Public Schooling in America


The American education system is arguably one of the most advanced in the world. There is no doubt that America places a great emphasis on its education system providing adequate funding (Hochschild and Scovronick 27). In fact, research studies prove that American public schools remain some of the best-funded in the world. American teachers enjoy one of the best working conditions and wages in the world (Rogers 22). A large number of elementary and secondary school teachers in the United States obtain college and university degrees each year, which consequently improves the level of education.

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In addition, American schools boast some of the best teaching technologies, which also one of the guarantees of the good future for children (Hochschild and Scovronick 31). Despite this, it is clear that American public schools face certain difficulties (Rogers 38). Scholars claim that American public schooling has little capacity to guarantee good performance of students. Some reports indicate that in some cases students graduate from elementary schools and high schools merely illiterate. There are reports that some students cannot even read or write, yet they are expected to succeed in their lives. Moreover, public schools face problems with discipline.

For instance, there are many school dropouts, pregnancies and cases of drug abuse every year. Massive campaigns and initiatives are in place to protect the children in schools and their future, including the “No Child Left Behind” and school vouchers. However, such campaigns have minimal impact on the rate of deterioration of public schooling in the United States. Arguably, the United States, despite its advance in technology and a great economy, is under education crisis that requires immediate action.

So, what and where is the problem?

Lack of focus on results seems to be the most evident problem that has the observable effect on American public schooling. Critics of the American education system provide some evidence to support the claim that public education system lacks focus on results, despite the considerable funding.

They argue that students are expected to achieve high levels of education, while the education process takes priority over an analysis of the results when making educational policies (Hochschild and Scovronick 43). Critics further argue that within policy-making circles, the main idea they have is to see the children achieve good grades and enter colleges and universities, but the analysis of the results seems to be out of their agenda (Smith 18).

As far as this argument is concerned, its validity is not doubtable because the idea of placing an emphasis on results and an in-depth analysis of the results seem to be not appropriate. In fact, the lack of focus on results and overemphasizing the process of education can be one important issue to consider new policies to improve the system. The American education system and society, in general, do not hold students accountable for their individual performances.

In addition, the system does not consider holding the government-funded schooling system accountable for the failure or success of the students’ performances, which also reflects its performance on behalf of the public. In fact, the public has failed to hold the system accountable for the performance of the students every year since the end of the Second World War. According to critics in academics, the public education system is itself a cause of the failure in American public schooling. Therefore, critics argue that since the school system and the public are a failure, the students have no other option than to follow the example and thus fail to perform.

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Despite the appeal from the public and the scholarly world to enhance the schooling system through reforms in the education sector, there has been minimal impact on the failing system. It is evident that most of the efforts to transform public education sector have been marred with half-hearted measures that produce minimal reforms. Critics argue that the history of reform in the public schooling system is full of misdiagnosis of the root problems. The efforts are half-hearted, full of blame-shifting, and inappropriate for reforming an education system meant for the world’s largest economy.

The relevant institutions which were supposed to reform the education system seem to be going round in circles, rather than working together for the best of the students (Smith 43). According to analysts, every person in these policy-making circles seems to be an expert, but most of the individuals in the system have undergone the same process they now want to reform, and that the problem of failure has been instilled in them when undergoing their education in America.

During every process designed to reform the education system, debates normally arise, and thus there is an illusion that bars the progress from taking effect. The debates arise on a wide range of topics regarding the context of the public schooling system. For instance, debates normally arise on how to handle the schools, whether they should be centralized or progressive (Smith 43). In addition, debates arise over how to manage the schools, how to computerize the education system, how to handle and establish pre-schools and other issues that need to be changed in order to transform the federal education system.

While the efforts are meant to change and improve the American education system, the debates on these issues have always been a hindrance to the reform process, which in turn leads the education system to failure. Rather than changing the process of handling these debates in future reform attempts, the policy-makers seem to take the wrong belief that the newest trend will succeed in spite of the failures in the preceding systems.

There is a belief among the critics of the education system of the United States that public education systems all over the world fail because the lobbies in the education and public sectors are normally sabotaged or comprise the education rather than improve it. For instance, critics argue that lobbies such as teacher associations, legislators, parent associations and school administrators are mostly interested in expanding their gains from the education system, which is one of the largest consumers of the public money (Reese 73).

According to evidence, there seems to be some truth in this argument. However, attributing the failure of reform to sedition only works to vindicate the much-needed reform of the system. Most of the ideas of reforming the system seem to be irrelevant or destructive rather than useful in providing the public with a good education for the children. It is evident that even if the political interests of the lobbyists fail to take effect, the reforms would fail or even take down the current education system (Reese 73).

Cultural and social trends within American society are some of the areas that cause the problems in the education system. According to some critics, the social and cultural trends in the United States, which began in the 1960s, destroy the discipline in the schools, cause a decline of moral basis for public education and destruction of a national consensus on what American public schools should teach.

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There seems to be some truth in this argument because American society has changed dramatically since the era of baby boomers and the massive recognition of excessive child rights (Reese 67). However, this argument does not provide a detailed explanation of the reason why students fail to gain communication and computational skills required of them if they must succeed in the job market.

In addition, most capitalistic critics of the education system tend to believe that the problem can be solved if the market competition is applied in public schooling. They are of the opinion that this will allow the public to hold all the relevant institutions responsible for the individual performances (Reese 107). In the view of good performance among individual students and the public education system, the argument seems to be a good way of ensuring that the school system is held accountable for its own performance and that the results are a priority when making policies (Reese 102).

However, its long-term impact is still doubtable because it tends to ignore the impact of government policies, which tends to inhibit the success of the schooling system (Reese 102). Schools will never succeed when the government policy is still imposing rigid measures and, personnel rules, regulations and bureaucratic mandates on the schools and the education system.

In conclusion, the problems facing the education system are a product of a number of issues, ranging from the social, economic and political issues that lack proper methods to reform the system, poor planning, and inability to hold a consensus on how American can drive its education system.

Works Cited

Hochschild, Jennifer and Nathan Scovronick. The American Dream and the Public Schools. New York: Oxford University press, 2011. Print.

Reese, William. America’s Public Schools: From the Common School to “No Child Left Behind”. Washington, DC: JHU press, 2010. Print

Rogers, Laurie. Betrayed: How the Education Establishment Has Betrayed America and What you do about it. Mason, OH: Cengage learning

Smith, Winfield. The Rise and fall of Public Education in America: The Interdependence of Public Education and Society. Philadelphia: AuthorHouse, 2006. Print.

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