The Government's Role in Public Schools: An Expert's Perspective

Gain a comprehensive understanding of the relationship between public schools and the government in the United States from an expert in education policy.

The Government's Role in Public Schools: An Expert's Perspective

As an expert in education policy, I have spent years studying the relationship between public schools and the government in the United States. It is a complex and often controversial topic, with many misconceptions and misunderstandings. In this article, I will provide a comprehensive overview of the government's role in public schools and address some common questions and concerns.

State Governance of Public Education

First and foremost, it is important to understand that each state is responsible for overseeing its own public education system. This means that state governments determine how much funding will be allocated to education, which is typically the largest item in a state's annual budget.

While the federal government does have some influence through funding options, states have a significant level of autonomy in decision-making. In most states, a multi-level model is used for governance of public education. This includes the governor, state legislature, and state school board. Additionally, each state has a department of education that oversees public schools within its borders. These decisions made at the state level directly impact the quality of education and overall functioning of public schools.

Local Governance by School Boards

At the local level, public schools are governed by school boards.

These boards are made up of community members who are responsible for making important decisions that affect the education and well-being of students. They serve as a liaison between the local government and the school district.A school district is a geographical area that encompasses a group of schools within a specific community or region. While school board members are not involved in the day-to-day operations of schools, they are responsible for creating an organizational structure in which individual schools can operate efficiently.

Federal Funding for Public Schools

The federal government also plays a significant role in public education through funding. The largest source of federal funding for education is the Title I program, which provides financial assistance to schools with a high number of students from low-income families.

Other federal programs include Head Start, magnet schools, programs for gifted and talented students, vocational programs, and education programs for indigenous people.It is worth noting that federal funding for public schools has a long history. In the early 20th century, the Smith-Hughes Act and the George-Barden Act provided funding for vocational training in high schools. Today, the Department of Education's primary and secondary programs serve nearly 18,200 school districts and over 50 million students in both public and private schools.

Public Schools as Government Organizations

Now, to address the main question at hand: are public schools in the US owned by the government? The answer is a resounding yes. While there is some autonomy at the local level, public schools are inherently intertwined with government at all levels.

This is evident in their shared mission to serve the public and provide free education to all children. Furthermore, public schools are subject to federal, state, and local laws and regulations. This means that they must adhere to certain standards and guidelines set by the government. For example, public schools must follow curriculum requirements set by state education departments and comply with federal laws such as Title IX and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

The Importance of Understanding Government's Role in Public Schools

As a parent or guardian considering sending your child to a public school, it is crucial to understand the government's role in these institutions. This knowledge can help you navigate any legal issues that may arise and ensure that your child receives an effective and equitable education. Additionally, as a member of the community, it is important to be aware of the government's role in public schools.

This can help you advocate for necessary changes and improvements in the education system.


In conclusion, public schools in the United States are owned by the government. While there is some autonomy at the local level, the government plays a significant role in funding, governance, and regulation of public education. As an expert in this field, I hope this article has provided a better understanding of the relationship between public schools and the government. Maria, the creator of this blog, is passionate about raising awareness about education problems and solutions. She organized a local march in support of public schools and continues to advocate for equitable education for all children.