What is the purpose of public schools?

Children hold the key to the future of this world, one day they will lead this country. Education will become very important and it will be what gets the children into a good position in life. Not every child can afford to attend school, even if they have the potential and the motivation to do so. Public schools have come a long way, Boston Latin School was the first public school in America, founded on April 23, 1635, and now serving about 2,400 students (Baden, 2014). When it first opened it only offered free education to males, regardless of their financial status. In this time, girls attended private schools at home. On their school website, their history states that “From its beginning, Boston Latin School has taught its scholars dissent with responsibility and has persistently encouraged such dissent”, later adopting the core subjects.


(Baden, 2014)

When schools first came to be known, how did we know what to teach? “Do you only prepare students for the work force or should they get a wider education in the arts and sciences? From the beginning our public schools taught reading, writing, math, science and citizenship” (Green, 2013). Over the years’ public education has changed, from teaching only basic knowledge to adopting different core standards and guidelines. The core standards determine what students from Kindergarten to 12th grade should be learning in English Language Arts and Mathematics by the end of each grade level. In Texas, in each grade level and each subject there are guidelines, also known as TEKS (Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills), they are a set of skills that the state of Texas requires teachers to teach the students. Texas considers these to be essential for the students to learn in each content area.

There are children who live in extreme poverty, therefor, must go to work to help their families instead of attending school. Even with public schools, there are still children who cannot attend due to economic reasons. If there was a charge for attending school, there would be an increase of the number of students that do not attend school. Global Partnership for Education has shared an article about Out-of-school Children (2016) and they confirm that “gender, poverty, displacement, nomadism, disability, ethnicity” and even speaking a different language may still be excluding students from school. This is due to the teachers not being able to accommodate them or have the knowledge to properly modify curriculum for them. The following attachment shows the number of elementary students out of school in 2013.

Schools have helped shape and educate children to be successful. Every successful person has had to go through school and receive the knowledge needed for their career to prosper and grow. There are children who benefit from the services public schools have to offer. Public schools provide free education for children along with many other beneficial activities. Some schools provide free breakfast and lunch for the low-income families or reduce lunch for families with higher incomes. When it comes to food, this may be the only food they eat in a day or even the week. This is a safe place for students to come too and learn as they grow. School offers student with an opportunity to socialize and meet other students which can help develop their self-esteem.  Sports, arts, music, clubs and extra-curricular activities can come with a cost but for a lower price than any outside activity, with some of them being free. Transportation is also available for the students who live further away from the school. Before and after school programs are also available for those students who need extra help or need to arrive to school early or stay late. Tutoring programs are there to help the students catch up on homework and have a more one-on-one time with the teacher. Every student also has access to a wide variety of books in a library available for everyone. If a student fails a school year, some schools will have the student attend summer school to get them to pass to the next grade level, most of them free of cost. One very important service public schools also offer is special education. Students with disabilities receive an opportunity in life and their futures. Transition services also help students in special education meet their goals while fitting them in a job or furthering their education.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in the fall of 2016, 50.4 million students were to attend public elementary and secondary schools, compared to only 5.2 million students who were expected to attend private elementary and secondary schools. Over the years there has been an increase of students enrolled in public schools (Fast Facts, 2016). The national average private school tuition ranges from $8,900 to $13,500 a year. This is money not every family has available. Public schools offer students the education they need for free, from pre-k to 12th grade. Not every student that graduates high school attends college, money being one of the reasons. College can cost thousands of dollars for tuition, fees, room & board, meal plans, books, etc. A wide number of students who do attend college qualify for financial help from the government by applying to FAFSA or using student loans. Without attending college, one still has a high opportunity of finding a job to sustain themselves and their families. On the other hand, it is a little more difficult to find a job without a high school diploma, let alone no education at all.

Public schools serve to provide students with the knowledge and education they need to be successful in the future. Every person with a career has had to receive an education, from lawyers, doctors, engineers, fire fighters to teachers. There have been numerous students left out of the opportunity of receiving the education they deserve and most desire. Public schools serve a very important role, hope.


