I know this is coming late, but I just ran into this article towards the end of the week myself. Anyway, my school has a weekly newspaper that it puts out called the Maroon Weekly and this week, they had a little article done by two separate writers over the pros and cons of a public education. One points out the benefits of the government having control of the education system, while the other article argues against the government’s involvement in education. You can view the Pros article here and the Cons of a public education here.
While I agree with the pro article that the government should take responsibility for the education system, I also agree with Tony Listi’s con argument that parents should have the right to choose what school their children go to. Simply because many children don’t have access to schools that offer a more substantial education mostly because of location. However, what if a parent cannot make the trip out to the school, especially in this economy where money is tight and gas prices are starting to rise again. Or what if there isn’t a bus that goes to the other school? Some bus stops only extend to certain areas and past that the student has to find their own transportation to and from school. In the case of this, I’d say the government needs to step in and improve schools in all areas and not just certain ones.
The one argument that Listi makes is that children are taught to embrace lies, atheism, socialism, and sexual perversity. Now I don’t know about all schools in the U.S. but I don’t look at it as schools teaching children all of these negative things. I see it as teachers giving their students an objective overview of events so that they can choose whether they think something is right or wrong. I never felt pushed to embrace atheism or socialism, my own views were my own, and the same could be said with my other classmates and friends. Some of us had our own opinions that differed from our parents/guardians, and some of us didn’t drift far from what our parents taught us. It all depends on the individual and I think that’s how it should be.
At least toward the end of Listi’s argument, he does say that parents can have the right to take their children to a private institution, whether it’s affiliated with a church denomination or not, and that’s fine. Parents have the right to do whatever they think would benefit the child or make them happy. But when it comes down to public education, you can’t always have your cake and eat it too. You can’t include everything in education because somewhere along the way someone will get offended by something. The system would have to constantly change their curriculum just to make it politically correct, and yet have it be balanced, which is where the system currently is now. Until there is a new solution for public schools and the curriculum being taught, it will more than likely stay the way that it is.
The ACLU is now suing the education system in Palm Beach, FL over the horrible education being offered at the schools and the fact that graduation rates for the high schools in the Palm Beach School District has been low. The article, which is on ACLU’s website explains how many students don’t graduate out of school and how the numbers are actually not accurate for the amount of students that make it out of high school with a diploma.
I’m just curious to see if the court will take this case, as the ACLU have filed a lawsuit against the Palm Beach School district before last year that’s very similar to the one they are filing now. The previous case, though didn’t go through because they filed a suit against the wrong person. In the 2008 suit, they filed against the Palm Beach School board, as well as Arthur Johnson, the superintendent of the schools in Palm Beach. This time around, in this latest suit, they filed charges against the state of Florida as a whole, including the governor Charlie Crist, a member of Senate, House, and the Commissioner of Education of Florida.
Of course, since it’s the Civil Liberties Union, they do mention that the graduation rate percentage of African-American and Hispanic students is lower than that of their white peers. The Graduation rates is also really low. At first the ACLU is generous, saying about 1/3 of the student population does not graduate from high school, but the reality is that nearly 1/2 of them fail to graduate. That’s pretty bad standards. To be honest, I’m surprised the governor never pushed for reformatting the education system. Maybe because the first suit the ACLU filed didn’t go through, they dismissed the charges. But even so, with that many children not graduating, it should have been a hint to do something with the system since however way it’s currently set up now, it clearly isn’t working.
Parents are also unhappy with the education system, stating that it doesn’t create a uniformed public education.
Of course this is just another example of the state of many schools around the country that have low graduation rates and a lackluster curriculum that isn’t benefitting the students any. Either way, it makes me curious to see how this will play out, especially with Obama and Arne Duncan’s education reform plan that they’ve been promoting. Perhaps it’ll be a test for everyone to see just how well it will work?
I happened to run across these stories while listening to NPR today. Though they may not have anything to do with anything political, I still thought these audio clips I found were intersting enough to share.
The first one has to deal with African American students and why they are falling behind with education.
The next one has to do with Arne Duncan speaking with Latino groups and the Spanish language news organizations, discussing why education is also a civil rights issue.
This last one focuses on mental health on college campuses. It tells the story of what happened to one family when their child developed bipolar disorder while in school.
On Thursday, Theodore R. Sizer, considered the leader of education reform, passed away on Thursday of colon cancer. You can read more about it here.
Theodore Sizer, Founder and Chair Emeritus, Coalition of Essential Schools
Sizer was a former dean of the Harvard Graduate School of Education before becoming headmaster of Philips Academy and later the chairman of education at Brown University.He did not approve of the up and coming state standards for schools, which focused on multiple-choice testing instead of focusing on the physical and academic environment of the schools.
He believed classrooms needed to be smaller and that schools needed to focus on the depth of studying so that students could pick up on key subjects. He also felt schools needed to have flexibility in order to be shaped by teachers, students, and local communities.
Sizer was also well-known as a writer, especially for his trilogy of an English teacher Horace. His first book of the series, “Horace’s Compromise,” written in 1984, brought about the creation of the Essential School movement, of which he is a founder of. He is also the founder and the first director of the Annenberg Institute for School Reform at Brown University.
Last week, Associated Press reported Obama mentioning a plan to extend the school day to nine hours and shortening summer vacation. The idea isn’t anything new, as I remember the subject of longer school days being brought up when I was attending high school. But it seems now the idea is starting to catch on and may even happen sometime in the future.
Though there are Charter schools in the country that are already doing longer school days, it is about time that the U.S. is starting to do the same with its public schools and play catch up with countries who have had longer school days for years now. Not that longer school days necessarily mean that students will have better test scores, but I do think many children need access to a program in the school that can help them excel with subjects they are having a hard time with.
Meanwhile, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts is starting a program, as a part of their “Any Given Child” project, to start up art education with schools that have cut budgets. You can read about it here. Though it has been started in areas in Virginia, D.C., and Maryland, the center plans on trying out a more affordable way to handle arts education by working with districts and art groups.
As a former art student, I agree that there needs to be more arts in school. While subjects such as math, science, and English are important subjects for students to grasp, it also helps when you have an outlet to express yourself. Plus, going on field trips to places such as museums or theater performances breaks up the monotony of sitting in a classroom all day. I just hope this program gets off on a strong start in California and gains support in other states as well.
I found this comic one day and thought I’d post it here. Thought it had the right mix of humor and truth to it.