PLS 201 Professor Murniz Allen Coson
Public education has been an important part of our country throughout history. After the Declaration of Independence, fourteen states had their own constitutions by 1791. Seven of those states had specific provisions regarding education. Thomas Jefferson was one of the first American leaders to suggest a public school system. He believed that education should be under the control of the government, available to all people regardless of their status in society, and free from religious biases. Before the 1840s, the education system was only available to the wealthy. However, many reformers wanted all children in the United States to receive the benefits of education. Two reformers, Horace Mann and Henry Barnard created the Common School Journal, which was a newspaper that brought the issue of education out into the public. Because of their efforts, free public education at the elementary level was available for children by the end of the 19th century. Throughout the 1900s, many schools were created due to increased demand for skilled workers. As the 20th century progressed, many states began to enact legislation requiring people to go to school, and enrollment soared. That is how our public education system got to where it is today. There are still many issues regarding our public education system, such as some areas teaching better than others, and some classrooms having better materials than others. Local and Federal governments have always been involved in schools, making sure that they teach to their full potential. There are many congressional bills that have been passed, and many that are fighting to be passed. A very important bill that is out there today is the Student Bill of Rights, or H.R. 1295.
The Student Bill of Rights is a congressional bill regarding education. It was introduced on March 31st, 2011. It is sponsored by congressman Chaka Fattah. The Student Bill of Rights basically makes sure that schools are providing their students with a proper education. It especially helps the disadvantaged students. Disadvantaged means the students who are falling behind in academics, as well as the handicapped. It allows the secretary of education to annually determine whether each state's public school system provides all its students with the educational resources they need to succeed academically and in life. The main idea of this bill is that it requires all education to enable students to acquire knowledge and skills necessary for responsible citizenship, meet challenging academic achievement standards, and compete and succeed in a global economy. It does this by requiring each educational system to satisfy certain criteria. One of the criteria is that the schools must satisfy certain Opportunity To Learn (OTL) indicators for all its schools, including effective teachers and resources. Opportunity To Learn indicators are strategies introduced several decades ago, and they are defined by a narrow set of instructions. Many educators and policy makers use the Opportunity to Learn concept, ensuring that all students receive an equal education, especially or disadvantaged and minority students. It helps schools, especially poor ones, educate all their students, and it makes the schools that are worse off a priority.
Another criteria is that it provides educational services in local educational agencies (LEAs) that receive funds for disadvantaged students. There are local educational agencies that receive funds from the government and some that do not. Generally speaking, the ones that do not receive funds usually have a better educational program, because that educational agency has more money. This criteria makes sure that the educational services given to funded local educational agencies are equivalent to the educational services given to local educational agencies that do not receive funds from the government. This means that the schools that are better off will not get as much help as the schools that actually need help. This will make sure that the education that both these local educational agencies provide is similar.
The final criteria is that it requires each educational system to comply with any final state or federal court order in any matter concerning the effectiveness or adequacy of the system. That means that the government will have the final say. So if a school feels that it is providing adequate education and the state feels that it does not, then the school will have to submit to the state and comply. This will make sure that all schools live up to the state and federal standards, ensuring that all students receive similar education. The Student Bill of Rights also allows students or parents who are aggrieved by violations of this Act to bring civil actions for enforcement in federal district courts. That means that if students or parents feel that the educational system under the Student Bill of Rights does not meet those criteria and are violating the bill, then they are allowed to take this to court to ensure that the bill is not violated.
The Student Bill of Rights also allows the federal government to withhold portions of an educational system's funding for administrative expenses. The criteria for this to happen is if the school fails to meet a yearly goal. Another criteria is if the school does not remedy a failure to provide educational services that are comparable to the services that other schools offer for disadvantaged students, after two years. This means that if there are violations and those violations are not fixed within two years, then the school will have funds withheld from them. The last criteria is if the school does comply with a court order.
There are many pros and cons of this bill, but the pros will definitely outweigh the cons. There are two goals of every school, and that is to produce workers and create citizens. A pro of this bill is that it will make sure that schools are able to do this. It will make sure that schools are able to create a pool of workers with at least minimum competence and attitudes from which businesses can select employees from. This bill will help the disadvantaged learn many skills that are necessary to succeed in the working world. Those basic skills should be achieved by all students, as they are needed in most jobs. This will also increase the number of students meeting competence in basic skills, thereby increasing the pool of workers from which employers can select from. More students will have the opportunity to enter the work force, and the better ones will be selected, providing businesses with better workers. Keep in mind that opportunity doesn't mean that the students will get a job, it just means that they will have a chance to get it. That leads to another pro, which is competition for jobs. The competition for jobs allows businesses to get better workers and keep their wages lower, decreasing costs and increasing profits. However, this means that it may be harder for others to find jobs due to the competition. With more available workers in the workforce, there will be fewer available openings for jobs. So this bill actually helps the employers more than the workers, but it is still beneficial for all students.
This bill will help schools create citizens because it will educate and teach many students the skills necessary to become productive citizens in our society. It helps students achieve personal excellence. It will nurture students to become adults who have the skills, attitudes, and knowledge to become productive community members, leaders, parents, and workers. It can help students identify their interests and abilities, help set goals for them, teach them responsibility and decision making, teach them how to work as a group, and make sure that every student reaches his or her full potential.
This bill is fairly new. It was referred to the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, and it has yet to pass. There hasn't been much action on this bill. This bill would be very effective if passed because it will help many students, mainly disadvantaged ones, achieve their full potential. Congress, the White House, and the U.S Supreme Court hasn't done much for this bill, nor have non-profit or non-governmental organizations. However, if this bill is passed, the potential outcomes will be great. There will be many students that succeed as citizens and workers. The standard for learning will go up, and students will be more knowledgeable overall. Eventually, our society will become much more smarter in the future, raising the standard of living for all Americans. Our brains should be considered the most important part of our bodies, because if we all train our brains, the possibilities are endless!