In order to lead a successful life, one needs to start from acquiring basic knowledge and skills necessary to function independently in society. This is why almost all countries in the world have introduced compulsory education,the mandatory schooling for every child from early childhood. This education provides the foundation for the child’s further development, without which notable achievements in life are basically impossible.
It is in every country’s best interest to educate the population, as it provides the minimal conditions for independent life on the one hand, and on the other, education provides a way to modernize the nation’s approach to life and facilitate its development. In other words, through schooling, children acquire valuable knowledge that leads to excellent salaries, and they also improve their critical thinking and understanding of the world.
Benefits of compulsory schooling
The positive effects of education are obvious – the number of uneducated people has significantly decreased, while the number of college/university students has grown. Educated individuals become professionals with expertise in a number of areas necessary for the well-being of the community. Moreover, without highly educated people, it is impossible to develop modern, innovative businesses that contribute to economic and cultural development.
In addition to providing education itself in the narrowest sense, compulsory schooling is also important for acquiring a number of crucial skills such as:
- developing personal talents
- respect for authority
Through school, children learn about themselves, their strengths and weaknesses, and what to do about them in order to become successful people. Compulsory education has a positive effect on the place of an individual in society, preparing the young for all the physical and mental challenges of modern society.
Although it is just a part of education that one can pursue, it is crucial for the individual as it helps them discover and develop their talents and recognize what they would like to do. At this age, children are greatly influenced by the teachers, whose right approach means a lot for the development of each student. This is why choosing the school and the teachers is a big decision, as the quality of teaching directly affects the children’s further development, regardless of whether they choose to pursue higher education or would like to start working right away.
Compulsory education options in the United States
Compulsory education system in the U.S. encompasses: elementary school, junior or middle school, and high school. The U.S. does not have federal requirements regarding the age up to which education should be compulsory, but leaves it to state compulsory education laws to determine.
Thus the period of compulsory education can vary significantly from one state to another. Some require compulsory education only up to 14 years of age, while others require children to go to school at least until they are 18. After this time, the person is not obliged to attend school, but that is hardly a sound decision, as it affects the quality of life and significantly limits one’s career prospects. There are several types of schools where parents send their children to complete compulsory education:
A public school offers free state compulsory education available to all children. It offers formal education which the child is required to attain during compulsory education. It is a school system that provides all knowledge and skills required in order to prepare the student for college or the job market, should the student choose to immediately start working. The activities included in compulsory public education depend on the school’s budget, i.e., the funding that the school receives from the state.
A charter school is a type of public compulsory school which is not regulated in the same way as other schools, i.e., enjoys a degree of autonomy, but it is still financed by the state. However, practically speaking, these schools are under even closer scrutiny, because the financing depends on the school’s performance – its quality and results. It is true that teachers at a charter school have more freedom when it comes to teaching, but that does not necessarily guarantee higher quality.
One should also bear in mind that these schools employ a strict admission process, because every school tries to enroll excellent students because they are required by the state to provide results at a certain level. These schools are free of charge, too, but that does not mean that the parents will not have to cover some expenses anyway to ensure that their children attend school in the best possible way (e.g. transportation to and from school).
When we speak of private schools, we primarily mean the educational institutions where education comes with a price. Some schools offer scholarships under clearly defined conditions, usually to talented children whose parents cannot afford to pay the fee.
These schools are founded by private companies, or religious communities and various organizations. Although they are not financially dependent on the state, these schools still need to observe some standards set forth in the legislation. Many private schools in the States are elite educational institutions where the development of children is approached with great care. This is especially important as private schools are primarily attended by children whose ambitions include college and university education.
This is why the majority of these schools have exquisitely dedicated teachers and excellent extracurricular activities programs. It is no wonder that private schooling is perceived as elite education that opens many doors not only in further education, but also in the career that follows it; private schools’ sports programs offer top conditions for advancement and receiving scholarships from the nation’s top universities.
Besides education at educational institutions, there is the option of homeschooling. This model entails learning at home, taught by a parent or a private tutor, or even learning on one’s own. This is not the same as distance learning, where the student follows a school’s program and attends lessons defined by the school. Homeschooled children do not go to any school – there is simply no school attendance, and their program and the way it is delivered are primarily defined by the parents.
Although this option is not without its proponents in the United States, there is justified concern that the parents may simply not have the knowledge necessary in order to impart all the necessary knowledge to their children. Also, this option means that the children do not get to socialize with peers at schools, which can negatively affect their self-confidence. The influence of the school is also reflected in the adoption of important societal norms, such as tolerance, respecting another’s opinion, and worldview.
School largely determines career success
It seems that everyone sees why compulsory education is necessary; however, the path towards the goal depends on the choice of the mode of schooling. There is no doubt that the highest quality in compulsory education in the USA can be found at private schools. Thanks to the fees and the owners’ investments, they can offer top quality, modern education. The fact that the quality of teaching is front and center speaks of the importance and timely investment in children’s education.
One of the most important aspects is the specific development that the child undergoes within the period when education is compulsory. Within this period, students also acquire fundamental knowledge in a number of areas, with the possibility of upgrading and advancing their talents further. This is why the choice of school is so important, and why it is crucial to be well-informed on the quality of teaching and the curriculum. One should find out whether the school teaches 21st century skills, whether it uses modern technology, how closely the teachers follow the latest developments, whether the child will adopt STEM skills (science, technology, engineering, and math), etc.
Obviously, there are a number of variables that affect the selection of school in the period when it is compulsory for every child. Luckily, good schools are easily recognizable, primarily by achievements at competitions, alumni’s success, the way the teaching is organized, as well as the attention given to the community within which the school operates. Education is compulsory for a reason – to offer the best possible conditions for the children to become successful adults. This is why parents should make the most of the opportunity to choose a school that provides the best prospects to their child.