Table of Contents
Initially, public schools in the United States had the task of teaching basic reading, writing, arithmetic and cultivating the democratic values into the young Americans. Overall, their creation was aimed to improve the country’s literacy levels. However, as years went by, the government realized that they needed to do more regarding education. Families and churches had no time and patience in raising children; therefore, this burden shifted to public schools. At the moment, the United States prides itself concerning its public education system that has not only achieved a high level of curriculum for career development but also assisted in obtaining democratic values thereby raising the public expectation of the schools. These institutions have become revered places giving hope with the trend accelerating over the years. Nowadays, many people believe that school is a foundation of a child’s future. Furthermore, the country has a high number of immigrant children which also increases the responsibilities of the establishments. As a result, there are too much current responsibilities, and it leads to inequality of education system and undermines the capacity of these institutions to deliver that has terrifying adverse effects. Many scholars have written various works that discuss inequality, curriculum, social, political and government factors as the main contributors to the increasing responsibilities of public schools. They have also highlighted negative impacts the situation has.
Curriculum and the American Education System
It is strongly believed that the curriculum has been overburdened due to the changes in the society and new responsibilities public schools have to fulfill. In particular, churches, parents and other social groups have abandoned their obligations and, instead, transferred them to schools. For example, the society now depends on these public institutions to provide knowledge related to democracy. Teachers have to go an extra mile to ensure that students understand the issue to make them grow while upholding the moral values.
One of the scholars who have studied the mentioned above facts is Vollmer (2011). He author confirms that curriculum advancement has always remained the center of America’s public school system. Vollmer (2011) mentions that the country has always hoped to achieve high literacy levels in a bid to realize its economic, social and political goals. He continues to say that the first schools appeared in the 1640s and were established by the Puritans in Massachusetts (Vollmer, 2011). Therefore, the author outlines the responsibilities of public schools from the time of their creation to the first decade of the 21st century and underlines a systematic increase of duties that have since overshadowed the focus on curriculum. In particular, it is mentioned that the primary obligations of schools began to shift as early as 1900 with concerns arising from low-income families and country’s emphasis on industrial development (Vollmer, 2011). Speaking about the main changes of educational system, Vollmer (2011) pays attention to the fact that in the 1940s, business education and music were included into curriculum (Vollmer, 2011). Other novelties were represented by half-day kindergartens. However, before the period, it had been the responsibility of families to care for their children and help them in developing their talents. In fact, with this added burden, the system needed to adjust while struggling to stay focused on the curriculum. Nonetheless, some obligations helped in achieving the curriculum goals, for instance, the expansion of science and mathematics education, safety education, foreign languages and sex education. These areas of knowledge prepared the students to face their social and academic lives challenges. The success of the fulfillment of the additional responsibilities led to the assumptions that schools could deal with just about anything.
However, within time, a lot of challenges regarding curriculum have appeared. Firstly, the resources have become not enough, and time has become limited to achieve all the goals. For instance, dealing with children from single parent families or divorced parents is difficult. Teachers have to act as parents and, at the same time, pass the knowledge. Most of these kids do not fully grasp education concepts and are most times problematic. Moreover, dealing with the high number of immigrant children who take five to seven years to learn English is time-consuming and derailing (Vollmer, 2011). As a result, the curriculum becomes a victim of such responsibilities since it must be adjusted to their needs. At the same time, it has been noticed that citizens demonstrate lower levels of support regarding public schools. Such a situation makes it difficult for the school management to implement various activities since they have inadequate resources. Moreover, the situation puts teachers under pressure, and it is hard for most of them to bear it as they have much load to handle. Once students get to schools, they need to learn, and it is the teachers’ responsibility to develop various methods to fill the knowledge gaps. Unfortunately, regardless of all the efforts they make, the quality of education that they offer remains low. Finally, the curriculum fails because most of the additional responsibilities do not focus on results but rather some hidden agenda. In particular, Wheatley (2017) blames the policies that keep subjecting the public schools to more obligations for the failure of the system. He claims that the market-based approach has caused the struggle that the American public schools experience today as most schools do their best to fulfill their responsibilities not concentrating on the results (Wheatley, 2017). The new changes do not compel students to attain high standards of excellence like in the past; instead, the education process has been given more precedence. Furthermore, Wheatley (2017) draws attention to the fact that new approaches to education have reduced the teacher autonomy by giving them little control regarding what happens in schools. He goes on to highlight the reasons of such a disastrous situation. The author believes that various reforms since the 1990s including lobby groups, legislators and administrations have compromised or sabotaged all the positive efforts (Wheatley, 2017). He clarifies by arguing that most of the reforms implemented between then and now have been irrelevant and/or destructive to the original focus on curriculum improvement for American kids (Wheatley, 2017). At the same time, it is true that the public education system has failed because of the socio-cultural trends, especially those that appeared around the 1960s, have led to the death of discipline and moral. For instance, most American kids do not have the right communication and computational skills that prove imperative to succeed in college. As a result, the American public schools remain with the task to ensure that these learners get the requisite knowledge for their success.
