Education in the United States is provided mainly by the government, with control and funding coming from three levels: federal, state, and local.
The federal government provides research and support to ensure equal access and excellence in education, along with funding student loan programs and assistance to lower- income students. Nevertheless, responsibility for education remains primarily a state and local enterprise. According to the U.S. Department of Education, about 90 percent of the annual expenditures for education at all levels comes from state, local, and private sources.
State boards of education, along with a state superintendent or commissioner, oversee local education districts, set student and teacher standards, approve the classroom curriculum, and often review textbook selections. The state’s chief power, however, is increasingly financial: most states now provide substantial aid to schools to supplement local tax revenues.
Local boards of education, most of which are elected, administer the nation’s nearly 15,500 school districts, ranging from small rural schools in states like Kansas and Nebraska to the New York City system, which educates more than a million children annually. They are responsible for school curricula, funding, teaching, and other policies.
The American education system requires that students complete 12 years of primary and secondary education (compulsory schooling) prior to attending university or college.
The U.S. educational system today comprises almost 96,000 public elementary and secondary schools, plus more than 4 200 institutions of higher learning, ranging from small, two-year community colleges to massive state universities with undergraduate and graduate programs in excess of 30 000 students.
Preschool in the USA
Preschool is a place where children begin their learning process by way of play and fun. Kindergarten is the place where tender minds open up to absorb what ever is fed to them, which in turn makes the teachers play a vital role in shaping and molding these young minds.
Preschools, kindergarten and elementary school teachers have a knack of introducing children to various subjects like mathematics, language, science, and social studies through use of games, music, artwork. What a child learns during their early years is going to remain with him throughout and also becomes a deciding factor in their outlook towards life.
Compulsory schooling in the USA
The ages for compulsory education vary by state, beginning at ages five to eight and ending at the ages of fourteen to eighteen. A growing number of states are now requiring school attendance until the age of 18.
Compulsory education requirements can generally be satisfied by attending public schools, state-certified private schools, or an approved home school program. In most public and private schools, education is divided into three levels: elementary school, junior high school (also often called middle school), and senior high school.
In the U.S. the first year of compulsory schooling begins with children at the age of five or six. Children are then placed in year groups known as grades, beginning with first grade and culminating in twelfth grade. The U.S. uses ordinal numbers for naming grades, unlike Canada and Australia where cardinal numbers are preferred. Thus, Americans are more likely to say “First Grade” rather than “Grade One”.
The school year usually runs from early September until May or June (nine months) and is divided into “quarters” or terms (semesters). Some schools use the quarter system, which comprises three sessions: fall (September to December), winter (January to March) and spring (March to May or June). Others use a semester system made up of two sessions: fall (September to December) and spring (January to May).
School vacation dates are published by schools well in advance, thus allowing parents plenty of time to schedule family holidays during official school holiday periods. Normally parents aren’t permitted to withdraw children from classes, except for visits to a doctor or dentist, when the teacher should be informed in advance whenever possible. If one wishes to take a child out of school during classes, one must obtain permission from the principal. This is rarely given. It’s particularly unwise to take a child out of school when he/she should be taking examinations or during important course work assignments.
Elementary school is a school of kindergarten through fifth grade (sometimes, the first eight grades or up to fourth grade or sixth grade), where basic subjects are taught. Elementary school provides and often remains in one or two classrooms throughout the school day, with the exceptions of physical education (“P.E.” or “gym”), library, music, and art classes.
Typically, the curriculum within public elementary education is determined by individual school districts. The school district selects curriculum guides and textbooks that are reflective of a state’s learning standards and benchmarks for a given grade level. In general, a student learns basic arithmetic and sometimes rudimentary algebra in mathematics, English proficiency (such as basic grammar, spelling, and vocabulary), and fundamentals of other subjects.