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Declining Education in America

Essay by   •  April 4, 2011  •  Research Paper  •  1,129 Words (5 Pages)  •  1,373 Views

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Declining Education in America

There are many factors that show why American education has declined. American school systems have faced hardships, both social and economic. The lack of competition and difference in curriculum has revealed the distinction between education principles among different countries. One of the reasons why basics are not learned is that they are no longer being taught at the same level as before. In an effort to make textbooks easier to understand, the manufactures of these books have made the information in them less useful as a teaching tool. For example, when a well-known history book was revised with a target aimed at the high school market, words like "spectacle" and "admired" were eliminated because they were found to be too difficult (Sowell, 1993; 7). In the earlier years of the twentieth century, students finishing the eighth grade in Kansas had to pass an examination which included spelling such words as "elucidation" and "animosity," defining such terms as "zenith" and "panegyric," as well as diagramming sentences and doing very advanced arithmetic problems (Sowell, 1993; 7). Now, the majority of the high school graduates could not spell or define some of the words that an eighth grade student was required to know in order to be promoted into high school.

The U.S. National Center for Educational Statistics has proven that America has set lower standards than other countries in thestandards that are instilled in their students. In 1972, 116,000 students scored above 600 on the verbal portion of the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) and less than 71,000 scored that high ten years later even though there was an increase in population (Sowell, 1993; 9). Even with the population increase between the 1970's and present day, there has been a dramatic decrease in SAT scores (U.S. Census Bureau, 2004; 162). People sometimes try to blame the lower test results on an increase in the amount of students that are now attending school, thus lowering the overall average. This, however, is not true. Statistics show that in reality the SAT scores have declined at the top, rather than having more average scores mixed in.

The serious social problems of many inner city children cannot explain the downward movement of American education in general, nor can it explain the problems with the schools in the inner city or in bad neighborhoods. A study was done in these areas sending students from public schools in low-income neighborhoods and enrolled them into a private school system at no cost. The students were from the same area of town and from the same income level as each other. The students that were sent to private schools did academically better than those students, who remained in the public school system (Sowell, 1993; 10).

The decline in American education has other factors making it prevalent. The majority of schools in our country are unable to spend an adequate amount of money on their students. With the government cutting back tax money and losing support in other areas there is just not enough money to support the students. There is a misuse of money in many school districts. The Zeus School District could not afford to fix leaking roofs and other improvements for the school. Instead, they spent 1.9 million on their staff (Frase, Streshly, 2000; 50). It is statistically shown that in overcrowded and poverty-stricken schools, students are not learning what they should be. Students are unable to have one-on-one attention with the teacher. This individualized attention from the teacher allows a student to show where he or she stands, as compared to the rest of the class. Schools that do not have enough teachers for the amount of students lack this individualized attention and, in the long run, this will hinder the student's academic upbringing. This special one-on-one attention is seen more in the smaller schools than in the larger schools. A study was shown in the United States concerning the reading performance of students in grades Kindergarten through grade twelve. (Frase, Streshly, 2000; 120).

Psychologists have proven that children look up to their parents as role models and in most cases will believe in the same values and norms. Some parents are not encouraging their children to do well in school nor are they even telling them how important school is. A study was done over the United States to see what students valued the most and one ten percent responded with education.

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