Teen Talk: Odessa Quinonez: Women have made strides in education

Education in America has come a long way. 

The first school in the U.S. was built 382 years ago in Boston and, slowly, education expanded. Small schools were built in the colonies to educate boys. Larger institutions, such as Harvard, were created to further educate boys after they learned the basics. However, these schools were private schools and most people were unable to afford the cost of getting their children a decent education.

In 1821, the first public school was created in Boston. Boys were allowed to go for free and the idea spread rapidly across America. Soon, boys of all ages were allowed to go to school and be educated. After the Civil War, schools opened for free slaves and allowed African-American boys and men to receive an education. Allowing freed slaves to go to school was an important step in the right direction for America. 

But, when did women go to school?

Women were often not allowed to attend school. They learned basic math to keep track of household money, the Bible, and etiquette and other social skills. If they were lucky, and wealthy, the girls would be able to sit in on the lessons, but did not further their education at all as they were expected to stay in the household. There were a few schools that were made in order to educate girls and women, but society was hesitant to educate women.

Women were allowed to attend schools, but schools were separated and so was curriculum. In the 1930s, a wave of feminism and a fast-growing society encouraged women to go to school and receive an education.  

People pushed back, believing it was against a woman’s civic duty to attend college and get a job, but the movement grew stronger, alongside other civil rights movements growing in the 1900s. Finally, in 1972, Title IX was passed, meaning that discrimination based on gender in any federally funded educational programs was deemed illegal. Later in the 1970s, the U.S. military and its branches started admitted women. In 1981, women earned more bachelor’s degrees than men did in the United States.

About 65 million girls around the globe are unable to go to school and even more are unable to further their education. No one should waste the opportunity to go to college and pursue a subject she likes. Education for women has come so far in the past 300 years and women’s rights still have a ways to go. I am blessed to live in a country where it is possible to educate myself with no limits.

Odessa Quinonez is a recent graduate of Edmeston Central School.

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