Problems In Education And Society Essay Research

Problems In Education And Society Essay, Research Paper According to “A Nation at Risk”, the American education system has declined due to a “rising tide of mediocrity” in our schools.

Problems In Education And Society Essay, Research Paper

According to “A Nation at Risk”, the American education system

has declined due to a “rising tide of mediocrity” in our schools.

States such as New York have responded to the findings and

recommendations of the report by implementing such strategies as the

“Regents Action Plan” and the “New Compact for Learning”.

In the early 1980?s, President Regan ordered a national

commission to study our education system. The findings of this

commission were that, compared with other industrialized nations, our

education system is grossly inadequate in meeting the standards of

education that many other countries have developed. At one time,

America was the world leader in technology, service, and industry, but

overconfidence based on a historical belief in our superiority has

caused our nation to fall behind the rapidly growing competitive

market in the world with regard to education. The report in some

respects is an unfair comparison of our education system, which does

not have a national standard for goals, curriculum, or regulations,

with other countries that do, but the findings nevertheless reflect

the need for change. Our education system at this time is regulated

by states which implement their own curriculum, set their own goals

and have their own requirements for teacher preparation. Combined

with this is the fact that we have lowered our expectations in these

areas, thus we are not providing an equal or quality education to all

students across the country. The commission findings generated

recommendations to improve the content of education and raise the

standards of student achievement, particularly in testing, increase

the time spent on education and provide incentives to encourage more

individuals to enter the field of education as well as improving

teacher preparation.

N.Y. State responded to these recommendations by first

implementing the Regents Action Plan; an eight year plan designed to

raise the standards of education. This plan changed the requirements

for graduation by raising the number of credits needed for graduation,

raising the number of required core curriculum classes such as social

studies, and introduced technology and computer science. The plan

also introduced the Regents Minimum Competency Tests, which requires a

student to pass tests in five major categories; math, science,

reading, writing, and two areas of social studies. Although the plan

achieved many of its goals in raising standards of education in N.Y.

State, the general consensus is that we need to continue to improve

our education system rather than being satisfied with the achievements

we have made thus far.

Therefore, N.Y. adopted “The New Compact for Learning”. This

plan is based on the principles that all children can learn. The

focus of education should be on results and teachers should aim for

mastery, not minimum competency. Education should be provided for all

children and authority with accountability should be given to

educators and success should be rewarded with necessary changes being

made to reduce failures. This plan calls for curriculum to be devised

in order to meet the needs of students so that they will be fully

functional in society upon graduation, rather than just being able to

graduate. Districts within the state have been given the authority to

devise their own curriculum, but are held accountable by the state so

that each district meets the states goals that have been established.

Teachers are encouraged to challenge students to reach their full

potential, rather than minimum competency. In this regard, tracking

of students is being eliminated so that all students will be

challenged, rather than just those who are gifted. Similarly, success

should be rewarded with recognition and incentives to further

encourage progress for districts, teachers and students while others

who are not as accomplished are provided remedial training or

resources in order to help them achieve success.

It is difficult to determine whether our country on the whole

has responded to the concerns that “A Nation at Risk” presented.

Clearly though, N.Y. State has taken measures over the last ten years

to improve its own education system. In many respects the state has

accomplished much of what it set out to do, but the need to continue

to improve is still present. Certainly, if America is determined to

regain its superiority in the world, education, the foundation of our

future, needs to be priority number one.

Teachers often develop academic expectations of students

based on characteristics that are unrelated to academic progress.

These expectations can affect the way educators present themselves

toward the student, causing an alteration in the way our students

learn, and thus causing an overall degeneration in the potential

growth of the student.

Expectations affect students in many ways, not just

academically, but in the form of mental and social deprivation which

causes a lack of self-esteem. When educators receive information

about students, mostly even before the student walks into their

classroom, from past test scores, IEP?s, and past teachers, it tends

to alter the way we look at the students potential for growth. This

foundation of expectation is then transformed on to our method of


One basic fallout from these expectations is the amount of

time educators spend in communicating with students. We tend to speak

more directly to students who excel, talking in more matures tone of

voice, treating them more like a grown-up than we do to the students

who are already labeled underachievers. This can give the student an

added incentive to either progress or regress due to the amount of

stimulation that they receive.

As educators we tend to take the exceptional students “under

our wing”. We tend to offer knowledge in situations to help push the

good students, in comparison to moving on to the next task for the

others. We also tend to critique the work of our god students more

positively than the others, offering challenges to the answers they

have given.

The most obvious characteristic that educators present to the

students is in the area of body language and facial expression. We

tend to present ourselves in a more professional manner to our good

students, speaking more clearly and with a stronger tone of voice. We

tend to stand more upright, in a more powerful stance, than to the

slouching effect we give to the underachievers. The head shakes,

glancing with our eyes, hand gestures, and posture all contribute to

the way we look at certain students based on our first impressions

which came before we even knew the student.

