Demographics Diversity and Education in Texas

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Demographic shift has a great bearing on several aspects of community development, regional development leading to the state and country development. Texas is one of the states where it will be pertinent to study these aspects as it borders Mexico. Shifting demographics over the years in Texas with respect to population of migrants, graduation from schools, employment rates tell a lot to us with regard to the future development and related planning process.

The Demographic Shift in Texas

The biggest demographic shift seen in Texas is towards growth of population of Hispanics, which was found to have increased by 33% between 2000 and 2008. At the same time, non Hispanic population too has gone up by similar percentage (33.7%) during the same period. However, populations of whites and blacks have gone up by 5.4 and 16.2% respectively. Every county in the state of Texas did not have similar growth. For example in the Dallas County the population of Whites has gone down by 13.7% in contrast to the Hispanic growth of population of 41.6%. (Former Census Director…)

As per 2005 US census, persons of Hispanic origin accounted for 35.31% that belonged to any race. Mexicans are considered to be largest ancestry group in Texas accounting 25.3% with African American and Germans accounting to 10.5% each. English and Scots-Irish are at 7.2% each.

It will be interesting to see how this population shift has affected the school graduation over these years.

In one of the study done by IDRA (Intercultural Development Research Association) during the year 2006-07 across Texas public schools it was found to have attrition rate of around 34%. To further elaborate, around 34% fresh students who enrolled in 2003-04 left school before graduating from a Texas public high school before 2006. The current statewide attrition rate in Texas is seen to be higher than that found during 1985-86 as per study done by IDRA. Higher attrition rates indicate schools' failure to keep students in school. (Texas Public School)

Analysis

Some of the chief findings can be listed as under:

One of every three students left school prior to graduating with high school diploma.

Overall attrition rate has gone up by 3% from 1985-86 to 2006-07

The attrition rates of black students have gone up from 7 to 18 percentage points.

Attrition rates of Hispanic students have remained the same at 45% (Attrition and Dropout rates…)

In view of the diverse ethnic groups and race in Texas, political economy has a significant importance for the growth and development of state. These groups do have diverse religious faiths too. It becomes essential that they work cohesively for the overall objective of growth and development. Besides public school, the State of Texas promotes charter school so that under privileged and deprived too get equal opportunity for the development and growth. Charter schools are attractive because innovative educators have a freedom to develop new and refined approaches to formal education. The state of Texas is one of the leading states in promoting the charter schools and that is indicative from the fact that the state has excused charter schools from certain taxes.

State Board of Education (SBOE) of Texas is a facilitating body for establishing charter schools. Government has to ensure that everybody gets an opportunity without any racial, gender or class bias. It becomes necessary that these diverse groups have a faith in each other. The way European feudal society examined political economy, the ideology and schooling time to time in a social context so is the need to assimilate and bring homogeneity across these diverse ethnic groups and race. Native Americans were most amenable to assimilation through education as mentioned by Jefferson and the same is the need of an hour for having all round growth with full participation of all diverse groups of any race and ethnicity.

Steven Tozer states "schools are complex institutions with varied and intricate relationships to their surrounding communities". While the study of teaching methods and instruction is crucial to proper teacher education, teachers must understand the complex nature and the broader social context of education in order to make decisions about educational goals and methods for themselves. In other words, in addition to learning how to teach, teachers should develop an understanding of the relations between their schools and the larger society in which schools are embedded. Thus school training is based on premise that understanding the context of American schooling in general and Texas in particular can lead to an understanding of what it means to prepare students to enter and live in a democratic society.

Shaping and Improving the Education System

In view of the above demographic shift in Texas, it becomes imperative to develop and implement necessary changes in education system and curriculum, which finally brings equal opportunity for all, elimination of poverty for the class who are deprived and thus opening the door for inclusive growth.

At this juncture, it will be pertinent to take note of the views of some of the renowned educationists who have played a key role in shaping the American schools over the years.

Horace Mann has perhaps instilled most profound impact as an educationist to fulfill the above goals. He felt the need to elevate the moral orientation of the students and he was right in pointing out that it can better be achieved through public schools. He strongly believed that a set of values can be devised for citizens in the proper functioning of democracy and that should be nurtured during the school days of a child. These set of values are not identified with any religious faiths and will always be compatible to all religious beliefs and followings.

Mann emphasized on practical knowledge. He believed that possession of knowledge means one is in charge of his/her destiny. He believed that human beings are separate from all other species in their quest of knowledge, purpose and intelligence and if these are not properly harnessed then life is indeed full of waste.

Mann strongly opposed rote learning as it is not effective and does not bring desired results. He viewed learning as a means to an end which separates us from the animal. (Giants of American Education, pg 7)

His views on education in his Twelfth Annual Report as Secretary of Massachusetts State Board of Education clearly advocated about universal education which will liberate the domination of capital and servility of labor to a large extent.

Educationist James Conant

James Conant put forward special programs for talented students and sorting them as per their ability and proposed academically less talented students for work. Conant also proposed scholarships to academically qualified students. He was concerned about "marginal" students and of the opinion that too many students are likely to contribute to social instability through over-education.

Conant firmly relied on experts as a means to create ideal democratic values and believed in equality of all type of labors. His study of high schools conducted in 1957-58 along with campaign for the book 'The American High School Today' all greatly contributed to the public opinion that comprehensive high schools were fulfilling its mission. He concluded that vocational education was suitable for schools having low economic strength.

John Dewey stressed that the educator must take into consideration that each student is different. Each person has a different past experiences and different genetic settings. For him, education has a broader social purpose and aims at giving freedom along with structure and order to the students and not based on simply whims of the teacher or the students. So according to him it is based on the theory of experience, which is derived from continuity and interaction. Each situation can be experienced differently by different persons because of the uniqueness of each individual. One student may have a liking for one school while another one may hate it and for educator it is essential to understand these situations while presenting the educational situations to them. Thus, the teacher with good understanding of these varied situations likely to help students and provide quality education to the students, which is also relevant to the students. (Experience and education)

In present highly competitive arena, any employer would like to see following from his/her employees.

Comprehension and reading skills

Communication skills - written and oral

Computational skills

Problem solving and decision-making capacity

In order to nurture above skills, it is required to have activity-centered teaching. Students should be trained for intellectual and moral growth with maximum flexibility and freedom in their operations.

Having seen various key issues involved in the reform process, it can be said that the following should be the most central part of the educational reforms process.

Educational disadvantage linked with ethnicity, race, and low family income should not come in between while harnessing the talent of students. Ninety percent of school teachers in U.S public schools are white so educators of all race and cultural orientation need to develop new pedagogies to meet the needs of changing demographics with utmost sincerity.

Highly trained and effective teachers are the need of an hour and most critical ingredient for student's inclusive growth and their performance. Teachers need to develop cultural competencies - should be able to form and develop effective relationships across all race and ethnicity.

Proper monitoring and timely corrective action with appropriate feedback to the students will help achieve higher performance from the students. There has to be constant and genuine interaction between teacher and students so that timely corrective actions keep the diverse race of students in one common stream.

All funding directed for the proper cause and used most effectively towards the attainment of objectives laid down clearly and precisely in a given time frame.

Conclusion

Finally, any public school should come out with an effective mission statement for teachers and school leadership that 'my school is committed to impart an equitable and unbiased educational experience for every student of the school regardless of their gender, race, ability, socioeconomic affiliation, religion, origin, age, or language.'

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