The History of the American Magic Users’ School System

It is known by Wizarding Society that North America has a school, much like the isles of Great Britain. Ilvermorny was fashioned, to a great extent, off of Hogwarts more pronounced characteristics, such as having four houses, a sorting ceremony, and teaching children between the ages of eleven and seventeen years of age.

What is less discussed is how that system didn’t work for us.

It did for a time, when there were only 13 colonies, however, as the country expanded the school became less and less convenient, affordable, and realistic. Add to that, there was a growing urge to keep family close, especially after the American Civil War. American magical parents did not want to send their children away for 9 months out of the year and some couldn’t afford to - many needed the help of their children day to day with their business, such as the bramble leaf farmers of Tennessee who needed the extra hands to separate the leaf from the blackberries as they sold the blackberries to primarily No-Majs and the leaves, primarily to Ilvermorny for potions classes.

Once thought to be the most welcoming and down to earth of the magical schools, Ilvermorny became of symbol of magical elitism to much of the American magical society.

The Alternatives

Homeschooling became quite common, which presented its own set of problems. Some children were never taught, some were taught extremely poorly, and all sets of standards flew out the window - often with physical objects as control was not well taught in general.

Many communities, If there were enough magical folk there to begin with, would transport their children to a single home where they would learn together- it wasn’t uncommon for 3-5 mothers to oversee this. The issue with this was that attention couldn’t be paid to level of understanding and as new children were born and grew, there was a constant influx of absolute beginners.

This proved untenable and so more methods were experimented with.

Out in the West, they would cast an Undetectable Extension Charm on an enclosed carriage and merely fill it up with as many students as they could reach (along with those willing to teach). It wasn’t a perfect solution, but it allowed for more structured learning. In the Midwest, especially northern states such as Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin, Floo Networks were more utilized as large fireplaces were less likely to stand out, allowing for actual school buildings to be built to support the growing classes. Portkeys were used more often in the South than anything else, but the South also had a rather unprecedented number of cities founded and populated entirely by magic users.

What ended up forming were dozens upon dozens of regional schools that functioned more like No-Maj public schools than Ilvermorny. The child would attend school for the afternoon and return home.

MACUSA was initially against these alternative schools, all of which they considered unauthorized and breaking Rappaport’s Law (this was despite the fact that many communities using this alternative schooling set up were not, in fact, using wands but casting techniques and devices native to their own backgrounds. For instance, New Orleans was known for incantatory - the repetition of enchantments without a wand. It was a hybrid form of magic most notably utilized by the Afro-Caribbeans that seemed to be a mixture of the wandless magic used in Africa and the wand  incantations of Europe. Occasionally talismans or magnifiers were used to empower an incantatorial spell, but the students were taught both with and without these objects. Note: Incantatory was both considered easier than “true” wandless magic and also wildly unpredictable if performed with little control, such as when a Louisiana Creole boy was frightened by a storm, threw his blanket over his head, and chanted Lumos so vehemently that the entire block lit up. His parents were able to control it quickly enough that most No-Majs that saw it thought it was some bizarre lightning. The Chinese-Americans of the Old West were known for practicing - and teaching - medi-amplification, a technique wherein the magic user would meditate, concentrating on their magical self, and have bouts of intentory (gùhuàn) wherein intention is enough to make magic happen. Some view this as simply wandless magic, but there’s a clear distinction in how the magic is approached and because of that, spells are not actually needed.


This divide between the MACUSA and the Unauthorized Wizarding Institutions (named by MACUSA) was one of the motivating factors in forming the CASI or the Committee for Alternative Schooling and Institutions which ultimately led to a more or less benign infiltration of the No-Maj government and formation of a Congressional CASI. To this day, most No-Majs believe the CASI to be a Committee that implements and endorses private schooling, home schooling, and religious schooling, which the Committee doesn’t dispute because it serves its purposes just fine. Of note, perhaps, is how in the 40s, as so much of the Wizarding World was preoccupied with the war in Europe, a No-Maj was appointed to the Committee by mistake. He sat on the Committee for 10 years and if asked what the CASI did, he would give a vague response that confused both himself and the one who asked and then wander off, slightly befuddled.

