MassMoments remind us that on this day – April 14, 1642 – the Massachusetts Bay Colony passed the first law in the New World requiring that children be taught to read and write. It was an incredible step for education. While not a universal mandate at the time, it did set the stage for universal, free, compulsory public-school education in Massachusetts. “When John Adams drafted the Massachusetts Constitution in 1780, he included provisions that guaranteed public education to all citizens.”
…in 1642, Massachusetts Bay Colony passed the first law in the New World requiring that children be taught to read and write. The English Puritans who founded Massachusetts believed that the well-being of individuals, along with the success of the colony, depended on a people literate enough to read both the Bible and the laws of the land. Concerned that parents were ignoring the first law, in 1647 Massachusetts passed another one requiring that all towns establish and maintain public schools. It would be many years before these schools were open to all children. Only in the mid-nineteenth century was universal free public schooling guaranteed – in time, made compulsory — for Massachusetts children.