On this day in Alabama history: Statewide public school system established

On this day in Alabama history: Statewide public school system established
First grade children and teacher at the Goodman School, Coffee County, 1939. (Photograph by Marion Post Wolcott, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division)

February 15, 1854

The Alabama Legislature passed the Public Education Act, establishing a statewide public school system. The legislation centralized the state’s local school systems, increased funding for education and created the position of state superintendent. The Legislature cited the Constitution of 1819 as the basis for the new system of free schools by quoting, “Schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged in this State.” After creating the system, the state began the process of licensing its public school teachers, and superintendent William F. Perry introduced the McGuffey Reader and rudimentary topics such as U.S. history and geography to the state’s curriculum.

Read more at Encyclopedia of Alabama.

For more on Alabama’s Bicentennial, visit Alabama 200.

Related Stories