The CASI’s main purpose was to redirect just enough revenue to facilitate the upkeep and sustained use of these regional schools - the initial building could sometimes be finagled and land deeds could be purchased if the school/region had no grounds or no building, but that was kept to a minimum and often locales had to raise their own funds for such an endeavor.

The formation of the CASI almost caused a civil war, but MACUSA realized that numbers were not on its side. A vast majority of the American magical population was for the use of regional schools and would fight to defend their right to teach their children how they wanted. After much negotiation and capitulation - and leading to the repeal of Rapparport’s Law - the CASI was incorporated into MACUSA. A strict tenant of that incorporation, however, was that regions could form and institute schooling how they wished, with minimal to no oversight by MACUSA, thus forming the American Magic Users’ School System, or the AMUSS.

Ilvermorny is still in place and while all American witches, wizards, and magic users can attend, it is largely viewed in the same vein as private schools are among the No-Maj.

The Transportation

Today, the instituted method of arrival for regional schools involves  a strictly monitored portkey system and Extended busses. Apollo Fleet was founded for exactly this reason and you can find an Apollo Fleet office in almost every city because of this. To No-Majs, it is merely another charter bus company but to magical children, it’s their bus. Children can walk, be dropped off, or Floo to their nearest Apollo stop. There’s a checklist for each stop or registered children and authorized parents/guardians to control who can and can’t travel to the school. The children are let into the school specific waiting area, one of the several portkey rooms inaccessible to the No-Maj populace. In the morning, the school’s portkey is used to transport everyone to the secondary stop (special harnesses were made specifically to stop dropping children between the initial and secondary stops). At the secondary stop, the children in the portkey rooms - often coming from several locations - are put on an Extended bus and then it’s off to the next secondary stop - always in the area but there is a Quickening  Charm, not unlike the English Knight Bus.

Some arguments were made about this system taking too much time or being too complicated, but it was implemented after a bombing on one of the schools in the late 1920s, explained to the No-Majs as happening for political reasons but understood to have occurred when a Scourer gained access to a portkey that transported him directly to the school. After this, all schools were required to have anti-portkey charms as well as anti-apparition charms and absolutely no connections with any Floo networks. Apollo Fleet is a MACUSA run business, which means that nearly all of the employees have had Auror training - special programs were put in place to train new employees in a vein not dissimilar to the No-Maj police academies. They do not need to be as proficient as actual Aurors, merely able to defend and detect - it wouldn’t do to let in someone masquerading as one of the registered children, after all.

Because of this, the initial and secondary stop system is considered sufficient means of protecting their schools, which to the unsuspecting eye looks like a typical No-Maj school. (Most schools are also now protected with the Fidelius Charm, but that isn’t considered sufficient as so many have to be let in to begin with).

The Ages

A marked difference to other countries’ schools, actually, was implemented shortly after the bombing incident. Nearly every region has formed separate schools for the different ages. The main reason for this was to prevent catastrophic tragedy - the bombing had nearly wiped out the entire generation of magic users in its region. The different schools - primary, secondary, and tertiary, though those terms are used almost exclusively in system and not by the students or parents - are viewed as insurance. If another tragedy occurs, it will at least be for only a single age group and not the entire 4-18 year old populace.

Ilvermorny to this day only intakes students 11 years of age through to 17 years of age, like the European schools before, but the AMUSS was specifically designed to better assist the general American Magic User and so that meant taking the children earlier. No-Maj and Magic User populations are so overlapped here that it didn’t make sense to allow children to go so long without learning some control over their abilities. The primary schools, therefore, teach some of the most basic techniques in order to give them children structure in which to develop their magic. Mostly, history and theory are taught at this time, as well as No-Maj concepts that are needed to be successful in either world - math, language arts, general American history - and as the student grows and moves onto the secondary and then the tertiary school, the No-Maj lessons lose more and more focus as proper magical theory and practical applications can be utilized.

