By 100 ΒΡ, the Romans had built the most extensive educational system of that time. Their system was patterned after that of ancient Athens. But unlike the Athenians, the Romans provided schooling for girls as well as boys. The children of wealthy citizens were taught by a ludus (elementary-school teacher) from about the age of 7 to 10. They learned to read and write both Greek and their native language, Latin. Girls received only an elementary education. Boys from about 10 to 15 years old attended a secondary school run by a grammaticus (teacher of grammar). In secondary school, they continued their study of Greek and Latin grammar and literature. The Romans also established institutions of higher learning. These institutions were schools of rhetoric, which prepared young men for careers in law and government.
Text 3. "Who Controls Our Schools?
Our educational system, rooted in our history and our structure of values, has often been a source of justifiable pride. Whatever its limitations, the public educational system of the United States (including higher education) is the most egalitarian* system in the world.
Thomas Jefferson had counted on education to develop only that "natural aristocracy" of the few whose talents justly deserved to be developed for the benefit of society. But Horace Mann and the common school advocates wanted universal education, to them education was to be the "balance wheel"** of society. Mann proclaimed in 1848: "If one class possess all the wealth and education, while the others are ignorant and poor; it matters not by what name the relation between them may be called; the latter will be the dependants and subjects of the former, but if education be equally diffused, it will draw property after it, by the strongest of all attractions, for such a thing never did happen, as that an intelligent and practical body of men should be permanently poor. Education is the great equalizer of the conditions of men, the balance wheel of the social machinery."
The public schools were thought to by their supporters as a secure system for moderating social inequalities. The egalitarism of the American system distinguishes it from the school systems of the European countries. About 75% of our students graduate from high school, and some 44% go on to higher education. In most other Western nations, students are diverted into vocational and technical programs at age 14 or 15 and only 15 to 30% graduate from a secondary school. Considering the large percentage of teenagers the US schools enrol, the level of attainment of these students is surprisingly high. Our schools system has grown steadily more egalitarian. As recently as 1940 fewer than 50% of the pupils in this country completed high school. By 1984, the access to higher education among those least represented in the past – the minority groups – has increased. While college enrollment of white students grew slightly, the proportion of blacks in college more than doubled in the same period. In 1981 the percentage of black high school graduates who went on to college exceeded that of whites for the first time. The fact, that many of those students come from lower socioeconomic groups makes this achievement all the more remarkable. Recent sociological studies from Russia indicate that an unexpectedly high share of the places in most of its elite postsecondary institutions go to children of white-collar workers.
Lately, the headlines have warned us that our schools are not competitive with those of our economic rivals West Germany and Japan, and that current graduates of our secondary schools cannot match the records set by their predecessors. Now, when the performance of our schools is source of widespread dissatisfaction, we need to consider carefully how we measure that performance.