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Inequality and Public Education
Another factor that has increased the responsibilities of education is the inequality in this sector. Weber (2010) analyzes this claim by discussing the Coleman Report that exposed the dysfunctional public education system in 1966. Based on this info, the author states that the current education reforms in public schools disadvantage many people, particularly the low-income families who have faith in these institutions (Weber, 2010). In the past, these establishments were the centers for the hope of excellence for not only American kids but also immigrants who believed in the US system. However, individuals have lost this faith in schools. Many people have, therefore, resorted to private and charter schools because public schools are no longer safe haven where education is the focus. Government reforms, which were initially meant to make the system better, have succeeded in destroying it. Even after the No Child Left Behind Act, the country has not made enough steps in eliminating education inequality among elite and the low-income groups (Weber, 2010). Moreover, Weber (2010) outlines that in high poverty schools in America, there is higher teacher retention of inexperienced teachers which accounts for 20% as compared to the low poverty schools where the number equals 11% (Weber, 2010, p.8). Most public schools are victims of poverty, but families want to provide their children with the hope for a better future. Nonetheless, inequality of resources that are available to different groups of children is alarming. As a result, the need to change this situation following the vitality of education to America remains imperative. The author states that “…and education is the most obvious natural place to make that change possible” (Weber, 2010, p.10). Therefore, is evident that eliminating or reducing education inequality can help in mitigating the increased responsibility issue.
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Social, Government and Political Facets of the Issue
Numerous social, political and government processes and activities contribute to the problem of the increased responsibilities of the public schools. One should start from the discussion of the social challenges that people face and their influence on education. Mooney, Knox, and Schacht (2014) have explored the given sphere and identified some of the main issues that influence the problem under discussion. In particular, they have named family issues, illnesses, and alcohol (Mooney et al., 2014). Their research mainly focuses on the family problems since they make parents unable to afford other institutions of learning like the private sector leading to the increasing responsibilities in the public schools. Other issues that the authors have determined encompass poverty, population growth, and inequality (Mooney et al., 2014). Mooney and his colleagues (2014) also present information relating to issue of divorce in the families claiming that it is a factor that gives most of the public schools additional responsibility of acting as surrogate parents. In most cases, children who grow with a single parent lack some developmental skills in their lives. One parent cannot play the role of both father and mother, and as a result, these young people depend on their teachers in acquiring some of the most necessary skills. Undoubtedly, this process overburdens public schools. As for poverty and population growth, their contribution to the increasing responsibilities of public schools is easy to explain. When the number of births increases, the number of students also rises. However, due to the fact that a lot of families have low income, their children become victims as public schools are the only way of acquiring education for them, and entering a private educational establishment remains a dream for this group of society (Mooney et al., 2014). Therefore, it is apparent that various factors including family problems, poverty, and population growth contribute to the burden in the public schools.
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The Government and Political Aspects
Some researchers have also considered the influence that government and politics have concerning education. In particular, Bardes, Shelley, and Schmidt (2014) have examined the issue and shared their conclusions. They start from presenting the Democrats’ view regarding the public spending in the institutions under consideration (Bardes et al., 2014). In fact, they encourage and ask to increase the amount of money provided for public schools (Bardes et al., 2014). The Democrats view it as a way of supporting the people who are not capable of acquiring the necessary education in the society. However, this belief may not be supported by the Republicans following their conservative philosophy. They are sure that increasing the public education funding would see many people accessing learning institutions. Consequently, the process will lead to a higher number of learners that teachers will have to handle.
Nevertheless, what the politicians fail to address is those measures that prove really necessary to manage the additional population. For example, they need to improve such facilities as classroom capacity and raise the number of teachers required to deal with all the students. With regards to the teachers, the authors mention the lay-offs that these schools have suffered (Bardes et al., 2014, p.209). Some of the policies guiding the operations of public education remain blind to these problems. It is true that due to the limited resources, these establishments cannot perform their duties efficiently, which, therefore, leads to accumulated responsibilities making them ineffective. Thus, both politics and government have a hand in the increasing burden that American public schools experience today.
