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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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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 “Smart Snacks” Standards Coming to School Vending Machines Nationwide
We explore new federal regulations that will ban junk food from public schools. This means no more sweets and soda in cafeteria lines, vending machines and snacks sold in other locations around the schools.
Student snacking during the school day is about to become a whole lot healthier, thanks to new federal standards. New “Smart Snacks” standards will ensure access to foods high in sugar, sodium and calories will be limited during the school day, whether students are getting the snacks from vending machines in the school hallways or the cafeteria line. The new standards are not scheduled to go into effect until 2014, but already schools are getting ready for what the Smart Snacks standards will mean for their students – and possibly, their bottom line.
 
Smarter Snacking from the USDA
 
According to a report at Living Green Magazine, the new standards are coming directly from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsak stated at the Living Green website, “Nothing is more important than the health and well-being of our children. Parents and schools work hard to give our youngsters the opportunity to grow up healthy and strong, and providing healthy options throughout school cafeterias, vending machines and snack bars will support their great efforts.”
 
The new Smart Snacks standards will require schools to remove foods like high-calorie soft drinks and sports beverages, candy bars and cookies from cafeterias, snack bars and school vending machines. Those selections will be replaced with flavored water, granola bars and fruit cups. According to the Christian Science Monitor, the new regulations will involve areas that have never been regulated before, including snack counters and vending machines.
 
The new rules were laid out in a...
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Tuition-free Online High Schools
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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.