Why American education is falling
The standards of American education system have been falling year in and year out compared to other industrialized nations. Based on recent results of scholastic aptitude tests, the American student is by far bettered by the Asian and European counterparts respectively. The causes of failure cannot be isolated and analyzed in a single dimension. Things don’t seem to improve as research findings trickle in i.e. a research shows that despite great proportion of gross national product being spent on education; it’s worth noting that the American elementary and secondary school student never ranked above the median when compared with the rest of developed countries in the same league.
First and foremost the problem has arisen partly due to lack of commitment by both school and student. Schools neither create adequate for studies nor does student commit much of his or her time on academics. According to the national education commission on time and learning, the typical American student takes less than half of their day in learning. To verify the above finding the commission found out that an American student spends slightly above 1400 hours on subjects such as science, mathematics and history in the four year course. Compare the same student with a Japanese student who spends about 3200 hours on studies, the German student clocks well over 3500 0n similar subjects that are almost three times hours spent by the schools in America.
On another variable is homework given to students. The research found that the Japanese teachers give three times as much to their school children in comparison to their American counterparts. A fifth grader in United States of America can have an average of four hours in terms of homework while same child in Japan spends an average of six hours on homework. The crises in academics are further exacerbated by the fact that the number of impressive performer in scholastic aptitude tests is declining e.g. the number of students posting above 700 mark on the verbal section dropped from about 20,000 to 11,638 in 1960s.that an average student in another industrialized country is proficient in mathematics as the country’s top brass student, says a study by National Research Council. Last but not least that American best student, when pitted against other countries finished bottom of the pack, according to different international mathematic research. The gap that exists between American students and other countries can only be attributed to one factor that they don’t ask much from their students.
Secondly the teaching methods and content is suspect .how can we have students from countries such as Taiwan doing better than American students who have far worse buildings, larger student population in class and poorly trained teacher. Then the obvious reason has to be that the teaching practices and theory based on education are themselves incorrect and cannot promote student learning ability. The efforts to make education failure as rather complex are just a thin veil that prevents one to see the failure of American education system that cannot guarantee future American citizens who cannot think and apply themselves in life.
Many Americans have been quick to blame the failure on stereotypes and but attitudes adopted by scholars. The first stereotype to be bundled around is a television and working parents. But nothing can be closer to the truth research by STEVENSON AND CO discovered that a Japanese fifth grader watched television each day as much as American fifth grader. They also found that on average, an American child spends about 1.8 hours on television compared to 2 hours spent by the Japanese child each day. On account of a working mother s, Japan working mothers clocked slightly less than those in another state of Minneapolis i.e. 30% and 35% respectively. The researchers continued by dispelling the notions that as in children as under pressure to perform from their formative year and therefore somehow easier to teach as they are socialized to accept education as the sole reason for success and therefore malleable. That Asian educational system has little to offer that can be emulated as it emphasizes on cramming and reliant on never ending basic and mindless skills. On contrary researchers have discovered that nothing suggests that Asian children have greater psychological problems or suicidal tendencies when compared to the children in America. No research has validated the theory that high academic achievements in countries such as North Korea and Japan can be attributed to genetically acquire higher intelligent quotient.
The underlying reasons to explain the above the scenario of stereotypes is to show how attitudes serve to undermine the development of education in imparting competent students as compared to others who go through the same challenges. The assumptions differ on roles played by the parents in a child’s education. The Asians believe that the school has the role of developing academic skills but the role of the home to supplement the school by providing a healthy emotion nurturing environment. Americans by contrast expect that the school takes responsibility for quite a lot of aspects of child’s life that includes sexuality, drug abuse nutrition and other basic life skills that are overly optimistic and unrealistic.
