Education Only for the Few, the Lucky, and the Privileged

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I believe that one way that we can combat the conflict we see in underdeveloped areas doesn’t involve guns or soldiers, but simply education. According to a report released by the UN, 48% of the worlds population is under the age of 24. Most of the countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, Middle East, and North Africa’s population are made up predominantly young people. With youth being vulnerable in war-torn societies and the lack of education and employment, many see their only option for survival being to join gangs or become child soldiers. (UNOY) So the question I purpose is can education help combat conflict and reduce violent crime?

 

In 2010 one report states that 6 people are murdered per day in Honduras, 8 in El Salvador and 14 in Guatemala.  While these statistics are especially grime when we learn that a report realize by the WHO estimated that the homicide rates for young men in these countries were among the highest. In Rio de Janeiro, more then 6,000 youth between the ages of 10-18 have been estimated to be involved with gangs and the almost 4 million incarcerated though that region are young, uneducated men with little to none labor market skills. (Dammert)

 

This is the sad reality for many young adults and children in low income, underdeveloped areas. According to an article reported by BBC there’s about a 100-year gap between the developed and underdeveloped world (Winthrop). This is mostly because the only ones who are allowed to access forms of education are the few, the lucky and the privileged. Even though these kids are enrolled it doesn’t actually account for if their actually learning anything. It also doesn’t look at the lives of each of these children. Most of the programs set up are built from a western perspective. The problem with this is we don’t have to worry about retrieving water from a well, or even the miles needed to be walked just to get to and from class, and while school is suppose to be free that doesn’t account for the supplies needed that most families just don’t have the resources or income to acquire.. While education in the sense of books smarts is hugely important, it only goes so far and children often times drop out before they reach the 5th grade and a large percentage of them still can’t even read.

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     So what can be done about this? I believe there has to be a different approach to education in the developing world, but don’t take my word for it. I found an interesting paper written by two professors, one at Rice University and the other at Portland State University and they had and interesting perspective on redefining education in the developing world. Their ideas focused around schooling these children with things that ae relevant in their lives, not the Western model of education that is often times taught. They believe that students in these impoverished regions don’t need academic skills so much as life skills that enable them to improve their quality of life. They do this through teaching life skills like financial literacy and entrepreneurial skills; health maintenance and management skills; and administrative capabilities, such as teamwork, problem solving, and project management. (Epstein and Yuthas) The article was really interesting and I encourage anyone reading this with interest in this topic to check it out!

 

One thing that researching this has taught me is to check my privilege and be thankful for the educational opportunities that I have. Coming from a middle of the pack, middle class family I’ve always had to work for everything that I wanted, especially attending a school like Clark. As I reflect on my own pathetic self-wallowing that I have been doing these last 6 weeks while working 40+ hours a week and finishing up my classes. I realize just how lucky I am even when I haven’t always felt so. I am privileged to have had an education that prepared me for university. I am privileged enough to have a career opportunity that allows me to pay for the school I am attending. I am privileged to have transportation for work and school. I am privileged to attended a school that will prepare me for the world ahead. I am privileged when so many before me are not, so if you’re reading this way after the semester has ended or maybe you stumbled upon this on accident I encourage you to check your privileged even if you don’t think you have any and use that to fuel you in fighting the inequalities that so many face.

 

Work Cited:

Epstein, Marc, and Kristi Yuthas. “Redefining Education in the Developing World (SSIR).” Redefining Education in the Developing World. Stanford Social Innovation Review, 9 Feb. 2012. Web. 16 July 2016.

Winthrop, Rebecca. “Global ‘100-year Gap’ in Education Standards.” BBC News. BBC, 29 Apr. 2015. Web. 16 July 2016.

United Network of Young Peacebuilders. Agreed Language on Youth, Peace and Security. Rep. New York: United Nations, 2012. Print.

Dammert, Lucia. “Can Education Reduce Violent Crime?” Americas Quarterly. N.p., Fall 2010. Web. 15 July 2016.

