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Dorchester is first

THE ANSWER as to which town had the first school supported by public funds is easy (''Schools vie for honor of being the oldest," Page B1, Nov. 27). It was Dorchester, which voted on May 20, 1639, to use the rents from Thompson's Island to fund a free school.

Furthermore, in 1645 the town reaffirmed its commitment to public education by declaring that the schoolmaster ''shall equally and impartially receive, and instruct such as shall be sent and committed to him for that end whither their parents be poor or rich, not refusing any who have right and interest in the school." Out of this guiding principle evolved the idea of free public education for all.

CHARLES SWIFT
Historian
First Parish Church
Dorchester

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