Expat students will be eligible to attend a public school in their local area. As public schools in the USA are generally funded by property taxes, expats will find that schools in wealthier suburbs are likely to have better facilities.
While the standard of public education in the USA varies dramatically, expat families can benefit from utilising this system. Firstly, public school costs are minimal, generally limited to books, stationery and other equipment. This is in stark contrast to the high fees of private and international schools. Secondly, as school placement is determined by geographical location, attending a public school is an easy way for expats to get to know other families in the neighbourhood.
For expats planning on relocating to the USA for the long term, having their children attend a public school is likely to allow them to mix with a wider, more varied and representative sample of American children.
Charter and magnet schools
The public school system also includes charter and magnet schools. These receive state funding but are generally considered to offer a more personalised education than regular public schools as they have more freedom in teaching methods.
Charter schools follow the state curriculum but are self-managed, meaning they are typically more innovative and flexible than traditional public schools. Magnet schools have specialised curricula with a focus on a particular field, such as the arts, science or languages.
Both are good options for parents looking for an affordable but elevated standard of education for their children. That said, admission can be competitive and waiting lists can be long – lottery systems are often used for selection purposes.