Horace Mann: Creator of the Public School System
Truly "the Man" in U.S. education, an educator pivotal in creating the public school system as we know it, Horace Mann, born in 1796, was a poor boy who later made good as a lawyer and legislator in Massachusetts. While working as an attorney in Dedham, home of this country's first tax-supported public school, he was a member of the town's school committee.
In 1837, after serving in the state House of Representatives and the state Senate, Mann was appointed secretary of the new state board of education and began transforming education in Massachusetts with ideas that eventually influenced the entire country. He organized teacher conventions, introduced a longer school year, and argued for higher teacher pay, broader curricula, and more and better schoolhouses. Not surprisingly, traditionalist schoolmasters and religious figures who objected to his exclusion of religious teaching fiercely opposed him.
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