In the 1820s and 1830s, missionaries established the first schools in Kansas to instruct Native Americans in reading, writing, and Christianity. In 1855 the first territorial legislature passed laws providing for free public schools for the children of white settlers. Equal educational opportunities for all, regardless of sex or race, were guaranteed in the state constitution that was drawn up in 1859. Public education in Kansas was almost entirely supported by local taxes until 1937, when annual state appropriations were authorized for needy elementary schools. A system of state aid to all elementary and secondary schools, regardless of need, is now in effect.
School attendance was first made compulsory in 1874 and is now required for all children in Kansas from the ages of 7 to 18. Some 9 percent of elementary and high school students in the state attend private or parochial institutions. Haskell Indian Nations University, founded in Lawrence in 1884, is maintained as a school for Native American students.
In the 2004–2005 school year Kansas spent $9,623 on each student’s education, compared to a national average of $9,910. There were 13.3 students for every teacher (the national average was 15.5). Of those age 25 or older, 89.1 percent had a high school diploma, compared to an average for the United States of 84.5 percent.
Private colleges and universities were established in Kansas before the territory became a state. Two of these, Baker University, founded in 1858, and Benedictine College (formerly called Saint Benedict’s College), opened in 1859, are still in existence today.
Other private institutions of higher education include Southwestern College, in Winfield; Friends University, in Wichita; Bethel College, in North Newton; Bethany College, in Lindsborg; McPherson College, in McPherson; and Ottawa University, in Ottawa.
Provision for state institutions of higher education was made in the state constitution of 1859. As a result, the University of Kansas was established at Lawrence, with classes beginning in 1866. This school has the largest enrollment of any university in the state. Kansas State University, a state-supported school in Manhattan, was established in 1863 as Kansas State Agricultural College.
Other state-operated institutions include Wichita State University, which was known as the University of Wichita until 1964, and colleges that were founded for the training of teachers in Emporia, Hays, and Pittsburg. Among the municipally operated schools of higher education are Washburn University of Topeka and a number of junior colleges. Also in the state is the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, in Fort Leavenworth. In 2006–2007 Kansas was served by 34 public and 25 private institutions of higher education. "Kansas" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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