Analytical Essay on How to Improve Our Education System

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Americans without a high school diploma compared to college graduates are three times more likely to be unemployed, and even those with high school diplomas average 50% less in annual incomes than those with college degrees. Additionally, the gap between the educational haves and have-nots is only growing wider. Is education supposed to be the great equalizer, right? We’re all told if you work hard and do well in school, you can be anything you want to be when you grow up. In this understanding of the school, society creates a meritocracy or a system in which hard work and talent are awarded. In a pure meritocracy, two kids that work equally as hard and have the same raw ability should do similarly as well no matter what neighborhood they grew up in, no matter their race or gender, or no matter their socioeconomic class standing. On the surface, it might seem the United States has a meritocratic school system, but educational measures of merit like grades and SAT scores don’t always measure everyone’s talents consistently. Grades just don’t measure an individual student's effort or ability; many factors also influence them outside of the student’s control, like the quality of the school or the access to resources like books or computers. With substantial differences in-home resources, it is perhaps unsurprising that achievement gaps emerge early in life. Even before students enter school.

Understanding the Problem

In the United States, there are large class gaps in educational attainment. While 83% of students from high-income families enroll in college after high school, only 63% of low-income students do. Why the disparity? One reason is that wealthier kids tend to live in higher-income neighborhoods, which in turn fund better-quality schools, making it easier to get into college. In the US, school funding is determined at the local level; the city or town that a person lives in determines the funding of their school system. While federal and state administrations provide some funding, most of the money comes from local property taxes. This means that schools and towns with more expensive houses and higher-earning residents have more resources available for their students. Unsurprisingly, schools in more affluent communities, on average, provide a better education than schools in poor communities. Having more funding for schools allows schools to hire better teachers, buy more and better supplies, offer a wider variety of classes, and provide extracurricular activities. These differences in school quality translate to differences in outcomes for students.

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Overall education should serve as the most significant vehicle for generational change and prosperity in America. Take Dustin, a fourth-grader who was born into the most deficient 20%. Without a college degree, he has only a 5% chance of reaching the top, compared to a 45% chance of staying in poverty. With a college degree, he is more likely to rise to the top income quintile than to remain at the bottom. Even if Dustin stays in school, he still has an uphill battle because his family will have fewer options as to where he can attend school. Wealthier families can afford to live in a better school district or pay to send their kids to private schools. However, Dustin can only hope that the local public school is decent, or take his chances of trying to get into the magnet school or charter school. The truth is our education system stacked the odds against our most impoverished children like Dustin. Here’s the thing it’s not a spending problem; in inflation-adjusted terms, the average yearly spending per student from 1970 to today has nearly doubled. Some of the cities in the United States with the most stifling poverty spent the most per student. Since the 1950s, the overall population of students has grown 96%, while the total number of teachers and staff has increased by 252% and a whopping 702%, respectively. Most Americans think public school teachers are underpaid, according to several recent surveys, for example, in an April poll by the University of Chicago researchers, 70% of adults and teachers think teachers are getting paid so little, and I say they would support higher taxes to pay teachers more.

Relevance to Legislation

In Alabama, Scott Dawson, a Republican from Birmingham who lost his bid to run for governor in his primary, said the problem in his state is not low spending. However, it’s a waste. The education bureaucracy gets too much of our money, but some teachers are still paying for school supplies out of their own pockets. How do you say spending more on things like building repairs, teacher salaries, and smaller class sizes will pay off in higher student achievement? Complaints like these became increasingly prevalent after the recession hit when state officials were making substantial cuts in education funding. I have recent large-scale research studies examining the impact of recession-era spending cuts on student outcomes as well as the effect of state court-mandated infusions of state money to low-income school districts. Permanent additional money improves student achievement in high school graduation rates and increased with similar students in the same district. The problem with the American education system remains just that the system. The way we pay to organize and regulate students does not foster innovative and entrepreneurial solutions. School district districts have become loaded bureaucracies does title creativity. Principles spent more time filling out paperwork and checking boxes on forms than acting as instructional leaders in schools. Teachers have to teach through a narrowed curriculum to maximize scores on skin standardized tests. It’s demoralizing, it’s dehumanizing, and it hurts kids like Dustin. Fortunately, since we engineered the system, we can revolutionize it to be much more.