Baden, M. (2014, April 23). The first public school in America was founded this day in 1635. Retrieved January 27, 2017, from http://oomscholasticblog.com/post/first-public-     school-america-was-founded-day-1635

Boston Latin School. Boston Latin School History. Retrieved January 26, 2017, from http://www.bls.org/apps/pages/index.jsp?uREC_ID=206116&type=d

Fast Facts. (2016). Retrieved January 27, 2017, from https://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=372

Global Partnership for Education. (2016). Out-of-school Children. Retrieved from http://www.globalpartnership.org/focus-areas/out-of-school-children

Green, J. (2013, February 26). What is the Purpose of Public Education Today? Retrieved January 27, 2017, from http://fauquierfreecitizen.com/what-is-the-purpose-of-public-education-today/


10 thoughts on “What is the purpose of public schools?

  1. teacher980 says:

    Hi Leisdi,

    With the beginning of schools in America the concepts being taught were very gender based. Girls were taught homemaking skills such as sewing, cooking, and doing housewife duties in order to prepare them for when they got married and had children. Young men on the other hand were introduced to reading, writing, and math so that they would be prepared for their future as grown adults and learn how to do their taxes, read the newspaper and hopefully hold a respectful position. To make it even worse, the best education was only available to the elite and those with wealthy families who could afford to send their children to these schools. Now a days we are beginning to offer work force ready CTE education for students at CTE schools, educators are now advocating for this education to be spread and available throughout all school districts across the country. Even with all of these resources we still know there are many children out there who are still prohibited from an opportunity for education due to family economic problems. But thanks to free public education many other students are allowed a meal for the week as it might be their only one for the week.

    You are totally right! There is many bright students who could become very successful and probably have the possible potential in them to make a change to this world but have not given the opportunity to strive, because they do not have the resources of a free public education to help them set their foundation. We should continue to advocate for these children and make worth for all of the hard work from our founding fathers, and the dedication that people such as Catherine Beecher did for woman’s education , and Horace Mann did for the common schools movement for this country.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leisdijimenez says:

      I agree with the fact that men have always been more privileged, even when it came to education. Women were only required to know the basics of survival, but were not given the opportunity to be educated like men. Men could be educated to strive and further themselves into a better future. Catherine Beecher did dedicate a lot of herself into bettering our education for women.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. learnwithboss says:

    I find your post interesting. It touches on how many children aren’t attending a school and has access to public schools. I would guess these numbers are skewed a bit due to the large homeschooling population. In fact, I’m sure that is why the enrollment is declining for private schools also, especially for families with multiple children. I believe in education, any education. I’m not just for public, private or other means of education…I believe it is the right of the family to find and search out the education best for their children. I have been involved in education on each of these levels as mentioned earlier. I agree that public schools offer much to the community. They give their students hope and a window to view the world outside of their neighborhoods. In the schools I have worked at in Texas the public school is vital to the lives of my students. I work with a large ESL population and many students that born outside of the U.S.; these schools provide much more than a textbook education for these students. The schools offer support and opportunities to benefit the entire family. I am thankful for the education forefathers (and mothers such as Beecher) for their tireless work in fighting for the education of our citizens. America has come a long way in the field of teaching, but the work is not finished. The picture you have at the bottom of your post in a powerful statement. I am choosing a career in education to shine a light on the path of hope for these children. Thanks for your post.


  3. RiTaijah says:

    Your post made me stop and think for a second about all the wonderful things that school systems due to provide students not only with a good education, but also benefits towards their personal lives, for example free or reduced lunches. Sometimes I don’t necessarily agree with what and how schools are teaching its students, but I definitely believe it’s better than learning nothing at all. We’ve come such a long way from what was being taught to students, especially women, in the 1800s. Our learning is more advanced and I can say that we are more versatile in what we know, since we have to take a class in every subject. One thing that I do wish that stuck was students learning life skills like sewing, paying taxes, and all that other good stuff. I know some schools had Home Economics classes, but I believe it isn’t really offered too much anymore. I think it’s sad because I feel like I missed out on learning some valuable things. Both of my parents work and now I’m away from home, so they don’t really have the time to teach me things anymore; I just have to try to figure things out on my own, which doesn’t always go the way it should. To me, it would have been nice to have a class like that to help me be better prepared.
    Also with your post, you made a statement saying, “Every successful person has had to go through school and receive the knowledge needed for their career to prosper and grow”. This made me think about all the high school and college drop-outs who never completed their education but became successful anyway. According to Time Magazine, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and several other people are among those successful people who dropped out. Do you think that a completed education is necessary for getting a decent job and becoming successful?

