Here is another window into education reform during the Progressive Era. Still holding a stack of newspapers tucked under his arm, this Philadelphia newspaper boy looks as though he was just pulled from his job on the street and put in front of the camera at school. Indeed, this photograph is labeled “Compulsory Education-Newsboy.” Taken in December 1906, such a scenario could very well have occurred.
Most states had enacted compulsory education laws by 1918. It appears, however, that in 1906, just as today, there were problems enforcing these rules. There are many explanations why legislator passed these laws, ranging from trying to better assimilate immigrants into U.S. culture to making it harder for factory owners to use child labor to run their businesses.
For a timeline of public education in the United States and other information regarding public education, see the Good Schools Pennsylvania website.