Executive summary

Education has been there for a long time and has been transforming over the years. Generally, education has contributed positively towards nation building and transformation of human life through technological advancement. However, more recently, the education in American high schools has continued to loose its value due to different problems that have invaded the system as well as corrupted students. This trend has grown in the last few decades to a point where students graduating with high school diplomas cannot measure up to the standards of the students from other countries.

One of the problems affecting education in public high schools emanates from poor discipline aided by legislations that paralyse the authority of teachers in schools. America being a multicultural nation has people from different races and ethnicity. Since all children go to the same schools, crashes are inevitable, especially since the size and state of the school is not conducive for learning. The violence that ensues in schools affects even the teachers and sometimes contributes to the plummeting rate of attrition of teachers. To control these situations, parents and teachers should partner with the government to curb this trend and improve the conditions of our high schools.


Introduction

Education is the key to success of a nation as well as the individuals. It gives the country desired human capital that transforms the lives of people within a very short time. In America, education has been valued for a long time and even took the largest budgetary allocation. This has however changed due to the change in a philosophy which showed the benefits of education to belong to the community but now it is seen as benefit to the individual. This is among the factors that have contributed to the poor state of education in America today especially is high schools (Rosenstone,pp.2).

Several problems in high schools have contributed to the degradation of education in America. All the problems are associated with the social and economic factors of students in different public high schools. Some of the measures that the government has put in place to try to combat the problems have been found to act as sources of more problems. Private schools that have emerged as a resultof poor education standardsin public schools perform better than the public schools ran by the government. This discussion gives an insight of problems, mainly curricular, which are commonly encountered in different high schools across the country.

Common problems in high school

Number of students

Teaching takes place more effectively when the teacher-student interaction exist. For this to happen, a teacher should handle a class of a few students. However, this is not possible in American public schools where the population is too big for one teacher to effectively handle. Due to the expanded class population some students do not get a change to interact with teachers on personal level.consequently, the teacher does not get to know the weaknesses and strengths of these students who may end up performing poorly. It is also important to note that the classrooms are too small to effectively handle the big class population. As a result, students end up learning uncomfortably and without motivation (Shaw,para.1).

Education curriculum and syllabus

In my high school, teachers only issued examinations based on the syllabus and could not set anything in a different format. As a result of this the examinations done were always a repetition of what had previously been done by the class of the previous fall. This was a flawed system since some students would miss classes only to show up during the examination sessions and they hardly failed the tests. They would graduate with high school diplomas though they were intellectually incompetent. Luckily most of them were not willing to go to college otherwise American education would continue to deteriorate. My opinion of such a system as stipulated by the education department is unfair to both students and teachers. Being mandatory, some of the students who went to universities were unmerited while students from poor families especially African-Americans missed places in the universities (Johnson,para.5).

The turnover in teaching is quite high, the attrition rates of teachers is alarmingly fast as compared to new willing teachers. Statistics indicate that almost half the number of teachers being employed in American schools today is a replacement of teachers who have quit from different causes other than retirement. Furthermore, the teachers being employed quit the profession less than five years after employment.  This being the case in my former high school as well as many other public high schools we lacked dedicated teachers and most usually teachers quit before students got used to them (Boyer and Hamil,para.1).

Multiculture

Most of the students in my high school were white although there was still a sizeable percentage of coloured students especially blacks and Asians. Most of this students came from poor neighbourhood in the suburbs and usually their parents were single mothers. Even though most of the students did not realize then that some of the students came to school hungry, it is now clear to most. Lack of the government to facilitate multicultural education to our schools contributed to some of the violence the school experienced from crashes between students of different ethnicity. Some of the white students were almost always up to mischievious deeds towards the black students. This prejudism and discrimination met on these students does not auger well with the principles of education in America yet no effort was put by the teachers to stop the vice. This could have been due to diminished power on teachers to administer discipline or simply because there were no coloured teachers  (Shaw,para.2).

Discipline

The shift of authority from the teacher to the control of the students has created a new trend of violence in schools. Students will commit atrocities even in the presence of their teachers knowing well that the teacher cannot dare lift a hand to punish them. Incidentally, this new system of running schools has also led to the victimisation of teachers by their students. Apparently the teacher is expected to report any wrongdoings commited by the students to the authorities for prosecution (Gatto,pp.7).

The result of this was increased violence in American schools where students even carried weapons to school to settle scores with their grudging peers. The government in turn responded to this development by installing security measures like metal detectors at school gates as well as uniformed police patrol. This kind of environment therefore becomes unconducive for learning due to the general fear created by the presence of security officers or the reminder by their presence of looming danger (Johnson,para.2).

During high school days some students who had come into contact with some of the security officers dropped out of school. This mostly happened to black students who were always found on the wrong probably due to prejudice or the nature of the lifestyle in the places they came from. It is important to note that violence was and still is the order of the day in most ghettos where some of the students in my high school resided.  The fear for the security guards was not limited to the minority but also to the majority students. Students were always uneasy and uncomfortable when the guards were around.

