Major Challenges Facing Public Schools in the United States

There are various challenges facing the public education system in the United States. There is a real need to address these issues in order to provide the best possible education for students.

The United States federal government is not involved in the management of public schools. Each of the country’s 50 states and one federal district has a separate education department. It establishes and implements regulations for public schools. Public academic institutions are funded by state governments mainly from local funds and real estate taxes. The state’s lawmaking body decides on the amount of subsidies for public universities and colleges. State education statutes standardize funding, employment of teachers and school personnel, core curriculum, and attendance of students.

Public school students in all levels are not required to pay tuition. Those enrolled in state universities and colleges are also eligible for student loans and scholarship grants. Public schools in the US are governed by local school districts. Each district is presided over by a board designated by the government unit or chosen by the community. This committee prescribes policies for said district.

Public Education Foundations & Need for Improvement

The groundwork for public education in the United States encompasses developments in educational philosophies, institutions and policies. This will give you a picture of the learning systems in the country starting from the 17th century until the present period. The first public high school opened in Boston in 1821. Before the end of the nineteenth century, public institutions outnumbered private schools.

At present, States establish guidelines for compulsory education and in many localities, education is obligatory for youngsters from the age of five or six to 16 and a maximum of 18. In essence, the state exercises full control over the syllabus and student requirements. Understanding this system will allow parents and children to narrow down alternatives and create a realistic personal education program.

However, the public educational system undoubtedly needs a lot of improvement. Stakeholders must identify the problems confronting public schools in the country. For instance, National Center for Education Statistics research says that roughly 19 percent of public school students are not able to finish high school. More than 70 percent are not qualified to enroll for a college degree. In short, public education seems to be declining compared to other developed nations. This deficiency in educational preparedness is something that the government has to realize right away.

Identifying Numerous Challenges


There are numerous challenges threatening the stability and survival of public schools across the country. This is not only a concern of state officials but the federal government as well. One of the major problems of most state governments is the lack of classrooms or inadequate space. Schools in Georgia have been affected by reduction in funding. Hence, administrators have no choice but to stretch class size threshold just to have room for pupils. This problem also affects other states like South Carolina and Virginia. The problem is teacher’s performance becomes affected once the classroom size goes beyond the limits. Mentors are not effective if the number of students go above 30. Class size also carries significant weight based on research in the education sector.

Hardship and Family Issues

Hardship is a disturbing concern. According to research findings by the Southern Education Foundation, roughly 51 percent of school-age kids in the US live along or under the so-called poverty level. This means that the family with four members has a yearly income of $23,000 or lower. It was reported that low-income students make up a greater part of public school population in at least 21 states. Those who belong to this class are likely to have the highest ratio of dropouts. You can expect students lacking the proper nourishment will not be capable of performing well in school.

Academic institutions, state officials, legislators and mentors are fully aware of this predicament. However, finances are really lacking when it comes to public education. Family issues also account for problems. What happens at home will surely affect the student’s inclination to learn. These are problems about separation or divorce of parents, violence at home, lack of guidance, and environment. One of the biggest problems though is the refusal of parents to collaborate with school administrators and teachers to provide for needs of children.

Lack of Technology


It is quite lamentable that oftentimes the students are more advanced in terms of technology compared to mentors. On the other hand, technology like mobile gadgets can serve as major distraction for young people. Teachers are hard-pressed to maintain the interests and focus of children on schoolwork. This calls for striking a balance between traditional learning and technology. Meanwhile, some public schools do not have the resources to acquire computers which are necessary in today’s modern curriculum. The problem of education district officials is how to procure sufficient sophisticated equipment that will support classroom instructions.

Morale of Educators

The self-esteem of teachers has been a perennial concern. Some of these professional tutors are underpaid or do not receive enough incentives that will serve as basis for motivation. Once this happens, efficient instructors are forced to seek employment elsewhere or look for other jobs that will guarantee higher compensation and more lucrative career options.

Institutions with sub-par performance frequently seek respite from pressures by adherence to a specific program, parameters and faculty meetings. There is nothing inappropriate about this conventional approach. Nonetheless, it builds an atmosphere of accountability and compliance which is the opposite of innovation. It will be better for administrators to focus on outcomes instead of accountability.

Teachers should not be branded as mere instructors but agents of change. Create tie-ups with local business community for teachers’ awards wherein the best performers will receive a package of incentives. Accolades could also be decided based on merits. At the same time, it would be good to connect with the community for better relationships with stakeholders such as parents and guardians.

Student Behavior

Another major challenge staring at public schools is the attitude of students. These negative traits include lack of interest, tardiness, malingering, and disrespect for mentors and other school officials. These problems are often at the secondary level and less at the primary grades. This predicament can be associated with the lack of parent commitment. Some parents do not even go to the school at any time during the academic year. On the contrary, involvement of elders is vital to the development of the child.

Financial Resources


Indeed, budget reduction made by the State Government for public schools is always a big letdown. Fewer subsidies will definitely result in a decrease in services, logistics (books, computers and other supplies) and lower compensation for teachers. Funding is often described as the root of all these problems. A lot of states maintain funding programs with regressive distribution schemes that do not take into account the necessity of allocations for districts which have poverty issues. Moreover, many states are now faced with decrease in total revenues leading to reduction of funding for public schools.

Perhaps, legislators should realize that education must be among the priorities in allocation and spending. There should be an impartial financing system that will provide appropriate funds based on the needs of students. It should become progressively relative to the financial requirements of the student. Lawmakers must assess the conditions of schools’ financing systems and concentrate on equal sharing of logistics.

The truth is the public schools system is a potent engine not only for learning but for youth empowerment as well. Unfortunately, this engine continues to splutter due to insufficient or disproportion in fund allocation.


Many citizens think that the underlying dilemma in public education at the moment is paucity of focus on outcomes. The chronicles of reforms in the country’s public learning is full of feeble measures and improper diagnoses of education quandary. There is a lot of finger-pointing and shifting of culpability when stakeholders could have simply cooperated to formulate solutions for these problems.

Some people opine that the failure of reforms stem from the fact that these are disrupted by education lobbyists, lawmakers, academic managers, district officials, and parents, as well as teachers associations. Political interest is also one of the main culprits in the demise of the public program.

Public education in the United States may not be in tip-top shape because of evolving socio-cultural trends which started in the sixties. These spoiled the ethical foundations for education, classroom obedience and common consensus on what students should be taught and how these should be imparted. Likewise, many students are faced with deficiencies in communications (verbal and written) and technology.
Some observers believe that market competition is a way of resolving problems of public education. However, state policies will continue to enforce stringent laws, regulations, red tape, and mandates. These will tie the hands of school administrators to pass on the required skills, insights and knowledge to students. Education calls not only for reorganization but initiatives that will create a positive impact on students, teachers, parents, and officials.

Reforms should be immediate and done fast. Yet, these should also be thought about carefully. The bottom line is to change what should be changed in education. Even the smallest of modifications can have bigger returns if these are implemented properly.