While not technically involved in the AMUSS, the Association for Magical Child Care (the AMCC) was recently formed to provide safe daycare options for working parents/guardians. It should be noted that “safe” here refers mostly towards No-Maj children who are occasionally injured, confunded, or generally stunned by children of magic users who are far too young to have any control over magical abilities. The AMCC helps to set up and monitor magic user friendly/only daycares. Children are accepted into these daycares typically until schooling age, though some will watch children of all ages after/before school hours and on weekends. Daycares that provide such accommodations are typically allotted their own private portkey for travel to and from the secondary stop mentioned above, making them the only non-Apollo Fleet location involved in the transportation process.

The Mascots

While Ilvermorny has the different houses, the regional schools don’t. Population isn’t always high enough to support such a system but more than that, the AMUSS decided that a singular mascot could bring a school together where different houses institutionalized dividedness. Instead of having a House Cup or playing sports against other houses, competition was between other schools.

There are as many mascots as there are schools - though some do overlap. A popular mascot is the dragon, popular enough that most schools that use it prefer to pick a breed. There are several schools, mostly coastal, that have some form of mer as their mascot. But largely, there’s a regional basis for it. For instance, the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, having one set of schools for the entire peninsula, had originally been the U.P. Lycanthropes in honor of the Wolf-Man of Michigan. (The Lycan Association of the Americas has been attempting to get them to change it, to no avail so far, though now only the tertiary school has the lycanthrope as it’s mascot.)

One instance of particular note are the Las Vegas Animagi - while technically being students from all over Nevada, the tertiary school is widely considered to be defined by Vegas. The students there are actively taught animagi theory and nearly all can take animal form by graduation. There were rumors that the school taught children how to become skin-walkers, perpetuated by detractors of the AMUSS, but that is untrue. What is true is that Lorraine Ashwinder, when attempting to invent a cloak of transfiguration - putting it on would, in theory, transform the person into someone else, who’s likeness was woven into the cloak - unknowingly invented a form of transfiguration that many compare to what little is known about the skin-walker legends. But she was a graduate and never taught the Las Vegas Animagi. Her cloak has since been banned by MACUSA, who believed it too powerful and convenient for impersonating other magic users and possibly evading arrest.

I wasn’t taught how to get a job
but I can remember dissecting a frog
I wasn’t taught how to pay tax
but I know loads about Shakespeare’s classics

I was never taught how to vote
they devoted that time to defining isotopes
I wasn’t taught how to look after my health
but mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell

Never spent a lesson on current events
instead I studied The Old American West
I was never taught what laws there are.
I was never taught what laws there are.

Let me repeat - I was not taught the laws for the country I live in,
but I know how Henry the VIII killed his women.
Divorced beheaded died, divorced beheaded survived
glad that’s in my head instead of financial advice

I was shown the wavelengths of different hues of light
but I was never taught my human rights
Apparently there’s 30, do you know them? I don’t
Why the hell can’t we both recite them by rote?!

I know igneous, metamorphic and sedimentary rocks
Yet I don’t know squat about trading stocks
Or how money works at all - where does it come from?
Who controls it? How does the thing that motivates the world function?

not taught how to budget and disburse my earnings
I was too busy rehearsing cursive.
Didn’t learn how much it costs to raise a kid or what an affidavit is
but I spent days on what the quadratic equation is

negative b plus or minus the square root of b squared
minus 4ac over 2a
That’s insane, that’s absolutely insane.
They made me learn that over basic first aid

How to recognise the most deadly Mental disorders // or
diseases with preventable causes // How to buy a
house with a mortgage // if I could afford it
‘cause abstract maths was deemed more important

than advice that would literally save thousands of lives
but it’s cool, ‘cause now I could tell you if the number of unnecessary deaths caused by that choice was prime.

