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:
Updated October 23, 2017 |
All the Options in Public Schooling in the 21st Century
Considering what type of public school is best for your child? We list all the various types of public schools available today, from the neighborhood school to charters and magnet schools.
Public education in the United States has evolved into a complex maze of options designed to address a wide range of student needs and learning styles. However, the multitude of choices can also make it challenging for parents to weed through and understand the various options available to them and their children. To help break it down, check out this list of some of the more common options in public schooling today.
Neighborhood Schools
The traditional community school continues to be the most common type of institution of public education today. Public schools in a district are typically zones, so those living in the community know which school they are assigned. Neighborhood schools allow students the opportunity to make friends with classmates right in their area. In some districts, parents are allowed to enroll their children in a school outside their immediate neighborhood, if the chosen school is closer to the parent’s workplace or the parent simply wants his child to attend a different school.
Charter Schools
Charter schools began to make an appearance in the 1990s, and their presence has consistently grown in all but 10 states across the country. Education Bug lists the states without current charter laws as Alabama, Kentucky, Maine, South Dakota, Washington, Vermont, West Virginia, Nebraska, Montana, and North Dakota. Charter schools are public schools, but parents choose to send their children to a charter school, rather than simply attend based on district zoning.
Like other schools, charters receive money from taxes, but they also raise
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Updated March 24, 2017 |
How to Choose a Public School for Your Child
We offer tips to help parents find the best fit in public education for their children, as well as how to know which public school their children should attend based on location.
Choosing a public school for your child is a much more complex task today. With many more options available than the neighborhood school down the street, parents often feel overwhelmed with the task of determining the specific needs of their child and researching the schools to find the best fit for those needs. There are a number of factors to weigh when choosing a school, and many of the most important features are listed below.
District Zones and Your Neighborhood School
For many families, the best choice in schooling may be the neighborhood school down the street. Students are typically assigned to a specific elementary school by district zoning, which divides up the district using a precise formula that allows for the most even allotment of students at each school.  However, the problem with choosing a school strictly according to zoning is that boundaries can change over the course of a child’s academic career, according to School Wise Press. One school may see significant growth that results in overcrowding, initiating a zoning change. Other schools may see enrollment drops that require either rezoning school boundaries or closing and consolidating schools.
Parents that are concerned about possible zoning changes during their child’s academic career may want to inquire about open enrollment policies. Some districts may allow families to open enroll students at the school they have been attending in the event of a boundary change to ensure students enjoy continuity in their schooling. However, keep in mind that other
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Updated March 22, 2017 |
An  Overview of the Funding of Public Schools
Learn about how public schools are funded today and how the federal and local monies are allocated.
Schools nationwide require resources to operate, and that typically boils down to money. The way in which schools get their funding varies from state to state and district to district. However, there are a few basic funding principles that are relatively uniform throughout the country. With funding coming from a variety of resources, and allocation determined in various ways, it is helpful to understand the basics of funding public schools to discover where these important institutions get the resources they need to educate students across America.
Where does the Money Come From?
According to Education Week, public school funding comes from a variety of sources at the local, state and federal level. Approximately 48 percent of a school’s budget comes from state resources, including income taxes, sales tax and fees. Another 44 percent is contributed locally, primarily through the property taxes of homeowners in the area. The last eight percent of the public education budget comes from federal sources, with an emphasis on grants for specific programs and services for students that need them.
The website for the U.S. Department of Education explains that during the 2004-2005 school year, about 83 cents from every dollar spent on education came from state and local sources. Around eight percent is contributed by the federal government, and another eight or nine percent might come from private entities. The careful distribution of funding is according to a traditional American desire to keep control of the schools at the local level, rather than a national
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Updated April 27, 2017 |
Understanding Public Schools in the U.S.
Learn about the definition of public education in the United States and how they operate.
Public education is a core element to an educated society and a successful democracy. The evolution of public schools in the United States began early in the 17th century, with the first settlers on American soil. Today, the public school system in the U.S. is a complex one with a multi-tiered form of governance and a multitude of programs to address the varying needs of students and their families. Understanding the definition, purpose and operation of public schools in the U.S. helps one get a broad picture of what public education in this country looks like.
Definition of Public Education
Wikipedia defines public schools as primary or secondary schools that are available to everyone within a country’s population. The schools are regulated and funded through government authority, and attendance is mandated by that government authority. Funding typically comes from taxation of the country’s citizens, and the money is generally allocated through the government entity designated to oversee the public school system.
In the United States, there is a three-tiered form of governance that oversees public education, which includes federal, state and local levels. At the federal level, the Department of Education, currently overseen by Education Secretary Arne Duncan, is the entity that established policies and laws involving education in the U.S.  State education agencies also play a role in governing the public schools in their states, while individual school districts, run by elected school boards in most cases, offer their own form of oversight as well.
Facts and Figures
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Updated September 30, 2017 |
A History of Public Schools
Public schools in the United States have an interesting history. Learn about how these public institutions developed into a cornerstone of our country's education.
Public schools enjoy a long and illustrious history in the United States, with the first schools in the country dating almost as far back as the arrival of the Puritans on U.S. shores. Since that time, the purpose, philosophy, and goals of public education have been examined and debated, up to the development of the public school system still in existence today. How we got to the current point in public education warrants a look back centuries at the very first schools dedicated to educating American youth.
Puritans Recognize Need for Public Education
As early as the 17th century, the need for public education was recognized by the Puritans living on American shores at the time. This population determined education was essential both for teaching basic academic skills and core religious values. Boston Latin School was established as the first public high school in 1635 in Boston, Massachusetts. The school is still in operation to this day.
The Massachusetts Bay Colony decreed in 1647 that towns of 50 people should have a public elementary school, and those with populations of over 100 should have a Latin school. The primary function of schools at this time was to teach reading so that children learned to read the Bible. Schools also taught Puritan values and basic information about the Calvinist religion, according to Applied Research Center.
Religion Dominates Early Schools
Throughout the 18th century, the focus on schooling was either private or religious in nature. Many of the public
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Recent Articles
March 09, 2018
We examine the rise in atheist club in public schools across the country – and how the push for Christian clubs may have inadvertently spurred this growth.
March 05, 2018
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The Common Core State Standards Initiative has changed the course of education in the United States, particularly with its emphasis on standardized testing. But how does standardized testing affect teaching quality? Keep reading to find out.
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.