Quality of Education in Public Schools

Lately, standardized testing, education reform, and the quality of education in United States public schools are constant topics in the news. Conflicting messages make it difficult to get to the heart of the issue. Are we falling behind China when it comes to educating our children? Are we placing too much emphasis on standardized test scores? Are charter schools the answer?

America’s Founding Fathers set the bar pretty high when they envisioned a country where every citizen was entitled to a quality public education. What began as an idea grew into an ideal. Universal education for all citizens is a concept as American as apple pie and baseball. Yet, as our nation grows, our public education system has not been growing with us. Most Americans recognize that we need to make changes to our public school system to ensure all of our children receive quality education. In fact, a recent study by Phi Delta Kappa International and Gallup found:

  • The public has high regard for the public schools, wants needed improvement to come through those schools, and has little interest in seeking alternatives.
  • The public has high regard for the public schools, wants needed improvement to come through those schools, and has little interest in seeking alternatives.

So what exactly is the state of America’s public school system and what is the level of quality of education our students receive? It turns out that arguments over hot button issues like school choice, bilingual education, and testing miss the point entirely.

Currently, American public schools are facing some serious issues. Over the past thirty years, public school teachers have been forced to ‘do more with less’ due to budget cuts and lack of funding. At some schools students must pay cash out-of-pocket to participate in intramural sports. The lack of quality teachers presents an overwhelming challenge to both states and local school districts. Teacher shortages are most severe at the secondary level, where advanced content area expertise and academic majors in fields like math and science are vitally important for student achievement. According to the New York Times:

  • The annual cost of prison for an inmate is more than double what is spent on an individual public school student.
  • Eight years after Congress passed the No Child Left Behind act, with the goal of 100 percent proficiency in math and reading, most states hovered between 20 and 30 percent proficiency, and 70 percent of eighth graders could not read at grade level.
  • By 2020, only an estimated 50 million Americans will be qualified to fill 123 million highly skilled, highly paid jobs.
  • Among 30 developed countries, the United States ranks 25th in math and 21st in science.

The level of quality of education American students receive compared to other nations may shock casual observers. According to the Broad Foundation on Education:

  • America’s top math students rank 25th out of 30 countries when compared with
    top students elsewhere in the world.
  • By the end of 8th grade, U.S. students are two years behind in the math being studied by peers in other countries.
  • Sixty eight percent of 8th graders can’t read at their grade level, and most will
    never catch up.
  • More than 1.2 million students drop out of school every year. That’s more than
    6,000 students every school day and one every 26 seconds.
  • The national high school graduation rate is only 70 percent and rates are much lower for minority students. Only about half of the nation’s African-American and Latino students graduate on time from high school.

A University of Michigan study comparing the Chinese and U.S. public education systems revealed some interesting differences between our approaches to education that may contain the ‘secret’ to improving our ambitious public school system. The study concluded that “If schools in the U.S. public school system were to incorporate the positive aspects that make the Chinese school system so successful, schools in the U.S. would in turn be more successful.” Some of the differences between the U.S. and Chinese public school systems as noted by the University of Michigan study are as follows:

  • Teachers in China are given more respect than teachers in the U.S. For example, teachers do not get taxed on their salary, and they receive their own national holiday, Teachers Day, on September 29th.
  • Chinese schools have a hard work ethic, resulting in student success.
  • Chinese schools do not segregate high achieving students from lower achieving students through tracking levels, like in the U.S. This is mostly due to the belief that all students can succeed if they put in the effort.
  • While American students have the same amount of allocated time as Chinese students, the amount of engaged time spent in school is dramatically less than their Chinese counterparts.
  • State curriculums and state testing does not make sense when standardized tests and textbooks are nationally normed and marked, respectively.

The American public school system has traditionally been one of our nation’s biggest strengths and taking the appropriate steps to ensure that our children are properly educated is critical to our country’s success.




Home Schooling vs. Public School

Even though using home schooling as a method of educating your child is not nearly as popular as it once was, it is still as somewhat common option for your child’s education that is all too often left unexplored. However, you are probably going to be curious as to how it stacks up against your other choices for education; that being sending him or her to a public school for their education. If you are in this predicament, you are in the right place because we are going to be covering the pros and cons of each of these schooling methods for your kid.

