This paper presents a challenge facing the US educational system as a distinctive achievement; the inequality by income and race; a high dropout rate; a poor performance at urban schools, and the increasing demand for skills and knowledge as well as the stagnant education system being well documented in this research.
While facing these problems, the solutions appear almost plaintively as modest. Throughout the accountability and standards, incorporating the performance into a teachers’ pay, a school finance reform, and a school choice, Americans have been beating around the issue for the last 20 years with a minor progress, but the modest results, in general.
The American educational system calls for not only better schools but also for the best methods of compensating teachers or more sophisticated teaching models. However, all this seems to be an excellent idea. Anyway, a present situation demands significantly to expand the borders of what can be possible in the public education system. The present education system needs to overhaul in teaching and learning to generate a real growth in the educational productivity. In other words, instead of some minor improvements, the system needs those reforms which can change the game in the public education (Darling-Hammond, 2010) .
The Role of Government in Public Education
1.1 Where Are We Now and What Is the Impact on the Early Childhood Education?
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The American education system has undergone some dramatic changes since the discussions on public school. The responsibility to impart a better education for uplifting the society has shifted from regulatory bodies to government regulation. Today, in the year 2011, the federal governmental and regulatory bodies are focusing on the control standards.
The Congress is currently holding some debates in the parliament over resanctioning the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (this is the 1965-year ESEA re-sanctioned as No Child Left Behind in 2001). The major issues include a focus on the quality of education improving some learning standards and the federal government role in public education.
The pro is that the federal government’s participation in public education ensures some equal learning opportunities for all kids, especially for minority communities. Thus, we will be better prepared to face some global challenges. The Federal Government has always had a part in distributing the financial aid to all schools, so that there will be more consistency across the districts and states.
The con is that the learning has commonly been an issue towards the regulatory agencies and states. An increased intervention of the federal structure of government will increase the amount of unfunded mandates. These decisions, if decided locally, are best suitable for the satisfaction of students.
1.2 Funding for the Early Childhood Education
This section covers some reasons for the federal role in the early childhood learning. The importance of parent education, the pros and cons related to the federal intervention in the early development of a child.
The National Association for the Education of Young (NAEYC) creates the guidelines and set standards for all establishments engaged in the development of childhood. Their strategies promote an integrated, well-designed, and a well-financed mechanism in the development of early childhood and education for the learning and development of all children, including the children in poverty.
The pro is that from the economic point of view, children are the national assets building the equity of the country. Heckman’s (2010) research shows that the inequality in the development of early childhood produces some negative economic and social impacts and can be prevented by implementing the proper tools of childhood education. The early childhood study, particularly for the disadvantaged children and their parents, levels the brain development providing the equal opportunities for success. The investment in early childhood yields returns for the rest of the child’s life. Furthermore, some solid economic returns are possible providing the investments mature early and are cohesive, and maintained over a long period because it shapes the future of the country. Heckman warns that later investments will lead to fix the missed opportunities of the past that may cost a nation. Heckman’s research clearly documents the impact of the quality childhood education upon the later success at school and beyond in the health and in economic advantages for the society, in general.
The con is that the purposes versus the federal inclusion into the early childhood come from providers of childcare centers, legislators as well as regulatory agencies. Someone states that the general primary schools will be much cost to sustain, and that this may take away the funding for all K-12 grades. Educators and owners of private childcare centers raise some objections that most of parents will opt for free preschools and their establishments to be brought to grinding halt. (Heckman, 2010)
Equity and Funding
The public financing of schools comes from many sources - federal taxes and also the grants provided by the governmental and non-governmental establishments. The government includes less than 10 percent in the local budget of education, but it makes an essential contribution to the rules how financing is used. Besides, the federal governmental invests five percent of its gross domestic product into public education. More than half of K-12 funding comes from the states in the form of customs and excise taxes, income taxes and fees.
The states that strongly depend on the property taxes for financing the education may have a considerable inequality in school financing. This is reflected in the wealth inequality in the society as a whole unite. Hurst (2007) observed that the inequality in wealth concerns the fact that rich people earn most part of their income from the investments or inherited means, while the poor ones receive all incomes from their jobs spending more money on their living. In America, the richest 20 percent of people own 84 percent of the country’s wealth. Over the last 50 years, since Brown vs. Board of Education, public schools have become desegregated. Currently, more than three fourths of Latino and Black students attend schools being mainly for the nonwhites. (Hurst, 2007)
Since 1990, instead of looking at the equity, the majority of lawsuits has concentrated on adequacy - whether or not the state is contributing to local districts with the enough financial means and resources to give the basic education. Odden and Picus (2008) have designed a model determining the cost of the adequate education. They stated as the adequate education is one that incorporates such factors as a full-day kindergarten, a core class of all sizes and the trained teachers. The cost of the adequate education differs. For example, more money is necessary to educate the students from poor communities and the pupils with individual needs.