Never taught present day practical medicines,
but I was told what the ancient hippocratic method is
“I’ve got a headache, the pain is ceaseless
what should I take?” umm… maybe try some leeches?

“Could we discuss domestic abuse and get the facts
or how to help my depressed friend with their mental state?”
Ummm… no but learn mental maths
because “you won’t have a calculator with you every day!”

They say it’s not the kids, the parents are the problem
Then if you taught the kids to parent that’s the problem solved then!
All this advice about using a condom
but none for when you actually have a kid when you want one

I’m only fluent in this language, for serious?
The rest of the world speaks two, do you think I’m an idiot?
They chose the solar over the political system
So like a typical citizen now I don’t know what I’m voting on

which policies exist, or how to make them change
mais oui, je parle un peu de Francais
So at 18, I was expected to elect a representative
For a system I had never ever ever ever been presented with

But I won’t take it
I’ll tell everyone my childhood was wasted
I’ll share it everywhere how I was “educated”
And insist these pointless things

Red River Valley
Squeek Steele
Red River Valley

Red River Valley - Squeek Steele, Pianist

“Red River Valley” is a folk song and cowboy music standard of uncertain origins that has gone by different names—e.g., “Cowboy Love Song”, “Bright Sherman Valley”, “Bright Laurel Valley”, “In the Bright Mohawk Valley”, and “Bright Little Valley"—depending on where it has been sung. It is listed as Roud Folk Song Index 756, and by Edith Fowke as FO 13. Edith Fowke offers anecdotal evidence that the song was known in at least five Canadian provinces before 1896. This finding led to speculation that the song was composed at the time of the 1870 Wolseley Expedition to Manitoba’s northern Red River Valley. It expresses the sorrow of a local woman (possibly a Métis) as her soldier lover prepares to return to the east. The earliest known written manuscript of the lyrics, titled "The Red River Valley”, bears the notations “Nemaha 1879” and “Harlan 1885."Nemaha and Harlan are the names of counties in Nebraska, and are also the names of towns in Iowa.The song appears in sheet music, titled "In the Bright Mohawk Valley”, printed in New York in 1896 with James J. Kerrigan as the writer. The tune and lyrics were collected and published in Carl Sandburg’s 1927 American Songbag. In 1925, Carl T. Sprague, an early singing cowboy from Texas, recorded it as “Cowboy Love Song” (Victor 20067, August 5, 1925), but it was fellow Texan Jules Verne Allen’s 1929 “Cowboy’s Love Song” (Victor 40167, March 28, 1929), that gave the song its greatest popularity. Allen himself thought the song was from Pennsylvania, perhaps brought over from Europe.

Alright, alright. Let’s get in an AU that’s more appropriate for gen fic, today. (Though if you choose to write about any of these HCs, feel free to include your ship(s).)

Imagine Keith as a cowboy-turned-accidental-hero!

- He doesn’t really have a residence, so he mostly goes traveling from town to town, staying in the spare rooms that random saloons offer to the general public. 

- Although it is a lonely lifestyle, it grants him the freedom he’s always longed for. Or rather, the freedom/semi-lawlessness he’s always been accustomed to. 

- Just him and his trusted mare, going wherever they please. They’ve probably toured most of the American Old West. 

- Sitting by a campfire, soaking up all of the starry, night skies he possibly can. <33 

- His horse’s name is Truffles, and everyone mocks him for it. 

- Though he swears she’s a bonafide badass.

- Like, for realsies, guys, she is. 

- One day, Keith stopped a train robbery with just one knife and no fucks to give. 

- Wound up bringing a bunch of wanted men to justice. Was considered a hero, that day onward. 

- It’s not like he even meant to make it into a habit, but it soon became one, before he even realized it. 

