Debate: Public schools
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Should the government run schools?
Background and Context of Debate:
Partly from Public school:
Public-school education in the United States is provided mainly by local governments, with control and funding coming from three levels: federal, state, and local. Curricula, funding, teaching, and other policies are set through locally elected school boards by jurisdiction over school districts. The school districts are special-purpose districts authorized by provisions of state law.
Generally, state governments can and most, if not all, do set minimum standards relating to almost all activities of primary and secondary schools, as well as funding and authorization to enact local school taxes to support the schools -- primarily through real property taxes. The federal government funds aid to states and school districts that meet minimum federal standards. School accreditation decisions are made by voluntary regional associations. The first tax-supported public school in America was in Dedham, Massachusetts.
Public school is normally split up into three stages: primary (elementary) school (kindergarten to 4th or 5th or 6th grade), junior high (also "intermediate", or "middle") school (5th or 6th or 7th to 8th or 9th) and high school (9th or 10th to 12th, somewhat archaically also called "secondary school"), with some less populated communities incorporating high school as 7th to 12th. Some Junior High Schools (Intermediate Schools) contain 7th to 9th grades or 7th and 8th, in which case the High School is 10th to 12th or 9th to 12th respectively.
The middle school format is increasing in popularity, in which the Elementary School contains kindergarten through 5th grade and the Middle School contains 6th through 8th grade. In addition, some elementary schools are splitting into two levels, sometimes in separate buildings: Primary (usually K-2) and Intermediate (3-4 or 3-5). Some middle schools consist of only 7th and 8th grades.
The K-8th format is also an emerging popular concept, in which students may attend only two schools for all of their K-12 education. Many charter schools feature the K-8 format in which all primary grades are housed in one section of the school while the traditional junior high school aged students are housed in another section of the school.
Some very small school districts, primarily in rural areas, still maintain a K-12 system in which all students are housed in a single school.
In the United States, institutions of higher education that are subsidized by U.S. states are also referred to as "public." However, unlike public secondary schools, public universities charge tuition, though these fees are subsidized, particularly for "in-state" students, and are usually lower than those charged by private universities. Community colleges are examples of public institutions of higher education, although there are many highly-regarded universities that are deemed 'public', both due to their subsidized tuition for "in-state" students, and because the administrations of many of these universities are elected via the general electoral ballot.
Some believe that public schools are an essential part of the infrastructure of the United States. They are available to all citizens regardless of income level. These schools meet a fundamental societal need by creating an informed electorate, and promote the general welfare by creating a more skilled workforce. Others believe that most, if not all, public-school users benefit from government subsidies in attending public schools, thus their parents incur a lower cost (if any) to attend public schools than do their tuition-paying private-school counterparts to attend private schools, and given the existence, support for, and proliferation of private schools, at present it remains indeterminate whether public schools are a government entitlement program, or a feature of the welfare state.
This debate asks whether public schools should exist.