1821 – The first public high school, Boston English High School, opens .
1827 – The state of Massachusetts passes a law requiring towns of more than 500 families to have a public high school open to all students.
1837 – Horace Mann becomes Secretary of the newly formed Massachusetts State Board of Education. A visionary educator and proponent of public (or “free”) schools, Mann works tirelessly for increased funding of public schools and better training for teachers. As Editor of the Common School Journal, his belief in the importance of free, universal public education gains a national audience. He resigns his position as Secretary in 1848 to take the Congressional seat vacated by the death of John Quincy Adams and later becomes the first president of Antioch College.
1852 – Massachusetts enacts the first mandatory attendance law. By 1885, 16 states have compulsory-attendance laws, but most of those laws are sporadically enforced at best. All states have them by 1918.
1905- The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching is founded. It is charted by an act of Congress in 1906, the same year the Foundation encouraged the adoption of a standard system for equating “seat time” (the amount of time spent in a class) to high school credits. Still in use today, this system came to be called the “Carnegie Unit.” Other important achievements of the Foundation during the first half of the 20th Century include the “landmark ‘Flexner Report’ on medical education, the development of the Graduate Record Examination, the founding of the Educational Testing Service, and the creation of the Teachers Insurance Annuity Association of America (TIAA-CREF).” See the Carnegie Foundation’s home page for additional information.
1909 – Educational reformer Ella Flagg Young becomes superintendent of the Chicago Public Schools. She is the first female superintendent of a large city school system. One year later she is elected president of the National Education Association.