A System in Need

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The students of East high school are 27% proficient in math and 38% in science yet 88% graduate (Utah Performance Assessment System for Students, page 1). In the film "Waiting For "Superman"" created by Davis Guggenheim, he calls many of the public high schools of America "drop-out factories" and "academic sinkholes." According to the research done in the film, Utah didn't not have any "drop-out factories." With 27% proficiency in math East high school must be on the borderline. This is why our public school system needs to change.

The average cost for private school is $10,607.75 (CAPE| Private School Facts, page 20). In "Waiting For "Superman"" it is said that a high school dropout is likely to end up in prison. For the amount of money it takes to support them in prison (food, clothes, health care) you could send them all to private schools and still have extra money for college. According to the documentary ("Waiting For "Superman"") the cost to incarcerate a prisoner for one year is $33,000 on average. Paying to incarcerate a prisoner vs. spending those same dollars on educating a person is a tremendous waste of money. Had a small percentage gone towards properly educating these people as children, they most likely would not have ended up in the prison system but rather be productive members of society. As working citizens they would be generating income and paying taxes instead of being a burden on the rest of the country.

Good teachers are lured to private schools because of smaller class sizes and minimal disciplinary problems. In addition, teachers benefit from teaching kids who want to learn. The lure of teaching in a public school is, they are typically paid more money and will have job security because the tenure system makes it virtually impossible for them to be fired. However, when things go wrong the teacher gets the blame.

The table below shows, private schools have a better environment for education.

The Schools and Staffing Survey (SASS), published by the National Center for Education
Statistics, provides data on public and private schools. The following table, based on
1999-2000 SASS data (the most recent), indicates the extent to which teachers think
various behaviors are serious problems in their schools. (Source: Table 73, Digest of
Education Statistics: 2005)
Percentage of teachers who perceive certain issues as serious problems in their schools

Public
Private
student disrespect for teachers
17
4
use of alcohol
7
3
drug abuse
6
2
student tardiness
10
3
student absenteeism
14
3
students unprepared to learn
30
5
lack of parent involvement
24
3
student apathy
21
4





(CAPE| Private School Facts, Table 11, 2005).

In Utah we have good teachers, but they can't give the students what they deserve.

Public schools must adhere to state standards regarding what can be taught and how it is
presented. Certain subjects such as religion and sexual practices are taboo. Rulings in
many court cases over the years have determined the scope and limits of what can be
taught and how it is presented in public schools.(Robert Kennedy, page 1)

These public school standards hold schools back. Public schools have large class sizes, the average class size being between 35 and 40. For a teacher to be effective the ratio should be 1 to 15. This is another reasons students don't get enough one on one attention.

If students do not get the attention they need, they can fall behind and drop out. If they graduate from high school without being proficient in the basics, they will have a difficult time getting into a college.

Sometimes it's not the school or teacher that may affect a student's success, it's the students, peers, family, culture or neighborhood that can influence students to the point where they don't care about school anymore, they give up. Schools should be places that encourage education and make the student want to succeed. Many schools lack the encouragement to motivate students. All schools must have a positive and safe learning environment if they are to be successful.

Utah's schools may not be bad now but they are going downhill quickly. For example, East's students overall proficiency in chemistry was 42% in 2008 and by 2011 had dropped to 32% (Science status breakdown, East High, Salt Lake District). I hope our schools in Utah never reach the poor level that schools in Washington D.C are currently at. These schools are considered "Academic sink holes." One of Washington D.C.'s high schools has a 24% graduation rate, and 21% of its students read at grade level (By Amanda Ripley/Washington, page 1). The new Chancellor of Education, in Washington, D.C. , Michelle Rhee is hoping to turn things around. Not only for her district but to set a example for the country.

Rhee has promised to make Washington the highest-performing urban school district in
the nation, a prospect that, if realized, could transform the way schools across the country
are run. She is attempting to do this through a relentless focus on finding--and rewarding-
strong teachers, purging incompetent ones and weakening the tenure system that keeps
bad teachers in the classroom.(By Amanda Ripley/Washington, page 1)

So far she has been affective although not popular with the teachers union. She is trying to get new regulations and standards passed for her district and if she is successful it could be a big change for the nation.

Many families cannot afford private schools. Another option for them to get a great education could be a charter school with great results. But these schools have a limited number of spots and a lot of interested families, they can only except new students through a lottery system. The future of these kids is in the hands of luck.

In my opinion public schools are facing some serious challenges with educating our youth. One of the biggest obstacles we should eliminate, is granting teachers tenure in the public school system. This would make teachers accountable for the success of their students. Teachers who could not meet standards of proficiency with their students should be removed from the school system. We need to decrease school class sizes and to do this we would need to increase public funding for schools. This will be a challenge, but will have a positive effect on the students being educated through the public school system.










Bibliography

"CAPE | Private School Facts." CAPE. Council for American Private Education. Web. Oct.-Nov. 2011. <http://www.capenet.org/facts.html>.

Utah Performance Assessment System for Students. Salt Lake District, 2011. Web. Oct.-Nov. 2011. <http://results.schools.utah.gov>.

"Public vs. Private Schools." New York Times July-Aug. 2006, New York Edition ed., sec. A: A20. The New York Times. The New York Times, July-Aug. 2006. Web. Oct.-Nov. 2011. <http://www.nytimes.com/2006/07/19/opinion/19wed2.html>.

Kennedy, Robert. "Comparison of Private and Public Schools." About.com: Need. Know. Accomplish. About.com. Web. Sept.-Oct. 2011. <http://privateschool.about.com/od/choosingaschool/qt/comparison.htm>.

Kennedy, Robert. "Private vs. Public Schools." About.com: Need. Know. Accomplish. About.com. Web. Sept.-Oct. 2011. <http://privateschool.about.com/cs/employment/a/teachingcond.htm>.

Ripley, Amanda. "Rhee Tackles Classroom Challenge." Time 26 Nov. 2008. Web. Oct. 2011. <http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1862444,00.html>.





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