American education » Thomas Budd (d. 1698)

Published: 3-04-2011, 11:26

Thomas Budd (d. 1698)

Author of the first proposal for public education in the American colonies. A Quaker convert, Budd was a member of the provincial assembly who believed that Pennsylvania’s natural resources and deep water port in Philadelphia could make it one of the world’s most prosperous centers of international trade—if the state provided its people with the proper education. To that end, he published the widely read pamphlet Good Order Established in Pennsylvania & New-Jersey in America (1685), in which he called for all children to have seven years of schooling in “all the most useful arts and sciences that they in their youthful capacities may be capable to understand.” The curriculum was to have combined reading and writing in English and Latin with arithmetic, bookkeeping and at least one trade for boys, such as joinery, weaving and shoe making, and one for girls, such as spinning, knitting or sewing.
He called for “all towns and cities” in Pennsylvania to raise taxes to support a system of “public schools,” which would serve children of all denominations, Indians as well as colonists, rich as well as poor. Rich families, he agreed, would probably continue sending their sons to “private” schools. He asked for new taxes to support the public schools and proposed letting students work to raise additional funds. He suggested that girls could produce and sell cloth, while boys grew flax for the girls to spin and weave.
Although widely discussed, Budd’s plan was ignored by the Assembly and came to nought.
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