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.
View the most popular articles in About Public Schools:
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Charter Schools Produce More Graduates than Public Schools
Studies show that graduation rates at charter schools outpace graduation rates at public schools. Learn how charter schools have been able to improve graduation rates, and the positive effects charter schools have on students’ lives in the long-term.
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...
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Changing Demographics Will Alter the Diversity of Public Schools
Learn about projected changes in public school enrollment of various ethnic groups and what problems may be ahead for state education systems as they try to cope with increasing financial demands as a result of increased enrollment.
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...
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The Hidden Costs of Public Education
As the school year kicks into full swing, we examine the many fees and other hidden costs lurking in a “free” public education today.
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...
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Parents Spending Less to Send Kids Back to School
We look at a recent study that shows parents are aggressively looking for ways to save on back-to-school shopping this year, from reusing last year’s supplies to hunting for tax holidays.
As kids and parents get ready for the back-to-school flurry, it doesn’t appear pocketbooks will open up quite as much as last year. According to three different national surveys, parents are planning to pare back on school spending this year, although the specific amount varies somewhat. As kids lament the end of their summer vacations, parents are on the hunt for ways to save as they equip their kids for their new classroom experiences.
 
Spending Expectations from National Retail Federation
 
The National Retail Federation predicts spending for back-to-school to be about $50 less per family than it was last year. This time last year, the average family in the United States spent $688 on school supplies, clothing, shoes, and backpacks to send the kids back to school in style. This year, that number is expected to be closer to $634.
 
The NRF predicts overall back-to-school and off-to-college spending will total $72.5 billion. The majority of that will come from college costs, while back-to-school spending should total around $26.7 billion of that larger number. The average family sending a child to college is expected to spend around $836, as opposed to $907 that was spent last year.
 
“The good news is that consumers are spending, but they are doing so with cost and practicality in mind,” Matthew Shay, president and CEO of the National Retail Federation, stated on the organization’s website. “Having splurged on their growing children’s needs last year, parents will ask their kids to reuse what they can for...
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Tuition for Public Schools? Some Districts are Saying Yes
We look at a new trend in public schools – charging tuition to students outside the district to attend high-demand schools. Now, some schools are actively marketing to attract out-of-district students and compete with private schools in their areas.
Public school was established to provide a free education for everyone living in the United States. It has been dubbed the great equalizer, providing the same opportunities for all students, regardless of race, background or income level. However, some public schools are bucking this philosophy, at least for students that live outside their immediate boundaries. One of the recent trends catching fire in public schools across the country is the charging of tuition to students living outside district boundaries. Fair? It depends on who you ask.
 
Tuition Spreading, Rates Increasing
 
Business Insider reports that many school districts across the country charge tuition to students who want to attend the school from outside the district. What is interesting about this latest trend is the amount of tuition charged, which is increasing exponentially at some in-demand schools. While the typical going rate for out-of-district transfers ranges from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars, some schools are charging students $10,000 or more for a year of education.
 
The new rates are comparable to those at private schools, which some public institutions willingly admit they are trying to compete with. The school board president for the Rye Brook District in New York told Business Insider, “You get a first-rate education. You hear about charter schools. You hear about private schools. You hear about parochial schools. This is just another option.”
 
Rye Brook recently announced plans to charge tuition rates of $21,500 for slots in middle and high schools for the upcoming school year....
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Recent Public School Articles
Students of Color Disproportionately Disciplined in Schools
Students of Color Disproportionately Disciplined in Schools
Research shows that students of color face a disproportionate number of disciplinary actions in U.S. public schools. Learn about these disparities, as well as the policies that fuel them. Also learn about suggested measures to address this problem.
Charter Schools Produce More Graduates than Public Schools
Studies show that graduation rates at charter schools outpace graduation rates at public schools. Learn how charter schools have been able to improve graduation rates, and the positive effects charter schools have on students’ lives in the long-term.
Changing Demographics Will Alter the Diversity of Public Schools
Learn about projected changes in public school enrollment of various ethnic groups and what problems may be ahead for state education systems as they try to cope with increasing financial demands as a result of increased enrollment.
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.