The first Kentucky school was opened at Harrodsburg in 1775 by Mrs. William Coomes, a pioneer schoolteacher. Many private schools were founded in the Kentucky region during the 1780s and 1790s. More than 50 county academies, all of them short-lived, were established between 1794 and 1820 with endowments of land granted by the state. The first attempts to organize a statewide educational system failed, although a state law providing for public schools was passed in 1838. In 1847, Robert J. Breckinridge was appointed state superintendent of public instruction. As a result of his efforts, provision was made in the state constitution of 1850 for the establishment of a public school system.
The development of the system was interrupted by the American Civil War (1861-1865) and later was hampered by lack of funds. With an increase in state aid in 1908 and codification of the school laws in 1934 an efficient statewide school system became a reality. To equalize educational opportunities, an amendment to the state constitution in 1953 permitted distribution of school funds to counties on the basis of need, as well as population.
School attendance in Kentucky is compulsory for all children from the ages of 6 to 16, and children must have parent or guardian approval to leave school between ages 16 and 18. For many years separate schools were maintained for white and black students, but after 1954, integration of the schools proceeded with little opposition. Some 11 percent of Kentucky’s children attend private schools.
In the 2004–2005 school year Kentucky spent $8,923 on each student’s education, compared to the national average of $ 9,910. There were 15.8 students per teacher (the national average was 15.5). Of those people older than 25 years of age in the state in 2007, 80 percent had a high school diploma, compared to a national norm of 85 percent.
In 2006–2007 Kentucky had 24 public and 47 private institutions of higher education. Transylvania University, in Lexington, is the oldest institution of higher education west of the Allegheny Mountains. Chartered in 1780, it was opened near Danville in 1783 as Transylvania Seminary and later was moved to Lexington. Other long-established schools in the state are Georgetown College; the University of Louisville; the University of Kentucky, in Lexington; and Kentucky State University, in Frankfort. Other institutions in the state include Eastern Kentucky University, in Richmond; Western Kentucky University, in Bowling Green; Morehead State University, in Morehead; Murray State University, in Murray; Northern Kentucky University, in Highland Heights; Berea College, in Berea; and Centre College, in Danville. "Kentucky" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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