The political factors are a reason for the decline in educational standards. A research study carried out in New York revealed underlying political influences .in 2006, in New York was, mandated to carry out for grade three to grade eight yearly. The results would aid in analysis students year to year student progress and relate the same with each teacher performance. Holding other factors constant, it seeks to bring forth the individual teachers contribution to a student’s development. After the deriving, the data from the results were incorporated in into the awarding of tenure, made quarterly and provide an almost entire lifetime job security. The new policy were met with defiance by teachers union and instead proposed that procedure of value added numbers apply only to the top and bottom teachers.
The new policy was to further be objected by a budget amendment that barred the use of test data in the making decisions regarding tenure backed by dominant democratic state assembly. The aftermath led to teachers union arm-twisting the politicians to not to pass the legislation through the union to reject the formula of formula of value addition in negotiating for teachers security of tenure. Failures to, which they could face reprisals or lack support of influential teachers union in the forthcoming elections. Through this, it becomes impossible to evaluate the impact of teachers on their students. Simply stated the school system will remain the same even if standards are declining as compared to others because it has benefits to adult players who stand to lose or gain financially and politically. School is very important to politicians from various angles, first because it provides avenues for patronage handpicking, where the school placement opportunities are dished out to politically connected electorates access to their proposed community and business project proposals accepted and eventually funded and secondly the beneficial ties to schools and parents.
The new York state education secretary proposed a paradigm shift from the patronage hire that dominated the old system of system of district schools ran by school boards and superintendents, to new different system altogether. It becomes apparent from a legislator that the secretary was testing waters with both feet. He was informed of a principal who was facing an imminent job sack for trying to contravene a patronage tendency in hiring by promoting democracy. The secretary was pestered to assisting by proving good school placement for well-connected constituents. He was faced by requests to bend rules to allow for placement of particular peoples kids into school. Considering that politicians need the immense political support from the unions representing teachers or support staff who have a huge membership, the national education association and American federation has a combined membership of 4.7 million, they have to bow down to their demands. It’s important to note that members of union pay millions of dollars in terms of national, state and local taxes, the substantial amount is wired to politics related causes.
Politicians have to do what is possible in their powers to make the union happy. The unions in turn are clear on their demands. They want the interest of the teacher is taken care first so that they are happy. So that those who run union and seek for reelection can have their support and secondly have the power to negotiate their interests, widen their influence and more money. School children don’t pay the union dues, so their interests rarely represented, but employee’s union members of union pay dues. That means their interests are first catered for and in that case: lifetime job security, improved pay that is not dependent on performance reduced working hours, early retirement with a decent pension, health insurance benefits and graduated pension benefits that factors implication of inflation. This has meant that only seniority means much better in terms of payment and not how hard you work, results, teaching in mathematics or difficult to staff institutions, hardship areas all are getting paid the same. The system has created a system where good teachers are not motivated and motivated, and mediocrity is taken as norm or condoned, the lazy and ineffective teachers can get away with poor performance. The union does little in enforcing standards and discipline.
Fourth is, the demand and supply forces. That is to say that if for example you have a shortage of qualified mathematics teaches typical an urban school where you find the greater need of poor children they are disadvantaged, because of teacher preference to work with the more motivated kids who reside in safer communities, have parents who contribute their own money to the school. The conclusion is what we are witnessing i.e., Poor results in mathematics and science proficiency tests as a result of having very few effective math and science teachers, in what can be described as poverty stricken community schools or areas with low monetary incentive. It’s wise for illustration purpose, to consider the net effect off remunerating equally for subjects such as mathematics and physical education. The scenario is high turnout physical education for teachers compared to science teachers if the same salary is being offered.
Fifth factor that contributes to declining education is poverty. Much as, we would like to deny the fact that the state of facilities doesn’t affect the learning of the school, the truth is that growing up in deprived state can affect the outcomes of education. It cannot be said to be a strong point of argument in explaining dismal academic achievement, but it offers a clear view on why poorly performing schools are found in areas prone to poverty. Poverty is universal, and as such countries have to find a way of addressing the relationship between academic under achievement and poverty. The disparity in academic achievements between well to do children and poor seems to grow. Children enrolled in poverty stricken areas are likely not to achieve good results in a better school environment. We have a case of negative outcomes for areas that are deprived. The inner-city areas are synonymous with low educational results.
