Western Governors University
Collegiate Level Reasoning and Problem Solving
What Is The Best Way to Educate Our Children?
Education has been in a crisis for a long time in America, but few can agree on a solution to this open-ended problem which debated by both experts and lay persons. Federal and state policies need creation and enactment for targeted assistance to schools needing improvements, like low-income schools and public schools that are failing to meet the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) goals. Students deserve the best education possible, but there are many complicating factors. One factor is formulating challenging state academic content standards which specify what children are expected to know and then formulating coherent and rigorous curriculum to enable students to meet these standards. Another factor is the role of highly-qualified teachers who know the material and how to convey it to make a difference in student achievement, and whether computer, the internet, and technology should be a part of their teaching methods. Still, another factor is choosing the best method for teaching English language proficiency to immigrant students.
There are numerous assumptions applying to the issues. For instance, it is assumed that all children can meet the same rigorous academic achievement standards of the NCLB act in the same arbitrary timeline and that boosting standardized test scores should be the primary goal of schools. It is also assumed that bilingual education is harmful or that it is helpful. In addition, some assume that computers and technology are harmful to education, while others believe they are helpful and critically needed.
Some uncertainties that may prevent a perfect solution are the differing conclusions of authors and their contradictory evidence, as in the case of the effectiveness of bilingual education. In addition, hidden factors can militate against success. For example, the socio-economic status of parents can affect self-esteem, student relationships, and learning opportunities. Although the NCLB law provides money for extra educational assistance for poor children, whether their parents will take advantage of it remains in question. This is also true when parents cannot afford computers or the Internet in their homes. Since there is very little evidence about whether technology actually improves overall academic performance, coming to a reasonable conclusion is difficult, at best.
The benefits of technology issue are disputed among experts. Riley (1997) believes the schools in the United States needs to invest in the latest technology in order to obtain more productive and rewarding teaching, learning, longer-term individual and national productivity. Riley believes all schools, especially the poorest, should have computers, networks, CD-ROMs, modems, and access to the emerging national information infrastructure in order to succeed in learning and later in life (1997).
Riley says educators know how valuable technology is to students isolated by geography or challenged by poverty or disability. He believes that “in the coming decade, this nation will have approximately 55.7 million students in public and private schools—7 million more than we have today. A growing proportion of these young people will be Latino and Hispanic, African-American, or new immigrants, many of them low-income and living in communities traditionally poorly served by our schools” (1997). But new satellite and distance learning techniques can bring the best teachings to the most remote home or school (1997). Riley believes that if all students, regardless of where they live or what kind of school they attend, are to receive the public education they deserve, changes must be made, “for it is in the nation’s schools, with their 49 million students and 2.5 million teachers, that the country’s future is conceived, created,...