Recommendations

Class population

The classes in public high schools are too small for the large number of students being admitted due to free and compulsory education. However, it is important for each American to get quality education. Since it is not logical to build new classrooms whenever the rate of admission goes up, administrators in public schools should come up with time schedules where different students come to class at different hours so that they can effectively make use of the existing facilities.

In as much as this is a brilliant idea, challenges may arise from lack of enough teachers and consequent overburdening of the existing ones. Also students in America usually attend classes for four hours a day. If the student population is too high the possible three shifts in a day may not be enough to cover for all the students. As a result of this and the fact that most parents would not allow night classes, restructuring of class setup and arrangement may be a solution to the discomfort created by crowding.


Violence

The best way of curbing violence nationally is first by ending violence in schools. Since most of the students from the poor and barbaric ghettos dropout of schools due to fear of the security officers, violence still prevails. Therefore another approach should be encouraged for ending violence.it is worth mentioning that education promotes civilisation and therefore peaceful coexistence. This aspect of education is what gradually ends violence, racial and ethnic discrimination (Mann,pp.10). Parents should be responsible for the displine of their children and therefore should partner with school administration to control their behaviors.

Although the presence of security officers and other machineries like metal detectors have reduced the cases of violence within the school environs, there have been reports of students waylaying fellow students outside the schools and commiting atrocities they could not do in school. What this points out is that the problem is far from being solved. If teachers and parents had a mechanism to communicate and administer counseling and sometime punishments, such cases would end. For instance, in private high schools, rules recorded on the admission forms are followed to the letter due to fear for suspension or expulsion. Parents ensure their children are well behaved since incase of expulsion fees paid are not refundable (Price, para.14).

Although corporal punishment in school is not good, it should be noted that before it was abolished displine was observed even when teachers were not employing this measure. The legislation which tied the hands of teachers so that even the control of the classroom was for the teacher only because students let them should be scrapped and more sensible rules implimented. This authority of teachers could improve the behaviors of students through the simple fact that teachers have the control of the students as far as they are within the school. These measures could include suspension or even expulsion if the former fails.

Syllabus

The world is changing economically as well as technologically and so are academics. Using the same system for decades only makes the education to lug behind. This can be seen by the level of knowledge students from other countries have over American students. It would be good to set up a commission that regularly reviews the education system so that American education is always up-to-date.  Teachers should be able to set their class standards and even offer exams based on whatever is learned in class and even the environment. This enables students to be creative and innovative.

Attrition

Teachers quit jobs sometimes before five years are over since their date of employment. It is ridiculous to say that they simply loose interest in a career they train for four years. According to this infornation the underlying reason is the standard of life as compared to the wages paid to teachers. Most of the teachers earn very little even though their work is quite involving. Since their wages do not afford them their basic requirements, they quit to look for better paying jobs. The board of governors of specific schools should come up with a way of motivating teachers and supplimenting the salaries of their teachers (Boyer and Hamil,pp.2.para.1).

Conclusion

Education contributes greatly to the economic, technological and even political growth of America and indeed all countries. It is therefore important for America and her people to know the benefits of education and ensure the standards are well maintained and up-to-date. Most of the problems affecting the education system are purely based on attitudes and can effectively be resolved when all stakeholders cooperate. Measures employed should be reasonable and carefully scrutinized to avoid creating more problems. For instance, use of metal detectors and uniformed police officers in schools helped to combat the violence that was rampant in high school. However, it created a problem where students could not learn effectively due to the psychological effect of the presence of police officers.

The main importance of education is that it helps us to be responsible and respectiful to nature and people around us promoting peaceful coexistence. Horrace stated in 1837 that if barbarism remains education ends, but if education remains barbarism ends. This statement cannot be any truer today than it was back then. Due to education, ethnicity and racial discrimination are gradually fading out and are even completely extinct in the urbanised centres where education has been accessed by almost everybody. With education, it is expected that we shall grow economically and technologically.

By – Brody Mark Spencer

Boyer, Ashley and Burnette Wolf Hamil. “Problems Facing American Education.” Focus On Colleges, Universities, and Schools 2.1 (2008): 2-4.

Gatto, John Taylor. Weapons of mass instruction: a schoolteacher’s journey through the dark world of compulsory schooling. Tamworth: Aztext Press, 2008.

Johnson, C. “Public Education System Problems.” 1998. 27 January 2011 <http://mb-soft.com/public/school.html>.

Mann, Horace. Annual reports on education. Oxford: Oxford University, 2006.

Price, Sandra. “American Education Problems.” 2001. 28 January 2011 <http://www.reasontofreedom.com/educationproblems.html>.

Rosenstone, Steven J. “Challenges Facing Higher Education in America.” 2004. 28 January 2011 <http://www.utoronto.ca/president/04conference/downloads/Rosenstone.pdf>.

Shaw, Carla Cooper. “Critical Issue: Educating Teachers for Diversity.” 1997. 27 January 2011 <http://www.ncrel.org/sdrs/areas/issues/educatrs/presrvce/pe300.htm>.

 

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