When schools do not receive an adequate financing, it has a long time effect. For example, Darling-Hammond (2010) observed that the high dropout rate costs the country at least 300 billion dollars per year in terms of the costs for some social services, crime and lost wages and taxes. Since 1985, national investments spending on the prison system have been three times more than the educational ones. The data depict that the national average expense for the child’s education is $10,000, while it costs $43,000 annually to keep a person in prison. Being the fifth percent of the world’s population located in the United States, the country houses 25 percent of criminals.
No Child Left Behind (NCLB)
In 2001, the President George Bush signed the extension bill of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act called No Child Left Behind with the purpose to close achievement gaps, especially for the children from minority Groups. However, the data collected from the NAEP showed that their marks were higher in mathematics and reading as among the students from minorities. The NCLB authorized the parents to remove the students from low performing schools and to transfer them to a better performing school. (Darling-Hammond, 2010)
How Public Schools Differs from Private Schools
What is the exact difference between public and private schools? The certain performance parameters need a discussion to compare public from private schools in a number of key aspects. The debate begins with studying of two main distinctions between public and private schools, particularly their source of financing and the role of determining where students go to school.
The sources of support are the exclusive distinction between public and private schools being their various sources of support. Public schools are dependent on the state, local and federal funds, while the high tuition fees and funding from nonpublic sources such as religious organizations, donations, grants and charitable donations support private schools. In some states, private schools receive public funds from certain services (for example, from transport structure). A tuition fee at private schools considerably varies according to a grade level, and depending if a school has the religious affiliation.
School choice is an idea of choosing the school that is traditionally related to private schools. Many of them suggest at least the other choice in the public sector. Having public schools competing for their students, as they consider, will be a strong incentive for the improvement and more sensitively reacting to the requirements and problems of students and their parents. Private schools are alternative for those parents who do not appreciate the performance of public schools or for some family reasons want to send their children to private schools (Reeve, 2009).
In a private sector, parents can select among nonsectarian and religiously affiliated schools, provided they can afford the tuition fee and other school charges. The family’s income enables parents to decide on an option for a school. Due to the fact that most of private schools charge the high tuition fee, only affluent parents can afford to send their kids to private schools. Children belonging to the lowest income families are more likely to attend public schools.
Many of the ways, in which public and private schools differ, reflect the distinctions in their population of students. Students bring to schools the certain characteristics, such as linguistic, racial/ethnic backgrounds, and sometimes some personal or family problems with them. These characteristics influence on their ability to learning.
Teachers and school administration consider these characteristics, while organizing and implementing the school curriculum and other support services for students. Thus, to a large extent the private and public students differ, it can be said that private and public schools differ as well. (Reeve, 2009)
Because teachers play a central role in the education system, the distinctions between private and public school teachers are quite significant, while comparing private with public schools. In general, private and public teachers come from different racial or ethnic groups, possess different qualifications and capabilities to teaching, and differ in their salaries. Some of significant differences found in public and private schools’ teachers are:
1. Private schools have less minority teachers, principal and administration staff than public ones. Public school teachers are more qualified than those in private.
2. In average, public school teachers are compensated with higher salaries and other benefits than from private.
3. The teachers’ exhaustion is higher in private schools, but private school teachers are more satisfied with their working conditions.
Though it is difficult to measure many aspects of the teachers’ qualification, public school teachers appear to be more qualified than the teachers from private schools. This is considered from the point of view of their education and experience in teaching. Public school teachers take more interest to develop their professional qualifications. Many consider that teachers should update their career and improve their teaching skills (Kim, 2006) .
Supporting the public education system and implementation of a new and effective educational strategy should be the key policy goals of the presidential administration. The previous generations of the federal educational leadership were successful, to some extent, in bringing up the education reforms, which had led to a social segregation. But there is still a high necessity to make the improvement in the public education system. It is the right time for a new generation of the federal educational leadership to concentrate on some new educational innovations models and to implement an overhauling of the public education system. These reforms will help in bridging the gaps between public and private schools. Though some distinctions between private and public schools have been discussed in this paper though there is an issue yet how the successful students are doing. This does not actually depend on whether they study at private or public schools, but it concerns the abilities and aptitudes they bring to schools. Thus, we conclude that the quality of the learning environment, the skills and experience of teachers will help in shaping the future of children.
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