Nov. 29, 1996
If America's Schools are to meet the needs of the twenty first century, they must be reinvented. It is not enough to try to fix the schools; they must be reconstructed in both fundamental and radical ways. The school system must be restructured. The future of the American public school system is significannot
because the maintenance of an informed and productive citizenry is vital to the future of this country. Historically Americans have strongly asserted the importance of public schools in a democracy and despite growing disdain for the perceived value of the school system, public schools remain central to democracy in the United States.
For more than a century, America's public schools have been an indispensable source of the country's strength. Public education has allowed citizens to become productive members of society by providing them with the skills and knowledge necessary for the labor force. Schools prepare students to be literate, informed and reasoning citizens. According to Philip Schlechty, author of Schools for the twenty-first century, "Public schools are the ties that bind this pluralistic society into a nation. Our Nation's thirty-sixth president, Lyndon B. Johnson, also believed that there is no institution more fundamental to American society and democracy than its public schools."(36)
Public schools are the cornerstone of America's future. The development of youth's knowledge, skills and social dispositions has always been critical to the country's success. In the next century, America's youth will play an increasingly important role in the country's survival and well-being. By the year 2025, one out of five Americans will be 65 or older, and by the year 2040, one out of four Americans will be 65. In less than 15 years, the first baby boomers will reach the age of 65 (Peterson 64). It is clear that the economic success of America will be in the hands of youth to unprecedented extent. It is time to invest in education in order to maintain the American way of life.
In the competitive knowledge-based world of the twenty-first century, the education of America's youth will be more important than ever. More responsibility will be placed on schools because of greater diversity in classrooms, languages, preparedness, motivation, and the dynamics of the future workplace. Schools also must assume more responsibility because of increasing enrollment. Entering the 1996-1997 school year, there is an all time high enrollment of 51.7 million students in public schools throughout the country (Good 6). Because of enhanced enrollment and technological advances, there is more material that needs to be taught if students are to be competitive and productive in the future job market. Since there are more students and more that needs to be taught, public schools are more important and have more responsibility now than at any previous time.
Despite the need to develop youth as fully as possible, society treats youth in careless and irresponsible ways. American schools are currently failing to provide students with an adequate education. Many public school facilities are out of date, underfunded, and not prepared to handle growing student populations and the advent of modern technology in the classroom. The United States General Accounting Office estimates that about one third of American students, about fourteen million children nationwide, attend " inadequate" schools (Schlechty 91). Along with crumbling facilities, Schools face a variety of academic and disciplinary hardships. According to a recent USA Today poll, seventy-two percent of Americans cite drugs and violence as serious problems in their local schools. Sixty-one percent believe that academic standards are too low. Lack of discipline and low graduation rates also ranked as one of the biggest problems facing...