One major way we can avoid these pitfalls and eliminate unfair

expectations that help produce failure in our students is to restrict

the past information on the students to a need to know basis. Instead

of telling the teacher how the student did on past examinations, just

present them with the curricula that the student must learn during the

time they spend in that class. This enables the educator to formulate

their own opinions of that student. Also, instead of doing the IEP

meetings during the middle of the year, we should wait till the end of

the semester to inform the educators of certain aspects of the student

instead of giving them all the information earlier in the year.

Finally, it is up to the educator himself to evaluate their

own teaching methods to be able to recognize, and change, the way they

present themselves to the entire class. To be able to know what we

are doing, and how we are doing it, at different times in the day is

crucial to the aura we present to the students.

Schools are often blamed for the ills of society, yet society

has a major impact on our education system. The problems that schools

are facing today are certainly connected to the problems that are

society faces, including drugs, violence, and the changing of our

family structure. There are many methods that schools have begun to

use in order to deal with the problems they are faced with and still

offer the best possible education to our youth.

The use of drugs in the general population has become a very

serious problem in society and within the school system. There are

two aspects to drug use that teachers are having to deal with now.

The first is in trying to teach the new generation of crack babies

that are now entering the schools. These students have extremely low

attention spans and can be very disruptive in class. Early

intervention programs designed to target these children and focus on

behavior management within the school setting have been effective in

preparing these students for school. Educators have also identified

drug use among students as one of the most significant problems that

our schools face today. According to the text, the rate of drug use

among students has declined in last few years, but recently there has

been an increase in alcohol abuse among teenagers. Intervention

programs such as APPLE, (a school based rehabilitation facility) have

been implemented in many schools with the cooperation of school

counselors and community agencies to treat drug using teenagers.

Other programs, such as D.A.R.E have been implemented in many

elementary schools to provide education about drugs to young students.

Violence, both in society and in the school system has also

been identified as a serious problem. The influx of weapons in

schools creates a dangerous situation for teachers, administrators and

other students. One remedy for this problem has been introduced in

many public city schools; the use of metal detectors. While this

method is not foolproof it does send the message that violence will

not be tolerated in schools and that severe measures will be

implemented in order to curb it. Educators are also being trained to

identify those students who may be violent and to provide non-violent

crisis intervention. It is an undeniable fact that our society has a

serious problem concerning violence and that the violence on the

streets is certainly connected to the violence in the schools. It

seems questionable that even these measures will significantly reduce

the problem in schools, but certainly the process of teaching can

continue in a less stressful atmosphere by having these measures in


Unfortunately, there are other problems such as the changing

family structure that do not have such clear cut solutions. Some of

the problems that teachers are faced with concerning the family

include poverty, single parent homes, abuse and/or neglect and


Statistics state that 41% of single, female headed households

live below the poverty level and that students who live in single

parent homes score lower on achievement tests, particularly boys whose

mothers are the head of the household. Obviously, single parent

families are a fact in our society today, given the rising rate of

divorce and single women having children, and it is true that this

change is having a severe effect on students today, but this should

not effect the quality of education that is provided, but rather,

encourage educators to be more aware of the difficulties these

students face in order to adapt their teaching style, as well as the

curriculum to reach these students.

Similarly, child abuse and/or neglect has become a major issue

in society and schools. It is not clear whether there is a rise in

the occurrences of abuse or whether better awareness has increased the

statistics, but it cannot be argued that this a significant problem

and one that effects those educators who have to help students who are

either abused or neglected. Strict regulations concerning the

accountability of teachers regarding the reporting of child abuse or

neglect are in effect. Teachers are required to be trained on the

ability to identify abuse. Community agencies, shelters and child

welfare agencies have begun working in conjunction with schools in

order to deal with the problem with as little disruption in the

student?s education as possible.

Homelessness is another major problem in our society. The

rate of homeless people has grown significantly since the early 1980?s

deinstitutionalization movement and more recently due to the rising

unemployment rate have led to more families and children being

homeless than ever before. This social problem has become a

significant problem for educators. Low achievement, which may be in

part due to low attendance as a result of a transient lifestyle,

physical problems associated with living on the streets and child

abuse are all issues that educators are confronted with when working

with students who are homeless. Unfortunately, because of the lack of

government funds, this problem continues to grow in America. On the

other hand, schools have begun to deal with this problem by hiring

additional counselors, some who work specifically to coordinate

service with shelters in order provide assistance to these families

and more precisely to the children. This effort clearly demonstrates

that educators are genuinely concerned about providing education to

all children.

Clearly our schools and society face the same problems. It

has become necessary for all people, not just educators, to be more

aware of the problems. Although some intervention programs have been

implemented and in some cases are very successful, it is becoming more

apparent that these problems are going to continue and will have a

direct consequence on our future in this country. Unfortunately, we

as a society tend to look for the “quick fix” to our problems without

realizing the consequences for the future. Our society need to

understand that the schools are not responsible for the cause of these

problems or the solutions, but rather, all aspects of society,

including schools, are intertwined and need to collectively work

together if we are ever to make progress toward resolving these

problems in the long run.