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Educational Programs in the United Sates

Introduction

Educational programs in the United Sates is mainly governmental, which is controlled and financed on the three different levels: federal governmental control, state governmental control and local governmental control. The literacy rate in the United States is 98%, but according to the census held in 2003 only 84,6% over 25 years old had secondary education, 52, 5 got higher education and 27,3% got bachelor degree: “32 million adults in the USA — about one in seven — are saddled with such low literacy skills that it would be tough for them to read anything more challenging than a children’s picture book or to understand a medication’s side effects listed on a pill bottle” (Toppo, 2009). The poor statistics also touched higher educational establishments too: “Just 54 percent of students entering four-year colleges in 1997 had a degree six years later — and even fewer Hispanics and blacks did, according to some of the latest government figures” (Associated Press, 2005). American Education system is one of the most expensive in the whole world, but economists and scientific researches hesitate in its efficiency: “In 2000, the US spent over $10,200 for every elementary school student. In other developed countries, the spending was just over $6,000. Overall, the US holds second place by the percentage of GDP (7%) spent on education in 2000. Since George Bush became President, government spending on education rose $11 billion to $147.9 billion in 2002. In 2002 alone, $26.5 billion was spent on elementary and middle schools. Of this amount, $1 billion was designated for reading improvement programs” (WasingtonProfile, 2004). The result is unsatisfactory, statistics gives bad prognosis for its further development too.

What are the reasons for such a phenomenon? In the whole world their exist lots of countries that do not make such a great inputs in their educational systems but statistical data shows that they are more efficient than US. The question is not an easy one and quiet a complicated one, but let’s try to find the reasons as well as efficient methods to learn how to decrease drop out rate within the education.
Present Day Statement of Educational System. Identifying the Area of Significance: Increasing of Drop Out Rates

It won’t be a secret that one of the most problematic zones in the education is dropping out. Disturbing signals have appeared earlier, yet in the 90-s of the 20th century. And the subject connected on the educational problem is studied deeply. Different commissions were formed and we can learn about the results of their work: “The National Education Commission on Time and Learning found that most American students spend less than half their day actually studying academic subjects. The commission’s two-year study found that American students spent only about 41 percent of the school day on basic academics.

Their schedules jammed with course work in self-esteem, personal safety, AIDS education, family life, consumer training, driver’s ed, holistic health, and gym, the typical American high school student spends only 1,460 hours on subjects like math, science, and history during their four years in high schools. Meanwhile, their counterparts in Japan will spend 3,170 hours on basic subjects, students in France will spend 3,280 on academics, while students in Germany will spend 3,528 hours studying such subjects – nearly three times the hours devoted in American schools” (Sykes, 1999). It is not a surprising result – motivation has always been serious reason for educational system. Despite the new methods of education young Americans stay indifferent to their future, they do not find it useful and do not find the place for education in their life. Actually the democratization in educational system is very interesting. But it is very difficult to choose a certain course (will it be necessary, in future or not) for a teenager who does not have certain experience. The problem of choice should be easier as further disappointment and concentration on other ‘more important things’, they should be probably directed in some way. The lack of motivation and too much of freedom does not make a good advantage for American education. Entering a new personally chosen course and finding it uninteresting could drown the whole educational process. Finding education unnecessary students give up studying the result is very unpleasant: “After borrowing for school but failing to graduate, many of those students may be worse off than if they had never attended college at all. Now the question of what to do about the country’s unimpressive and stagnate graduation rates is on the agenda, from college presidents’ offices to state houses” (Associated Press, 2005). It shows that the drop out rate has a significant influence on the psychological aspect of student who gave up ending college. Starving for brighter perspectives and so called American Dream orientation is ruined by inability to get to appropriate course. It goes without saying that such a disappointment would influence the whole life of the person who borrowed money to get appropriate education (we should take into account that the money also should be also paid back). These people are left without a dream, without aim to promote self development, on the backstage of the life.

