The United States public education system is ranked 7th in the world, a surprising statistic reported on by the US News. Public education is defined as schools that are maintained at a public expense for the education of the children of a community or a district that implements free tuition. In order to be competitive with other countries, the system must implement some drastic improvements. The state of North Carolina, for example, is specifically struggling to maintain high quality elementary and secondary schools. Considered “one of the worst states in the country when it comes to public education,” North Carolina is ranked 24th in terms of their quality of education and 41st in teacher salary. There is not enough money being given to each school and parents are not supporting them. Parents and children are deciding to switch to other schooling options, such as private, charter, or home schools. What most do not realize, though, is that attending schools through the public education system is quite beneficial for the majority of the citizens and their communities, socially and economically. While there are some faults with the overall public education system, it is the best choice when deciding what kind of school to attend.

Public education has given me some of the best memories and opportunities that I have ever received. Throughout my time at these schools I was able to gain new perspective and knowledge, become involved in many clubs, met some of my best friends, attend several field trips, and most importantly become the person I am today. These are just a few of the reasons as to why I am such a strong supporter of United States public education. In fall 2016, approximately 50.4 of American students were enrolled in the public education system. This huge statistic implies how important it is to have quality public schools for American citizens because of how many people are attending these schools. I believe that there are several benefits when choosing to attend public schools. Some of these benefits are being prepared for the real world, exposing children to diversity at a young age, and leading children towards success in their future.  According to the Center of Public Education, the public school systems within the United States bring students and teachers together to promote common values and to teach a common culture. These schools allow anyone to attend no matter what their background is. There is no discrimination in race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, and social class. Public schools are also required to accommodate anyone with special needs, unlike private schools who may choose who is allowed to attend their schools. Each public school system within the United States is held to the highest standards in terms of academic achievement. Their goal for students is to gain as much knowledge as possible and receive the best education from top level teachers. Other benefits of public education are shown on the Education Bug website. It includes, a variety of extracurricular activities, free transportation, and free tuition. Most importantly, public education is a symbol in uniting the people of the United States. It is a significant factor in showing the nation’s democratic way of life. Not only is public education great for our overall nation, it is also great in bringing a community together. Exceptional public schools can produce a united community through higher education and jobs with local stores and companies. And by providing a community with a good public education, the members are more likely to be employed, stay out of crime, and give back to the community.

However, the United States public education system is not considered perfect by any means. There are several factors that are playing a large role in the dwindling of the public education system. The outcome of these problems is giving the United States educational system an embarrassing image. Some of the problems that exist are poverty, overcrowded schools, a lack of diversity within gifted students, stagnant funding, unmotivated teachers within their classrooms, and unprepared graduates. In an article by The Washington Post, the author explains how the Southern Education study has shown that the most prominent problem with the nation’s public education system is poverty. When a school is mostly made up of students who live in poverty, more than likely the school is also going to be poor as well. This is because there is no help with funding besides the little that is coming from the state. Similarly, North Carolina is also struggling when it comes to having a high quality public education system. When looking at any type of poll or study done on North Carolina, the state is usually ranked near the bottom in education, such as being 41st in the nation in teacher salary. According to Public Schools First NC, some of the complications that are happening within this state are low salaries for teachers, barely any funding for classroom resources, and inadequate training of teachers. The North Carolina Public School website states that the state is in the process of implementing a plan of improvement and will be put in place soon by the State Board of Education. The plan consists of establishing an understanding of a school’s current state, including student achievement, parent community, and school environment. The State Board of Education then will reach a decision on what improvement will take priority and implement it from there. In terms of improving the overall public education system, the United States government can help by investing in training for good, passionate teachers, decreasing class sizes, letting kids learn at their own pace, getting families involved in the school early, and addressing the issue of poverty within schools.

Due to the decrease in reputation of quality public schools across the nation, students and their parents are beginning to look into other options. These options include private schools, charter schools, and homeschooling. Over 5.2 million children are enrolled in private school, 2.5 million children are enrolled in charter schools, and 1.3 children are enrolled in homeschooling.  While these statistics are no where near how many children are enrolled in public school, it is still significant percentages for how many children are not attending public schools. People are choosing these schools over public schools because they believe they will provide a better education for students and are better working environments for students. In a Cato Institute article, the author argues that attending a private school is a better decision over attending a public school. He believes that they are the better option because they allow the students more freedom in the classroom and more equality between the students.  The biggest difference between public and private schools is the fact that public education is tuition free and funded by the government and taxes, while private schools include paying a significant amount in tuition. On the other hand, public schools and charter schools are more similar in that sense in that they are both funded by the government and are not allowed to discriminate against students. Home schooling also includes free tuition, besides paying for books and other useful materials. People in favor of home school believe that students are in a safer environment and are able to focus more on their work, yet people in favor of public schooling also argue the same thing can occur within their schools. Public, private, charter, and home schools also vary in class size, curriculum, and the number of teachers. In most cases, each type of school can both produce successful students who are ready and prepared for the real world. Sometimes it doesn’t matter what kind of school the student attends, but how great the student’s work ethic is. In relation to private schooling, president Trump has been extremely outspoken in wanting to implement a school choice initiative. This allows disadvantaged youth to either attend a public, private, magnet, religious, charter, or home school. However, I think this initiative would cause a great amount of chaos and controversy within the education system when determining whether or not one is considered disadvantaged. This could cause unfair circumstances for some students.

Attending public schools in the United States is beneficial, socially and economically for both parents and students. One of the main points in attending school is to gain knowledge and to be prepared with skills that one will need in attending a higher level of education or when securing a job. The benefits are shown through a study written by an associate professor at Pennsylvania State University. The social benefits can be shown by improving one’s ability to make accurate decisions, in gathering information, and considering consequences. These social benefits coincide with economic benefits as well. The number of people who are properly educated can help improve the economy. People who are more educated are less likely to commit a crime, have a better quality of health, and are more likely to receive a job. This in turn saves the government from spending more funds on avoidable items such as welfare, prisons, and unemployment. Some of the other economic benefits that come with attending public schools are improved employment chances, free tuition, and increased tax revenue.

Overall, the United States public education system can be extremely beneficial to people, socially and economically. Public schools are also beneficial for the community that surrounds them in terms of increasing jobs and funding within them. Although the school systems have faults within them, they could easily be improved with the help of the government and their communities. I strongly support the public education system and am so thankful for how it shaped me into the person that I am today.

 

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