The Chicago Teachers Union and the Global Fight for Public Education

Rahm Emmauel. Yes, he is as evil as he looks. – Image from Front Page Mag

Last week, my friend Kyle and I chose to drive to Chicago for the one-day, “illegal” Chicago Teacher Union (CTU) strike on Friday, April 1. Although the absurdity of spending 15 hours in a car each way (yes, 30 hours!) with only one other driver and just over a day in the city was alluring (think of all the hilarious stories we would have!), the central reason Kyle and I chose to go to Chicago was for the magnitude of the strike.

The 25,000 member CTU has been at the forefront of the fight for public education since 2012, when the union participated in a 10 day strike for public schools. The teachers’ struggles come in response to neoliberal education agenda reforms driven by Chicago’s Democratic Mayor, Rahm Emmanuel, and Governor Bruce Rauner, in collusion with private enterprises and the banks.  The policies pushed forward by the two, and which I recognize as “neoliberal,” include privatization, commodification, and competition in public education. In other words, neoliberal reforms in the city attempt to bring the mass enterprise of public (i.e., publicly owned and managed) education into the market system. I’ll outline the policies below.

Chicago Public Schools (CPS) is currently in the midst of a $1.5 billion deficit. Although the deficit sounds dire, teachers claim, and rightly so, that the deficit is a manufactured crises; a result of the misused of tax funds, low tax rates on business and high income earners, predatory bank lending, and the complete disregard for the crises by city and state to resolve the issue (CTU 2015). But why has CPS and Rahm ignored such a devastating crises? Parents, students and teachers surely have raised a ruckus about the lack of funds. The goal is to create a CPS  “Shock Doctrine”. When a crises situation is created, Rahm and his appointed school board are able to label CPS as “failing” schools, and promote an alternative, private, “more efficient” model for public schools. This has played out primarily through the closing of public schools and the proliferation of charter schools, privately managed (i.e., undemocratic) and publicly funded schools. Schools closing and private schools openings have disproportionately taken place in low-income neighborhoods of color, and effected elementary schools. These schools also have the highest percentage of teachers of color (primarily black teachers) and women. Thus, school actions are clearly gendered, racialized, and drawn upon class lines (Caref et al 2012). Charters schools are often non-union, have no community accountability, increase school segregation, and often have curriculum focused on standardize testing.

Most recently, Rahm proposed the layoff of 5,000 CTU teachers in order to  push through an increase in teacher contributions to pension funds in the current CTU-CPS contract negotiations. The increase would equate to a 7 percent teacher pay cut (Colson 2015). Cuts in the pension make individual teachers solely responsible for retirement and reducing the state’s obligation to public sector workers. The pension cuts fall within the context of the Illinois state budget “crises”. The state has yet to pass a budget for 2016, due to the Governors refusal to remove mass cuts to public services, pensions, and restrictions of union rights. 

So Chicago teachers chose to strike in the midst of contract negotiations with CPS, to pressure the Governor to pass a budget which did not include mass cuts to public services, and the subsequent privatization of these services. Additionally, CTU encouraged every worker in Chicago to withhold their labor and pressure the Governor as well. Firstly, it is illegal for a union to strike during contract negotiations until impasse has been declared in bargaining, as it is illegal to strike to pressure state government or engage in a solidarity strike. This level of labor militancy is unprecedented in the United States and shows a new level of class militancy in Chicago as citizens strike and stand in solidarity with CTU for public services, which the 1 percent who wishes to privatize and profit off of. Chicago’s working class offensive became strikingly (no pun intended) clear with the number of unions and community organizations who expressed solidarity with CTU, and the tens-of-thousands of people who marched together in the rain on April 1.

