First School Laws in North America

At the National Conference on Parent Involvement in 1976 in San Anselmo, California we all received a bookmark in our kits with the following inscription:

The First School Laws in America (Massachusetts, 1642) embodied all the basic principles which underlie the American School System today. These are:

  1. Universal education of youth is essential to the well-being of the State.
  2. The obligation to furnish this education rests primarily upon the parents.
  3. The State has a right to enforce this obligation.
  4. The State may fix a standard which shall determine the kind of education, and the minimum amount.
  5. Public money, raised by a general tax, may be used to provide such education as the State requires. The tax may be general although the school attendance is not.
  6. Education higher than the rudiments may be supplied by the State. Opportunity must be provided at public expense for youths to be fitted for the university.


1 Response to “First School Laws in North America”

  • I had posted the 1st Educ Laws (above) on John Stossel’s article about homeschooling in California

    John Stossel: No right to educate your own child? This is an important comment from a reader about those early laws:

    Tunya, if you know American law, you understand that Massachusetts laws have no relevance to what happens in California. Not only that, Massachusetts in 1642 was under British law, which was immediately cancelled when the United States became an independent nation. A 1642 Massachusetts law is not binding today even in Massachusetts, let alone in any other state.

    The only laws relevant in California today are the United States Constitution, the California Constitution, and any laws passed since then in the state of California.

    And there is reason to question whether a law that presumes to give the state such tremendous power is even constitutional.
    – Marcy, Brighton, CO

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