- Really, he just wanted to keep his shit from getting stolen. 

- But knowing he’s doing a good thing does resonate with him, a little bit. <33

- Normally, the local authority would’ve gotten to the bottom of this masked vigilante mystery, by now, and put a stop to it. Honestly, though? Keith’s doing them a great service, and they haven’t had to order in ammo, for months, now. 

- Good on ya, kid, whoever you are. 

- Posters still turn up around town, regardless. As the sheriff would like to reward the unknown hero for his bravery. 

- No one can quite figure out who he might be, since every photo of the guy has him covered from the nose down. 

- Even Keith doesn’t recognize himself, when he decides to stay a bit longer in a particular city. 

- Not at first, anyway. When he does, though, he begins readying Truffles to head on out, so as to avoid the crowds. He never did this for glory & fame, so why stick around? 

- Alas, it turns out Keith is needed in this little city, after all. A band of purple & black clad outlaws have invaded the area, and are shaking down the locals for information. 

- Their leader, Zarkon, is especially interested in finding out the identity of the masked vigilante. Aka the guy who’s left him and his gang broke for the past five months, now. 

- Even though his eyes are a lot sharper than most of the townsfolk, Zarkon doesn’t recognize Keith without the bandana, either. 

- One of the outlaws, Haxus, is the one of the only people to ever figure out Keith’s secret identity. But no one believes him. 

- “Come on, dude, really? The dumbass who named his horse fucking Truffles, of all people? Yeah, no. Bother me when you have an actual lead.” 

- “BUT SIR-” 

- “Out of my office, Haxus. Now.”

- Keith continues foiling the plots of the outlaws, all while remaining undetected and keeping the townsfolk safe. <333 

- Who knows? He might even settle down here, if he still fancies the place after the outlaws are gone. 

Some additional goodies:

- While in his normal, civilian attire, Keith has a habit of tipping his hat towards people and quietly greeting them with, “sir,“ or “ma’am,” respectively. Just a polite gesture his father had and rubbed off on him, really.

- That doesn’t stop a legion of fangirls from following him around town, (and the saloon) in the hopes that he’ll say, “ma’am” to them, in that dreamy voice of his. <333

- As an oddball introvert, he has absolutely no clue how to deal with any of this. Mostly just blushes and walks away.

- Keith can play some damned good guitar. If you listen closely, at night, you might even hear him strum a tune. <3

- Shiro is the town sheriff, trying to keep order in his little no-name town, while always on the lookout for The Vigilante. Lance is his deputy, a cocksure braggart who spends his days chasing skirts, when he isn’t slinging his guns around. He’s hit on almost all of the local women.

- This includes Katherine “Pidge” Holt, the girl who works behind the counter at her family’s general store. Though with her snarky rejections/comebacks, a protective father and older brother, charming her into a date hasn’t been easy. She has some idea as to whom The Vigilante might be, but second-guesses her theories all the time. Plus, she’s every bit as skeptical as the others, when trying to pin her conclusions on the nice, quiet boy who just moved here.

- Hunk and Allura both own the local saloon, where Keith resides temporarily. Like Pidge, Hunk has his suspicions, and eventually just admits to himself that Keith has to be The Vigilante. But gosh darn it, he seems like such a decent guy. A well paying customer, never tries to cheat his way out of what he owes, (not something he can say for all of his clients) never gives anyone any trouble. Because of his own kindness, Hunk never outs Keith.

- Allura, meanwhile, almost mistook him for one of the outlaws, as he once came into the saloon wearing a purple bola tie. He insisted that it, along with a couple knives he had on him, was just a gift from his father. Once convinced of the truth, she apologized for scrutinizing him so harshly and jumping to conclusions. Keith forgave her, as it’s something he’s accustomed to.

- Not to mention, the outlaws have sent undercover members to weasel information out of people, in the past. Even so, Allura felt pretty bad about it. She made it up to him by reducing his rent by a considerable amount. Although not something he would’ve asked her to do, Keith appreciates the effort.