But why are 25,000 striking teachers in Chicago relevant to international development? Besides that fact that the action is astounding and unprecedented (as if I haven’t expressed that enough. I’m a fan!), the Chicago strike is in the belly of the beast, not just the United States, but the city of Chicago where Milton Freeman and a number of other economists helped make popular neoliberal ideology. When Chicago teachers struggle over pensions, school privatizations and racial and class injustice, they directly challenge neoliberal ideology globally. Much of the knowledge production that informs the development policy of the World Bank, IMF, and many Western NGOs originates in the global North. Thus, when CTU strikes, neoliberal ideology which restructures developing countries is directly challenged in the home country of development agencies, as well as bodies like the IMF and World Bank which the U.S. holds considerable control.

Secondly, due to the prevalence of neoliberal ideology in development practice, there are a number of similarities between education in Chicago and abroad. Chile provides one of the starkest examples. Neoliberalism’s “testing ground” in the 1980s, Chile has more private (charter-esque) schools than public schools, emphasizes school competition like a business model, a distressing levels of school segregation (Cabalin 2012). Neoliberal ideology is also seen in the World Bank’s “Education Strategy for 2020”. The Strategy’s policy brief emphasizes the participation of the private sector in education, and suggests more community run education programs. The implications of community education is that the Bank disregards the responsibility of states to provide public education, and opens room for more private sector involvement to a public right.

The CTU strike represents not only a struggle over the immediate needs of Chicago students and teachers, but a struggle over the hegemonic ideology used in development policy. When neoliberal education reforms face strong resistance in the United States, it becomes more difficult to apply this ideology abroad. Secondly, the struggle of Chicago teachers shows the deepening of neoliberal policy in the United States which has devastated developing countries globally. The increase in struggle clearly shows that people globally are upset with neoliberal development. If teachers in Chicago can adopt an international outlook which connects neoliberal policies abroad with those in the states, linkages between these seemingly separate movements can begin to challenge and dismantle the ideology which has privatized and commodified public education, opening new opportunities for rebuilding our public systems.

References

Cabalin, Cristian. 2012. “Neoliberal Education and Student Movements in Chile: inequalities and malaise.” Policy Futures in Education 10(2).

Caref, Carole, Sarah Hainds, Kurt Hilgendorf, Pavlyn Jankov and Kevin Russell. 2012. “The Black and White of Education in Chicago’s Public Schools.” CTU, Novermber 30.

Colson, Nicole. 2015. “Rahm threatens mass teacher layoffs.” Socialist Worker, September 30.

CTU. 2015. “Broke On Purpose: Board of Ed continues to peddle budget myths to justify its starving classrooms.” CTU, May 5.

Dimaggio, Anthony. “Illinois’ Manufactured Budget Crises.” Counter Punch, February 11.

Robertson, Susan. 2007. ” ‘Remaking the World’: Neoliberalism and the Transformation of Education and Teachers’ Labour.” Center for Globalisation, Education and Societies. 

World Bank. 2011. “Learning for All: Investing in People’s Knowledge and Skills to Promote Development – World Bank Group Education Strategy 2020.” World Bank Group.

Cambodia Fights Back

In 2015 Michelle Obama took a trip to Cambodia and “…met with 10 girls who shared tales of rising early to feed their families and help with farming before heading off on long treks to school and studying late into the night.” ( Michelle Obama, 2015) I don’t know about you but I have a lot of respect for the girls who work this hard to go to school. My best friend from home is a first generation American. Her parents grew up in Cambodia and went to school there. Even though they only did some of their education in Cambodia they still were raised in the culture and have family connections there. Her parent came to the US in 1982. I have spent a large amount of time in their house over the past few years. It has been interesting to see their views on the world including education and see their knowledge of english.The father’s english is still pretty rough and works in a local factory, however the mother works in the passport center and has no problems communicating in english. In result to growing up around these people and noticing the differences I decided to research why these results may be.

