A public high school
is a secondary school
that is financed by tax
revenues and other government-collected revenues, and administered exclusively by, and at the discretion of, state and local officials. The modifier "high", as applied to the noun "school", seems to have been arisen in the popular vocabulary to distinguish secondary schools from primary, or elementary, schools.
In the United States
of America, grade levels beginning in 9th grade and ending in 12th grade are commonly referred to with qualitative, rather than numerical, names. These are: "freshman
" for 9th grade, "sophomore
" for 10th grade, "junior
" for 11th grade and "senior
" for 12th grade. These terms are used more often to refer to each successive year in the university curriculum.
Public Schools and Private Schools compared
Public education, on its surface, appears
to encourage an acceptance of diversity more common than in private schools, because, ostensibly no one can be denied, by the government as opposed to their peers
, access to the services provided by and in public high schools. Access is considered superior because public-school attendees benefit from government subsidies, and thereby usually obtain an education less expensively than their private-school, tuition-paying, counterparts do.
Public high schools have produced many of the nation's most successful graduates of the best universities, and have produced leaders in all sectors of society.
Experiments with school vouchers have arisen around the country out of a belief in the superiority of private schools in some very specific locales, and the desire for access to them.
Contemporary Solutions to the Historical Problem of Racial Segregation
Within the public-school system in the United States, historically, challenges to a racially
segregationist status quo
have (in many cases successfully) been made, specifically being that against segregation
In the public-school system, curriculum guidelines are determined by the state and county government, though each school may have a certain amount of latitude to determine its own curriculum based on these guidelines.
The "public" mission of public high schools
The "public" purpose of the typical public high school is twofold: (1) primarily and mainly to prepare its graduates to enter the labor force
; and, (2) also to prepare a segment, usually a minority, of its students, to continue on to post-secondary education (i.e. vocational school
or technical school
, community college
or junior college
, and university
At present it remains indeterminate whether social conflicts between elements of these two groups result in a diminution in overall quality of individual educational attainment and experience. The presence of such conflict may be an impetus for the development of, and support for, University-preparatory schools, wherein all, rather than only a portion, of the students enrolled aspire to attend university.
Public high schools, government supervision, and the communities they serve
Public high schools, like their private counterparts, provide open forums for communication between students, teachers, administration, and parents, but subject to the limitations specified above. The format of these schools nevertheless provide for interaction
(albeit government-supervised) between students and teachers, thus providing an opportunity for public-school students to interact with adults beyond their immediate family.
Programs at public high schools
may offer a variety of programs, including magnet programs
(which allow students to study the basics of a given career or career field) or International Baccalaureate
Diploma Program (a rigorous academic program). There are several levels of coursework, as well, including regular or average coursework (taught on the high school level), advanced or honors
coursework (taught on an advanced high school level), Advanced Placement
(college-level work taught in a high school setting and offering tests at the end of the academic year that give high school students the opportunity to earn college credit), dual enrollment
(college courses made available to high school students at taxpayer expense, and wherein a grade that is considered passing results in high-school and post-secondary credit), and remedial classes (for students who need extra attention to meet benchmarks).
Many public high schools provide both curricular and extra-curricular services on a par with those of some private schools. These activities allow students to form friendships with people they might not otherwise meet, and to pursue or further develop interests. Some national clubs and activities available to most schools include: