Public schools in the United States are funded by a combination of the federal government, local governments, and property taxes. Because education is not a constitutional right, state and local governments are responsible for setting standards for education. In addition to this, the federal government only has limited influence over the curriculum. Local governments elect school boards and appoint the superintendent of schools. In large cities, such as New York City, over one million children attend public schools.
Children enter the public school system in the USA when they are five or six years old. Younger children may go to nursery school, preschool, or kindergarten, while older children can attend elementary school, which lasts six years. Students continue their education in high school, which is also called middle or high school. Typically, students stay in school until they are eighteen, although they can opt out of school if their parents allow them to do so.
Elementary school children receive full-time academic instruction, often from the same teacher for the entire year. In the middle and high schools, students study history, maths, science, and physical education. High school athletic competitions and games often attract intense community interest. Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, states must provide services for special-needs students. All students have the right to an appropriate public education.