In the beginning stages of research I came across an article which discussed the education reform which is taking place currently in Cambodia. “The ESP 2014-2018 has an increasing focus on the expansion of Early Childhood Education, expanding access to quality secondary and post-secondary education and Non-Formal Education, Technical and Vocational Education.” ( M.,2014)This plan was implemented a new minister of education entered the office in 2014. This man is named Hang Chuou Naron and the plan he implemented not only focused on the previously mentioned aspects but “He wants to end corruption in Cambodia’s schools.” ( Robbins, 2015) When I read that his goal was to crack down on corruption i had some doubt however when talking to my friends mom I learned that his plan was actually making a difference. Oum Sang (2016) said, “The education system in Cambodia is not the same as here. Everyone gets treated different, if you have money you’ll get better education. There’s still corruption going on over there but their government is working very hard to get rid off it for the last couple of years.’ This was encouraging to hear because corruption is something that is so relevant, yet so hard to address.
The ESP is a well laid out plan and made sure to focus on the children who are being damaged by the “…major constraints surrounding the education sector, including the issue of its governance, contribute to sustain a wide gap between stated education policies and actual practice, thus further diminishing working children’s chances to benefit from a school education.” ( Kim, 2011) In order to do achieve this the ESP laid out “seven key sub-sectors: Early Childhood Education, Primary Education, Secondary and Technical Education, Higher Education, Non-Formal Education, Youth Development and Physical Education and Sport.” ( M., 2014)

In addition to corruption the new minister of education also pointed out that education has not been successful in the past because it is so deeply connected with Cambodia’s economic development. He identifies that there is a skills mismatch in Cambodia. “So we have investors coming in; they look for [a] skilled labor force – we don’t have enough. But at the supply side we have many graduates that cannot find jobs.” ( Robbins, 2015) The economic struggles of the country of course also affect the access and quality of children’s education. Luckily through the new minister of education and the ESP the areas of weak funding have been identified. In result, the “ teachers now earn an average of 550,000 riel a month. That is about $137 in American money. In May 2015, their minimum salary ​will increase to 650,000 riel, or about $162. The overall budget for education will increase to $440 million.” ( Robbins, 2015 ) You may be wondering (as I was) where such a large sum of money will come from. To answer this question I discovered that “The Asian Development Bank… is a new resource for Cambodia’s education reform. The bank is giving ninety million dollars to Cambodia over the next five years.” ( Robbins, 2015)

The ESP recognizes that education reform and this abundance of money can not make a successful change if not used wisely and with the corporation from all parties involved. In result they will focus on “implement the strengthening of the partnership between the Government and communities and parents, the development partners, the private sector and non-governmental organizations.” ( M, 2014)

This plan sounds like it will be a great improvement and from Oum Sang’s testimony I learned that she still has family in Cambodia, so she has an idea of what education is like currently. She said “I think they have a better education system these days.” The fact that she has seen a change is very encouraging. However it is no secret that coming back from a “73.6% literacy rate” (of the entire population), lots of corruption, and the government only spending 2.6% of their budget on education is no easy thing to come back from. ( Cambodia, n.d. )

Do you believe that Cambodia will be able to make a comeback? How would you go about fixing such complex issues?

 

Sweden’s Superior Education

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( This graph shows where Sweden is ranked in teacher pay.)

My current career goal is to become an elementary school teacher. I have been through quite a few education courses in the past few years. During these classes we discussed the strengths and weaknesses of the US school system. We also spent time looking at countries whose educations systems excel. During these discussions Sweden was often brought up. In result to this I decided to really delve into the differences between Sweden and the other countries we have looked at. The first vantage point I want to look at is basic demographics of the teachers. The second point will be from an economic standpoint, and the third will be from a social standpoint.

I was surprised to find that Sweden actually landed pretty close to the US when comparing teacher demographics. The Guardian (a newspaper in Britain) posted an amazing blog, which compared many aspects of schooling in different countries. The graphs showed that 66.5% of teachers are female, the average age of teachers is 46, students per classroom average at 2, and the average teacher has 16 years of teaching experience (Marsh, 2014). In result to these statistics being so similar to the US I was curious as to what was making the difference in Sweden’s school systems success.