First, we are going to kick off with the disadvantages that are associated with home schooling your child. To be honest, there are actually quite a lot of these cons, but there are some good points too (more on those later). The most important thing that your child is going to be missing is the social skills and sense of community that a child who gets their education from a public school gets to enjoy. By home schooling your child, you are essentially sheltering them from the world around them, which can have some far-reaching repercussions down the road. In addition, finding a reliable teacher for all of your home schooling needs can also be a real pain, and then the cost associated with home schooling is (surprisingly) more expensive than public school.

However, do not let all of these disadvantages of home schooling put you off to the idea of it. There are some pros for using home schooling to educate your child, as you can make sure that your child is getting all the attention he or she needs (classes are often a 1:1 student to teacher ratio). You can also monitor your kid to make sure that they are not slacking off in class, and you will have a better idea of what the curriculum consists of.

There are many advantages to take into consideration when sending your kid to a public school rather than home schooling. As we’ve stated earlier, your child will learn to effectively communicate with others in a public school; that is something that everybody learns to do over time, but most people do it in a public school. The cost of sending your kid to a public school is going to be a lot less than having them home schooled so if you are looking for the most economical option, look no further than public schooling. Finally, if your kid is homeschooled, there really is no chance of him or her getting onto a school sports team, so if he or she were a huge sports fan, using a public school as their method of education would definitely be preferable here.

Of course, using a public school system is not without its flaws too. Your child is going to undeniably get less face-to-face time with their teachers, and will typically have a 30:1 student to teacher ratio in their classes; very different from what we are seeing in homeschooling. In addition, you will be unable to monitor what your kid does in school since they will be at a public school, and your knowledge of their curriculum will be limited to what they tell you about it.

Make no mistake, using homeschooling, as the preferred method to educating your child certainly is not going to be for everyone. However, after reading this article, you hopefully have a slightly better idea of which choice is going to suit your kid the best given his or her situation.

Public School Careers

If you are looking for a career in the educational field, the obvious first place to look is at a Public school. In addition, when you think about this, there really is not a surprise to it. If you are just getting into the educational field, you are naturally going to want to go to the place where you are most likely to get a job. If this is the case for you, then you are going to want to skip a career in private schooling, and go on straight to public. In addition, in this article, we are going to teach you everything that you are going to want to know when it comes to finding a job when searching for public school careers.

There are many things that you are going to want to take into consideration before pursuing one of the many public school careers. These sort of things often seem overwhelming to some people who are just starting out in a new career for teaching at a public school (or even a private one for that matter), but with the right “know-how” it can actually be a very simple thing to master. Below are some of the most important things to keep in mind when embarking on a new teaching career.

If you can remember when you were in middle school or even younger, you probably remember that teachers always had to put up with troublesome and boisterous kids. Well, things certainly have not changed one bit since then, and if you are to really enjoy your new teaching career at a public school, then having the ability to deal with kids all day without losing your cool is necessary. This should be a huge factor, and if you are to make the most out of your job, this is something that you cannot skip out on. Also having many of what some people call “people skills”, which is being able to effectively communicate with people all day is something that certainly will not hurt either!

One of the biggest differences when it comes to pursuing a career in public schools rather than private schools is that public schools require the teacher to be a certified educational instructor, whereas private schools do not require this. This is often a surprise to people, as they would imagine that to actually be reversed, but that is just how it is. This means that if you are choosing to go with one of the public school careers, then you are going to first want to be certified for teaching. This however, is a step that most people already take into consideration, so it should not be a cause of concern for most people.

A major advantage to pursuing a career in a public school is that they frequently offer excellent benefits. In fact, they are really the second best place to look for a good pension, second of course being to the government. Most schools will have a system that will work out for you how much you can get for a pension, and when you can start to see payments. Although this is pretty far down the road for most people, a good pension is something that is become increasingly uncommon, so you are really going to want to jump on any opportunity possible to secure an impressive one like this.

Above are just some of the many things that one should remember when they are beginning a career in the public schooling field. Even after taking this stuff into consideration, it is still ultimately up to you if you know you want to do.

Athletics in Public Schools

For many people, sports really are a way of life. It dominates all of their free time; it determines what foods they put in their body, and even the people that they will meet for the rest of their lives. Sports and athleticism really are a way of life for a lot of people, and for most of these athletes, you can trace their obsession with whatever sport they are doing all the way back to when they were partaking athletics in public schools. When you think about this and the emphasis people put on athletics when they are in a public school, it really is no surprise that you see so much rivalry and sportsmanship between sports, especially in high school football and baseball teams. If you want to learn more about the athletics in public schools, then you are in the correct place because that is exactly what we are going to be covering here.

