The Crisis in Our Schools
Quality public education for all is a cause well worth fighting for. We have inherited our present schools from prior generations who sought to provide all children with the preparation needed for economic opportunity and active citizenship.
Critics of public education repeat and repeat a message of school crisis. And there is a crisis, but some of our schools are working quite well. More and more of our citizens are completing high school and college than ever before. The percentage of high school graduates completing a core academic curriculum—including four years of English and three years each of math, science, and social studies—grew from 14 percent to 57 percent from 1982 to 2000. Many students in high schools are completing advanced math and science courses. The percentage of high school graduates completing advanced math courses climbed from 26 percent in 1982 to 45 percent in 2000. A similar growth has occurred in the sciences (U.S. Department of Education, 2004).
Schools are working reasonably well for the middle class, while many schools serving the poor and ethnic minorities are in crisis (Kozol, 2005). Most urban schools, and some rural schools, as currently organized and funded, are not able to offer an education that will overcome the problems of poverty in our society. Students in low-income areas often have fewer qualified teachers, fewer counselors, and inadequate textbooks and teaching materials. Although teaching conditions vary from state to state and district to district, the dropout rates are high, and the college attendance rates are low for African American and Latino students. With only a few exceptions, these conditions have remained the same for over 30 years.
We have a crisis in some schools—not all—and it is precisely the low-income schools in crisis where there are the most openings for new teachers. Let’s look into this crisis. Inadequate funding is a major issue in the school crisis in low-income areas. Governments spent $426.6 billion on K–12 public education in 2005. The problem of inadequate funding is well illustrated in the 2000 lawsuit of Williams v. California.
© ______ 2010, Allyn & Bacon, an imprint of Pearson Education Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. The reproduction, duplication, or distribution of this material by any means including but not limited to email and blogs is strictly prohibited without the explicit permission of the publisher.
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