In result to Sweden being an economically stable country and a country whose citizens ( the majority at least) do not need to worry about simply making ends meet, this allows them to realistically enforce school attendance laws and provide free education for everyone. In my preliminary research I found the Swedish school system website. Currently the very top of the page has the following quote.  ” From the age of six, every child has equal access to free education in Sweden. The Swedish school system is regulated through the Education Act, which ensures a safe and friendly environment for students. The act mandates nine years of school attendance for all children from the year they turn seven.”  This act and attendance policy does not explain the difference in schooling in quality can not be the explanation however because these are similar findings to America’s. Next, I decided to check out how the Swedish government uses it’s funds in relation to education.

          I thought maybe the difference would be found in the amount of funding the government is providing elementary education with in particular. I found that during 2011 Sweden’s annual expenditure for primary schools only $10295 (equivalent to USD) which is higher than the average expenditure for other countries ( Education at a Glance, 2014) . This could not be the solution because the same study found that the US spends even more at $10958 dollars per year (Education at a Glance, 2014). Finally, from the economic stand point I thought maybe it was the pay in which teachers received. I figured that maybe if teachers got paid more they would be more willing to put in the extra time to make excellent lesson plans. Sadly, for the Swedish teachers and my hypothesis, this was not the case. The median salary for teachers in Sweden is a whopping $31.60, this is dismal compared to what the poorly paid teachers in the US make which is $41.46 (Marsh, 2014). In result the hunt continued.

        Next, I decided to look at the social factors which affect the education systems and how students view their education. From the reading I did I found that Sweden’s education system gives the students a great deal of leeway deciding what direction they want their education to go in. This is realistic because of a few cultural factors, first the culture impress the need for education on it’s youth and the parents are very engaged/ child centered. I found that this culture of intrinsic values is implemented at a young age. A policy profile for education in Sweden discusses that “An important task of the preschool is to impart and establish respect for human rights and the fundamental democratic values on which Swedish society is based. Each and every person working in the preschool should promote respect for the intrinsic value of each person as well as respect for the environment.” (Taguma, 2013).

        This is not all good though, found one reading which said that many Scandinavia students are being raised not understand that the world isn’t all about them. In some cultures this trait may even be desired, however “The Swedish minister of education is calling for more discipline in schools.“ (Hansegard, 2014) Because the“Swedish-school results have been falling in international comparisons and Swedes look enviously at countries like Finland, which has more discipline in schools and where teachers retain an old-school authority they have lost in Sweden.” (Hansegard, 2014).  Finally, I came to the realization that the Swedish school system isn’t actually superior. They are by no means one of the worst systems, however they are not the superpower I originally thought. Looks like my hunt for a superior education system continues.

Have you heard of techniques that worked really well in other countries? What were they? What about your education system did you find worked really well?

 

Resources:

Hansegard, J. (2014, February 10). Is Sweden Raising a Generation of Brats? Retrieved April 02, 2016, from http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052702303519404579354801246309702

Education at a Glance 2014. (n.d.). Retrieved April 02, from https://www.oecd.org/unitedstates/United States-EAG2014-Country-Note.pdf  

Education in Sweden. (2015). Retrieved April 02, 2016, from https://sweden.se/society/education-in-sweden/

Marsh, S. (2014, September 05). How the job of a teacher compares around the world. Retrieved April 02, 2016, from http://www.theguardian.com/teacher-network/teacher-blog/2014/sep/05/how-the-job-of-a-teacher-compares-around-the-world  

Taguma, M., Litjens, I., & Makowiecki, K. (2013, May 02). Quality Matters in Early Childhood Education and Care. Retrieved April 01, 2016, from https://www.oecd.org/edu/school/SWEDEN policy profile – published 05-02-2013.pdf

 

 

Dominican Republic Fights Back

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Recently my roommate went on a trip called CAST, which is a service trip the athletes of Clark University go on. This trip takes place in the Dominican Republic. While there she noticed that the children were often running around in their school uniforms, yelling and having a blast, but never saw them actually going to school. This made me wonder what the percentages of kids from different income brackets go to school. At what age they are allowed to enter school and when do most leave?

