Public schools are the building blocks of our societies. They can be considered our foundational instruments. Although these institutes of learning play such an important role, they are unable to provide the best they can, due to their numerous flaws. It is evident that these problems exist by the number of school dropouts, falling test scores, and increased number of reported crimes. These problems all intermingle, with one another. Some can even be direct causes of each other. In other words, by making the necessary adjustments, for at least one of the problems, every problem could benefit.
With the help of some basic tactics and methods, reform of public schools is possible. A basic example of this can be seen dealing with the problem of overcrowded schools. When there are too many students in a class, everyone suffers. Teachers have a hard enough time, trying to keep an average size class focused. Students are also affected, because teachers are not able to spend enough time with them individually. The overcrowding is not only a direct effect of the worlds growing population, but is also caused by the lack of federal spending.
To build a new school, expenses would be incurred for the construction, engineering, and furnishing of the school. To boot, infrastructure reconstruction, such as streets, sewers, and utilities, can be costly. A solution to all this is for schools to be open all year. Year-round-education (YRE) is one of the simplest and most cost-effective ways to deal with the insufficient classroom space. “A school on a year-round calendar, has students in class for approximately 242 days, each year,” (Brekke, 1992). In this type of schooling, instead of having on long vacation, students would have several smaller breaks.
YRE is the best way to educate children, without having to cut corners. Obviously, it costs more to keep a school open for 242 days, rather than 180. All faculty, custodians, nurses, and counselors, must be on-hand, for the whole year. In actuality, it is less expensive to keep a school open, for the whole year. When you look at the per-pupil-cost, there are great savings (Brekke, 1992). Besides being cost-effective, there are multiple advantages in having kids attending school all year. Children will not forget so much information, over short breaks, compared to what they would forget over long vacations.
Students would also be able to advance quicker, because teachers would not have to waste time reviewing. This is especially true, for those students whom English is a second language. A majority of the year-round schools have students attending during different periods of the year. Three groups of children would be in school, while one group would be on vacation ( ). This would allow for even more students to attend the same school. A school that would normally hold 1000 pupils would now be able to house 1300. The creation of charter schools, would be the next best idea, to handle overcrowding.
During the 1960s, educators began looking for new ways to deal with the problem of overcrowded schools. Mostly in-part to court-ordered desegregation laws, school systems began opening up specialty schools. Whether a child was learning disabled or was considered at-risk, schools to help their particular needs emerged. By 1988, the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) endorsed the charter concept (Federal, 1997). Charter schools are extremely similar to public schools. These schools are free to the public. There is no discrimination in the selection process.
All local, state, and federal laws must be followed. The same standardized tests, which are given to public school students, are given to charter school students. There are also various key concepts missing from public school education that are found in charter schools. One of the key concepts is charter schools accountability. Charter schools have to show results. If only a small percentage of students graduate, a charter school could faced being closed. These schools have their charters renewed, every few years. This is a great incentive to provide the best education possible.
Choice and flexibility are key factors, which make charter schools attractive. School officials can hire quality faculty members, maintain high academic standards, and allow parent involvement, because of the schools freedom. This flexibility allows schools to be designed for each communitys specific needs. They are able to experiment with innovative and new teaching techniques. All of these conceits have helped improve students lives. A large number of children have displayed dramatic improvement in test scores and behavior. Overall, charter schools are extremely beneficial.
These schools are not designed to replace public schools. Instead, they supplement public schools by creating targeted programs and smaller classrooms. These schools return local control in public education. They are schools of choice, which bring diversity to a monotone school system. States that have granted them true autonomy have all success stories (Federal, 1997). They help to allocate public education funds. Best of all, charter schools give public schools the incentive to improve. Overcrowding and special needs can be taken care of simultaneously, with the availability of public charter schools.
There are many psychological problems that pertain to overcrowding. For instance, children can feel unwanted, by their teachers. This is only due to the teachers not being able to pay extra attention, to all their students. The overwhelming number of pupils, cause educators to only focus on the lesson, and not the student. Children want to feel that they are being heard. They need a certain amount of attention, and when they dont get it, they can get out of hand. Students, who do not receive attention at home, become uncontrollable. These circumstances help lead to the violence we witness in schools.
To try and solve the problem of violence, we first must look at some of the statistics and causative agents, associated with this problem. African-American males and females are more likely to be murdered as white males and females. The portion of Americas youth arrested for violent crimes is on the rise. “Criminologist expect juvenile crime to rise by 114%, over the next decade” (Baer, 1998). The increase of violence and crimes is being witnessed in urban and rural schools. Several mental circumstances can contribute to the rise of violence.
