Educational Programs In The United States Education Essay

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Educational programs in the United Sates is mainly governmental, which is controlled and financed on the three different levels: federal governmental control, state governmental control and local governmental control. The literacy rate in the United States is 98%, but according to the census held in 2003 only 84,6% over 25 years old had secondary education, 52, 5 got higher education and 27,3% got bachelor degree: "32 million adults in the USA - about one in seven - are saddled with such low literacy skills that it would be tough for them to read anything more challenging than a children's picture book or to understand a medication's side effects listed on a pill bottle" (Toppo, 2009). The poor statistics also touched higher educational establishments too: "Just 54 percent of students entering four-year colleges in 1997 had a degree six years later - and even fewer Hispanics and blacks did, according to some of the latest government figures" (Associated Press, 2005). American Education system is one of the most expensive in the whole world, but economists and scientific researches hesitate in its efficiency: "In 2000, the US spent over $10,200 for every elementary school student. In other developed countries, the spending was just over $6,000. Overall, the US holds second place by the percentage of GDP (7%) spent on education in 2000. Since George Bush became President, government spending on education rose $11 billion to $147.9 billion in 2002. In 2002 alone, $26.5 billion was spent on elementary and middle schools. Of this amount, $1 billion was designated for reading improvement programs" (WasingtonProfile, 2004). The result is unsatisfactory, statistics gives bad prognosis for its further development too: "Our high schools are simply not designed to prepare all students for college learning, hi-tech workplaces and 21st century citizenship" (Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation). It is a well known fact that the preventive measures are undertaken, but the majority of investigators consider that reorganization and reformation is needed and it certainly should follow certain demands: "States should support different high school design approaches, but all high schools might share the same goal - to prepare all students for successful transitions to careers, college and citizenship" (Achieve, Inc. and National Governor's Association, 2005). The aim of this essay to draw out reforming of the secondary education, providing examples of successful solution and examine the reasons of the decay

The Row of Problems that Negatively Impact the Secondary Education of the United Sates

It won't be a secret that one of the most problematic zones in the secondary education is dropout rate increasing: "Every year our country looses thousands of young people - students who leave school without graduating, or without knowledge to success in this life" (Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation) Alongside with the poor results, out-of-field teaching and lack of funding actually form negative statistics: "Over the past couple of years, the problem of out-of-field teaching has become a prominent topic in the realm of educational policy and reform, and the results of this research have been widely reported and commented on both by education policymakers and the national media" (Ingersoll, 1999, p. 26). One of the five Americans could hardly read the simple text. Disturbing signals have appeared earlier, yet in the 90-s of the 20th century. And the subject connected on the educational problem is studied deeply. Different commissions were formed and we can learn about the results of their work: "The National Education Commission on Time and Learning found that most American students spend less than half their day actually studying academic subjects. The commission's two-year study found that American students spent only about 41 percent of the school day on basic academics. Their schedules jammed with course work in self-esteem, personal safety, AIDS education, family life, consumer training, driver's courses, holistic health, and gym, the typical American high school student spends only 1,460 hours on subjects like math, science, and history during their four years in high schools. Meanwhile, their counterparts in Japan will spend 3,170 hours on basic subjects, students in France will spend 3,280 on academics, while students in Germany will spend 3,528 hours studying such subjects - nearly three times the hours devoted in American schools" (Sykes, 1999, p. 215). It is not a surprising result motivation has always been serious reason for educational system. Lack of motivation adds to the problems listed above. "There is also more to say about their relationships with the state in different contexts, although it is important to strike out into new directions with fresh assessments of their dealings with private schools and to understanding the drivers of selection and inequality in a supposedly nonselective and equal system" (Franklin & McCulloch, 2007, p. 203).

It should be also noted that difficult relations between different racial and ethnic groups within the secondary educational establishments, also remain unsolved in the US.

The following would illustrate the situation in American High Schools: "Now consider that American high schools:

Allow one-quarter of students to read below basic levels

Fail to graduate 30% of their students

Prepare far fewer low-income than high-income students for college" (Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation).

This data perfectly illustrates, what is going on in American education. It should be noted that the United States government does not stay indifferent to the problem in the educational system of the US. NCLB is the last attempt to reform education. The following chapter would briefly describe the program, the difficulties it faced and the success it reached.

