As cliché as the saying is, kids really are the future. It is our responsibility as the older generation to make it better so that the next generation does not have to suffer from lack of access, resources, or funds to prosper within this economy. Education is the concrete foundation of the economic growth within the United States if not the world. Teachers are placed in their roles to foster the development of students so they will have a greater chance to succeed in the future. When students graduate they need to be equipped to take on the realities of the work and use the knowledge gained to help not only themselves but those around them. As noble as all this sound, it is not the reality for a majority of schools and school children within the United States.
There are several schools that are not equipped with the adequate resources, tools, and faculty in order to properly teach to the diverse pool of students. No two students are alike, and it is the sole duty of the instructor to be able to reach each student in their classrooms so that they can learn. The way that the scope of education is going within the United States is declining, as must as political pundits preach about changes in education not much is being done. The need for a secondary option that focuses on smaller classrooms, one on one attention, and teachers and classrooms that are fully equipped in providing each students regardless or education level, economic, or social background with a better chance of succeeding after graduating. This essay is intended to address an issue in education where millions of children often from disadvantaged backgrounds, learning abilities, or behavioral issues are not getting a proper education in the United States. The establishment of charter schools as a secondary option should be available in order to fix the many problems that plague public schools.
Public education has long been a tradition within the United States since their establishment in the 19th century. Since its expectation, the public education system has serviced hundreds of millions of students. There once was a time when the United States ranked number one for the rate of high school graduates. (Strauss 1) However through various research it is clear that the United States was never at the top. After World War II, the numbers dropped dramatically for education k-12 that saw the rank be 22 out of 27 industrialized nations. Within the 21st century, the numbers still have not improved, and students are still struggling within the public education system. Students are graduating at lower numbers without the necessary skills that are needed to succeed in secondary education, or are forced to obtain jobs for low wage pay. NAEP, the National Assessment of Educational Progress that nationally represents the assessments of what students know, found that two out of three eighth graders do not have the ability to read at a proficient level. The same students also scored below in math, cannot proficiently write, and are not proficient in civics. (The Broad Foundation, 2011)
The number for the past year, in the United States over one million students were recorded dropping out on an annual basis. Take into account demographics for Hispanic and African American students the dropout rate was even higher at 40 percent in comparison with the national average at 27 percent. (The Broad Foundation) According to the OECD, United States ranked 25th, 17th, and 14th out of 27 industrialized nations in math, science, and reading respectively. (OECD) These numbers are not looking good that see the same average eighth graders two years behind in their core subject compared to their international peers. Once students graduate from high school, the rate at which pursue secondary education is behind in the 13 countries, and less than half actually finish.
The problems with the public education system also spill over to the job market that is flooded each year with college and high school graduates that compete for jobs with older adults. Jobs in the market that actually pay in comparison to the cost of living, requires at least college coursework to get hired. Almost two-thirds of US college professors feel that what is taught in high school is not preparing students for college or the job market. (The Broad Foundation) According to the recent Gallup Poll, many Americans feel that is highly unlikely that the younger generation will have a better life than the generation before them. The social mobility in America has become harder for students being born to low-income families, and remain in low income brackets as it is reported that on 4 percent of Americans that are raised in the low income bracket make it to the top of the ladder. The information may seem damning but, there is still hope for the education system in the form of another alternative to education.
Charter schools have been around for several years, and have reached a peak in popularity as school administrators, parents, teachers, and representatives are seeing that public education needs to be reformed. Started by the American Federation of Teachers in New York City, it was originally designed to be a teacher ran school that would help students that struggled in the traditional public school system. The alternative to the larger school was backed by community activists and teachers. The success of charters in New York City, excited some school districts that welcomed the establishments of charter schools through the states. State laws were passed that promoted the establishments, and many teachers were promoting charter schools because they were able to work outside of the scope of the school administration, the local government, and teacher unions. The movement behind charter schools as the secondary option has increased dramatically and rightfully so as they have provided a more formative approach to reach out to all students with the help of the local community, parents, and teachers. Charters unlike public schools are smaller, paralleled, privatized schools that are nationally funded by investors and educational management companies. The popularity and the want for schools based on their successful dynamics are highlighted in documentaries, films, articles, and other media such as “Waiting for Superman”. The reason why charters school has been successful is that they offer more advanced and honor classes, work in a smaller class setting that allows for a better one on one with each student (including learning difficulties and disabilities). Curriculum can be optimized like colleges that offer classes in Ballet, Dance, performing arts classes, and sports alternatives. The numbers do not lie as, a Stanford report found that 37 percent of charter schools have gains each year, performing 17 percent better than their public counterpart. (Wolf, Browne) Positive reports also shown that students from low income backgrounds and special education students performed better than in public schools.
The public education system is failing this generation of students. Students facing several challenges that include being able to graduate and compete with the growing work force. On the international scale, US is lagging behind, and the distancing is increasing. Public education harms every aspect including the economy and social mobility. Charter schools have become an accessible alternative to the traditional public school setting. While there are numbers that back their success there is also opposition that threaten the growth of charter schools. Research has shown that charter school has failed to hold administrators and teacher accountable for low performing school, and administrators in charge lack the minimal required training. However, while there may be opposition, something needs to be done to help this generation flourish as past generations have been able to. Reform of the school system is the first option, correcting the issues of lack of accessibility and responsibility is also an option, but offering a choice is one of the ways to go in order to address a serious problem.
American Federation of Teachers. Do Charter Schools Measure Up? The Charter School Experiment After 10 Years. 2002. Web. 26 Oct 2013. http://criticaltep.files.wordpress.com/2010/01/charterreport02.pdf
Center for Education Reform. Annual Survey of America's Charter Schools. 2008. Web. 26 Oct 2013. http://www.edreform.com/_upload/cer_charter_survey_2008.pdf
Center on Reinventing Public Education. Inside Charter Schools: Unlocking Doors to Student Success. 2011. Web. 26 Oct. 2012. http://www.crpe.org/cs/crpe/view/csr_pubs/381
Kenny, Charles. The Real Reason America’s Schools Stink. Business Week. 19 August 2012. Web. 26 Oct 2013. http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2012-08-19/the-real-reason-americas-schools-stink
Statistics. The Broad Foundation. 2012. Web. 26 Oct. 2013. http://broadeducation.org/about/crisis_stats.html
Strauss, Valerie. Why U.S. Can’t Get Back to Head of The Class (Because It Was Never There). Washington Post. 02 July 2012. Web. 26 Oct 2013. http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/post/the-myth-of-americas-historical-educational-supremacy/2012/07/02/gJQAwpgAHW_blog.html
Wolfe, Susan, Browne, Mira. New Stanford Report Finds Serious Quality Challenge in National Charter School Sector. Credo Stanford. 2009. Web. 26 Oct 2013. http://credo.stanford.edu/reports/National_Release.pdf?1375638188139