1850 The Common School Act

  • Street Urchins

    Free Education

    The School Act of 1850 helped clarify what was meant by the phrase "free education" by requiring all property owners to share the burden of the cost of education. If education was to be free, it had to be available to those who had previously been unable to afford the cost or the loss of their children's labour on the farm. Public sentiment, particularly among wealthier citizens, had been to decry the concept of paying taxes to support the education of those who were not of a higher social and economic class. However, by 1850, the tide of public opinion had turned and people came to recognize that if certain social issues were to be dealt with, they would have to support a public education system that offered the possibility of effecting such change.

    Photographer unknown

    Black and white photo

    2012.X.622

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    Black and white photo of little children in dirty clothes by the railway tracks