The first free school in the United States was the Syms Free School in Hampton, Virginia, founded in 1634. Although Governor Thomas Jefferson submitted a bill to the Virginia General Assembly in 1779 proposing that free education be made available to all children, it was not until 1851 that a new state constitution provided for taxes to finance free primary schools. A plan for a uniform system of public education in Virginia was implemented after the Civil War. Secondary and normal schools were established, particularly in the early 1900s. In 1938 the Virginia legislature passed measures to upgrade the education system, with emphasis on adult education. Blacks and whites attended separate public schools in Virginia until the 1960s, when the state began to comply with a 1954 decision by the Supreme Court of the United States that ruled such racially segregated schools were unconstitutional.
The public schools are administered by a state board of education and a superintendent of public instruction.
Virginia’s oldest institution of higher education, and the second oldest in the United States, is the College of William and Mary, founded in 1693 in Williamsburg and now a state-supported institution. The college’s School of Law is the oldest law school in the United States. Another school with deep historical roots is the University of Virginia (founded in 1819), in Charlottesville. The school was planned by Thomas Jefferson, who considered the creation of the university to be one of his proudest achievements.
Other higher education institutions of note in Virginia include Washington and Lee University and Virginia Military Institute, in Lexington.
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, in Blacksburg; Virginia State University, in Petersburg; the University of Richmond and Virginia Commonwealth University, in Richmond; James Madison University and Eastern Mennonite University, in Harrisonburg; Randolph-Macon College, in Ashland; Lynchburg College and Randolph College (formerly Randolph-Macon Woman’s College), in Lynchburg; Norfolk State University and Old Dominion University, in Norfolk; Hampton University, in Hampton; George Mason University, in Fairfax; Hampden-Sydney College, near Lynchburg; Sweet Briar College, in Sweet Briar; Roanoke College, in Salem; and Hollins University, near Roanoke. "Virginia" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia.
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