    Liked by 1 person

    • leisdijimenez says:

      You don’t necessarily need to complete your education to be successful, but there is a higher possibility if you have a degree. With a degree you have something to fall back on, rather than no degree. I also agree with you that it would have been beneficial to keep some of the classes they offered then, many of us would have benefited from them.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. drhodes2blog says:

    Hi Leisdi,
    You made some excellent points and brought up some good topics. You mentioned how if we had to personally pay for schooling rather than by the government or by taxes, that there would be a decrease in attendance in schools. I have to agree with you, considering there are so many families that wouldn’t be able to afford it. Also considering that if we were required to pay for it, then that would make school optional, leading to a lower education throughout the nation. With the lower education and lack of knowledge that would cause the nation to suffer. Schooling is vital, it truly is raiding the future leaders of our nation. I agree with you in that there are way to many students and children that aren’t given the opportunity and it affect them for the rest of their life. That is why it is essential for every child to have the same and equal opportunity to do and be whatever they want to. You made excellent points and i thoroughly enjoyed your post.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. savannah686 says:

    Many people still to this day do not believe in gender bias, however we can go back to the beginning of our country and find the information we need to prove gender bias to be true. From politics to education men have always been the ones to make the decision for us women. That is until Catherine Beecher came along. She was a revolutionary of education, someone who cared for a woman’s right to an education. Even fathers thought that their daughters ought not to learn real education as is would just inflate their vanity enough to not want to learn the “the more useful parts of education” e.g sewing, and cooking. I’m getting more and more concerned as the days go past because more than likely Betsy DeVos is going to be the new head of the department of education. She is someone who wants to privatize education in order to gain money. We have worked so hard to have free public schools I feel like this is going to really hurt the education system.


  6. Anna Williams says:

    This post makes me truly understand the extent that public schools go to in order to provide education and “hope” to children, regardless of their race, abilities, or socio-economic status. People who haven’t been to public schools because they either attended a charter school, private school, or were homeschooled don’t fully understand how helpful public schools can be. Although these schools are great in providing free education, the quality of that education is fairly questionable. I agree that are standards of education have considerably increased since the 1700’s and the 1800’s. However, schools today are very focused on teaching material that is only on the standardized tests. Teachers are encouraged to teach only specific aspects of subjects and their freedom has become drastically limited. This drains the joy and fun out of education, for both the teachers and the students. Being homeschooled all the way through 12th grade, I have no experience with public schools. However, from all the conversations I’ve had with public school graduates, I have come to the conclusion that public school has not yet reached its fullest potential. Inspiration is lacking. These graduates described school as dull and stressful while my experience was exciting and engaging. All of this to say that I enjoyed your post. I would like to see all students reach their fullest potential. I know this can be achieved through public school education. I want to live in the future that Horace Mann believed in. Like he said “A human being is not attaining his full heights until he is educated.”


  7. pauletttecunninghamtwu says:

    Hi Leisdi! I love how you’ve chosen to write your blog post specifically on public schools, because there’s so much to talk about in that area and in relation to what we learned this module. We’ve come a long way from dame schools to where we’re currently at, and there’s so much evolution and growth in history when looking at the path that lead us from them. Like you mention, public education really has changed from basic knowledge to core standards and guidelines. It’s hard to imagine going to school only to recite scriptures, or, as a girl, to learn housework and nothing else. It’s also hard to imagine the idea of morality being the one defining teaching characteristic expected of teachers; while it’s certainly not recommended to go into the field with ill intentions, there’s such a different view on why we teach today compared to the women that set out under Beecher’s urging a couple hundred years ago. Morality has its place, but it’s separated from its strict ties to religion and settled more into the general societal mold of what’s right, what’s wrong, etc. It’s a completely different end goal from public education today, where teachers strive to ensure their students learn core knowledge in their classrooms, and where the emphasis is placed more on the factual and intellectual pursuit of learning, rather than moral-based teaching. The answer to “how did we know what to teach?” has changed so vastly over the years, and I’m certainly looking forward to the new and inventive answers we might come across in the future as we continue to further our public education system to make it the best and most accessible it can be for the children of this country.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s