How has cultural diversity changed school curriculum in the U.S. over time?

Abby Escandon


Horace Mann


1837- In this time Horace Mann decides to advocate the idea for free “common schools.” Common school just means public school. This is when the idea of free public school became a thing. He advocated free common school as the foundation of democracy. He then became the secretary of the Massachusetts State Board of Education. This was just the beginning for free public education.

Ohio adopts bilingual education


1839- The adoption of bilingual education by Ohio allowed German-English instruction at the parents’ request. At the time, Ohio was the first state to adopt this bilingual education. According to rethinking schools they state, “By the end of the 19th century, about a dozen states had passed similar laws. Elsewhere, many localities provided bilingual instruction without state sanction, in languages as diverse as Norwegian, Italian, Polish, Czech, and Cherokee”. This was just the beginning of bilingual education in schools.

Plessy V. Ferguson


1896- Plessy vs. Ferguson was a huge turning point in cultural diversity throughout schools. This was a constitutional law case by the US Supreme Court in 1896. It “upholds Louisiana law stating that the Fourteenth Amendment “had not been intended to abolish distinctions based on color.” Makes racially segregated public facilities legal and becomes a precedent to justify “separate but equal” education”(35). The 14th amendment addresses citizenship rights and equal protection. This case upheld the constitutionality of segregation.

Brown vs. Board of Education


1952- Brown vs. Board of education as another very important court case that helped shape school curriculum. This case ended legal segregation in public schools. The court declared state laws establishing separate public schools for black and white students to be unconstitutional. The book states, “outlaws legally segregated schools- overturning Plessy v. Ferguson”(35). Overturning Plessy v. Ferguson was a big deal because it created more opportunity for children of all color.

New South Wales, Australia


1985- New South Wales, Australia is a global event that has helped school curriculum. According to, “schools in New South Wales began teaching a multidisciplinary course in Society and Culture in grades 11 and 12”. The goal behind creating this course is to help students develop social concepts, skills, interests, attitudes and values that can be used in the ‘real’ world. Creating this program helps kids develop the necessary skills in order to be successful young adults.

Alberta Global Education Program


1987- This event also happens to be another global event that helps schools throughout the world, but mostly schools in Canada. Recently education has become a priority in Canada, more than it has in the past. This event is a project that helps teachers learn and teach about critical issues in todays world. They focus on issues such as environment, peace, and security. They also focus on bigger issues such as third world development, human rights, and social justice, as stated by ASCD. The teachers learn through workshops and courses. ASCD also states that, “one of the projects highest priorities is to help teachers identify places to infuse the global perspective and then to provide them with the materials and techniques they need to do so”. I think once the U.S. adopts a program like this students will thrive in school.

Williams vs. California


2004- Williams vs. California helped a different group of students. This case benefited low-income students of color. Just Schools California says, “In August 2004, the state of California agreed to settle Williams v. California, a landmark civil rights case brought by Eliezer Williams, which challenged the state to ensure quality learning conditions for millions of low-income students of color”. This allows many opportunities for communities to better their education and be better people because of school.

Dream Act


2011- In 2011 California passed a law known as the Dream Act. The Dream Act enabled immigrant children eligible for financial aid if they attended U.S. schools on a regular basis and mate all the requirements. Basically the bill grants legal status to certain immigrants who were brought to the United States as children and that go to school in the United States. The ADL states, “several versions of the bill have been introduced in Congress since 2001”. This has been in the works for a while it just took about 1o years for a state to finally pass it. This bill creates opportunity for a big part of the population.