I was raised in the United States. I have a heart for children and specifically a heart for watching them blossom from learning new things. I believe there is nothing like meeting a student on the first day of school. Seeing their joy at all the new friends and new toys, or maybe their terror at all the new friends and new toys. Either way as the teacher you get the opportunity to see the children get excited when they learn new skills and grow into themselves over the year. Somewhere deep down you know that a little bit of this growth was the result of your work. Now, because I have this passion and was raised in the US, I believe education is a great thing that everyone should have access to. However, I am also not ignorant. I realize that not all countries view how, when, and why education should be provided. This is why I want to explore four big questions. These questions include: What content does education focus on in different cultures? What age does schooling start and end at in each country? Who is teaching the students? Is education seen as a positive thing by society?
Today I want to focus on the United States. If you said, “Sami, are you well educated about education practices in the US?” Prior to doing research, I would have said “yes.” Boy, was I wrong. To each of the questions I proposed, I had a pretty good idea as to what the answer would be. However, I had no idea as to why things were the way they were or how skewed the statistics are. A good example of this was seen when I began researching the question “Who is teaching our students?” I knew that the research would say white females. What I did not know, however was to what extent this was true. Finding the demographic data from more recent years was surprisingly difficult. I was able to find data from around 2000. A book called Studying Teacher Education (2005) said that of the teachers surveyed, “74.5% of public school teachers were female” “…public school teachers were predominantly white…(84%). Of the remaining proportion, 7.8% were African American, 5.7% Hispanic, 1.6% Asian American, and .8% Native American.” When researching I was unable to find national data, but I was able to find data in different areas of the US which indicated that slowly the teacher profession was beginning to be a little more diverse. At this point in time this progression has not caught up to the students’ diversity.
Next, I decided to look into what age education starts at for most US students. The answer to this question can be found through the Compulsory Attendance Act of 1852. Since then it has been modified a few times to change the amount of time each student needs to put in each year, what age they must begin school, and when they are allowed to withdraw. The act began in one state and took a few years, but eventually all US states put into play a similar policy. The attendance policy in Orange County is a very clear example of this act.It an be found in their attendance policy and procedures manual. It clearly states that “All youths between the age of 6 and under 18 (under 16) per Florida statute 1003.21 must attend school. Students aged 16 and 17 are not required to attend school when and if a formal declaration of intent to terminate school enrollment form and doe exit survey is on file with the district, and must be completed by Parent/Guardian and Student. Students 18 and over are not required to attend school.” Many other students begin school as early as two and a half, but they are not legally required until around age six (depending on the district).
Next, it’s time to answer the question of “How does the US view education?” As I previously stated I am from America and grew up in its society. Each area of the US has a different society which may have different views on schooling. With that aside I can assure you that the nation as a whole believes that education is incredibly important. There by no means did I find articles titled “America Loves Education and Thinks it is Great!”, but because there were an abundance of articles, papers, theories, and videos on how to make the education system better. The nation as a whole would probably agree that the education system is not incredible. However, if we didn’t believe it was important there wouldn’t be so much passion behind making it better. Examples of these articles are The New York Times article titled “How to Fix the Country’s Failing Schools. And How Not To.” or Forbes’ article titled “How To Fix Education In America“.
This leaves us with the final question: “What content does the US value in their schools?” While researching about how education is done in other areas of the world I learned there are different views on what should be taught in school and what should be taught at home. Growing up in the US I can say that the whole nation does not agree unanimously. I read an interview by the superintendents of the Worcester, MA public school system in the Worcester Mag Online (2016) on what they would like to focus on with the implementation of “ Common Core”. Maureen Binienda was quoted describing how she would implement new things allowing the school to “Focus on engaging students and rigorous curriculum.” Another superintendent, Dr. Kerry Mulcahy, stated “I think our number one focus should be to prepare our young people to get them ready for the world.” When trying to speak for what a nation the size of the US as a whole believes, it is hard. Overall, I think it depends on the needs of the students and very dependent on what the students family life is like.
What do you think about the US education system? Should kids start going to school out of the womb? What about at age 12? Should schools be teaching kids morals?
Cochran-Smith, Marilyn, and Kenneth M. Zeichner. “3.” Studying Teacher Education: The Report of the AERA Panel on Research and Teacher Education. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2005. N. pag. Print.
Kirp, David L. “How to Fix the Country’s Failing Schools. And How Not To.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 09 Jan. 2016. Web. 18 Mar. 2016.
“Live Blog: Worcester Superintendent Interviews – Worcester Mag.”Worcester Mag. N.p., 07 Mar. 2016. Web. 18 Mar. 2016.
Orange County Public Schools . Attendance Policy and Procedures. 2105. Print.. Attendance Policy and Procedures. 2105. Print.