The education policy history of the United States has come a long way from its early beginnings. Fostering education has been a state function from the conception of the first constitution and is referred to as compulsory attendance. In order to fully implement the law on compulsory education, different laws have also been penned down with the purpose of finding solutions to fully implement the education law taking into consideration the background and economic status of the students. Bilingual laws, homeschooling, and ensuring access to public schools are just some strategies that have been implemented to ensure that all have access to education. However, despite all the efforts the government has been trying to do to increase its literacy levels, Americans are slowly being watered down in favor of countries such as China and India who also have been embracing compulsory education for their citizens. Therefore, the citizens from such nations are giving the US labor force a run for their money. This is not only linked to their skills in doing routine work but also their capability of analyzing and coming up with critical solutions to the challenges facing the globe in this century of information and technological advancement. The big question that is in the lips of most people is what is happening to the wits the American people once possessed. Could it be laxity in our education system? As a measure, the compulsory education system and its implementation needs to be further checked with regards to the way it is implemented or its curriculum. This when checked, is an effective multiplier to human development for subsequent generations and national growth.
Compulsory education refers to a government policy that is used almost all countries requiring citizens falling within a certain age brackets to attend some formal system of education. Most governments have been adopting the system in order to eliminate illiteracy levels in their nations. It is a policy, which developed countries have been using to ensure that their citizens remain ahead of the pack as regards to the ability of critically thinking and innovativeness.
However, this idea has not been received entirely positively by everyone. There are individuals who are really skeptic about the whole idea of forcing students to attend school even when their hearts are not there. On the other hand, some individuals have enough reasons as to why non-school going children are a threat to the society.
There are individuals who believe that forcing a student to attend formal education will be infringing their rights of free choice. Furthermore, such students may not take the whole idea with passion and as such will gain little from the whole process. One particular individual who is not for the idea of compulsory education is Paul Goodman. In his article “Two Simple Proposals,” he argues that all ways of perception are ways of learning. He suggests that student do not have to be in the jurisdiction of formal systems in order to learn but instead they can learn through interactions with the general society (Goodman, 1964).
Adoption of compulsory education has many advantages. First, most people would prefer doing other things other than studying. This is so because education is a rigorous activity and human nature dictates that such engagements should be avoided at all costs. However, repercussions of not attending schools will be grave as one may not develop analytical and technical skills and may therefore be unable to secure employment in the formal sector. As such, education is important as it creates a large pool of qualified and innovative citizens. In addition, mandatory education keeps children who would have otherwise been juvenile busy thus saving the society from vices such as theft, drug trafficking and many others. Furthermore, it is advantageous to the economy as reduced illiteracy levels could easily transform to higher rates of innovativeness. Finally, it facilitates equity in the social aspect, which is an indication of development. There is a No Child Left Behind Act of 2001(NCLB) which is committed to offering quality educational services to all children regardless of their race, ethnicity, disability, migrant status, economic status, or English proficiency (Adams & Rubel, 2010, p.76).
The compulsory education has its own misgivings despite the many positive advantages. It may act as a hindrance to the development of individual talents and skills and instead try to impart something else on the students. Paul Goodman says, “It seems to me that a primary duty of the university is to deprive them of their props, their dependence on extrinsic valuation and motivation, and to force them to confront the difficult enterprise itself and finally lose themselves in it.” This is true as some systems do not and parents do not give their children enough room to explore their talents and pursue areas of specialization where they derive interest (Goodman, 1964).
Our education system needs to undergo some reforms if the effectiveness of the system is to be realized. However, this has to be tackled from the roots. Therefore, there is a dire need for the early childhood education to be given much attention and consideration for the realization of this goal. The first commission has appropriately taken the proposed reforms by its intents to increase the funding of the early childhood education so that children can have proper guidelines right from the onset (Compulsory Education.” National Conference of State Legislatures.1July2008.Web. 15May2011).
