Massachusetts has long been a leader in education. America’s first secondary school, Boston Latin School, was founded there in 1635. Harvard University, the oldest college in the United States, was chartered in 1636. After 1647 towns with at least 50 families had to support a schoolmaster and towns of at least 100 families had to have a school. In 1834, Mary Lyon, an advocate of higher education for women, helped organize Wheaton Female Seminary; it later became Wheaton College, in Norton. In 1837 she helped found Mount Holyoke Female Seminary, which became Mount Holyoke College, in South Hadley.
One of Massachusetts’s foremost educators was Horace Mann. In 1837 he persuaded the state to organize the Massachusetts board of education and became its first secretary. Under his leadership, teacher training was started two years later at the nation’s first state normal school, at Lexington. In 1852 Massachusetts became the first state to pass legislation making school attendance mandatory.
Much of the control of public education is vested in elected town and city school committees, but the state board of education has extensive powers. The ten-member board of education, appointed by the governor, determines policy. The board sets guidelines, and may, at its discretion, withhold state funds. The board appoints a commissioner of education to execute its policies.
Education is compulsory for children ages 6 to 16. Of Massachusetts’s children, 13 percent attend private schools.
In the 2004–2005 school year Massachusetts spent $13,001 on each student’s education, compared to a national average of $9,910. There were 13.2 students for every teacher, compared to a national average of 15.5. Of those older than 25 years of age in the state, 88 percent had a high school diploma, compared to the national norm of 85 percent.
In 2006–2007 Massachusetts had 31 public and 91 private institutions of higher education. Several of the most highly respected institutions of higher education in the United States are found in Massachusetts, including Harvard University, in Cambridge.
Among other important schools are the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, in Cambridge; Tufts University, in Medford; Boston University, in Boston; Boston College, in Chestnut Hill; Clark University and the College of the Holy Cross, in Worcester; Brandeis University, in Waltham; Smith College, in Northampton; Wellesley College, in Wellesley; Amherst College and Hampshire College, in Amherst; Williams College, in Williamstown; and the University of Massachusetts, with campuses in Amherst, Boston, Lowell, and Dartmouth, as well as a medical school in Worcester. "Massachusetts" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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