Public Education in the United States

The term public education means the mandated education offered to children by the government to the general public, be it local, regional, or national. It is provided in most cases by an organization of civil government and it is financed by taxes in part or whole. This term is most cases is rarely used to refer to post-secondary education, college education, university education, or even technical education (Dayle, 2000).

It applies to basic education that is offered to primary children as well as secondary children education. It is often operated and organized to be the civil community calculated model. Public education is broad just as the government itself. Public education can be provided in quite a several settings such as in-home, distance learning can also be provided by employing visiting and supervising teachers. It can also be made available in nonhome settings such as in shopping mall space.

According to George and Harold (1999) to differentiate public education from publicly funded education, four characteristics are important to put into consideration. These are public education entails compulsory attendance by the student up to a certain standard or age, teacher’s certification either by the teacher’s organization or the government itself, curricula certification by the teacher’s organization or the government and finally the government avails any standards and testing that should be followed in the implementation of public education.

The first American public school where public education was offered was established on the 2nd of January 1643 with the center of attention being on elementary education K-8th grade. Schools got public supply but were not offered complete freedom to make their programs. Public education remained a social issue until the 1830s. Several adjustments have followed this system of education up to date. Recently public education has suffered much criticism because of its shortfalls that have compromised its effectiveness in the United States.

Different politicians have argued that public education has had disastrous results particularly in inner cities where school performance has been calculated by the standardized tests that are offered to students and these tests are administered by the state itself. Of great concern is the criterion to be used to fix schools that more often perform badly and have a large number of students whose performance in those tests is also poor.

These schools are heavily populated and the number of students per class popularly referred to as class size overwhelms the services of a single teacher. As a result, students lack the needed attention from their teachers thus losing the morale to work hard. Another vital reason for the argument against public education is the lack of proper programs for those students who have physical as well as mental needs and the level of contact, opportunities, and inclusion availed to such students in ensuring that no child is left behind in acquiring education.

Public schools offering public education in the United States have been said to lack accountability to parents and students and also to the market. This deficiency has resulted in inefficient use of taxpayer dollars as well as inefficient use of resources available to them. The results are a poor education that is not satisfying to parents and students. (Robert, 1999)

A proliferation of alternative schools has been the outcome of the shortfalls of public education. The most famous of the alternative schools are the rise of charter schools which are publicly funded and are owned by the public but are operated and run by independent bodies without the involvement of the local school district. They have mixed results on the performance of students on standardized tests and they have less bureaucracy as opposed to public schools which have too much bureaucracy. Due to this libertarian groups and the alliance for the separation of school and state has collectively declared their discontent in public education and called for its full abolishment (Michael, 2003).

In his 1963 essay Nathaniel Branden equated education to shoes and gave an argument that just like private enterprises provide more efficient goods and services to their customers who are vital to it, private schools also provide the most efficient education than public schools owned by the government. He continued to express dissatisfaction towards public education by stating that public education systems hand out mechanisms for ideological enforcement. One political solution to public education that has been agitated by the Republican Party of the United States is the use of vouchers. Students from underperforming districts would be supported financially by the government so that they attend the schools they feel they can be able to improve their performance once they enroll in those schools.

This is a measure perceived as important in ensuring that public schools compete with private schools in terms of service delivery. This is because the more students a school gets the more the money the school gets and vice versa. So for public schools to get enough money to sustain their programs they will need to ensure that performance is higher than that of private schools. In this respect, the public schools will be accountable and efficient to both parents and the students.

This proposal is also perceived to be all-inclusive because the physically and mentally impaired children will also have a chance of attending schools they feel that their learning problems are more cared about. Market accountability is seen as one result that will emerge from the implementation of the school voucher and the results can be emulated by other public schools that perform poorly.

In conclusion, public education in the United States of America has not yielded the expected fruits of the education system. Much advocacy has gone on the need to change public education or even do away with it. The recent rise of other alternative schools is a clear picture of the public dissatisfaction with the public education system. It is, therefore, true to state that public education in America is not effective. The continued deterioration of performance in most district schools has shown that public education is not effective. Public demand for public education has also reduced with the politicians crying foul of the inefficiency in public schools.


Dayle, M. Compulsory Schooling and Human Learning, New York: Caddo Gap Press, 2000.

George, R and.Harold, W.Public Education in America: New York: New York Press, 1999.

Heller, F, Students schooling vouchers, Cato Institute, 2001.

James W. Between Church and State” explores these issues in terms of historical context, California: California university press, 2003.

Kathleen, D. Developing an open education in America, New York: National association for the education of young children press, 2004.

Mike, R. The promise of a good public education in America, Houghton: Houghton Mifflin Press, 2004.

Michael, P. The emerging track records of school vouchers, New York Times, 2003.

Patrick, J. Education in America, Stanford: W.C. Co. publishers, 1995.

Robert, M. Shocking state of public education in the United States, Greenwood: Greenwood publishers.

Thattai, D.A History of public education in America, New York: New York Press, 2000.

Cite this paper

Select style


DemoEssays. (2022, February 9). Public Education in the United States. Retrieved from


DemoEssays. (2022, February 9). Public Education in the United States.

Work Cited

"Public Education in the United States." DemoEssays, 9 Feb. 2022,


DemoEssays. (2022) 'Public Education in the United States'. 9 February.


DemoEssays. 2022. "Public Education in the United States." February 9, 2022.

1. DemoEssays. "Public Education in the United States." February 9, 2022.


DemoEssays. "Public Education in the United States." February 9, 2022.