In 1825 the Illinois legislature levied a tax for public education. Few schools were established, however, before the tax law was repealed. A second school tax law, enacted in 1855, provided the financial basis for the present system of statewide free public schools. In the second half of the 20th century the school districts of Illinois were reorganized by consolidation to reduce costs and improve the standard of education.
School attendance in Illinois was made compulsory in 1883 and is now required for all children between the ages of 7 and 17. Some 14 percent of the students in Illinois attend private schools. An appointed state board of education is responsible for setting policies and guidelines for elementary and secondary education, as well as assisting and regulating the state's school districts.
Elected superintendents in regional offices of education provide intermediate services to school districts, which are governed by elected school boards. The Chicago Public Schools, one of the nation’s largest school districts in terms of students served, is an exception in that it operates with board members appointed by the mayor of Chicago.
In the 2004–2005 school year Illinois spent $10,671 on each student’s education, compared to a national average of $9,910. There were 15 students for every teacher (the national average was 15.5 students).
Of the adults over age 25 in the state, 85.7 percent had a high school diploma, compared to 84.5 percent for the nation as a whole. Institutions of higher education in Illinois include the American Conservatory of Music, Chicago State University, DePaul University, Loyola University Chicago, and the University of Chicago, all in Chicago. Bradley University, in Peoria; Illinois State University, in Normal; Knox College, in Galesburg; Northern Illinois University, in De Kalb; Wheaton College, in Wheaton; the University of Illinois, with campuses in Urbana-Champaign, Chicago, and Springfield; Southern Illinois University in Carbondale and Edwardsville; and Northwestern University, in Evanston and Chicago. The first institution of higher education in the state was Illinois College (1829), in Jacksonville. In 2006–2007 Illinois had 60 public and 115 private institutions of higher education. Facilities for higher education expanded rapidly in the last half of the 20th century. The Chicago campus of the University of Illinois and the Edwardsville campus of Southern Illinois University both opened in 1965. Sangamon State University was founded in 1969 and became the University of Illinois at Springfield in 1995. Governors State University was founded in 1969 in University Park.
With the establishment of Joliet Junior College in 1901, Illinois became the first state to have a public junior college. For a half century thereafter, growth of the junior colleges was slow, but by 1996 there were 62 public and private accredited two-year colleges. "Illinois" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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