Recommendations

We need to fund schools flexibly and let Dustin and his parents choose the educational environment which best fits his needs. Students today flow and geographic areas and money flow into these schools, whether they’re serving kids or not. Vouchers and charter schools are better allowing students to take funding to the school of their choosing, improving competition and performance in education. But even the system funds each child in a lump sum and requires each school to manage the entire education of their students. A better system would make a dollar for each student flexible so Dustin and his parents can customize the best education for him. To be prepared for the jobs of the complex, dynamic, and rapidly globalizing future, all students should have access to opportunities to learn firsthand how their academic work applies to potential career paths and vice versa. Programs that allow for this direction and empower students with concrete results, such as college credit or professional certification of some kind should be available in every district. Course choice and course access programs allow student families in any district to divide up the money and spend them on various providers getting students like Dustin the help he needs for mathematics or a foreign language course if he, for example, wanted to go into business. Similarly, education savings accounts would help him pay for private school or tutoring and speech therapy, and then he can roll over dollars a year to year and can even put away US dollars for college.

We need a better regulatory approach; the current system uses standards of formulas to hold Dustin's school teachers accountable to a one size fits all definition of success that slows innovation and stifles teacher creativity. We need a flexible market base system that relies on performance contracts inspectors or creditors to hold educators accountable for many kinds of results. The US education system must dramatically scale up effective tutoring models through national service programs, fellowships, volunteers, and high-quality virtual tutoring. States should provide a high-quality tutoring experience to every student performing below grade level. In addition to using existing state and local funds, school districts could use federal funding to finance these programs.

Teachers should begin their careers with an annual base salary of at least $50,000 and receive supported training similar to that of a medical resident before becoming responsible for leading a classroom of their own. More experienced teachers with a demonstrated track record of excellence should have the opportunity to earn at least $100,000 annually.

The new schools and educational providers of this system or create will be the new sources of human and financial capital. They would need the freedom to rethink the roles and compensation of teachers and leaders, to re-train teachers for a unique new school environment, and to pursue new sources of capital for public and private financing. There is no silver bullet, but the best thing that we can do for students is to create a marketplace that unleashes education innovators and entrepreneurs. A vibrant ecosystem or evolving marketplace of action that competes for students’ dollars by showing better results for all students no matter their backgrounds.

Summary

​Improving school outcomes is associated with the selection and adoption of innovations that are proven to be effective, efficient, and relevant in achieving those outcomes. However, real success is associated with the accurate implementation of an innovation over time and across larger organization units. If classroom and school-wide innovations are to be scaled for sustained implementation at the district, regional, and state levels, priority must be directed toward the establishment of leadership structures that emphasize capacity building for sustained and scalable innovation implementation. In addition, efficiency adjustments must be based on the phase of innovation implementation (emergence, demonstration, elaboration, and system adoption). Real innovation adoption is evident when it becomes part of policies, organizational routines, and enhanced student and school outcomes.

References

  1. Aarons, A. (2006). Language, Literacy and Learning in Primary Schools: Implications for Teacher Development Programs. Abuja: World Bank.
  2. Alton-Lee, A. (2003). “Impact of Teaching and Schools on Variance in Outcomes”. New Zealand Ministry of Education.
  3. Anderson, J.A., (2005). “Accountability in Education”. In Education Policy Series. Brussels and Paris: International Academy of Education and UNESCO International Institute for Educational Planning.
  4. Arriagada, A.( 1981). Determinants of Sixth Grade Achievement in Peru. Washington DC: World Bank.
  5. Berliner, D., and U. Casanova (1989). “Effective Schools: Teachers make a Difference”. Instructor 99 (3): 14-15.
  6. Blum, Robert E. (1990). Effective Schooling Practices: A Research Synthesis. Portland, Oregon: Northwest Regional Laboratory.
  7. Brubaker, H., and R. Partine (1986). Implementing Effective Schools Research: The Audit Process and High School Observations. Paper presented at AERA Conference.
  8. Chesterfield, R. and F.E. Rubio (1997). Impact Study of the BEST Teacher Effectiveness in Guatemala Primary Education. Washington DC USAID.
  9. Chubb, John E., and Terry M. Moe (1990). Politics, Markets and America’s Schools. Washington, DC: The Brookings Institute.
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Analytical Essay on How to Improve Our Education System. (2023, October 11). Edubirdie. Retrieved May 30, 2024, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/analytical-essay-on-how-to-improve-our-education-system/
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