The current development of education in the USA is highly controversial. On the one hand, theUSAhas a considerable educational potential, while, on the other hand, education opportunities are limited in the country. In this respect, it is possible to refer to Paul tough’s study, according to which, erasing the gap between middle class and poor children is still a challenge for the modern American education system. In actuality, it is obvious that the current efforts are insufficient to close the gap between middle class and poor children in theUSA, but the introduction of such programs as No Child Left Behind is supposed to close the gap. In such a context, it is important to understand whether such programs are able to achieve this goal, but it is obvious that the introduction of some special programs solely is not enough without a complex change in the modern education system of theUSAwhich could erase the gap between middle class and poor children. This change should be based on the change of the entire education system, curriculum, schedule and formation of more tolerant attitude to children with different socioeconomic background.
In actuality, the academic success of children living in low-income families is consistently lower compared to middle class children. The latter have stronger academic basis and are more successful compared to poor children. Tough lays emphasis on the fact that, while attempting to close the gap between middle class and poor children it is necessary to take into consideration such factors as genetic advantage, valuation of education, educational enrichment, marital stability, nutritional aspects, leisure and entertainment choices. In fact, it is obvious that poor children are in a consistently more disadvantageous position compared to middle children. Their conditions of living are substantially low compared to middle class children. For instance, the nutrition of poor children is worth. The valuation of education is absolutely different in middle class and low-income families since representatives of the middle class view education as a guarantee of their social status’ maintenance, while the poor underestimate the significance of education. In addition, they have limited access to education, while some institutions prefer middle class children depriving poor children of an opportunity to get higher education as well a any good education at large (Tough). Moreover, middle class and poor children are different in their language ability (Tough) that apparently prevents the latter from successful learning. Having poor language competence, poor children cannot learn as successfully as middle class children do. In addition, the difference in parenting styles and neurological development (Tough) may be a serious obstacle to academic success in poor children.
It proves beyond a doubt that the growing academic success gap can be very dangerous for the entire society because poor children are deprived of equal education opportunities. Hence, they will be deprived of better job opportunities compared to middle class children. As a result, such an inequality in the field of education provoked by the achievement gap inevitably leads to the growing social disparity in the society, when educated part comprises the middle class and has a substantially higher level of income, while the rest of the society is poorly educated and lives in poverty having no positive prospects in the future.
In such a situation, the solution of the gap in academic achievements of middle class and poor children becomes a strategic goal of national policy-makers. Specialists (Tough) point out that it is possible to close the gap through the change of school strategies, which implies the introduction of longer school days, school year, more in-class time. However, it is obvious that such changes will inevitably increase costs of education and public spending on education will have to be increased to fund longer school days, etc. Although, the change of social behavior and character may be really effective as well as the clear definition of aims and frequent assessment of successes. This will lead to the formation of more tolerant attitude to poor children, while clear goals will facilitate their achievement. As for frequent assessment, it can help adequately evaluate the progress of students and reveal the effectiveness of existing programs.
In this respect, it is possible to mention charter schools, which could contribute to closing the gap between middle class and poor children. In order to improve the situation in American education in 1990s Charter Schools were created. Their main purpose was to provide better opportunities for non-white population of theUSto get a better education than these people used to get. According to specialists a particularly important role of Charter Schools should be in urban areas where students of color are particularly numerous but unfortunately their education is of a very low quality (Bennett, Fine).
In fact Charter Schools could really be an alternative to traditional public schools which effectiveness tends to be very low. Due to a wider autonomy and self-governance that Charter Schools have they can be potentially very perspective. But what can we see in reality?
First of all it should be said that Charter Schools exist a comparatively short period of time but still it is possible to trace some general trends that are observed nowadays. So, it should be said that generally Charter Schools are created to provide “students from low socio-economic backgrounds” (Wallis 67) with a normal if not good education. However, the recent research show that the racial and national representation of students of various communities does not differ significantly compared to data collected in traditional public schools. For instance, according to data collected by specialists, only in several states the number of students of color exceed the number of such students in public schools, including Michigan, Minnesota, and Massachusetts, while in the majority of states its number is “either equal or even lower than in public schools” (Pipho 178) that is particularly important in urban areas.
As a result some specialists (Bennet, 41) started to speak about a kind of discrimination and even about the creation of white schools that in fact is far from reality. But still it is quite a disturbing fact that Charter Schools tend to become a kind of clones of public school at respect of racial rates.
Nonetheless, these schools are only in the process of development and any assessment should be very careful. Moreover, Charter Schools can really provide students of color in urban areas with a better education because they “better address social, cultural and academic needs of students of color” (Bierlein and Lori 234) who were traditionally not performing well in public schools. Such schools can increase the educational level of students of low socio-economic background in urban areas because quite often the class size in such schools is smaller, the parents views are respected, for they are quite familiar for schools’ administrations. These schools are not so bureaucratic as public ones, they have better control over finances and operations that permits to serve heir at-risk population more effectively. And generally speaking, such schools are focused on diverse needs of students, especially of students of color.
Finally, it should be said that poor children definitely can be taught but it is important to close the gap that is impossible without a complex change in education. In this regard, the change of funding and programming is not enough. It should be backed up by lowering standards to make education more accessible to poor children, though it will increase the risk of decreasing the quality of education. Nevertheless, the stable funding and subsidizing of poor children’s education can provide them with equal opportunities compared to middle class children.
Bennett, David A. “Will Public/PrivateControlReinventSchoolSystem Governance?” The Education Digest, V. 58, Nov. 1992.
Bierlein, Louann and Lori Mulholland. Charter Schools: A Viable Reform Initiative. ArizonaStateUniversity: Morrison Institute for Public Policy, 1992.
Pipho, Chris. “Bipartisan charter schools; educational reform.” Phi Delta Kappan, V. 75, October 1993.
Tough, P. What It Takes To Make a Student?
Wallis, Claudia. “A Class of Their Own.” Time. V. 144, Oct. 31, 1994.
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