When the Europeans colonised this land permanently, they tried to spread primary education with a view to spread literacy. Primary- education, though available to all, was however very expensive. Higher education was based on European classical method and this was available only to children of upper class and administrative group.
The children of the people settled in the Southern part of the country would go to their parental lands i.e., European countries for receiving primary education. Before the advent of the eighteenth century, such was the state of affairs.
Some middle and high schools were established in U.S.A during the seventeenth century. But children of only a special class of people could receive education in such schools. These schools, thus, were not much useful from universal point of view.
The famous William and Mary College was established during this time. The State of Massachussets was the pioneer in the expansion of education. In 1647, in Massachussets a law was promulgated requiring all the boys and girls to be given education according to their social needs.
It was laid down that in cities with less than hundred families, primary schools should be established and in cities with greater number of families Latin Grammar Schools should also be established. Due to this law education got a universal turn and the local public began to participate in educational activities.
The geographical conditions of a country mould its social values and needs. This is true for U.S.A. as well. Hence, the geographical circumstances and environment necessarily changed the imported European system of education. Consequently, a common school system was evolved.
The special feature of this system was that it made no distinction between rich and poor, high and low and boy and girl.
The boys and girls usually started schooling at four or five years of age and continued their education till they attained marriageable age or a sense of personal responsibility. Thus a system of education from nursery class to college level was developed.
The Europeans in their colonies had generally adopted the European system of education at first. But the people in U.S.A. evolved their own system of education on the European pattern according to the needs in their various localities. On the basis of the rules of Puritan theocracy and enacted laws, the local public established schools.
Thus education spread in many areas but the older communities residing in densely populated areas could not control schools established in distant areas. Therefore, school districts were established according to the educational needs of the new areas.
In America, the second struggle for freedom, due to public awakening in the nineteenth century, is especially important. During this period along with political, social and industrial development, significant reformative changes for educational expansion were brought about.
The State Governments began a scrutiny of the available educational facilities with a view to foster cultural development. Some State Governments tried to centralise the educational facilities but such efforts failed.
Others established State Boards of Education having honourable citizens and members of State legislatures as members on them. Under these Boards of Education, significant reforms and changes in educational administration were made.
Most of the progress in education in the state of Massachussets was possible only due to the activities of these State Boards. Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, North Carolina and Rhode Island were some other states which made notable progress.
One important step in the educational facilities and reforms was that the State Governments gave financial help for the construction and renovation of school buildings.
The salary scales of teachers were revised to enhance their financial status. Normal schools were opened for their training. Encouragement for establishing both private and public schools was given and the number of such institutions soon increased sufficiently.