Findings of a previous research in the analysis of academic achievements across a host of countries, decline in educational achievement can be attributed to reducing social mobility in countries studied as a result of the strong correlation between low levels of household income and low academic achievement, failure by policy makers to take into account the effect of socio-economic hurdles faced by the poor school kids. Mostly the African American and the Latin’s are the commonly affected by poverty and as a result of this their kids do not perform very well in school. Comparing this groups of whites, Latinos and African Americans we find that the transition rate from high schools to higher institutions of learning is larger in the white community compared to the other two groups i.e. Latinos and the African-Americans. We find that most technical professions like engineering are mostly dominated by whites but not the African-Americans.
Imposing the standard school model as a form of intervention on failing education standards has proven to be ineffective in schools located in deprived locations. The strategies employed do not contribute to the improvement of learners’ achievement but work as part of the solution and creates an unsustainable student performance. This has not taken into account the external factors that are beyond the school scope to bring about a positive outcome of education. Some of these factors include the lack of preparedness for school having marginalized children population and higher poverty status among the urban school setting.
Schools that are located in deprived areas are synonymous with underachievement. These schools have to contend with a number of problems, they are likely to have more than average number of students having low levels of literacy on enrolment. They have a larger proportion of migrant children who are often denied entry to other schools because of the problems they present and the lack of additional resources in school to deal with them. The schools are characterized by incidences of drug abuse, crime and also violence attributed to the community surrounding them. These variables make it more difficult for teachers to effectively teach the students.
Students from low income background tend to perform better when they join a school which is dominated by pupils from a well-off background unlike when they join schools dominated by children from low income household. It has been found that they are more likely to improve if they attend schools that have children coming from more than average economic status. Simply it can be concluded that the composition of the school and context make a substantial difference to a student performance. This can be explained by the fact that poor background students are more disadvantaged by their poor economic status and also their peers. Schools having predominantly poor school children do not have the norms and values that are synonymous with stellar academic achievement which means that the absence of much needed capital for higher academic achievement is lacking in the disadvantaged schools. The net effect is that school children in these disadvantaged schools have low motivation on benefits of high education achievement.
Another factor that is causing failure of school education in America is the lack of motivation from parent and also lack of role models. Children who come from families that have many academic achievers e.g. a doctor, a professor, tend to perform better because they have someone to look up to and guide them. On the other hand, children who lack inspiration within their families tend to underachieve because of lack of somebody to look up to.
Dynamic of school life cycle for the poor performing school lack the capacity that is required to sustain the gains made in academic progress with external intervention. Schools have to go through changes often characterized by the rise and fall in performance. The change can be attributed by external factors which include changes in student composition and teachers turnover. Schools which are located in the disadvantaged location and performing poorly have a higher turnover of students and teachers in the course of their lifecycle. Typically a school is in constant flux, but the problem is worse for the underperforming schools which are characterized by fall and rising because of having varied starting point.
Interventions entered in this category of school are unsustainable as they require external support which is not guaranteed. Research shows that in a short period of time after the interventions are introduced and later inspected the improvement has been short term. It has been shown that the poorly performing schools reach a point of crisis when failure is visible. At this point, externally imposed interventions are introduced to help the situation. The effects of additional resources, skills and support help the school improve momentarily. When the added resources and support are withdrawn the school retreat back to their academic failure.
Poor leadership in school administration perpetuates values such as trust, hard work, sharing, teamwork and scrutiny on teaching and learning method. For the underperforming schools, this has not been the case. The high performing schools have been shown to have exceptional and talented leadership to explain their academic achievement unlike their underperforming counterparts who lack effective leadership skills. Failing school has been shown to have poor leaders often characterized by ineffective quality in teaching, lack of vision and poor communication.
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