There is a widespread perception that is all is not well within the American educational system. Although there are several schools of thoughts as to the possible causes for the perceived sorry state of public education, the educational process has emerged the key consensus culprit blamed by many pundits. Nothing can however be farther from the truth. While the educational process might purely benefit from a few innovations here and there, it is by no means the major problem with the American public education.
According to statistics, the problem of educational performance and poor showing in international tests are largely peculiar with American schools where more than 75 percent of the student populace is poor. Students who attend American public schools with a large percentage of middle-income students perform brilliantly in international tests and reasonable performance has also been recorded for students who attend public schools with half of the student populace living in poverty. It is however safe to conclude that it is indeed the high-poverty public schools that fall dangerously below the international educational standards. The national poverty rate stands at 14.5 percent.
Unfortunately, given that poverty in America is deeply concentrated rather than being evenly spread, American public schools and the neighborhood in which they are situated are inseparable. Therefore, in addition to the myriads of problems and disadvantages that come with growing up in low-income and economically isolated neighborhoods, there is the problem of local, poverty-ridden public schools.
These schools tend to be underfunded and as such the students miss out on several important opportunities and resources that students in public schools situated in an affluent or largely middle-income neighborhood enjoy. Consequently, their academic performance does not measure up and in the long run come to hurt the overall perception of the academic performance of American students in public schools.
The real problem here is clearly that of poverty and inequality. Poor kids are more likely to attend high-poverty schools. Taking this into perspective, it is clear to see the huge staggering gap that separates America’s well-resourced public school districts from its poorly resourced ones.
These poor students who to start with are already at a disadvantaged position end up attending schools that lack the necessary resources to cover for their disadvantages and bring them up to speed. The truth is that public education still works very well; the American middle-income public schools and the low-income public schools are proofs.
The bane of the American public education is therefore the extreme inequality characteristic of the American society which has spread to the education such that the most needy students are concentrated in schools that are very unlikely to possess the resources to meet their special needs. How long will we have to wait to see public education become a well oiled working system accommodating everyone?
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