It is an obligation of society to make schools as good as possible for today’s students. About 100 years ago educational philosopher John Dewey realized that two purposes. It benefitted both society and individual student. Students at that time were not being taught or encouraged to actually think, or engage in the use of higher level thought processes. If students incorporated some of their experiences into their learning, they could then use their upper level thinking skills and make learning more valuable and a more worthwhile experience. This concept of self-driven introduced by Dewey was an entirely new concept. Students had to be retaught how to think. They had never had the ability to structure their own learning experiences. These students now became the foundation of the new student-driven educational philosophy (Neill, 2005).
Parents also had choices in education: public or private. Parents that did not have the financial resources to pay for private school had one choice: public. The government did see this disparity between the classes and offered a third choice, charter. These unique schools are different in two ways. In one way, Dewey would have embraced the concept that they could specialize. Some charter schools focus on technological skills, some artistic, some traditional blue collar-learning so that students could graduate by being proficient in a trade. Dewey was all for students learning in a hands-on manner, especially if they were students who were not academically proficient and might not be seeking education after their secondary education.
Other charter schools focus on arts programs. These schools are geared towards students who have an artistic aptitude. This learning atmosphere enables the students to learn in the type of environment where they advance. The students also have the opportunity to explore options and determine if this is the type of career they may wish to pursue for their livelihood.
Another charter school concept that is becoming increasingly popular is the cyber charter school. This concept enables parents to have the homeschool atmosphere they want for their student without having to give in to their limited knowledge of curriculum in all subjects. The parents monitor their child’s learning in the home environment. Certified teachers create the lessons and deliver the content. This is the fastest growing type of school in the United States at this time.
The type of charter schools that are available appear to be unlimited, but their structure is relatively the same. There is a board of directors. There is a mission statement. The staff must adhere to state guidelines. In most states, 75% of the teachers must be public school state certified. Their funding concept and structure remains controversial. For each student that is enrolled in a charter school, that student’s home public school district is required to make payment to the charter school. There is a formula that must be followed. It is 75% of the per student expenditure of the student’s home school district. For instance, if the student’s home school district has a per student expenditure of $10,000 per student for the school year, the district must pay the charter school $7,500 for the enrolled student. The home school district cannot withhold payment and cannot deny the student enrollment. If the charter school accepts the student, the public school district must pay.
This concept enables parents to select charter schools from across the state. They are not bound by the demographic area where they are confined to because of the housing that they can afford. This enables a more fair and equitable school choice alternative for the parents of poorer students (Loeb, Valant, & Kasman).
Paul Goodman proposes that in order to improve quality of delivery provided by the academic communities, all levels of schooling need to foster the independence and maturity of the students. These students are not only working on academics, but developing socially as well, close to adulthood. It is a time where they can transition away from the curriculum used for adolescents and transition into a more college-oriented one. In his article, Goodman refers to this change as a “maturing activity” that can be used for the two years before students begin college.
Examples of maturing activities include having a job, performing community service or volunteering, or possibly serving in the armed forces. After a couple of years of this type of transition activity, the person will be better acclimated, mature, and motivated to be a successful college student (Goodman).
I agree with Goodman’s opinion that a maturation activity should be a requirement before one enters college. I, myself, spent time in the military. This experience was one which did help me mature as an individual, become a more responsible person, learn the role of an adult, and also come to realize the importance of post-secondary education. Now, after the break that I received in my education during my time in the military, I am able to better appreciate the education that I am receiving at this time. I am more involved in the educational process, applying myself more to my studies, taking a more active role in the educational experience, and will be able to apply more of what I learned to my work after I leave school. I am eager to learn and improve myself as a person.
Another area that I studied in relation to Goodman was his views on testing and grading systems. He felt that these should be left entirely up to the teacher. He is opposed to a standardized testing system at the post-secondary level. His reasoning for this opinion does appear to be sound. Teachers know their students. The makers of standardized tests do not. Although I do understand how Goodman arrives at this conclusion, there does need to be a uniform method of evaluation to measure all students against each other when they are being evaluated for entrance into graduate school. Teachers may know their students best. But, the same teachers do not know all students that are applying to a particular graduate school. A standardized system to gauge all students is necessary in these situations.
Schools need changes in order to provide the type of worker needed to be ready at the time of graduation to enter the workforce. At this time, the United States is not graduating students that are prepared to enter directly into the workforce. This is because the system and training that the students are receiving was created for the use of a different era. Education has not kept pace with the changes of society. In order for workers to be prepared, the educational system needs to undergo dramatic changes, especially, but not only, at the secondary level (skills commission).
Beginning with early childhood education, the investment in education is one of the best investments that a country can make in its young people, its future leaders, and in effect, itself. The focus of the skills commission article is to provide this education to low income families for their 3-year-olds and all 4-year-olds. The investment of dollars in education at this age group is earned back at least three-fold in the future by the success that these children have in their further formal education success (skills commission).
Further focus on education should also be made after the secondary education level. The federal government should be offering more support to state and local government to provide opportunities for economic development programs, adult education programs, and job training initiatives. An investment in these basic programs would enable those who are struggling to meet their basic needs become more job stable and self-reliant. They would then be able to add in a more positive way to the economy as they would be more productive citizens and members of society. This would, in turn, further support historical strategies that have been linked to improvement efforts in school reform.
Goodman, Paul. “Compulsory Miseducation.” (1983). Print
Loeb, Susanna, Jon Valant, and Matt Kasman. "Increasing Choice In The Market For Schools:
Recent Reforms And Their Effects On Student Achievement." National Tax Journal 64.1 (2011): 141-163. EconLit with Full Text. Web. 19 Sept. 2012.
Neill, John. “John Dewey, The Modern Father of Experimental Education.” (2005). Web. 19
Excerpt, Tough choices or tough times. (2010)<http://www.skillscommission.org.executive.htm>