American public education and change: Not an oxymoron

Perhaps one million American children are currently being educated at home pursuant to a public school-guided home schooling program. Charter schools, which are innovative public schools freed from many governmental regulations, exist in most states. And public school choice allows school children in many states to attend a public school of their preference. American public education is not monolithic. The thesis of this Article is that American public education has changed, and will continue to change, to meet the challenges of the new Millennium. The Article begins with a section discussing the history of American public education, emphasizing its evolution over time. The bulk of the Article analyzes three models of public school change: home schooling, charter schools, and public school choice. Each model is explained and critiqued, with an eye toward demonstrating that American public education is more flexible and innovative than it is generally considered to be. Hence, the Article concludes, it is possible and preferable to continue to reform public education from within, rather than instituting publically-funded voucher programs to steer students into private education. American elementary and secondary education has always had an overwhelmingly public orientation (eighty-eight per-cent of American children attend public schools) and should not be replaced by private education funded by public moneys. American public education will evolve to meet the economic and other challenges of the twenty-first century.
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