Since the mid-1940s Oregon has usually ranked high in literacy and above average in educational attainment in comparison to the rest of the country. Oregon’s public school system dates back to the provisions made by the territorial legislature in 1849. Until then, mission schools, the first at French Prairie in 1834, and subscription schools, supported by tuition fees, were conducted in a number of locations. In 1850 there were only three public schools, with a total of 80 pupils in the territory, which then embraced all of the present states of Oregon, Washington, and Idaho as well as parts of Montana and Wyoming. The following year, Portland organized its first school district, and in 1858 a schoolhouse was built with tax funds. The state’s first public high school was established in Portland in 1869. Free secondary schools in other cities did not develop until after 1890. Compulsory attendance laws were enacted in 1889, and they apply to all children between the ages of 7 and 18. The state’s private schools enroll 9 percent of the children.
In the 2004–2005 school year Oregon spent $9,371 on each student’s education, compared to a national average of $9,910. There were 21.3 students for every teacher (the national average was 15.5 students per teacher). Of those older than 25 years of age in the state in 2007, 88 percent had a high school diploma, while the country as a whole averaged 84.5 percent.
Almost all the institutions of higher learning in the early pioneer days were established by religious organizations. The first in the Far West was Oregon Institute, founded in 1842 in Salem and later renamed Willamette University. Lewis and Clark College, in Portland, is the largest of the independent institutions, and the University of Portland is the largest of the denominational institutions.
A church-supported college at Corvallis was adopted as the state agricultural college in 1868 and later developed into Oregon State University. The University of Oregon, founded in 1872, was opened in 1876 in Eugene; its schools of dentistry, medicine, and nursing in Portland were reorganized in 1974 as the University of Oregon Health Sciences Center, which was later renamed the Oregon Health Sciences University. The two older universities and Portland State University are the largest units of the Oregon University System, which also includes colleges at La Grande, Monmouth, and Ashland and the Oregon Institute of Technology at Klamath Falls. Among the state’s 26 public and 35 private institutions of higher learning are Reed College and Pacific Northwest College of Art, both in Portland; Linfield College, in McMinnville; and Pacific University, in Forest Grove. "Oregon" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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