What should be done to improve public education in the United States?
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15th June 2015
What Should Be Done To Improve Public Education In The United States?
PUBLIC EDUCATION IN THE UNITED STATES
Since last 100 years, public education has been compulsory for all students in the United States of America. Every child until reaches the age of sixteen to eighteen must get an education. As per U.S census of 2010, there were 87.1% people over the age of 25 who were high school graduates. In America, public education means a tuition-free education, equal educational opportunities irrespective of race, religion and capability, commitment to high standards and high expectations, a system ensuring public accountability and benefitting society by educating students about the democratic principles and common values.
Although the government came up with several reforms in education such as Race to Top, No Child Left behind etc, public schools of America are in a dismal situation. Nearly fifty years and billions of dollars have been spent on educational reforms, but still large numbers of urban students are not prepared for college or the workplace. According to a report from the New York Times (2011), a number of graduates from New York City’s high school who were prepared for college or a career were merely 21 %. Though the concept of public education looks extremely fruitful on paper, yet on the ground it is completely different. There are several problems in the public education system such as poverty, untrained teachers, and various government policies, etc.
METHODS TO BRING IMPROVEMENT IN THE PUBLIC EDUCATION:
America needs a public educational model that is designed in accordance with principles of freedom, empowerment, ambition and hope. Education cannot be restricted only to the elites, particularly in when there is economic insecurity. The following are few methods to bring in improvement in the public education:
INVEST IN TRAINING TEACHERS
The first and foremost essential factor required for a student’s success is the quality of a teacher. According to the executive director of the Center for Educational Leadership Mr. Steve Fink, the education system must produce properly trained teachers. He states that unlike fields of medicine, law, business etc where along with education roper training is been given, does not happen in the case of educators. No investment is done in training educators or teachers (Cross and Rigden 189).
It was found that mostly out-of-field teachers conduct core academic classes in secondary schools, particularly in schools where low income students studied. Teachers training programs must have the model of apprenticeships, where trainees get to learn from experienced faculties. The trainee teachers must get training in classrooms by working with students and experienced teachers and not only spending time attending lectures and merely learning theories of educational. Time to take courses, attending conferences, and sharing lessons and tips with other teachers, through the internet and personally are few ways to sharpen constantly one’s skills of teaching.
MORE VIRTUAL SCHOOLS, WITH MORE EFFICIENT AND EFFECTIVE USE OF TECHNOLOGY.
Almost every facet of school can be transformed and improved by the intelligent application of technology. The nature of the curriculum, assignments given to students, parent-teacher connections, and administration are few such facets. Plans for lesson, models etc are included in the curricula of online classes. Students through the internet can share their work and communicate very easily and effectively. Various online tools can be used by teachers in order to maintain records and assessments; moreover they can easily communicate with students and their parents through emails and voice mails. Schools can reduce administrative costs by using technology tools, will also help schools in minimizing the cost of administration and collect more funds to be used in restricting of a classroom.
For instance, chemistry textbooks have been abandoned by the students of Geoff Ruth’s high school, in San Francisco. In its place, they use technology for planning, researching, and implementing their experiments by applying contents that they collect from the internet using trusted chemistry resources.
RESTRUCTURING OF RESOURCES
Resources such as capital, time, and amenities should be restructured. Instead of a 45-minute heavy class period, the schools must think of an in-depth project work, such as block preparation of classes for two hours or longer. Students must be engaged in cultural, social or community activities during the vacations, even teacher development programs can be carried on.
Funds coming should be directed toward the designing and infrastructure of the classroom. The focus of new school construction and renovation must be designed that support students and teachers teamwork, having accessibility to technology.
For example, Texas’s Alice Carlson Applied Learning Center, in Fort Worth, they have four blocks of nearly nine weeks each. The K-5 students through intersession workshops get an opportunity for practical in science, arts , and computer projects along with an improvement of the language, arts and math subjects.
SHOULD THE U.S. ADOPT YET MORE STRINGENT TESTING PRACTICES, INCREASE SCHOOL HOURS, ETC.?
Instead of adopting more strict and tough testing practices, the public education system of the U.S must focus on alternatives that would improve the educational system, such as:
The teacher must be a guide and not a lecturer.
Teachers need to change their image among students in order to make students compatible. They have to become a guide, coach, friend and philosopher to students, who can motivate and inspire students. Just giving lectures in classrooms will not be of great help. Teachers can provide a more personalized experience and emphasis on the human aspects because of the availability of video and other media for providing instruction (Cross and Rigden 189).
Learning through play and through games.
Technology can help learning become very easy, particularly in case of young students who like to play more. Hence, the education system must try to make use of digital technologies for providing new techniques for creating learning experiences. Increasing school hours is not an option to improve public education; rather students must love the concept of studying, learning.
For instance, Kahoot is a game-based learning that can change the dynamics of the classroom and provide reasons to students of being hooked to studies.
SHOULD STANDARDIZED TESTING BE REDUCED AND REPLACED WITH MORE HOLISTIC EDUCATIONAL PRACTICES?
Standardized tests have powerful and often negative effects on student learning. Many a times few subjects like music, art, foreign language, social studies are excluded from these tests thus it limits the knowledge of certain subjects (Brimi 52).
However in order to improve public education holistic educational practices can be used as it focuses on the interconnectedness of reality and experience. According to the holistic practices, teaching and learning approaches require to be rooted in a larger perspective, as it provides a feeling of wholeness in a person or student.
Holistic education rejects the labeling and segregation of students as well as promotes a broader application of teaching and learning methodologies for reaching diverse populations (Miller 111).
SHOULD READING, WRITING, AND MATH BE PRIORITIES, OR SHOULD SCHOOLS FOCUS MORE ON SCIENCE, ART, OR MUSIC?
In order to have a well-developed education system, various streams must be included in curricula. Omitting science, arts or music is not an option, neither making reading, writing and math to be the most prioritized subjects. For an overall development of a student, he or she must study all subject till the elementary level.
According to NCLB, arts have been reaffirmed as a core subject and every school must teach arts. Equal weight age have been given to subjects like English, math, reading, language arts, science, foreign languages, economics, history and geography.
Music is also an important subject in the curriculum. According to as a study, students taking a music class in high school are more likely to score higher marks in standardized mathematics test, such as the SAT (Vaughn and Karthryn 114).
This paper tries to put down the methods to bring in improvement in the public education system of the United States and hence few methods based on literary reviews and papers were mentioned, which can be applied to bringing the change. Teachers and students both are the key elements of any education system, but teachers hold an essential position as they are responsible for shaping the student’s knowledge, mind and future. An untrained or poorly trained teacher will hamper the quality of education and students’ future. Hence, a government of America must use the funds in training teachers, so that the best teachers are produced who can prepare the students for their better future, ultimately a better economy.
Moreover, the role of technology cannot be denied. We live in a digital era where everything and everyone run on technology so using technology in the education system will help to generate the best output from both the teachers and the students.
Brimi, H. Teaching writing in the shadow of standardized writing assessment: Anexploratory study. American Secondary Education. 2012. Print.
Vaughn, K. Music and Mathematics: Modest Support for the Oft-Claimed Relationship. In R. Deasy (Ed.), Critical Links: Learning in the Arts and Student Achievement and Social Development, Washington, DC. AEP. 2002. Print.
John Jack P. M. Holistic Education: Learning for an Interconnected World. Education forsustainability. 2014). Print.
Cross, C., and Rigden, D. Improving teacher quality. American School Board Journal. 2002. Print.