American schools serve a wide variety of purposes. Looking across our past empirical research, as well as the perspectives of educational philosophers past and present,  U.S. case law, state constitutions, business/industry, and the general public, we typically find the following elements listed as major purposes of K-12 schools in the United States:

In our own research, we have primarily addressed this question by exploring how schools view and express their purpose in their school mission statement. Thus, our focus represents the (often neglected) viewpoints of schools themselves. Our new book highlights the variation in school purpose across many different types of American schools (public, parochial, Montessori, etc.).