A Timeline of Private School Events and History

Updated |
A Timeline of Private School Events and History
What was the first private school? What's the oldest school? What are some of the educational philosophies commonly found? Some answers here.
You would think that education in the United States has been public since colonials days. Not so. The earliest schools were private and religious schools. Only in the mid 19th century did governments begin to compel children to attend school. Public school. Here then is a brief timeline of private K-12 education through the years.
143 b.c. Chengdu Shishi High School was established in China.
69 Quintillian founded his school of rhetoric.
597 The King's School, Canterbury, England was established. It has the distinction of being the oldest private school in the world still operating.
1628 Collegiate School was founded in Manhattan, New York, USA. It is the oldest private school in America still extant and operating.
1799 Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi starts a school for orphans in Burgdorf. His writings on education inspired the study of pedagogy.
1809 Johann Friedrich Herbart establishes pedagogy as an discipline at the university at Gottingen.
1837 Friedrich Froebel creates Kindergarten or the Children's Garden. Kindergarten is the traditional first year of primary or elementary education for children in the United States.
1848 Stephen Girard's estate establishes Girard College in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, for poor, white, fatherless boys.
1874 The German Saturday School Boston was founded thereby established the first foreign language school in the U.S.
1887 The will of Bernice Pauahi Bishop founds and endows the Kamehameha Schools in Hawaii. Mrs. Bishop was the last direct descendant of Hawaii's royal family. She directed that the schools educate free of charge indigenous children of the Hawaiian islands.
1896 John Dewey establishes The Laboratory Schools in Chicago, Illinois, and thus begins the movement known as progressivism in American education.
1901 Colonel Francis Parker starts what is now the Francis W. Parker School. Parker and John Dewey sought to educate productive members of society as to just teaching facts by rote.
1907 Dr. Maria Montessori opens her Casa de Bambini in the slums of Rome. Ironically her Montessori movement has spread around the world taking hold primarily in middle class families who appreciated education.
1910 The Hershey Industrial School admitted its first class. The Milton Hershey school (as it has been known since 1951) was established by chocolate maker Milton Hershey and his wife as a home and school for “poor, healthy white, male orphans between the ages of 8 through 18 years of age.”
1919 Rudolf Steiner founds the first Waldorf School in Stuttgart, Germany. Steiner espoused a humanist philosophy which he refined into anthroposophy. There are about a 1,000 schools worldwide which follow Steiner's teachings.
1931 Edward Harkness  gives Exeter Academy a substantial gift to transform teaching by placing students around a large oval table with their teacher.
1934 Mae Carden establishes the first Carden School in New York City. She advocated a more structured approach to the core subjects than she felt was offered in certain progressive schools.
1935 Lycee Fran?ais de New York opens. It is the first international school in the U.S. offering a corse of study leading to the French Ministry of Education diploma.
1962 The National Association of Independent Schools was founded in New York City. Not all private schools belong to NAIS, but it has become a powerful advocate for private K-12 education.
1990 A voucher program known as the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program is enacted.
1996 Cristo Rey Jsuit High School opens in Chicago, Illinois, providing a virtually free education combined with work study for urban children from families with limited options.
2001 Several state tax credit provisions for K-12 private education are upheld.

Additional Resources [+]
comments powered by Disqus
What's Happened to Catholic Education?
What's Happened to Catholic Education?
Why You Won't Find Cheating in Private Schools
Why You Won't Find Cheating in Private Schools
Why Private School


An in depth look at private schools, including history, a comparison to public education, and a glimpse of what's being taught. Learn about the benefits of attending private school, to both students and parents. Explore private schools options when living abroad, and debunk many of the myths regarding private school education.