Present Day Governmental Reforms in the US Education. NCLB as an Attempt to Solve All Problems at Once

Already in the 21st century educational sphere of social line have passed through the reformation and the best known probably is No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, provided by President George W. Bush Administration, the financing of the project increased in 58%, but the researchers found it not enough, as the law has too many demands to educational establishments. Hence the new strategy has taken few steps, among them a number was aimed on decreasing the situation with drop outs, unskilled teaching and poor literacy level. The core idea of the act is providing effective performing of students and teachers. It is a well known fact that No Child Left Behind Act is the latest federal law dealing with the theories of standards-based education reform, basing on the high standards setting and measurable goals establishment, which help to increase individual income from education. The NCLB Act is aimed on the development assessments of the main skills, spread within all students at the particular grade; these are requirements for the states, if they are intended to get federal funding for school. One of the most positive ideas of this act is the development of individual standards for each particular state, but not national standard. It is essential that such an individual orientation is really significant as every particular area has the problems that significantly differ from the problematic areas of the other region. This individual orientation is really one of the most significant achievements. The following illustrates the main ideas of NCLB

"NCLB Benefits Children, Empowers Parents, Supports Teachers and Strengthens Schools.

All children are counted under NCLB, and schools are responsible for making sure every child is learning.

Parents are given unprecedented information and new options for their children, which may include free tutoring.

Teachers utilize assessment data and scientifically based teaching methods to improve classroom instruction.

Schools identified as in need of improvement receive extra help and resources to raise student achievement" (U.S. Department of Education, 2006).

The number of supportive actions provided by the federal government really helped in many problematic areas, the growth of financing also played a significant role and help to use innovation methods within the secondary education to make school interesting for the children. But it turned out that the lack of financing prevented successful fulfillment of the program. The following chapter would examine personal experience of school superintendent in California's Central Valley John Cruz, facing the problem of drop out rate, which is considered to be one of the most burning in the secondary education

Individual Vision of Reformation of the Secondary Education: Vision of School Superintendent in California's Central Valley, John Cruz

As it was written earlier the increasing drop out rate is one of the most severe problems in cotemporary secondary education. Very important practice is volunteering as a method of reducing students' dropout in the high school. The article deals with personal experience of school superintendent in California's Central Valley John Cruz, who learned that structured approach to volunteering could prevent children's dropping out from school in the district he works: "Mr. Cruz starts children volunteering early. In elementary school, he has them tend the school garden and hatch trout for the depleted population in the San Joaquin River. In high school, they help immigrants study for citizenship tests. Service learning weaves volunteering with specific academic instruction" (The Christian Science Monitor, 2010). And according to the corporation for National and community Service the situation is improving to better and even more public schools offer community service(68 percent of K-12 versus 64 percent in 1999) and some are providing service The research investigating volunteering method showed that is a promising strategy for dropout prevention: "Cruz, who leads the Fowler Unified School District, can attest to that. His award-winning program - combined with other supports for struggling students - has produced a stellar attendance rate of 97 percent and a dropout rate of less than 1 percent, plus improved academic performance. In comparison, about 1 in 3 kids who start ninth grade in Fresno County (where Cruz's district is located) fails to graduate four years later. Cruz says his district is similar to the surrounding area in terms of ethnic makeup (75 percent Hispanic) and income (from very low to middle class)" (The Christian Science Monitor, 2010). Such programs, involving volunteering process could give a number of districts (especially with larger immigrants population) to promote education. Still it needs persistence, as school superintendent John Cruz needed 10 years to develop the program and make it work on different levels, as it involves people of different ages. The idea of using managerial practice (award-winning system) would perfectly develop competitive skills and raise interest, leading to getting new experience and knowledge without being bored and uninterested. That is just one example of the successful challenges and the experience of John Cruz might help to follow the reforms in the educational system. The success of John Cruz was in the fact that he personally developed the system of reformation secondary education in his county, taking into consideration the local factors that can't avoid impacting the development of secondary education. The principles Cruz used for development of effective system could be implemented in other United States cities counties and even states, but it should examine and take into consideration the local factors that are typical for every area.

Conclusion. Personal Vision on the Reforms

Personally I support the idea of providing collaborative practice between personal reformation finding, such as Mr. Cruz experience with dropout decrease and governmental reformation programs. I consider that it would provide successful solutions for the educational systems as sometimes officials are not well aware bout the real state of things: "Many observers of high school emphasized that academics was not at the heart of the student experience" (Chapter 9, America's Public Schools). It would be very hard to disagree with this fact. A number of contemporary reformers do not deal with the life and experience of the secondary education students and that is very important. As it was mentioned earlier every state, every country even every particular school has different programs that are far more different from those in another school that is why the success of the educational reforms lies in individual treatment of every issue. Understanding the role of internal and external factors and their impact of the contemporary educational problems in the United States is really important for providing successful reforms and reorganizations. It would be essential to make a focus on the fact that the system that effectively worked several decades ago could hardly be successful in the contemporary realities. Implementations of the new technical, social and other ideas also impact the education. We could even talk about the fact that the system of secondary education is out of date (Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation). The system got to be reorganized to implement the newest techniques and ideas that could be effectively used in contemporary schooling. NCLB is really huge step toward the reform; hence it needs constant attention, huge financial support and collaboration between the government, the teachers and the students. It has a number of brilliant ideas and time and huge efforts are needed to implement them.