Sometimes quite perspective students abandon colleges and universities too. It won’t be a secret that many young Americans, entering a college take a part time job, or even create personal small business (within contemporary cyberspace it is not very difficult task), with the development, certain perspective the job or business take more and more time and student have no other solution than to decide, what she/he needs more – either university (and “doubtful” perspectives for future) or a work (with developmental perspectives, personal income and many other tempting things). The choice is usually predictable and college is not included into the plans for future. Still one should remember that educational expectancies are the ones, which would be repaid very soon and then would bring profit the whole life to those who ended either university or college. In contemporary world constant education means a lot as the technologies are developing very quickly. To become a corresponding employee, each should have a good basis education and then promote and develop personal and professional qualities within post-graduating programs.

The same time educational programs got to correspond to contemporary realities too: “The origins of this dropout problem have yet to be fully investigated. Evidence suggests a powerful role of the family in shaping educational and adult outcomes. A growing proportion of American children are being raised in disadvantaged families. This trend promises to reduce productivity and promote inequality in the America of tomorrow” (Heckman, LaFontaine; 2008)

Examining Methods and Ideas suggested by different Institution to Decrease Drop Out Problem within US Education

As it was mentioned earlier 14% (nearly 32 million Americans) have very low literacy skills and the problem of drop out does not lose its acuteness too: “In 2007, Americans stood second only to Canada in the percentage of 35 to 64 year olds holding at least two-year degrees. Among 25 to 34 year olds, the country stands tenth. The nation stands 15 out of 29 rated nations for college completion rates, slightly above Mexico and Turkey” (Broder, 2007). Already in the 21st century educational sphere of social line have passedthrough the reformation and the best known probably is No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, provided by President Bush (Junior) Administration, the financing of the project increased in 58%, but the researchers found it not enough, as the law has too many demands to educational establishments. Hence the new strategy has taken few steps, among them a number was aimed on decreasing t he situation with drop-outs.

Richmond Times-Dispatch tells about the measures undertaken by local government to change the poor statistics and create an academy, which would reduce schools’ drop out rate. The statistical data within the region could be slightly called satisfactory: “In recent years, Chesterfield County’s countywide graduating classes have been losing about 500 students who drop out because they weren’t able to find success in the traditional high school setting. The county’s graduation rate is 84 percent, and its dropout rate is 8.8 percent. In comparison, Henrico County’s dropout rate is 8.9 percent, Hanover County’s is 3.4 percent, and Richmond’s is 14.8 perce. In an effort to recapture some of those students and prevent more from dropping out, school officials plan to turn the current Clover Hill High School building into the 21st Century Academy” (Lizama, 2009). The academy would correspond to contemporary needs of the society, providing more flexible schedule for the students and offering a number of multiple options to get a degree, online courses would be the best illustration. The government of the county supposes that they would be able to raise the rate the graduates and decrease the level of drop-outs as they suggest such a system that would be able to satisfactory the needs of working students and the could combine their working and studies together: “Chesterfield officials hope the academy approach also will help increase the graduation rate and decrease the drop-out rate by giving students the option to take classes before or after work, Pruden said” (Lizama, 2009). Another idea announced by assistant superintendent for instructional administration, Ed Pruden is the usage of different approach, which is suggested by technical-education courses: “”There are many high school students who need different approaches and second chances to succeed,” he said. One of those approaches is offering technical-education courses. Mike Rose, principal at the Chesterfield Technical Center, told the School Board that enrollment at the center almost has doubled in the past 10 years because of the growing student population countywide and the rising popularity of the center’s courses”(Lizama, 2009). One more strategy, which should make education more popular is online program, which would offer for students at least 24 courses online: “Another option for students will be the county’s online program, which will be offering a minimum of 24 courses online next fall. This would allow students to take all required courses online to graduate with a standard diploma. About 1,100 students are taking classes online currently, Pruden said. “It is foreseen that most students will opt to enroll in one or two of the courses [online] to either free a spot in a schedule, to remediate a need, or to complete coursework for graduation,” he said”(Lizama, 2009). These wide variety of student’s initiative is supposed to bring more new students to the school as well as give another chance for those who drop out and would like to continue and graduate the program: “School officials also will consider bringing to the academy the Performing Learning Center program, where students earn credits by completing work on their own and at their own pace with the supervision and verification by the school staff” (Lizama, 2009).

