This chapter examines several historical and cultural developments necessary for understanding the current challenges that face educators in today's Catholic schools. During the colonial period religion and education were seamlessly woven together. By the middle and late nineteenth century, however, waves of immigrants posed new threats to Americans who thought that the greatest need was to “Americanize” the “unwashed” immigrants. Many Americans, therefore, welcomed the common school movement, begun by Horace Mann (1796–1859), a Unitarian minister, who designed the schools to provide a common socialization for all citizens. Mann's educational program promoted a generic Protestantism, beginning with daily readings from the King James Bible. In response, the Catholic bishops felt they had to establish their own educational system. At the beginning of the twentieth century, the high school movement gained great momentum, but had little effect on most Catholic high schools, that is, until the 1960s, when it became more and more difficult to sustain Catholic schools in the ways they had been sustained for most of the first half of the twentieth century.
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