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The United States, Great Britain, and Russia: A Political Assimilation

Essay by   •  February 10, 2011  •  Research Paper  •  3,546 Words (15 Pages)  •  1,768 Views

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The United States, Great Britain, and Russia all share fairly similar public educational systems. Citizens in all three countries must have 11 years of public education. These 11 years, grades 1-12 in the United States and grades 1-11 in Great Britain and Russia, are free to every citizen of the country. That is, however, where the similarities end.

In the United States, education for most children begins early (the age of three), with most attending preschool before actual schooling begins with kindergarten at the age of 5. Preschool is basically daycare with an educational twist, and is privatized. It is in preschool that students begin to learn the basics of the English language. They learn basic motor skills as well as basic grammar, with many preschools using reading programs such as "Hooked on Phonics" in corporation with individual help to help the students along in their learning. Performance isn't openly measured, and work-time and playtime are evenly balanced. The learning environment created in preschool is very relaxed. While preschool is recommended for the early development of children's cognitive abilities, many children don't attend. According to a 1997 study done by Elias Lopez, Ph.D ., and the California Research Bureau, there were approximately 650,000 children ages three to five who were in neither preschool nor kindergarten. Fifty-three percent of these 650,000 children were Latino, followed by White children at 23 percent, Blacks with 10 percent, and Asians with 8 percent. Another study performed by the same group revealed that of the students currently attending kindergarten, only 43% of Blacks, 41% of Asians, and 23% of Latinos had attended preschool the year before. Yet another study performed by the same group indicated that in addition to ethnicity, family income is a strong predictor for whether or not a child attends preschool. Two-thirds of the children in preschool come from families with incomes below $30,000/year (38% with under $15,000/year and 27% with $15,000-$30,000/year, respectively). Fifty-one percent of children ages 3-5 not currently attending preschool come from families with income under $15,000/year, while Twenty-two percent come from families with an income of $75,000+/year.

The next destination for American students is actual standardized school. The American educational system consists of 12 grades that span from early childhood until what is considered adulthood for most students. In order for a student to reach the next grade, he or she must pass the grade they are currently in. Just what is required for a student to pass depends on where the student is attending school. It is nearly impossible to fail the early grades as students are only judged solely on the teacher's perspective of their performance in the class and not "pass" or "fail" grades. Actual grades usually become part of an American student's life around third or fourth grade. A grade of "A" is the best you can do, followed by "B," "C," "D," and "F." Some schools, however, feel that the letter grade of "F" is much too emotionally harmful to the students and assign a failing grade of "E." By the time an American student is in high school, he or she is made to believe that the grades he or she earns are the most important part of their life, and above all else he or she should focus on school. A MAJOR flaw in the American education system is that there is really only one form of education available, and that education is aimed at students who plan to go on to some sort of college. America is just now starting to offer vocational programs for students who aren't interested in sitting in a classroom for a quarter of their lifetime. Such programs offer training for hands-on jobs that don't require a college education, but rather sort of an apprenticeship. Jobs include welding, plumbing, basic electronics knowledge, etc. It is the view of many that vocational training is a terrible thing, and people who have taken that route are slaves, completely devoid of worth to society. One particular extremist on the topic, Mortimer J. Adler, Ph.D., shares the same views as much of America seems to share today:

"While the ancients had the correct view of education as essentially liberal, they did not think that all men should be liberally educated, because they did not think that all men are fitted by nature for the pursuit of happiness or citizenship or the liberal pursuits of leisure. But we today, at least those of us who are devoted to the principles of democracy, think otherwise. We maintain that all men should be citizens, that all have an equal right to the pursuit of happiness, and that all should be able to enjoy the goods of civilization. Hence we think that a democratic society must provide liberal schooling for all."

He goes on to say the following:

"Vocational training for particular tasks in the industrial process should be done by industry itself and on the job, not by the schools or in classrooms. The curriculum of basic schooling, from the first grade through college, should be wholly liberal and essentially the same for all."

Adler's views are common in today's society, but many teachers agree that his view is flawed. For some students, college just isn't in the cards. Vocational training provides these students with an education in something they can excel at, make a good living at, and above all else, like to do. This different college-isn't-the-only-option way of education could decrease poverty rates and mean less reliance on welfare.

Although public school is by far the most popular option in America, American parents may also choose to enroll their child in a private school. Private schools are almost exclusively associated with religion, something that is illegal to preach in public schools in America. American private schools are basically the same as American public schools except the students usually have to wear easy to make fun of uniforms, all of the students come from a family with a fairly decent income, and one of the classes taught each day is religion. Interestingly enough, private schools are usually the schools with higher drug-use rates because the kids enrolled in the school all have enough money to buy the stuff.

National performance is based on a variety of standardized test scores, which are controlled by the state. These standardized tests are in place to evaluate student performance in mandatory subjects; math, English, science, and some social science courses all have standardized tests. The tests also help evaluate the teachers' abilities to efficiently teach the material, since the material public school teachers have

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