Before the American Civil War (1861-1865), Florida had few public schools. The development of public education in the state was given impetus after the war, when the federal government established schools for freed slaves. In 1868 a new state constitution included a provision authorizing a statewide system of public education. In 1869 a state board of education was created.
A great effort to improve the public school system was begun in 1947 with the adoption of the minimum foundation program. The program makes state funds available to each county that needs money to provide a minimum school term of 180 days and a satisfactory minimum quality of education for each child.
School attendance in Florida is compulsory from age 6 through 16. Most of Florida’s private and parochial schools are maintained by the Roman Catholic Church. Some 13 percent of Florida’s children attend private schools.
In the 2004–2005 school year Florida spent $8,232 on each student’s education, compared to a national average of $9,910. There were 16.4 students for every teacher (the national average was 15.5). Of those older than 25 years of age in the state, 84.9 percent had a high school diploma, while the nation as a whole averaged 84.5 percent.
The University of Florida, in Gainesville, one of the oldest and largest schools of higher learning in the state, was started in 1853 at Ocala as the East Florida Seminary. It is now part of the state system of higher education. This system also includes Florida State University, in Tallahassee; the University of South Florida, in Tampa; Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University, in Tallahassee; University of West Florida, in Pensacola; Florida Atlantic University, in Boca Raton; University of Central Florida, in Orlando; University of North Florida, in Jacksonville; and the Florida International University, in Miami. A tenth state school, Florida Gulf Coast University, opened in 1997 near Fort Myers. In 2006–2007 Florida had 40 public and 134 private institutions of higher learning.
Noted private schools included Bethune-Cookman College in Daytona Beach; Florida Institute of Technology in Melbourne; Jacksonville University; Rollins College in Winter Park; Stetson University in De Land; and the University of Miami in Coral Gables. "Florida" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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