Traveling through a small town in Massachusetts, I saw a sign proclaiming Rehoboth as the birthplace of public education. Like many declarations, this is subject to hot debate.
Boston, Dedham, and Dorchester challenge Rehoboth for this honor.
Rehoboth - In 1643, a church in Rehoboth voted to support a teacher through taxes. At that time, church and state were one; however, some do not believe that can be considered public support.
Boston - Boston Latin School vehemently asserts that it is the nation's oldest public school, founded in 1635. However, students' education was paid for by donations and rental revenue until 1649.
Dedham - Residents voted to have a tax to support public education in 1644.
Dorchester - In 1639, Dorchester residents voted for rent from a specific property to support a school. Some say the rent is a "proportional property tax."