Table of Contents
The Global Imperative for U.S. Educational Reform
The United States has an extensive educational system that has been charged with accommodating the needs of an extensively diverse student population. U.S. educational institutions exist at all learning levels, from preschools for early childhood education to secondary education for youths, and post secondary education for both young and older adults. Education in the United States can be commended for the many goals it aspires to accomplish—promoting democracy, assimilation, nationalism, equality of opportunity, and personal development. However, because Americans have historically insisted that schools work toward these frequently conflicting goals, education has often found itself at the center of social conflict and the hot topic of political campaigns, mostly to no avail (Goldin and Katz, 2001). While schools are expected to achieve many social objectives, education in America is neither centrally administered nor supported directly by the federal government, unlike education in other industrialized countries. This system of decentralization has created a system of inequality in education that persists. The current system has created inequalities that have culminated into a generation of students that are not adequately prepared to meet the demands of a global workforce. Moreover, students in the current U.S. educational system are unmotivated and resistant to change due to irrelevant legislation and an overwhelmed system. The inequalities and inconsistencies have spawned many debates in the U.S. as the nation joins the global community (Goldin et. al, 2001). The current educational system in place has failed to adequately prepare American students for the rigors and demands of a global workforce. The U.S. educational system is in need of an immediate reformation if America intends to remain relevant in the global market. The author will provide relevant background information, the analysis of the problem facing education in the U.S., as well as possible alternative solutions to the problem.
Education in America has been paramount to the overwhelming success experienced by the country. During the 20th century, industry in America required employees to have higher levels of literacy and other competencies. For those obtaining post-secondary degrees, their reward was higher paying jobs in the workforce. Schools were the one American institution that could provide the literacy skills and work competencies necessary to compete in and for industry positions. As a result, the need for formal education grew as more Americans moved into industrialized areas of the country. In the first decades of the 20th century, mandatory education laws required children to complete grade school. By the end of the 20th century, many states required children to attend school until they were at least 16. In 1960, 45 percent of high school graduates enrolled in college; by 1996 that enrollment rate had risen to 65 percent. By the late 20th century, an advanced education was necessary for success in the globally competitive and technologically advanced modern economy (Goldin et. al, 2001).
As the 21st century ensues, it has become increasingly apparent that a large number of American students have not developed the skills needed to compete in a global market place. In a study conducted by Goldin et. al (2001), many students seem to lack the cognitive abilities needed to become global citizens and global employees. The study also revealed that only about five to eight percent of graduating...