About Public Schools

Here we cover the history of public schools, explain the various types and discuss their pros/cons. Learn more about technology on campus, health and nutrition issues, and the latest information related to a variety of student populations.
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Everything is bigger in Texas, including the educational system. No state has experienced more growth in the number of K-12 students over the last decade than Texas. Although the majority of the growth is among the Hispanic student population, all ethnic groups except Caucasians experienced both numerical and percentage increases in enrollment during the 2011-2012 and 2012-2013 school years. These increases in minority enrollment and decrease in white enrollment continues a trend that dates back to the 1980s.
 
Enrollment Reflects Increasing Diversity
 
According to the Texas Education Agency, over the last decade the state’s public school system added over 820,000 students, which reflects a 19 percent increase in total enrollment. When viewed longitudinally, the growth of enrollment in Texas is even more pronounced: Since the 1987-1988 school year, enrollment has increased by a whopping 1.85 million students, which represents growth of over 57 percent.
 
In the 2012-2013 academic year, Texas public school students were:

  • 51.3 percent Hispanic;
  • 30 percent white;
  • 12.7 percent African-American;
  • 3.6 percent Asian; and
  • 1.8 percent multi-racial.

These numbers are representative of the increasingly ethnic and cultural diversity of students enrolling in Texas public schools. The Hispanic student population surpassed the 50 percent mark in 2011 and continues to be the fastest-growing segment of Texas’ student population. Conversely, white enrollment, which has been decreasing for years, is projected to continue declining for the next several decades. In 2000, over 41 percent of Texas students were white, but that number now stands at just over 31 percent. By 2050, experts believe white students . . . read more
On May 17, 1954, the United States Supreme Court issued its decision in Brown v. Board of Education, which declared that segregation in public schools was unconstitutional. Yet, 60 years later, public schools across the nation continue to be highly segregated based on race and socioeconomic status. Curiously, America’s most segregated schools are not in the Deep South, but in New York, a state that has expansive ethnic, cultural, social, and economic diversity. Perhaps even more surprising, New York City, one of the most diverse cities in the world, also has one of the most segregated school districts in the country.
 
Segregation by the Numbers
 
According to a report by UCLA’s Civil Rights Project, school segregation in New York is widespread and occurs not just in metropolitan New York City, but also in rural areas and in urban locales upstate. However, as the nation’s largest public school system with 1.1 million students, the New York City Public Schools greatly influence the depth and breadth of the segregation problem. And a significant problem it is. Although the number of Asian and Latino students has dramatically increased since the late 1980s, exposure of these groups to white students has decreased. In fact, of New York City’s 32 school districts, 19 had less than 10 percent white enrollment as recently as 2010. Some of New York City’s schools, particularly charter and magnet schools, are identified by the authors of the report as being so segregated that they are classified as “apartheid schools.”

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The ideas behind the development of charter schools began in the 1950s. However, credit for beginning the charter school movement generally goes to former American Federation of Teachers President Albert Shanker. Shanker called for reform to public schools in the late 1980s that inspired states to pass legislation permitting the establishment of charters. Minnesota took the lead in 1991, creating the nation’s first legislated charter school, which opened the following year.
 
The charter school movement was borne out of the nation’s desire to improve education. This has long been a point of emphasis in our country, and is often a hallmark of presidential debates and congressional action. However, determining the best way to prepare the country’s youth for post-secondary education and the workforce can sometimes be difficult to do. Parents have many options for their child’s education, including charter schools, traditional public schools, private schools, magnet schools or homeschooling. But when it comes to the debate between charter schools and public schools, recent data collected by Mathematica Policy Research reveals that charter schools seem to be doing a better job of graduating students and preparing them for life after high school.
 
Educational Benefits
 
According to Mathematica, the graduation rate at charter schools is between 7-11 percent higher than public schools in the same area. Even for at-risk students, who may not have the financial, social, or family resources that other students enjoy, graduation is more likely at a charter school. Furthermore, students who graduate from charter schools are 10-11 percent . . . read more
Over the last 60 years, American public schools have become more and more diverse, with various ethnic and racial groups comprising a significant percentage of total enrollment. However, according to new data released by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), the diversity of public schools in this nation will change drastically over the next decade or so, and appear much differently in 2022 than it does today.
 
The Numbers
 
The number of white students enrolled in public schools has been falling for years. According to the NCES, between 2000 and 2010 white enrollment decreased from 61 percent to 52 percent of the total public school population. At the same time, the number of Hispanic students increased from 16 percent to 23 percent of total enrollment. This was a trend seen throughout the country over that timespan, with schools in the South and the West seeing the largest Hispanic enrollment increases of any region.

Graph from Huffington Post
 
The 2014 data released by the NCES shows that this trend has continued since 2010, and will continue for the foreseeable future. Through the 2022-2023 school year, the number of white students graduating is projected to decline by another 16 percent. A 14 percent decrease in the number of black students and a 29 percent decrease in the number of American Indian and Alaskan Native students that graduate from public high schools is expected as well. Conversely, other minority groups are expected to show significant growth in . . . read more
The back-to-school ritual has become an expensive one for families across the country today. While “public” education tends to imply schooling that comes free of charge, that is no longer the case for many cash-strapped school districts. Before you send your kids off to the hallowed halls of their neighborhood schools, check out how much that public school might set your checkbook back.
 
Mandatory Fees Add Up Quickly
 
Mandatory fees may encompass everything from textbook fees to the cost of technology. Although the ACLU takes the consistent stand that requiring fees for public education is illegal, the practice is becoming widespread as school districts grapple with budget cuts. According to NBC News, the cost of those mandatory fees can vary widely, from $20 or $40 a student, to hundreds per student in some districts.
 
Gawker recently published a report that included a copy of a fee slip from a high school in Park Ridge, Illinois. The slip shows fees totaling nearly $600, with $300 for a required Chromebook that students must purchase even if they have their own laptop or tablet at home. The slip also listed generic “10th Grade Fees” at $114, and a number of smaller additional fees for things like textbooks and a yearbook.
 
Extracurricular Activities Don’t Come Cheap
 
Clubs and sports are another area when many parents are feeling the stab in their pocketbooks. NBC News reported that one mother in Rockwall, Texas, is paying $400 per year for her daughter to be a . . . read more
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About Public Schools

Overview of Public Schools

A comprehensive look at the U.S. public school system, including history, governing bodies, funding, and services. Compare private, public and charter schools. Learn more about Magnet school programs and get tips on choosing the right school for your child.

Types of Public Schools

Explore the different types of public schools, from charter to language immersion, and learn about the unique pros and cons of each type. Is a co-ed or single sex classroom best for your child? Charter school or magnet? Read expert advice and get valuable tips on the various public education programs available and how to choose what works best for your family.

Technology on Campus

From eBooks to web cams, technology on campus continues to grow. Learn how the latest technology impacts your child’s education. Get tips on the best ways to integrate technology into education and stay abreast of the latest developments and challenges facing schools.

Health and Nutrition at School

From vending machines to Jamie Oliver, bed bugs to tuberculosis, we provide an in-depth look at health and wellness in public schools. Help your kids stay healthy on campus and learn about current health epidemics, vaccination requirements, physical fitness programs and the latest food initiatives.

Back to School

Learn more about preparing your child and wallet for a new school year. Inside you’ll find valuable advice to help your family prepare for the transition from swimsuits to school. While there is no tuition, public school education does not come without costs. Learn more about budgeting for a new school year and get great money saving tips.

Student Populations

The latest trends, laws and resources for a variety of student populations. Every child has different needs, and this section offers helpful information for LGBT, special education, gifted, low-income, and minority students.