In the United States, education is mostly provided by the public sector, and thus guaranteed to all qualified students. School curricula and attendance requirements are set through elected local and state school boards of education which hold jurisdiction over that state's individual school districts. Students who meet the age requirements can attend a school if they live in that school's district. Attendance is mandatory through a certain age, set by the state.


Each state has individual age requirements for student enrollment. If a student meets these requirements he or she is permitted to attend a free public school. Rules vary by state, but generally children ages 5 to 16 are required to remain in school. States also set maximum age limits, and if a student hasn't graduated by the time he or she reaches this age, attendance is no longer permitted.

Race, Gender, Religion or Sexual Orientation

Racial, sexual and religious discrimination are all illegal, according to several laws in the United States. A Supreme Court case, Brown v. Board of Education, upheld that discriminating by race is a violation of the 14th Amendment. Title IX, passed in 1972, prohibits sexual discrimination and states that boys and girls must be provided with the same educational and extracurricular opportunities. The Constitution's First Amendment secures religious freedom in the schools.

Special Needs

A free and appropriate education is required for all students with mental and physical disabilities. The federal IDEA act requires that schools make themselves accessible to all students regardless of physical condition. IDEA states that schools must provide evaluations to determine whether students are eligible for special education and must develop individualized education plans to meet these students' needs.


Non-citizens who live in the United States have the right to attend a public school. Public schools are required to provide non-English-speaking students with English language instruction, bilingual instruction or both. Because of the Privacy Act of 1974, a school-age child is not required to have a Social Security number to enroll or attend classes. In certain states, a birth certificate is not required to attend a public school.

Related Articles