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Public Schools Education
Public schools have always been a milestone of the social history of the United States. Despite arguments against them, many education researchers believe they still have an important place in the education process. Schools supervisors play an important role in education with a potential to extend their role in evaluation as needed in education reform. The aim of this essay is to provide a brief yet a comprehensive review on the arguments on public education, school supervision, and evaluation of education and school supervisors.
Supervising and public schools
Public education is a milestone in the US social history. The society is multicultural and ethnically diverse thus; public schools were an endeavor to create a consistent society, starting by young people, through providing a common prospectus coming up from the newly rising Anglo-American culture. The people of the US live a long dated democratic political tradition; therefore, they look at education as a key feature to the principle of equal opportunity.
In addition, because of the capitalist economy is one with high competition, education becomes essential to success. Most Americans translate the phrase public education as run by elected civil authorities, and supported by taxpayers so these schools should provide free education. However, schools, by this definition, did not exist in colonial America. Thus, the roots of public education may have come from British Grammar schools, missionary (Spanish) schools in Mexico and Latin America, and possibly the underground secret (clandestine) schools of black slaves.
Public education systems reflect the society's preconceptions, economic and political conflicts, and social ranking. Therefore, second to national defense, no government-provided service attracted the attention of the public in the US as education does (Encyclopedia of American Social History, 1993).
Arguments on public education
West (1994) looked at the history of public (government financed) education in both UK and the U.S, and came out with statements that disapprove the common notion the state should be the major supervisor and support to education. West (1994) showed that percentage of government spending on school education in UK was almost the same before and after schooling laws in 1830.
The author inferred that measuring the educational output by the ability to read and write shows no large effect of government involvement. In addition, West (1994), claimed the ultimate development of the public education system was essentially the outcome of the endeavors of individuals managing it, motivated by self-interest. Thus, the result was to substitute, not to support and reinforce the earlier private education system.
Young and Block (1999), summarized the arguments in favor of public education, they suggested four categories. The first argument for public education is the assertion that it produces large positive outcome irrespective of cost (economic argument). In other words, by public education rising generations benefit the society as a whole. Therefore, it is logic for the society to share in how to educate, disburse the cost of education, and does not pass on the process completely to private enterprises. In addition, increased economic productivity of educated people reflects on the productivity of the society.
A second channel is that public education ensures the moral ideas, concepts, and beliefs the system needs to put in our children. This may not have a direct economic impact but its effect on crime rates, drug abuse and youth culture is evident if proper guidance and coaching are available. Second argument is that public education is necessary because parents may not be adequately educated to choose suitable schooling for their children (education argument).
However, whether this argument is an advantage to the public system teaching the youth what the public body wants rather that what they or their parents want, remains open to discussion. This argument explains at most one generation of public education, after that this generation should be able to choose an education for their children. Third, the substantial resources of the government are what can provide proper investment in human capital. In addition, even if most parents can afford educating their children, however, the young generation cannot afford to pay education costs for themselves.
A strong argument against a total private system of education (democratic argument) is it endorses and spreads inequality. Children coming from rich backgrounds should not superior education, and added chance of success, irrespective of their skills and abilities. The fact that family environment is a significant forecaster of school performance, increases the effect of this argument. The basic fact remains, since education is important for the public, public education should be available (Young and Block, 1999).
The rationale (philosophy) of school supervision:
The basic objective for education is to provide an environment where all students can learn and eventually become successful and productive members of society. There are six concepts to succeed as a leader of a school and be able to put this philosophy into action: vision, culture, management, community, ethics, and politics.
The choices to lead (supervise or coach) are the teacher’s response of vision of the education philosophy and aim, practical theories and are affected at the same time by the teachers personality and response to certain situations. Keeping this vision ensures that successful leadership leads to students achievements (Sergiovanni, 2006).
Teachers should try to create a tailored plan for all students to ensure that meets everyone’s needs. The classroom teacher’s must oversee this plan by frequent assessments. These assessments will guide instructing the students to ensure making that progress for all students. A supervisor must provide training for teachers, so they meet the eventual goal. (Nanus, 1992).
The culture of the school as a learning community depends on two essential understandings; first, the school is a place where all staff personnel are committed to the success of the school. Second, a learning community is one that accepts others and their differences, and is a community that establishes an environment of good morals as caring and mutual respect. Developing a school culture is a necessity to develop a learning community. In this respect, supervisors represent the model behavior that sets the school culture (Rooney, 2005).
The school community is not only the people within the school, it is the community outside the school related to and mixed up with the school students (as family and community businesses). Thus, the school leader must understand the needs of the community where the school is (Epstein, 1995).
In managing resources, the school leadership must guarantee that all school sections receive satisfactory awareness. A school leader must have a clear vision for student accomplishment and learning curve. Teachers and support staff dealing with students must have a matching vision, as they are members of the school team. School ethics relates mainly to shared and common caring, respect and decency. The school leader must be an ethical role model for those in the school, and must display the spirit of standard morals and professional standards at all times. The leader must be an example to respect, even-handedness, reliance, and integrity in all decisions. This will promote the highest morals and ethics throughout the school personnel and gain parent’s trust (Sergiovanni, 2006).
