers, and advocated for compassionate discipline. Mann believed children in public schools should be taught the ethical principles common across Christianity, but not those doctrines about which different sects disagreed. Today Mann is still criticized by both sides. Religious conservatives often blame him for taking the steps that lead to the complete secularization of public school systems. Liberals sometimes criticize his lack of interest in making public education more comfortable for non-Christians. Mann’s compromise was possibly the Clifton 3…
only one that could have both sides satisfied. During one of Mann’s speeches he claimed that “slavery would abolish education, if it should invade a free state; education would abolish slavery, if it could invade a free state.” In 1848 Horace Mann declared that in America, common, public schools would be “the balance wheel of the social machinery.” This is what has kept public schools attractive to most of the public in most parts of the...