It is undeniably clear that we have serious problems with our education system.
Talk to any teacher and you will hear the same complaints; overcrowded classrooms, lack
of supplies and text books, unfairness of the grading system, discipline issues, drugs,
underpaid teachers and the list goes on and on. The result; our children can’t read, spell
or solve basic math problems without a calculator. Many students can not even find their
own country on a map. In the midst of debates going on in many different levels, the big
question is how can we fix these problems?
The National Commission on Excellence in Education delivered a devastating
assessment of American education in 1983. According to the commission’s findings;
23 million American adults were illiterate by the simplest tests of reading and writing.
Almost 13 percent of all 17 year olds in the United States were functionally illiterate.
Illiteracy among minority young was a scaring 40 percent.
Scholastic Aptitude tests ( SAT ) showed that average verbal scores fell over 50 points
and mathematics scores dropped 40 points from 1963 to 1980.
International comparisons of student achievement revealed that on 19 academic tests
American students were never first or second and compared to the other industrialized
nations, were last seven times. ( http://www.ed.gov/pubs/NatAtRisk/risk.html (3 of 10
,2005 ). These findings alarmed the nation and in 1989, an education summit involving
all fifty state governors and president George H.W. Bush resulted in the adoption of
national education goals for the year 2000. The same year, National Council of Teachers
Of Mathematics published the Curriculum and evaluation Standards for School
Mathematics, a standards based document. ( Schwardz, 2000 ). Standards based
school reform has become a predominant issue facing public schools. In the 1990’s ,
The Standards-based National Education Goals were set by the U.S. Congress. This
movement resulted in the famous No child Left Behind Act of 2001 which is still an
active nation wide mandate in the United States ( Schwardz 2000 ). A standards-based
system measures each student against the concrete standard, instead of measuring how
well the student performed compared to others. The main goal of this reform is that
no student by virtue of poverty, age, race, gender, cultural or ethnic background,
disabilities or family situation will be exempt from learning the required material.
( Robinson,2000 ).
The school income from property taxes and the federal funds are based on the
student attendance. Every public school is required to take attendance every day so the
budget can be given to the state accounting department and the money made available.
If a child stays home even for one day, the attendance shows less need for money.
Because of this system, we have overcrowded classrooms. The government legislators
should realize that fewer students means better classroom management and better
The fight for the control of public schools also contribute to the problems we are
facing with our education system. In the United States, schools are regulated by laws and
regulations at the district, county, state and federal levels. The most of day to day
activities have been influenced by district level government usually by a district
bureaucracy led by a superintended and controlled by a locally elected or appointed
school board. ( Smith, 2001 ). State and federal governments often mandate programs and
reforms or prohibit certain activities by criminalizing them through legislation or court
precedent or restricting state and federal funds to schools which are not in compliance.
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