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If you mean public education, a system of schools funded by the government (through the sale of public land) started with the Land Ordinance of 1785. By dividing new western lands into 36 square mile townships, the government could organize land distribution and sales and keep it out of the hands of profiteers.
When they did this, they set aside the 16th square mile of every township for public education, and the sale of that land created revenue for every township to set up a public school.
In the 1840's, Horace Mann reformed education and made it mandatory to attend until the 4th grade, and adopted nationwide standards for both teachers and students.
The first system of education in America began with what is called Dame Schools. They were basically day care women who also taught the children their letters.
In the 1700's the schools were influenced by religion and controlled by the Puritans. They even had a published school book called the New England Primer.
In 1647 in the state of Massachusetts it was required that if a town had over 50 families, the families had to hire someone to teach the children how to read and write and religion.
In 1636 Harvard College was established.
In the 1840's state funded education emerged in the North, but the south had continued to fall behind in educational institutions. It was well after the Civil war before the south was even considering the idea of public education. The southerners felt that education was an individual family issue and not a state issue.
Education started when man made his appearance. Through discovery, innovation, testing (and even failure) people have passed information and thought from one person to another.
At every juncture, this process consisted of constant re-thinking. This challenged what learners previously expected to consider as fact. Through this process, the individual was empowered to discover, for themselves, the facts and related possibilities pertaining to the surrounding world. With this ability came the capacity to solve life’s problems and to live within a culture.
Education increases knowledge. Man is inately aware of what Francis Bacon realized; that is "... knowledge itself is power. " Thus began the quest for knowledge.
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