- Watching all of this play out is none other than the town mayor, Coran. Who is also Allura’s godfather. He couldn’t really care less who The Vigilante is, but boy is he glad that someone is finally sticking it to those damned outlaws. And that his goddaughter has a new friend, judging by how much time she spends chatting with the new lodger.

Not at all an exhaustive list. Add your own, if you please.

stringsofredcurrants-deactivate  asked:

I hope this is okay to ask here (please ignore if not) -- I'm Jewish and I'd really like to read more books that have a Jewish main character/s or that feature Jewish life. I'm finding it really hard to find books that feature day to day Jewish life without them dissecting Judaism or being in some way about the Shoah, if that makes sense. I guess I was mostly looking for books that normalise being Jewish somehow and I wondered if you had any recommendations?

A Wide Variety of Jewish Fiction Not Set in 1940′s Europe

It’s more than okay because I totally feel this. And it can be hard to find ourselves in contemporary lit because if the story isn’t about Jewishness or a character isn’t terribly observant, the book’s blurb and keywords often give us no hints. Meanwhile, gentile authors love to plop us down in the middle of our most famous mass tragedy, when there’s so much more to us.

So I am really glad that I can help. All of the following links go directly to my reviews, which are pretty detailed and should give you an idea if the book sounds like something you’d like.

Starting with YA, I recommend Playing with Matches (Modern Orthodox setting, about a girl trying to repair her relationship with her older sister and accidentally starting a matchmaking service) and My Year Zero (all girl love triangle.) Additionally, one of the two main characters in Gone, Gone Gone (all boy love triangle, but also about the trauma of living through the 2002 sniper crisis in Maryland) is Jewish.

Leading characters, although not the MC, of YA superstars Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda and The Rest of Us Just Live Here, are Jewish. All of those have a contemporary setting; for historical f/f YA there is the short story The Fire-Eater’s Daughter, which is set in the 1950′s in a circus and has a Jewish lead. (With that time setting: her mom is a survivor but that’s not what the story is about.)

For graphic novels, I highly recommend the Rabbi Harvey books (philosophical/funny, setting some of our legends in the American Old West),The Rabbi’s Cat (philosophical/dark; this one kinda has some of that dissection you were trying to avoid), and the Mirka books (children’s fantasy about a lot of female characters in an Orthodox setting.) And I loved the two Jewish stories in the Dates LGBTQ+ comics anthology, both of which had trans characters.

Libi Astaire’s written a number of Regency mysteries set in London’s Jewish community, both short stories and full length. My favorite was The Doppelganger’s Dance, about a violinist being gaslit by a mysterious anonymous rival, and here’s a review of one of the shorts, “What’s in a Flame?” Speaking of historicals, Heather Rose Jones’s 1800′s lesbian fantasy series introduced well-rounded Jewish characters in its second book, The Mystic Marriage, which is about lesbian scientists creating magic rocks (the Jewish characters are the alchemist’s young apprentice and her father.)

Romance can be a minefield for us but here are some books I can endorse:True Pretenses (Regency m/f, Jewish author), Think of England (Edwardian m/m suspense, gentile author.)

For short, free Jewish sci-fi online I recommend Three Partitions (nonbinary, Orthodox) and Seven Commentaries on an Imperfect Land. Grand Jeté also fits these categories but is much darker (so not as much my personal preference.)

Finally, I hope you will consider checking out my own series, which is fluffy queer fantasy set in a made-up Jewish kingdom based on South Florida where I grew up. There are three novels and two short stories published so far with @torquerepress, with a fourth book and five more shorts coming this July. A good place to start is the two Tales from Outer Lands (the shorts), because they make a good intro and focus the most on the Jewishness. This free five-panel comic I wrote with @theloserfish makes another good preview; it’s about the queen’s girlfriend trying to bake gluten-free challah with the help of the palace wizard.