The following is my research into the issues facing the U.S. K-12 Educational system. It includes the following areas: What is the purpose, organization, planning, challenges, facts, myths, and what you can personally do to help fix our ailing Public Educational System.
A Short History of Education in America
The level of education by a people is key to their survival as a nation. When you consider the contribution that education plays in support of a nation's security its importance is elevated to more than just something to keep kids busy.
In 1791 seven states in America had included education as part of their constitutions. The ideas is that these schools would have no religious bias, which was representative of the First Amendment. The U.S. Constitution makes education the domain of the States.
The first mandated compulsory school system was formed in Massachusetts by Horace Mann in 1852. For the first time schools were no longer optional, but a requirement enforced by law. This was a major change in the idea of education in the U.S. By 1918 all of the states had formed laws requiring attendance in a public school system.
Another controversy in the U.S. Educational system came when Catholics banded together and formed private schools. These schools were created around a religion and in 1925 the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) affirmed that these schools were constitutional.
By the 1950's Public Schools had become well established, but still very localized. All of the funding for public schools came from state and local sources. Then another landmark court decision changed not only the face of education, but the make up of many American cities.
In 1954, in the case of Brown vs. The Board of Education (Topeka, Kansas), the SCOTUS ruled that segregation is unconstitutional. Schools could no longer discriminate based on race. Although this was a major step toward equality, it also brought about an exodus of wealthy and middle-class whites from urban and inner city areas. This move to the suburbs left poor minority students in poor urban schools.
In 1979 another controversial change took place in U.S. Education, but we will leave that for a bit later.
A Short Primer on Effective Organizations.
The most successful organizations are capable of maintaining short lines of communications, and logistics. This reduces the chance for misunderstanding, and allows for better control of the organizations goals.
Of course you will see many other keys to successful organizations such as developing the human element, the ability to meet this goal requires excellent lines of communications and logistics. That is why you will find many organizations spending millions to improve their methods of communications and logistics.
An effective organization must also have easily understandable goals. Everyone in the organization must know what these goals are, and how they fit into achieving those goals.
The goals of an organization must not only meet present needs, but must also be constantly evaluating future needs. This allows the organization to make well thought out plans that allow them to change with as little drama as possible. It is the flexibility offered by short lines of communications that make this possible.
“No Bucks, No Buck Rogers”
Tom Wolfe in his book “The Right Stuff” quoted Gus Grissom's comment about how funding is what made the space program possible. And money is certainly an important factor in everything.
A key concept in government is funding. If you control the money, you control the activity. This concept is as old as government. Within the U.S. Educational System the money is controlled at the State Level (45.6%), Local Government (37.1%), Private Funds (8.9%), and Federal Funds (8.3%).
State governments have learned how to play this game. If you want to know how this works just take a look at how the Feds tried to withhold highway funding from states that did not adhere to the 55 mph speed limit. For an even greater chuckle look at the waivers being given out for Obama-care.
We will investigate how the Department of Ed works this one.
One estimate states that Federal, State, Local, and Private funding cost approximately $500 billion in 2009. In Hillsborough county Florida approximately $8,700 is spent per student per year (For Brevard county that amount is ~$8,100). With this much money floating around there is no doubt that it will attract buzzards. And those buzzards are in a feeding frenzy.
UP NEXT...How the bottom feeders are sucking the life out of education.