A Brief History of Education in the United States
NBER Historical Working Paper No. 119
This essay is the companion piece to about 550 individual data series on education to be included in the updated Historical Statistics of the United States, Millennial Edition (Cambridge University Press 2000, forthcoming). The essay reviews the broad outlines of U.S. educational history from the nineteenth century to the present, including changes in enrollments, attendance, schools, teachers, and educational finance at the three main schooling levels -- elementary, secondary, and higher education. Data sources are discussed at length, as are issues of comparability across time and data reliability. Some of the data series are provided, as is a brief chronology of important U.S. educational legislation, judicial decisions, and historical time periods.