An article that is based in Germany gave a very insightful look into the aspects which make getting a quality education difficult for the children in the DR. “…the Dominican Republic struggles with overcrowded classrooms in shoddy facilities. There’s a high dropout rate, an outdated curriculum, overage students who fail classes and have to repeat grades, among other problems. But perhaps the most worrying issue is poorly trained teachers.” (Manning, 2014)

The article goes on to discuss the domino effect of low funding. With low pay, this creates a lack of teachers. In addition to this they face a poor curriculum and a culture which does not foster education. Principal Felix Sanchez was quoted saying “I would say it’s something about our country’s culture. A lot of the time, families don’t understand the importance of their children’s educational responsibilities.” (Manning, 2014) In result to this the article also threw out the reality that “Across the country, about 40 percent of boys and girls leave school before eighth grade. Even those who get through high school and complete 12 years of school start college at a sixth-grade reading level, according to a Dominican university study.” (Manning, 2014)

After reading about the abundance of issues this article brought up I was amazed to see the recorded literacy rates the education policy and data center published. These statistics compare low to middle income countries to each other. “…Dominican Republic ranks at the 33 percentile in access and at the 57 percentile in learning.” Figure 9 compares youth and adult literacy rates and shows that, in Dominican Republic, the literacy rate is 97% among the youth population; this is lower than the average youth literacy rate in other upper middle income countries. ( EPDC, 2014) I was originally very impressed by the literacy rate of 97% and thought I would look into it a bit further. I am not sure that I got a clear answer. I believe that the data and scale which resulted in such high literacy rates must have been skewed. I have come to this conclusion from what my roommate said she observed during her time in the DR and a quote from an american peace corps worker named Hannah Barrentine. She said “The education system in the Dominican is very poor,” she said. “Many people don’t know how to read, a lot of parents and students are illiterate, so they don’t know how to read at all. My primary assignment is to be a resource for them.”  (Villa, 2016)

Even though the current conditions are not encouraging people have not given up on them.  “Barrentine will be working in the education sector, where the goal is to improve primary literacy by working with teachers, students, and the community. She will “help teachers implement effective strategies for classroom management, literacy instruction, resources development and student-centered learning.” (Villa, 2016) In addition to this the Dominican government and other international organizations are producing policies which they hope will make a difference in the lives of these kids lives.

Recently the DR education policies have focused on gender equality, quality and access to schools. (Access meaning money wise, location and family structure wise). “[The] Dominican Republic was one of the countries that first subscribed the commitments of Jomtien and prepared a national plan of implementation. The Plan, well known as Plan Decenal…” (Gajardo, 2007) This plan set up six international commitments which the DR quickly (in comparison to other similar companies) took on. “The government will build 28,000 new classrooms by 2016, but right now there aren’t enough teachers for the classrooms they already have. Student-teacher ratios in schools with more than 500 students are 78:1 – this accounts for 68 percent of total enrollment for public schools.” (Manning, 2014)

Sadly, a running trend for developing countries is that no matter how great the policies are and how positive the intentions of the government are, laws simply do not work. The people who are really struggling are usually so removed from the government and their policies that the effect does not truly reach the areas which are most affected. Since the laws don’t work, do you think projects that groups like the Peace Corps do have the capability of making a real change? If not, have you ever heard of something that has made a real difference?

 

 

References:

Dominican Republic. (2014). Education Policy and Data Center.

 

Gajardo, M. (2007). Dominican Republic. United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

 

Manning, K. (2014, December 04). Dominican Republic revamps failing education system | Globalization | DW.COM | 12.05.2014. Retrieved March 23, 2016, from http://www.dw.com/en/dominican-republic-revamps-failing-education-system/a-17625149
Villa, J. (2016, February 26). An international volunteer and educator. Retrieved March 23, 2016, from http://www.usatoday.com/story/life/inspire/2016/02/23/international-volunteer-and-educator/80781302/

Education: What Does it Look Like in Each Stage of Development?

stupid apple

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?

References:

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.