Public education always gets a bit of a bad rap. However, public schools still serve a significant role in preparing the next generation of leaders and the workforce.
Although some parents might complain about the added expenses of supplies and participation in sports teams, these schools are still much more budget-friendly than their private counterparts, which often get additional funding through private donations.
While public schools participate in fundraisers, the bulk of their funding still comes from federal, state, and local government sources.
Public schools provide access to an education for every child in a community. By law, public schools cannot turn students away based on academic performance, income level, or disability. This ensures that every student has the same educational opportunities as others, regardless of one’s personal or financial situation.
Because all children are admitted, they are more likely to be in classrooms with other children who don’t think, act, or look exactly like them. Students are more apt to be exposed to students from different cultures or income levels. They may learn to work with other students with mental and physical disabilities.
The diversity of the student body can be an essential learning experience in itself.
Funding is often dependent on the number of students in a school. Class sizes in public schools tend to remain smaller in the early years. After third grade, classes gradually grow according to the students’ age and ability to work independently.
Public schools often have the resources to offer more academic opportunities, such as advanced classes and courses in specialized subjects. Options might include gifted and talented programs or Advanced Placement (AP) classes.
From athletics to music and theatre, most schools offer a variety of extracurricular activities to keep students learning and excelling in the areas they are most interested.
By law, public schools are required to provide certain services. Some, such as transportation to and from school, are offered to all the students. Reduced-price and free lunches, and academic assistance, are provided to students who qualify.
Public schools have a staff of special education teachers and learning specialists for the students. Private schools may not offer such services because they are not required to admit students that meet these needs.
Teachers in public schools are required to be certified by the state. Certification also requires ongoing education and periodic renewal of credentials. Charter and private schools do not have this requirement. In some cases, these schools might not even require teachers to have a four-year degree to work in the classroom.
Public schools are held accountable by the state for their academic performance. While some have complained that this has led to an overabundance of standardized testing, the schools do at least have a higher authority they must answer to. This prevents abuse and leads to the assistance of low-performing schools much more quickly than if the school did not have such accountability.
Students in public schools score comparably on standardized tests to students in private and charter schools, and even outscore them in many cases.
While some public schools produce relatively poor results, those results are often found in areas with high poverty rates. When comparing schools in terms of student demographics, public schools score right up there with other types of schools.
While many are complaining about the state of public schools today, these schools are still working effectively for the majority of students in the system. With many benefits from public schools, it is no wonder that most students and their parents are still choosing the public school as their first choice for education.