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Another study connected with the politics and its influence on the issue is the one presented by Reese (2011) who considers the idea of no child left behind. The author states that the original aim of public education was to enhance freedom and the overall wellbeing of the nation. The people and the federal government of the United States still have high expectations of the education system especially the public one. Additionally, the author argues that the belief of the founding fathers in public education was the hope that it would ensure development and the pursuit of opportunities. Reese (2011) eulogizes the era when education worked for human growth and achievements. Nevertheless, the work reveals the failures of the system to assist the public schools in handling its many responsibilities and achieve the American dream. In fact, it is apparent that there are rising expectations concerning education not only from parents and students but also from other interested parties like lobby groups. However, school policies remain intense, and academicians are always on toes to achieve the expected standards. As schools become more inclusive and fulfill most of the expectations, more complaints come their way. As a result, the outcry to ensure that schools guarantee the children’s and the nation’s future remains a concern. Therefore, it is clear that the public schools face increased burdens that compromise their output, and the situation needs immediate attention.
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Adverse Effects of the Increasing Public Schools’ Responsibilities
The negative effects of increasing responsibilities of public schools are not encouraging. The establishments have become total failures making both the radicals and liberals concerned. A commentary by McNealy (2016), former CEO of Sun Microsystems, addresses such a condition of the public education system. The author confirms that the United States is currently trailing most countries in test scores in all subjects because the focus on quality is compromised (McNealy, 2016). It can be explained by the fact that the financial implications of reverting to the old system of education where public schools had fewer responsibilities and ability to focus on delivery look costly (McNealy, 2016). Furthermore, there is growing dissatisfaction in the achievements, sizes of classrooms, poor infrastructure and standardized curriculums (McNealy, 2016). He blames the system for the radical policies and reforms that have never been relevant to the achievement of results (McNealy, 2016). McNealy (2016) concludes by saying that in a lot of cases, the public schools system turns out to be a disguise to make more money for some people.
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Rubenstein (n.d.) also takes into consideration the harmful effects of the increasing responsibilities on public schools. The author reports that most students in Finland, Canada, and Shanghai perform better than American students in sciences and mathematics (Rubenstein, n.d.). It is owing to the fact that unlike America, their public-school systems care more about the preparation of teachers and the elevation of the cultural position of education (Rubenstein, n.d.). Moreover, they ensure resource distribution in a manner that benefits everyone especially the poor schools (Rubenstein, n.d.). To continue, Rubenstein (n.d.) blames the decrease of education integrity on the reforms and policies that were introduced in the 1900s. She goes on to state that the increasing number of responsibilities leads to the situation when most teachers have to work too much while the pay remains low. Besides, the authorities poorly prepare them to deal with the increasing demands and obligations. Additionally, the author claims that public schools in America are the least funded, and this factor reduces the educational capacity of institutions (Rubenstein, n.d.). Rubenstein (n.d.) also outlines that the libertarian culture is to blame for the failure of the public-school system despite numerous attempts to improve it. Lastly, she mentions that most students do not get enough knowledge because of many responsibilities that the schools need to achieve (Rubenstein, n.d.). They are not encouraged to demonstrate some academic achievements; instead, they are only required to complete courses. The author confirms that such a situation is dangerous for the country’s academic prospects (Rubenstein, n.d.). Apparently, the overburdening of the public schools explains the reason for the poor performance.
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In conclusion, public schools are the energy of any nation. The principle of compromise is what defines the US public education. The laws and policies concerning the field have not done much to save the situation that is almost crippling the entire education system. However, public schools are the institutions a country should be proud of as they stand for not only democratic principles but also educational advancements. They are centers for teaching the common culture and, therefore, the pillars of development. It means that a state can only take decisions concerning its fate in classrooms because education is power. Nevertheless, there are many responsibilities bestowed upon the public schools with little or no resources. The given system has been undergoing reforms constantly with the aim of improvement. The primary driver of these changes is the belief that the level of education has declined and there is a need for rectification that is rather critical. Unfortunately, these efforts have prompted the addition of responsibilities that have not quite helped. Instead, they have infringed on the freedom of public schools making them puppets of educational policies. These increasing duties have resulted in the declining level of focus on curriculum; consequently, the nation has lost its pride. Currently, it strives to deal with its failures in nurturing an efficient education system.