Equal Opportunity in Education Essay
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The whole object of education is…to develop the mind. (Sherwood Anderson) The United States of America has developed a system to educate its youth by a publicly funded system. It is the law and born civil right of each citizen to attend some form of education by a particular age. The public school system is set in place for those who choose not to send their offspring to private, religious, or charter schools. This is the present incarnation of the public school system.
It is said to be equal in all manner throughout the country. That has not always been the case in this nation. That has brought forth numerous laws and enactments to grant those who find themselves on the lesser side of gaining knowledge more of an equal footing where education is concerned. In this land of opportunity, there is an expected level of availability that is expected. In a world of intense competition from within and outside of the country education one of the few ways of balancing the scales of the socially or monetarily disadvantaged is proportionate education.
In this nation children have at one point or another in history been systematically held back for one reason or another. The reasons differ in the once beliefs that they were not able to learn or personal thought of not being worthy to be taught. In 1896 Plessy vs. Ferguson granted the states the right to uphold the separate but equal doctrine that ruled the land. This was a great lost to all those that held a hope those later generations would do better than those who came before. Education began to become more balanced when separate but equal was pushed aside by the landmark case of Brown vs. The Board of Education. In 1954 The Supreme Court ruled in favor of Henry Billings Brown. This would begin the integration of public school which was the first step into equal opportunity for students nationwide. The Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 was the next big step creating a system that would seek a fair learning experience for all.
Its basic notion is that state and local funds for schools should be equitable before federal Title I funds are added to schools with large concentrations of low-income students. (americanprogress.org) The Title I funding has a slight problem in its workings that has been a detriment to the children who attend these schools. The amount of money allocated to the schools is based on the salaries of the teachers. That is a problem for schools with a high turnover ratio. Schools that have moderately younger staff that is relatively new to the task of educating young minds make less than the veterans of the better school districts. This translates into less money per teacher and that equals less money for the school and the children. It is unfortunate that less money ultimately means less of educational opportunities.
The fact is that children in low income areas do not receive a fair share of money. The student need is not met by the standards laid out by the government. Money is the root of a proper education in this high end technological world. Without proper funds the simplest of supplies cannot be purchased. Computers, books, calculators, or simple printer ink is not available on a scale that is considered suitable. The eventual sharing of materials is a detriment to the students who are not allowed to have their own because of lack of equipment ready for use. The civil rights case would eventually open the door for other minorities. One that would take advantage of the Brown ruling was those with disabilities. In Brown the Court declared that it is doubtful that any child may reasonably be expected to succeed in life if he is denied the opportunity of an education. (web.ebscohost.com.library.gcu.edu.) They would use this to rally their forces and demand equal opportunities for cognitively impaired children.
Mills vs. the Board of Education of the District of Columbia and the Pennsylvania Association for Retarded Children vs. Pennsylvania were two cases that brought the plight of these students to the light of day. The law would be changed to give them the rights that they so richly deserved. The newest in leveling the field of education has come through the No Child Left Behind Act which was signed into being by former President George W. Bush in 2002. These reforms express my deep belief in our public schools and their mission to build the mind and character of every child, from every background, in every part of America. (George W. Bush, 2001) No Child Left Behind puts an emphasis on improving the quality of public education.
It calls for increased accountability, more choices for parents and students, putting reading first, and a higher emphasis on standardized testing. However the standardized testing is one of the biggest problems of the act. The majority of teachers has a problem with the testing and calls it bias. They also put forth that the testing takes away from the true teaching of knowledge, rather they now teach to test. This makes the education of the nation less than competitive with other countries. To combat these problems in our ever changing world we must go back to the beginning. In that thought process society must rethink its past transgressions. The country must avoid the same mistakes of the past.
Politicians are not the ones who should make the decisions to lead the future of United States of America. Educators should be in charge of educating the youth. Those who have spent their lives gaining knowledge to teach the children of their world should be tasked with the job of finding a way to educate equally. This task should be given to those who best fit the job description. The assignment should be outsourced if it is needed. Other countries excel in education and this nation could learn from those who educate on higher levels. Educating the masses on a more equal platform will only add to greatness.
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