In the city, the mixture of different classes and ethnic groups was an issue in the discussion of "coeducational" school. Some believed that girls should be sent to separate schools to be protected from the "contamination of riff-raff boys." Many well-to-do families chose to send their daughters to private schools while the debate continued.
Unlike in rural communities, churches in the city were often a source of contention rather than inclusion as the use of the Bible in public education was questioned. Parochial, or church-sponsored schools became common in the city.
While Laura did her lessons in the temporary room built on deck of the Roman, her peers on Martha's Vineyard attended school in buildings quite different from today. Most consisted of one room wherein all grades and all subjects were taught. Often there were many such schools scattered throughout a district so that children seldom traveled more than a mile to school. Children walked, rode horses or went to school in wagons. There were no yellow school buses!