Education has always been important to Ohioans. The Land Ordinance of 1785 set aside land for the support of a public school in every township. The Ohio Constitution of 1803 did not establish a public school system, but it encouraged residents to provide educational opportunities to the state's children.
Despite this support for education, there were limited educational opportunities in the Northwest Territory and Ohio once it became a state. Mothers primarily educated their children at home. At this time, there were no public schools. Parents had to pay tuition for their children to attend school or work out a trade of some kind. The type of education that children received in these schools was limited. The schools taught basic skills in reading, writing, and mathematics.
Teachers also usually stressed deportment. Because boys were needed to help in the fields, schools were open for a few months a year, usually in the summer. Most students did not obtain any more than an eighth-grade level of education, and many never graduated. There were no laws requiring students to go to school during this era, and parents often needed their children to help with farm chores.
It was not until 1825 that the Ohio General Assembly established public schools in the state. The first schools were known as common schools, and the state financed them with a half-mil property tax. Since the creation of public schools, Ohioans have debated how best to fund public education in the state. Property taxes have been a major means to finance public schools, but many people claim that such a system is not fair to all students in Ohio. Poorer districts usually contend that school systems in areas with higher property values can much more easily meet the needs of and provide more opportunities to their students, while students in poorer areas suffer. Since 1825, Ohioans have struggled to implement a process to finance public education that satisfies all residents.
Initially, attendance in school was not mandatory for Ohio's children. This changed in 1921, when the Ohio government implemented the Bing Act. This law required all children between six and eighteen years of age in the State of Ohio to attend school. The legislature made two exceptions. First, children who had already graduated from high school did not have to remain enrolled in school. Second, once a child reached the age of sixteen years and had passed the seventh grade, the student could work as a farmer rather than attend school.
To learn more about education in Ohio's history, please browse these entries at your leisure.
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