Supervisors and Education reform:
In education reform, educational supervisors need to add concepts of coaching to the scope of their mission to be able to readjust the notion of educational supervisor. There is no clear definition to educational coaching, yet the term implies teaching, supervising, building, and following up the learning and skill development curve of students. This sounds similar in many ways to supervision, it is true there are connections between ideas and procedures of both terms.
Van Kessel (2007) was more direct in describing the mainstay qualities of coaching. As described by Van Kessel (2007), coaching represents individualized, mutual effort, spotlights students’ progress, and focuses on results. Its center of attention is on developing solutions and not only on analyzing problems. It looks at objectives development and goal establishment in cooperation among the coach, teachers and students.
It needs building up a methodical goal-directed process to advance goal achievement. Further, the coach should motivate student responsiveness to support learning and development. Finally, coaching focuses at stimulating self-directed and self-reflective learning, and at developing self-regulated progress to back unremitting change (van Kessel, 2007, English translation).
Evaluation of education and school supervisors
Defining formative assessment points to the assumptions and actions educators can take based on the results of an assessment; in other words, it is progression of plans and practices following an appraisal. Integrating the perception of formative assessment in education occurred over 35 years ago into the practice of education. In procedural terms, it means that students do not advance to the forecoming learning objective unless they pass an assessment in the present one.
Finishing a specific learning unit, the teacher initiates an exercise based on a standardized teaching method. The teacher conducts an assessment for that unit, based on the students’ results; the teacher then classifies students into those who have mastered the unit and those who are not. For the unsuccessful group, the teacher employs diagnostic information collected from the assessment to apply corrective action usually in the form of directions to support the student’s weaknesses in understanding the subjects of the test.
Thus, an essential point of formative assessment concept is that its main objective is to heighten students’ teaching (William, 2006). Formative assessment may take many forms (verbal, writing, small or focus group…) depending on the aims of evaluation and the students skills teaching aimed to develop (William, 2006).
Summative evaluation, on the other hand, is a product (education) evaluation (Jeffs and Smith, 2005). It aims at evaluating the outcome and efficiency of an initiative, a process or a project (as education). Thus, it emphasizes on the aims and consequences of education. It seeks to clarify if a process working in a certain place can work in another place with the same conditions.
In simple words, Summative evaluation is a way to decide the value of an education program at the end its activities. Thorough complete (comprehensive) testing or widespread all-inclusive (full-field) studies are the common methods of performing summative assessment. Its main use is to collect data on the effect of a running program in society for sometime (Jeffs and Smith, 2005).
Role of supervisors as it relates to evaluation
School supervisors perform three interlinking roles, they are control and assessment, providing support and offer guidance, and take the part of liaison (connection) officer between the higher education authorities and the school. The control function relates closely to inspection, and covers educational and administrative domains. This control function relates to evaluation of teachers and assisting staff.
Support and guidance functions whether to teachers or student need knowledge of evaluation both formative and summative. Connecting schools with higher educational authorities is a form of upright liaison function; however, supervisors can also play a parallel horizontal liaison role spreading ideas and creating a school learning environment among the staff and students. There is an increasing awareness’ that supervisors role should extend to system evaluation because there is a need to education reform and increasing the quality function of the available schools (International Institute of Educational Planning (UNESCO), 2007)
My idea of a school supervisor entails belief, hope, and engagement in students’ interests. My belief is teacher supervision is more like coaching a team coming up with reliable and genuine ideas that can be signs of devotion and real hard work of teachers. I also believe in the important role public schools play in the society and that education reform should start within the school environment first.
My hope is to be able to achieve the high expectations of a school supervisor in advancing students’ learning, share positively in teaching planning and processes, and fulfill my responsibilities in creating a caring and respectable learning environment. I can assess the students’ interests and needs as well as assess the quality of school supervision through performing continuous evaluation.
I will also be able to recognize where I can improve the teachers performance and to prove professional endeavors that will help improving the process of public education. I will have my share in backing the commitments to the state law and policies of board of education as well as the district education guidelines documents.
Encyclopedia of American Social History (Volume 3) (1993). The American Religious Experience. Retrieved 10/06/2008, from <http://are.as.wvu.edu/scopedu.htm#S1>
Epstein, J. (1995). School/family/community partnerships: caring for the children we share. Phi Delta Kappan, 76(9), 701-712.
International Institute of Educational Planning (UNESCO). (2007). Reforming school supervision for quality improvement: Module 2: Roles and functions of supervisors. Paris: IIIEP/UNESCO.
Jeffs, T. and Smith, M. K. (2005). Informal Education. Conversation, democracy and learning (3rd edition). Nottingham: Educational Heretics Press.
Nanus, B. (1992). Visionary leadership: creating a compelling sense of direction for your organization. San Francisco, CA: John Wiley & Sons Inc.
Rooney, J. (2005). School culture: an invisible essential. Educational Leadership, 62(5), 86.
Sergiovanni, T. (2006). The principalship: a reflective practice perspective (5th edition). Boston: Allyn and Bacon.
Van Kessel, L. (2007). Coaching, a field for professional supervisors. Ljetopis socijalnog rada, 14(2), 387-432.
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William, D. (2006). Formative assessment: Getting the focus right. Educational Assessment, 11(3&4), 283-289.
Young, A and Block, W. (1999). Enterprising Education: Doing Away with the Public School System. International Journal of Value-Based Management, 12, 195-207.