1.) In 1983, the federal government issued a report of the National Commission on Excellence titled ‘A Nation at risk’. It stated that quality of elementary and secondary education were below par and threatened the nation’s future. Following extensive rhetoric it was widely accepted due to widespread concern regarding the health of the U.S economy. The report reflected the commonplace misgivings of the time that the nation was losing its grip on commerce and technology (Coleman, 1997). The aim of this initiative was to produce a better labour market for the future thus strengthening the economy. However, the booming economy proved this initiative wrong. According to analysts, business-related skills required to attain a middle-class income had radically changed. The cause of education is being hurt by implementation of this initiative as it does not exhaustively address improving students skills e.g. analytics.
In 2009, School Improvement Grants were authorized under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. Its purpose was to turn-around underperformers and enable them attain adequate yearly progress (AYP) by increased funding. However its role in funding these struggling has not been met with extensive success. Not all schools that have met their AYP targets have received funding. Therefore, needy schools are unable to provide more intensive programs for their equally needy students. It is still too early to conclusively establish whether the SIG truly promotes the cause of education. However the initiative has relatively improved student proficiency in funded districts (Acker & Wechsler, 2006). .
In 2001, The No Child Left behind Act was passed to aid disadvantaged students. Through it, states are required to administer standardized tests to students. However, this program has come under fire since it forces teachers to ‘teach to the test’. Therefore teacher creativity and student learning are stifled. It has also been said that this testing leads to
anomalous results. The NCLBA has failed to improve student achievement universally and therefore failed. This initiative hinders the cause of education (Howell, 2005).
2.) School boards have been extensively used in the U.S public education system for the past 100 years. They are regarded as the foremost democratic body capable of representing citizens in local education decisions. Designated position board members serve as representatives of the community. However, there is no legal basis in the constitution for these boards as education is a state matter. Concerns over efficiency and local involvement are addressed by delegation of authority from the legislative branch to the regional school board. Every state (Except for Hawaii) has a two-tiered governance structure (Virginia, 2010). They provide for an elected or appointed board that runs local school districts. Therefore, school board is collective groups that implement state legislative policy concerning public schools. They also locally administer the state’s system of public education. Members of the aforementioned board are state officers who act under state law in administering the state’s official business (Virginia, 2010).
In 1895, the merits of founding associations of school boards were established. That year, Pennsylvania became the premier state to organize a state association. In 1896, the state of New York followed suit. However it was in 1913 that the school board association movement gained momentum. This practice is rooted from the locally controlled schools of New England colonies whereby schools were ran by the local religious movement to prevent their children from being force-fed curricular from other doctrines. School boards are required to highlight the community’s view of what students should know and be capable of doing. They also ensure that students get the best education for tax dollars spent (Virginia, 2006).
It would be better if a less bureaucratic administration of American public schools was instituted as board officials are merely state employees and less so, community representatives.
The Secretary of Education is directly involved in governance of State Universities. State Universities are institutions of higher education supported by respective state governments. They get subsidies from the aforementioned governments with the effect of lowering tuition costs below that of private universities. Governance boards are generally composed of several voting members (Nevins, 1962). They are vested with the government, control, conduct, management, and Administration of the university. Usually, the president of the university is an ex-officio non-voting member. Several faculty and student members are elected by the University Senate. Several members of the board of governance are appointed by the respective state Governor with the approval of the respective State Senate. The aforementioned boards get funding from the state governments, charging tuition fees from students and grants from donors (Acker & Wechsler, 2006).
In 1983, Bill Clinton began his 3-phase educational reform program. Firstly, a legislative package set minimum standards for schools. Classes were shrunk, school days were lengthened and the legal dropout age was raised. Enrolment in analytical subjects such as math and computer science more than doubled. Teachers opposed competency tests, but without them, voters wouldn’t have supported a sales-tax increase, 70 percent of which went to fund teachers’ salaries.1989 reforms centred on accountability whereby school districts were merged and parents got to choose schools. Parents who encouraged truancy could also be fined. From the aforementioned initiatives, it is clear that Governor Clinton started them as a means to attain a political legacy hence raising a strong challenge for future presidency. It also enabled him to get re-elected since parents viewed the initiatives optimistically despite rejection by teachers on some of the matters. The political implications for the initiatives were successful re-elections in the governorship race of Arkansas.
The governor’s main objectives were attained. Arkansas now had one of the best educational systems in the country as well as making Arkansans accept education as a long-term solution. His initiatives also brought about several unintended consequences. An example the sales-tax increase in the 1980s which was used to fund teacher salaries.
5.) The General Assembly should enact a voucher system, giving families of privately – schooled students financial support to subsidize tuition expenses. An education voucher is a certificate issued by government which guardians can use toward tuition at a private school or alternatively, reimburse home schooling costs. An alternative is the education tax credit. An advantage of this system is it allows students and families select schools that best suit their needs. School vouchers enhance quality and efficiencies in schools. This is because public schools are forced to compete for the limited tax-dollars by improving delivery of education. (Figlio, D. N., Rouse, C. E., & National Bureau of Economic Research. 2005)
It is my opinion that professors work load in public colleges be maintained and not increased. This is due to various established reasons. Firstly, professors are underpaid relative to other economic sectors requiring similar expertise. A computer science professor earns way less than a Silicon Valley engineer for instance. Montgomery College reports its average full-professor’s salary as $88000 based on 15-hours of teaching for 30 weeks.
Teacher tenure should be abolished in favor of a system of short-term contracts tied closely to a meaningful evaluation regimen. Tenure locks in big costs and makes it difficult for universities to explore more productive teaching techniques. This is due to its morph into a ‘job for life’ for professors. Tenure could be replaced with contracts similar to those in the business world. Merit-worthy professors could be offered multiyear contracts that give them time to prove themselves; full professors could enjoy recurrent contracts that provide reasonable amounts of job security. If a professor underperforms the contract can be bought out. (French, B. A., 1998)
Acker, D., & Wechsler, H. S. (2006). Can state universities be managed? A primer for presidents and management teams. Westport, CT: Praeger.
Education in Virginia. (2010). S.l.: General Books
Nevins, A. (1962). The State universities and democracy. Urbana: University of Illinois Press.
Virginia. (2006). Public funding of higher education in Virginia: Report of the Joint Subcommittee Studying Public Funding of Higher Education in Virginia to the Governor and the General Assembly of Virginia. Richmond, VA: Commonwealth of Virginia.
Coleman, J. S. (1997). Redesigning American Education. Boulder, Colo: Westview Press.
Howell, W. G. (2005). Besieged: School boards and the future of education politics. Washington, D.C: Brookings Institution Press.
Figlio, D. N., Rouse, C. E., & National Bureau of Economic Research. (2005). Do accountability and voucher threats improve low-performing schools?. Cambridge, Mass: National Bureau of Economic Research.
French, B. A. (1998). The ticking tenure clock: An academic novel. Albany: State University of New York Press.