Free public education from grade 1 through high school has been with us since the first settlers landed on Plymouth Rock in the 1600s. Providing such education has traditionally been the responsibility of each state and local jurisdiction. By the end of the 19th century, free public education became available to all (although not Blacks and Indigenous Peoples). Separate schools were provided through the Office of Indian Education Programs (since 2006 the Bureau of Indian Education). In 1954, the Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka Supreme Court decision ruled racial segregation in schools unconstitutional. Following that ruling, many states moved toward desegregation. Massive Resistance in many southern states led some states to establish private schools for whites to subvert the decision. The civil rights movement in the 1960s led the federal government to take an increasing role in schools. Although research shows that school desegregation benefits all children and despite government efforts at desegregation, school segregation is higher than it has been in decades. You can read more details in a 2019 report by Erica Frankenberg from the Social Science Research Institute at Penn State.