Prisons were used in Europe as early as the 12th century, but they were not originally considered necessary by the founders of the United States. In 1787, concerned citizens in Pennsylvania founded the Pennsylvania Prison Society. The Correctional Education Movement also started in Pennsylvania at the Philadelphia Walnut Street Jail, where clergyman William Rogers first offered instruction to inmates.
David Snedden and other prominent WWI-era urban school reformers were initially interested in reformatory schools as compulsory attendance “laboratories.” Soon after, reformers found additional reasons to study correctional education programs. Snedden reported on vocational, physical, and military education models in his 1907 book, Administration and Educational Work of American Juvenile Reform Schools, and summarized how educators in public schools could learn from correctional educators. Snedden’s work was based on the principles he observed in practice in reformatory schools. He further investigated juvenile correctional education to identify additional models for use in school settings.
Educators in institutions face the same frustrating problems that public school educators face but do so in a coercive setting that may further aggravate the problems. Correctional educators work with the students who have dropped out of school, those who have been pushed out, and those who have experienced repeated failures in local schools. The correctional educators work with students who are often embittered, apathetic, and alienated and may have histories of violent tendencies and poor self-esteem. Students in correctional education settings have extremely high incident rates of learning and emotional difficulties and drug-related problems. An additional deficit may be poor study skills.
Even though most prisons, reformatories, and training schools seem to be bleak environments more likely to impede student learning than to encourage it, most correctional education programs are judged successful according to the traditional measures of learning. Based on this finding, the US Education Department established a Correctional Education Office in Washington, DC, in 1980.
Published Dec 13, 2012 by Christopher Zoukis, JD, MBA | Last Updated by Christopher Zoukis, JD, MBA on Mar 29, 2023 at 8:23 am