QGIS is a free, open-source GIS that is a nice option for schools operating on a limited budget that still want a full GIS platform.
Here is an excellent set of video screencasts that are an introduction to what GIS is, using the QGIS software: http://linfiniti.com/dla/ ; This site also has sample data, tutorials and worksheets.
Another excellent tutorial for novices to GIS is found here: http://multimedia.journalism.berkeley.edu/tutorials/qgis-basics-journalists/ ; This tutorial was especially designed for journalists creating maps, and walks you through the installation process as well as some of the basics of the user interface.
Many small city governments without the budget to run proprietary GIS software use QGIS and here is a repository of QGIS resources including blogs, forums, tutorials and user manuals: http://www.townshipgis.org/resources/qgis
Via Seth Dixon