As mandated by the Compulsory School Attendance laws, every state and its territories require that all children under their jurisdiction should attend school from the time they reach the age of 6. Some state requires a minimum age of 5 years old and other at a maximum of 8 years old. There are states that requires a child to be enrolled and stay in school until they have completed at least a full of curriculum or in some cases until they reached the age of 17. In Arizona, Vermont, Wyoming and Montana, children are only required to be in school in a specified grade. Under certain circumstances, the majority of all states also allow parents to submit petition to their local school principals and board member to waive these requirements.
There are existing debates as far as age limit is concerns when it comes to kindergarten admission. Some experts believed that policy makers should have a concrete standard of policies that will determine the right age for the child to go to school. When a cutoff limit is in place there should also be an initiative to create readiness program to prepare children on what they can expect in school, because the program will also determine the success rate of each student. This idea on the other hand is being contradicted by some experts in belief that age should not be an indicator in measuring how the child will succeed in school. Starting up early in school does not prove the fact they can be a better student than those who started late. Another argument about requiring children to go to school at a very young age is the possibility of increase in the number of enrollees every school year. Given a situation when an overwhelming number of enrollees sign up in a year, there would be a greater chance of scarcity on district school budgets among other essentials such as school facilities and available educators.
Although the bottom line is to educate children at the early years of their life, there are still a lot of things to be considered in order to achieve a positive goal of eradicating illiteracy in the country. It is already established that starting up early in school would help the children to grow more interested to learn and to be educated; there are still questions whether or not the government has the resources to accommodate everyone. This is the main reason as to why legislators should also focus on not only to encourage compulsory education but also to pass policies that will support the children during their school years. Among the most important things are, increased budget allocated for education. More schools and better facilities, more teachers, competitive learning structures and ratified conditions regarding admission should be taken into consideration.
There is a clear advantage on compulsory education because this the child’s early years in school will shape them for be more engaged in the higher learning environment that they will soon to experience. Starting up late in school calls for not just culture shock but also entails emotional dilemma for the child. The kid might get intimidated by younger classmates who are more advance them him in terms of knowledge and that situation would make an impact to the child in the long run. Reform and policy change is necessary in order to keep up with the ever growing demand for better education and legislators should begin to undermine the current of education system would create a less inspiring future not only for the citizens but for the country as a whole.
Several private institutions realize the problems with the current educational system of the country. These institutions offer free suggestions on what other activities can be done by the schools to enhance the teaching and learning process inside and outside the schools. One online institution, Thirteen ed online suggests concepts that could be implemented in the classrooms that could enhance the teaching – learning process. Some of these strategies include improving the afterschool activities of the students, curriculum and assessment revisions, making an learning environment which enforces collaborative and interdisciplinary learning and tapping of multiple intelligences of students (Thirteen.org, 31Jan2012).
In conclusion, compulsory education bears so many advantages ranging from reduced illiteracy levels to steering the countries development through the innovativeness of its literate population. As such, it is a wakeup call for the education stakeholders to move in expeditiously and reform the system from the lowest level of education so that we as a nation can reap the benefits of compulsory education.
“Compulsory Education.”. ncsl.org. National Conference of State Legislatures. 1 July 2008. Web.15 May 2011.
Adams, C, and J Rubel. Compliance Issues Raised By The United States' Ratification
And Implementation Of The Education Articles Of The Convention On The Rights Of
The Child."Child Welfare 89.5 (2010): 73-90. CINAHL Plus with Full Text. 2010. Web. 22
Goodman, Paul. Compulsory Mis-education and the Community of Scholars. New York: Horizon Press, 1964. Print. Web. 22 Jan. 2012.
National Center on Education and the Economy. Tough Choices or Tough Times; the Report of the New Commission on the Skills of the American Workforce. Washington, DC: Jossey Bass. 2007. Web. 22 Jan. 2012. < http://www.ncee.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/Executive-Summary.pdf>
Thirteen.org. Concepts to Classroom. Thirteen.org. Thirteen ed online. N.d. Web. 30 Jan. 2012.