If a child suffers from psychomotor clumsiness, has a low non-verbal I. Q. , or the child performs poorly in school he or she is prone to be violent (Health, 1997). When other pupils and teachers consider pupils troublesome, they can be emotionally effected. Children that are physically/sexually abused, or have suffered from a bad head injury, most likely will take part in violence or crime. Violence, witnessed in the home, is passed on to children. They become accustomed to it, to the point where they feel it is acceptable behavior. Due to this fact, these students believe it is normal to act this way in school.
Furthermore, broken families are practically the main reason for the formation of gangs (Kachur,1996). Society plays a major role, in the way which children are molded. The media may not realize but, by networks constantly showing violence, mostly for ratings, their younger audience absorbs it. By doing so, they in turn, themselves become violent. The films that are distributed are more violent now than ever. Television has turned away, from wholesome family values, to more action-packed shows. Drugs are now seen everyday in schools. They have become just as common as pens and pencils.
Children from elementary to high school appear to be using drugs. As time goes on, it seems that drug use is not on a decline. Use of illicit drugs and alcohol are obviously direct influences of violence and crime. Although violence is apparent, there are several ways in which schools can make the number of incidents decline. For example, the creation of mentor programs. Children, who do not receive the correct guidance at home, need someone to turn to. Role models have some of the most important jobs. They are there to point children in the right direction. Without these people, children are prone to run ramped.
Schools that do not have after-school programs allow children, whose parents are not home early, to wander on the streets. Extra-curricular activities occupy students. They force pupils to stay of out trouble. Also, these activities help students improve or learn special skills. The activities benefit society too, because they create jobs. Many community leaders are trying to start such programs. Volunteer groups are becoming involved with schools, to help spread the word of non-violence. Congress has become involved, by passing the Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act of 1994.
The act provides for support of violence and drug prevention programs (Education, 1997). Besides students using drugs recreationally, there are a great number of potential athletes who are abusing substances. Almost every public school has athletic programs. Players deal with competition, stress, and self-achievement. These athletes will do anything to persevere. The usage of steroids and other high performance substances are widely used. To manage this problem, school officials may attempt to enforce a policy of random drug testing of student athletes. This solution unfortunately has some side effects.
The use of drug tests, to screen students for drug use, is a relatively new phenomenon in the school setting. Drug testing of a student by a public school official is a search that must comply with the requirements of the Fourth Amendment. “The Fourth Amendment prohibits all unreasonable searches and seizures by State officers,” (Health, 1997). Reasonableness is determined by balancing the governmental interest behind the search against the privacy intrusion of the search. Many students believed urinalysis drug tests are searches within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment that intrude upon a significant privacy interest.
In 1995, the Supreme Court passed a law that allows for all students, participating in athletic activities, to be randomly submitted to drug testing (Health, 1997). With governmental intervention school officials now have the power to efficiently stop the spread of drug use. The least expensive, time consuming, and quickest, obstacle to overcome is boosting a students motivation. Students must obtain a strong will, in order to succeed. They need to be driven, if they want to reach the highest achievement possible. Besides their parents, teachers and school officials should be the driving forces, behind them.
In most cases, teachers dont show their pupils that they care. Lately, teachers do not act like the role models they really are. One of their jobs is to mold students, into successful and prosperous young adults. As stated earlier, educators play an important role in a students academic and social life. An uncaring instructor can cause a damaging snowball effect. If they show no interest, in a students work, then the students themselves will not show any interest in their own schoolwork. These educators will in turn, cause the student to become delinquent, in handing in and doing his or her work.
The teacher would not be aware that it is his or her own fault, for the student delinquency, and the child would receive poor grades. Pertaining to a childs education, teachers are just as important as the books students read from. All problems, witnessed in our school system, can be fixed easily and sufficiently. Parents and teachers must come together to show how important an education is. We do not live in the 1950s, where a person making roughly $20,000 a year, can live comfortably. Also, we are now living in the “age of technology.
It is very rare; you see personal working with pens and paper, rather than computers and software. “Mom and Pop” stores are becoming extinct. Children can no longer rely on their parents for jobs. The use of illicit drugs, and other substances, inhibits pupils comprehension of this startling fact. Our future must become aware of this. Public schools, which are open all year, would be cost-effective and available to more students. By our communities establishing charter schools, they would not only be helping those at-risk students, but also assist in ending the problem of overcrowding.
The government must enforce and fund drug prevention programs, to educate our youth. It is imperative that our counselors and teachers evolve into the brilliant role models, they are supposed to be. Supplementing these schools, after school programs can almost guarantee a students well being. Richard W. Reil said it best, when he stated “Why are after-school programs so important? Because childrens minds dont close at 3p. m. , and neither should their schools,” (Federal, 1997). These minute adjustments can make a world of a difference.