The Public School System
( Originally Published Early 1900's )
The origin of the public school system of America dates back to the time of the settlement of Massachusetts and Connecticut. In the very beginning of their history these colonists made provision for the establishment of schools in every town, and parents were required to send their children to them or educate them otherwise. At first these schools were not entirely free; that is, those who could pay were required to do so; but the evil of separating the children into paupers and rate-payers in time became apparent, and shortly after the colonies became states the school taxes were increased and the schools were made free. The example of these colonists was quickly followed by other New England colonies; but in other sections of the country schools were either private or parochial for many years, except in cases where a free school was established and sup-ported by private beneficence. When the vast territories west of the Allegheny mountains came into the possession of the United States, every sixteenth section iii each Congressional township was set aside by the government as a nucleus of a public school fund; later, this was increased to two sections for the benefit of the newer states. The Southern states were the last to embrace the free school system in its entirety, having done so only since the close of the civil war. Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire, New Yolk, New Jersey, Kansas, Nevada, Wisconsin, Ohio, Michigan, California, Arizona, Wyoming, and Washington Territory have compulsory educational laws. The average age up to which school attendance is required is, in the United States, fourteen and one half years, which is older than that in any other country.