Public Schools: Should They Be Mandatory?

In the modern globalized society where the possession of significant knowledge opens abundant opportunities in front of people, the discussion about education is highly relevant. A strong education system is imperative for both the collective and individual well-being of countries around the world and for the development of an engaged and informed citizenry in which such values as equality and democracy can prosper. While some have argued that the public school system is outdated and does not allow for the individualization of instruction, others have suggested that public schools should be compulsory because of their significant role in preparing younger generations to become valuable members of society. While public schooling should not be mandatory, such advantages as democratic principles, cost transparency, and inclusion makes it the preferred choice overall.

To identify whether public schooling must be mandatory, it is essential first to dig deeper into the system. The public school system has been considered one of the last bastions of participatory democracy. Schools are run by groups of taxpayers who are elected by other taxpayers, with all of them having to contribute (US Department of Education, 2021). Some state or federal governments may mix some money around to achieve an even distribution of resources (CMEC, 2021). Because of taxpayers’ participation, it is expected that a school board will have meetings with all members of the public to engage in discussions about the decision-making of school boards. Taxpayers are expected to have their final say about the school board decisions by voting.

Because public schools are run based on the principle of democracy, the system is transparent and is not run for profit. The financial records regarding schools’ spending are always available to taxpayers in their local school districts, with a school stating that it does not have to show financial records to anyone not classifying as a public educational institution (Kober & Stark Rentner, 2020). In addition, public schools hire only highly certified professionals who get paid competitive salaries, with the system developed in such a way that it makes it attractive for educators to stay in their schools throughout the length of their careers. Teachers are evaluated with the help of a system that takes into account their full range of qualities and skills and whether they align with the values of the school districts within which they are expected to work.

One of the most valued traits of the public school system is that it includes all students. The territories are divided geographically to make sure that no child is missed. If individual lives within the limits of a specific school district, the system is required to take the child (DeRoche, 2020). While there are some limits, such as children presenting a danger to others, beyond the limits, no child can be pushed out, rejected, or have to look for educational opportunities elsewhere. In addition, public education requires no applications to be in the system or to find a school that will take a student if the original school did not take them.

At this time, the public school system in Ontario is responsible for educating two million Canadians, with the school system differentiated into various district school boards (“The school system in Ontario,” 2021). Approximately 1.4 million students are attending Ontario’s four thousand publicly funded elementary schools, and around 700,000 students attend more than 850 schools (“The school system in Ontario,” 2021). Ontario has public English and public French-language schools that offer education to students from Kindergarten through Grade 12 (“The school system in Ontario,” 2021). The French language system aims to protect, enhance, and transmit the French language and culture, with schools teaching the Ontario education curriculum only in French. The majority of students in the state go to public-funded schools even though there is a large number of private schools operating in the province.

There is an option to opt out of the public school system and choose private options, which means that to get an education, parents will have to pay. However, opting out of public schooling has some larger-scale consequences. Because of the limited inclusivity, private schools are only available to more privileged and wealthy students, which will create socioeconomic inequality. Research has found that private school education can also negatively affect students’ emotional and social development, with privately educated students being more likely to experience bullying, begin drinking earlier, and take more risks than their public school counterparts (University of York, 2020). Besides, private schools do not work based on democratic principles, which means that there will be less diversity in the classroom as each potential student will have to pass an entrance exam, interview, or be tested for other factors for determining eligibility.

Therefore, the advantages of public schooling outweigh those of private education, which is why it is suggested to opt for education at public schools. While public schooling should not be mandatory and the only option because there are circumstances in which other options are better, it must remain the preferred method of educating the public. Because of the dedication to democratic principles, public education welcomes every student regardless of their socioeconomic status, race and ethnicity, or levels of educational preparation.


CMEC. (2021). Some facts about Canada’s population. Web.

DeRoche, T. (2020). Public-school attendance zones violate a civil rights law. Web.

Kober, N., & Stark Rentner, D. (2020). History and evolution of public education in the US. Web.

The school system in Ontario. (2021). Web.

University of York. (2020). Private school education may damage students’ social and emotional development, study suggests. Web.

US Department of Education. (2021). The federal role in education. Web.

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ChalkyPapers. "Public Schools: Should They Be Mandatory?" March 3, 2023.