The first school in Alabama was opened near Mobile in 1799. It was followed by the Washington Academy at Saint Stephens in 1811. A statewide public school system did not go into effect, however, until 1854, after an experimental system in Mobile had proved successful. Serious efforts to support the schools attained marked results only after 1900. Separate schools were maintained for white and black children until the early 1960s, when desegregation began under court order. State law requires all children from ages 7 to 16 to attend school. Some 10 percent of Alabama’s children attend private schools. In the 2004–2005 school year Alabama spent $7,783 on each student’s education, compared to a national average of $9,910. There were 13.2 students for every teacher (the national norm was 15.5 students). Of those older than 25 years of age in the state in 2007, 80.4 percent had a high school diploma, while the nation as a whole averaged 84.5 percent.
The University of Alabama, the main campus of which is in Tuscaloosa, is the principal state university. Other major institutions are Auburn University (1856), the oldest land-grant institution in the South and home of the state’s largest agricultural and engineering colleges, and Tuskegee University, an historically black school. In 2006–2007 Alabama had 39 public and 26 private institutions of higher education.
Alabama has 208 public library systems. Each year libraries circulate an average of 4.1 books for every resident. The department of archives and history in Montgomery was one of the first libraries in the country to be incorporated as part of a state government.
An outstanding collection of reference material on the history and culture of Alabama is in the W. S. Hoole Special Collections Library at the University of Alabama.
MNotable museums include the Birmingham Museum of Art, the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, the Alabama Museum of Natural History at the University of Alabama, the George Washington Carver Museum at Tuskegee University, the Anniston Museum of Natural History, the Mobile Museum of Art, and the United States Army Aviation Museum at Fort Rucker. The Berman Museum of World History in Anniston exhibits more than 3,000 historical objects, art, and weapons spanning 3,500 years, many belonging to prominent historical figures such as Abbas I, Emperor Charles V, Napoleon I, and Jefferson Davis. The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute has exhibits that depict historical events from racial separation in the 1920s to present-day racial progress. "USA" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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