Profile America: First Public School

Thursday, May 26 — The first public high school in the U.S. was founded this month in 1820. The English Classical School opened in 1821 with 101 male students in Boston, which also was the seat for America‚Äôs first high school of any kind, the Boston Latin Grammar School. Boston Latin, beginning in 1635, sought to prepare young men for admittance to Harvard as divinity students. English Classical placed its emphasis on more general studies. High schools were slow to spread, and by 1870, there were still only 500 public high schools with 50,000 students in the U.S. Today, there are some 24,000 public high schools across the country. Current enrollment in both public and private high schools stands at 16.6 million, with males slightly outnumbering females.

Profile America is beginning  its 20th year as a public service of the U.S. Census Bureau.

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