Akron School Law

From Ohio History Central

Ohio's current school system is based upon the Akron School Law.

In the 1830s and 1840s, Ohioans were taking a significant interest in the idea of public education. The Akron School Law of 1847 reflected that interest. Schools commonly functioned independently from one another at this time, with little attempt at uniformity. The citizens of Akron, influenced by their New England roots, used the new law to organize their community's schools into a single system.

Under the Akron School Law, there was to be one school district encompassing the entire city. Within that district would be a number of elementary schools, with students divided into separate "grades" based on achievement. When enough demand existed, the school board would establish a high school as well. Property taxes would pay for the new school system. A school board, elected by the community, would make decisions about the system's management and hire the necessary professionals to run each school. Illustrating the racism that existed in Ohio during this era, the Akron School Law excluded African-American children from the public school system.

The Akron School Law proved to be the example for other communities to follow. In 1849, the Ohio legislature passed the Ohio School Law, modeled after Akron's law.

See Also