American public schools vary widely in quality. If you plan to enroll your child in a neighborhood public school, you will need to learn as much as you can about the school. In searching for a place to live in the United States, the quality of the local schools is often a key factor in determining the desirability of a neighborhood. It is not unusual for Americans to spend more than they can afford for a house, or purchase a house with less space, in order to locate their children in a well-rated school district.
In the major cities of the United States, school districts are generally not in very good shape financially. With a declining economy, property tax bases upon which schools depend for their budgets also decline. Schools have often had to institute larger average class sizes, cut programs, or delay purchase of equipment such as computers. Small communities suffer similar financial difficulties, often straining to provide basic educational services.
Depending on your location, you might be able to find independent rating of the local schools, based on criteria such as safety, academic performance, performance on standardized tests, or, in the case of high schools, the percentage of students moving on to college. Neighborhood real estate brokers often have access to reliable information on school quality.
You should investigate a private school just as thoroughly as you would a public one. Visit the school in any case, and learn as much as you can about it before you send your child.
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