Massachusetts School Law 1642
This Cort, taking into consideration the great neglect of many parents & masters in training up their children in learning & labor, & other implyments which may be proffitable to the common wealth, do hereupon order and decree, that in euery towne ye chosen men appointed for managing the prudentiall affajres of the same shall henceforth stand charged with the care of the redresse of this evill, so as they shalbee sufficiently punished by fines for the neglect thereof, upon presentment of the grand jury, or other information or complaint in any Court within this jurisdiction; and for this end they, or the greater number of them, shall have power to take account from time to time of all parents and masters, and of their children, concerning their calling and implyment of their children, especially of their ability to read & understand the principles of religion & the capitall lawes of this country, and to impose fines upon such as shall refuse to render such accounts to them when they shall be required; and they shall have power, with consent of any Court or the magistrate, to put forth apprentices the children of such as they shall (find) not to be able & fitt to employ and bring them up.
They shau take ... that boyes and girles be not suffered to converse together, so as may occasion any wanton, dishonest, or immodest behavior; & for their better performance of this trust committed to them, they may divide the towne amongst them, appointing to every of the said townesmen a certaine number of families to have special oversight of. They are also to provide that a sufficient quantity of materialls, as hemp, flaxe, ecra, may be raised in their severall townes, & tooles & implements provided for working out the same; & for their assistance in this so needfull and beneficiah imploymt, if they meete wth any difficulty or opposition wch they cannot weU master by their own power, they may have recorse to some of the matrats, who shall take such course for their help & incuragmt as the occasion shau require according to justice; & the said townesmen, at the next Cort in those limits, after the end of their year, shall give a briefs account in writing of their proceedings herein, provided that they have bene so required by some Cort or magistrate a month at least before; & this order to continew for two yeares, & till the Cort shall take further order.
Massachusetts School Law, 1647
It being one chiefe project of ye ould deluder, Satan, to keepe men from the knowledge of ye Scriptures, as in former times by keeping ym in an unknowne tongue, so in these latter times by perswading from ye use of tongues, yt so at least ye true sence & meaning of ye originall might be clouded by false glosses of saint seeming deceivers, yet learning may not be buried in ye grave of or fathers in ye church and commonwealth, the Lord assisting or endeavors,-
It is therefore ordered, yet every towneship in this jurisdiction, after ye Lord hath increased your number to 50 housholdrs, shall then forthwith appoint one with in their towne to teach all such children as shall resort to him to write & reade, whose wages shall be paid either by ye parents or masters of such children, or by ye inhabitants in generall, by way of supply, as ye major part of those yet orderly prudentials ye twone shau appoint; provided, those yet send their children be not oppressed by paying much more ym they can have ym taught for in other townes; & it is further ordered, yet where any towne shall increase to ye number of 100 families or househoulders, they shau set up a grammer schoole, ye mr thereof being able to instruct youth so farr as they shall be fitted for ye university, provided, yet if any towne neglect ye performance hereof above one yeare, yet every such towne shau pay 5 pounds to ye next schoole till they shall performe this order.