Home Featured News Foundations of Wisconsin’s public school system

Foundations of Wisconsin’s public school system

by Jan Schroder

The first free public school in the Badger State opened in 1845, thanks to the ingenuity of cheesehead Michael Frank.

After introducing a trio of bills that failed to acquire enough support to secure passage, the member of Wisconsin’s territorial legislature enticed the community of Southport (now Kenosha) to establish a free public school supported by – drum roll please – property taxes.

This vision ultimately became the model upon which the state public school system, introduced in 1849, was built; later that same year, Frank was equally instrumental in establishing the first free public high school in Wisconsin – also in Southport.

– Hannah Van Sickle, The Wisconsin 100

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The Wisconsin 100