“Upon the subject of education, not presuming to dictate any plan or system respecting it, I can only say that I view it as the most important subject which we as a people can be engaged in”
- Abraham Lincoln.
March 9, 1832 First Political Announcement
American Public Education system has stood witness to the modernization of Education through various educational reforms whereby America took efforts so that all children deserve equal opportunities in the school house.
Reforms arising from the civil rights era:
From the 1950s to the 1970s, many of the proposed and implemented reforms in U.S. education stemmed from the CivilRights Movement and related trends; examples include ending racial segregation, and busing for the purpose of desegregation, affirmative action, and banning of school prayer.
Reform efforts in the 1980s:
President Regan’s efforts for the promotion of education are reflected in the book “Nation at Risk”. In the latter half of the decade, E. D. Hirsch advocated “cultural literacy” and launched attacks on the versions of progressive education.
Reform efforts in the 1990s and 2000s:
By the time 90’s came most the districts and states had adopted the Outcome-BasedEducation (OBE) which was later followed up by the NoChild Left Behind Act of 2001, which is still in a mandate stage.
In the first decade of the 21st century, several issues are salient in debates over further education reform:
- Longer school day or school year
- After-school tutoring
- Charter schools, school choice, or school vouchers
- Smaller class sizes
- Improved teacher quality
- Improved training
- Higher credential standards
- Generally higher pay to attract more qualified applicants
- Performance bonuses ("merit pay")
- Firing low-performing teachers
- Internet and computer access in schools
- Track and reduce drop-out rate
- Track and reduce absenteeism
- English-only vs. bilingual education
- Mainstreaming special education students
- Content of curriculum standards and textbooks
- Funding, neglected infrastructure, and adequacy of educational supplies.
Florida’s Achievements in Implementing Education Reforms:
However, inspite of all the contemporary issues, Florida has managed to become one of the few states that have responded well to the concept of truly educating the child through a comprehensive system of school reforms. Through school accountability measures those schools performed badly and fell in the rank of D’s and F’s have now moved up the ladder and are performing well with B’s and A’s.
Florida also created new opportunities by providing the low income family members to transfer their children to private schools through scholarships, charter schools and all. Moreover Florida promoted early literacy. Children who did not perform well and remained illiterate till the 3rd standard were not promoted. On the contrary they were provided with intensive reading instruction so as to improve their reading and writing skills.
Not only in schools, Florida is also taking initiatives at the college level by introducing Advanced Placement classes and is encouraging the students to appear for the college entrance exams. Infact the SAT scores of the African American and Hispanic Community improved a lot in comparison to the other countries.
Although a huge gap still persists before it can be claimed that achievement is nearby but still at least we know which direction needs to be followed. Florida’s contribution in the education system is looked up as a national model of “what works”. It has opened up a middle avenue for both the centre-left and centre-right parties.
This powerful bipartisan convergence was on display at the NationalSummit on Education Reform this week in Washington DC, where former New York City School Chancellor Joel Klein and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice joined in agreement on the education reform measures needed to ensure national security. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush also joined in supporting strong school and teacher accountability as well as measurable student outcome-based approaches to education reform.
President Obama declared that "it is time for us to work together, just like Jeb and I are doing — coming from different parties, but we came together not as Democrats and Republicans but as Americans."