o 1776: First Pennsylvania Constitution called for the state legislature to establish at least one school in every county, but this was never enacted or enforced.
o 1790: “Poor Laws” led to the creation of schools in various parts of the state available only for poor children to receive free education.
o 1818: The first public schools for children of all income levels in the state were started in Philadelphia County.
o 1831: A Common School Fund created to raise money to build schools by land sales.
o 1834: Free Schools Law divided the entire state into school districts with voters in each district voting on whether they wanted local schools. If so, the state would pay for part of the school costs. By 1835, 59% of the state’s districts had voted yes. The first public high schools began in the state after this law (Central High School in Philadelphia being the first).
o 1854: School Code of 1854 said that local school boards could decide teacher salaries, grade levels, which students could attend, textbooks used, and what was to be taught. The only state requirements were that orthography (spelling), reading, writing, grammar and geography be taught in every school. This law said separate schools for African-Americans had to be set up in any county with more than 20 black students. Local school boards were overseen by a County Superintendent.
o 1857: The state Department of Education is established
o 1872: The last school district in the state voted to establish public schools.
o 1874: State law passed requiring all districts to provide public schools and said no district could abolish free schools.
o 1881: Desegregation of Pennsylvania Public Schools made illegal (case: Meadville, Crawford County)
o 1895: First mandatory attendance requirement in Pennsylvania required children ages 8-13 to attend school for 13 weeks a year.
o 1903: Law passed allowing students living in a district that did not have a high school to attend school in another district and have their home district pay the tuition.
o 1911: The Revised School Code was passed
o State Board of Education established to ensure that education was “equalized throughout the state.”
o Set up levels of teaching certificates and minimum teacher salaries for each type of certificate.
o Started the creation of the state Normal Schools, which were colleges founded to train teachers.
o 1913: Statewide vocational programs were created to train students in agricultural and industrial trades.
o 1917: Public School Employee’s Retirement Fund established
o 1921: Junior High Schools created; teachers became certified by the state and not by the county superintendent.Two or more of the existing school districts could join together to offer schools.
o 1937: Public School teachers tenure act passed