The first thing you will notice when studying the types of different athletics in public schools is that there is not just one type of sports; rather there are actually many different kinds. This should not come as much of a surprise to anybody who has attended a public school in his or her past, but to some people it is actually quite interesting. The different kinds of sports that are practiced at the school will depend on the region that the school is in. For example, you probably will not find any school ice hockey teams in a place where it is normally very hot year around, simply because this is what the climate dictates. Having said this, there are still going to be those sports that you see everywhere, like football, soccer, baseball, tennis and wrestling.

As with any other kind of school facility, the amount of different sports you are going to see at the school is going to depend on their facilities to support that specific sport. Obviously, you are not going to see a school with a school swimming team that does not even have their own pool, which would just be impractical and would be doing their team a disservice. This goes for other sports than swimming too, for instance if a school cannot afford to build a baseball diamond on their property, they probably are not going to have a team.

An important aspect to remember when learning about the athletic programs in public schools is the different teams that are used to organize the sport. As with any other sport, you are not going to want to put some of your worst players on the same team as your best, this would just make it harder for them to win. Athletics in public schools are no exception to this, and people are divided into what are generally 3 different categories, depending on their skill. As an example for soccer, you would have freshman soccer (used by only freshman), junior-varsity soccer, and then varsity soccer. Each successive level you will find players that are of a generally higher skill.

Coaching is also an interesting aspect of the athletics that are used in public schools, as they also have to be teachers the other parts of the time. This means that their time is divided between the two things, which some say can have adverse effects on the team’s performance. However, as long as all of the schools in the district observe this rule, it can remain as a fair way to play the sports. You will also often find multiple coaches for one team, which some of the larger schools use to give their team a competitive edge over the others.

Public Schools Curriculum

The public school curriculum is usually a big question that as a parent you may have as your entire goal is to make the best decision for your child and their future – it is a very important decision. When it comes down to the decision between public and private, one must weigh up the financial cost and educational benefit from each. Before making a decision, it is necessary for one to understand the differences between each type of school and from there, you can make a sound decision.

First and most importantly is funding and financial cost. Public schools are given their allocated income directly from state and federal funds. Almost 75% of all schools in the nation are public schools, so there is a much greater variety and choice compared to private schools. Since private schools do not receive funding from state or federal governments, the parents of the students provide the costs. Regardless of educational performance, this is usually the biggest factor and should be taken seriously. Education is important, but struggling to make ends meet is just as important and may even jeopardize the child’s education as compared to finding an almost as equivalent public counter-part.

Academic reputation is a big factor that comes into the private schools benefit – most private schools have a much more rigorous academic schedule and from that comes their reputation.  Many private schools focus on college preparation, which may be perfect for your child.

Class sizes are very important also since the premise behind this is that the teachers have less work involved with each class so they can spend more time with the students and less time grading papers. There is more one-on-one time and more time in total divided by each student, whether that is more questions answered, or more topics covered. With private schools, the class sizes can be kept smaller since they are not always, as budget impoverished as public schools that must provide for the masses regardless.

Safety at private schools usually is greater than public because of the location and the pick-and-choose environment that private schools have. Even in an unsafe area, there may be a safe private school so keep this in mind.

Special programs are one of the biggest differences between public and private. Private schools may only provide programs for gifted individuals as opposed to handicapped which all public schools must provide for. If your child needs a certain type of education, you must ensure that he will be provided for adequately at their institution. Other than that, private schools may offer more extra-curricular activities that a public school simply cannot afford such as martial arts and other smaller more specialized activities.

Religious or moral instruction is what most families use to set apart the public and private system. Most private institutions have a certain religious affiliation, or a moral code that they use to set themselves apart from anybody else. Most parents will pay the added cost to have their child in this certain type of environment. In a public school, there is no religious or moral doctrine other than the standard school code of conduct.

When it comes down to the decision, ensure that you weigh the costs and benefits. Will the additional cost cause unforeseen circumstances down the road for your family financially, or will you be able to afford the added cost? Is the location right for your child? Is the religious or moral instruction in tune with your beliefs?