Using innovations has always been one of the most successful methods to improve education and raise the level of graduates. Monitoring social opinion is an essential part of innovative strategy and it gave the result as people are intended to study on technologies courses. Personally I think that Internet involvement also would play a significant role, as this particular invention would help many students to promote their education within the distance studies, using internet. It would also help to raise the rate of those who wish to get education, and save their time for training courses.

Another media source The Christian Science Monitor reviews another important practice volunteering as a method of reducing students’ dropout: “Volunteering is up in America, even in (perhaps because of) hard times. Last year, 63.4 million people offered their services gratis – 1.5 million more than in 2008. Volunteering is helping to keep the elderly in their homes, for instance, and it can also keep kids in school” (The Christian Science Monitor, 2010). The article deals with personal experience of school superintendent in California’s Central Valley John Cruz, who learned that structured approach to volunteering could prevent childrens’ dropping out from school in the district he works: “Mr. Cruz starts children volunteering early. In elementary school, he has them tend the school garden and hatch trout for the depleted population in the San Joaquin River. In high school, they help immigrants study for citizenship tests. This sounds like generic community service, but it’s a cousin that’s far more structured. Service learning weaves volunteering with specific academic instruction. Students reflect on a project, not just check it off on their to-do list. Even as more public schools offer community service (68 percent of K-12 versus 64 percent in 1999), fewer are involved in service learning (a quarter of schools, down from one-third a decade ago), according to the Corporation for National and Community Service.” (The Christian Science Monitor, 2010). The research investigating volunteering method showed that is is a promising strategy for dropout prevention: “Cruz, who leads the Fowler Unified School District, can attest to that. His award-winning program – combined with other supports for struggling students – has produced a stellar attendance rate of 97 percent and a dropout rate of less than 1 percent, plus improved academic performance. In comparison, about 1 in 3 kids who start ninth grade in Fresno County (where Cruz’s district is located) fails to graduate four years later. Cruz says his district is similar to the surrounding area in terms of ethnic makeup (75 percent Hispanic) and income (from very low to middle class)” (The Christian Science Monitor, 2010). Such programs, involving volunteering process could give a number of districts (especially with larger immigrants population) to promote education. Still it needs persistence, as school superintendent John Cruz needed 10 years to develop the program and make it work on different levels, as it involves people of different ages. The idea of using managerial practice (award-winning system) would perfectly develop competitive skills and raise interest, leading to getting new experience and knowledge without being bored and uninterested.

John Cruz is talented teacher who found a suitable strategy for his region, suggesting new developmental ideas within the secondary education system. The statistical data performed within the region perfectly illustrate the success of his volunteering approach and how efficient it is within the region. If we look at the statistical data at the developing countries it would show, that material status (monthly income) provides a significant impact on educational practice and the same situation is observed in Fresno County. The region is traditionally related as problem, but John Cruz and his volunteering innovation showed that everything is possible, despite the fact that some programs could not last more than two weeks in the region: “Some service projects in his district last just two weeks; others, a full semester. With the help of specially trained teachers, students research and choose their projects and then build teams to carry them out. Principals may not gravitate toward service learning, which is admittedly detailed. They may see it mainly as a way to enhance student civic awareness – perhaps not worth the effort. It’s far more than that. It bridges schoolwork to the real world and keeps students engaged in learning, all the way to graduation day” (The Christian Science Monitor, 2010).

Appealing to the different methods used in the different regions it would be necessary to note that every region has it peculiarities, that is why it could be impossible to develop universal program that would suit every region. Every strategy means the monitoring of social needs and opinion and some are intended on the long term process as it happened with Fresno County, where low income assess education drop out. Every particular region needs certain examination of the economical, social and developmental potential, including current statistical data. The developmental process of John Cruz did not actually lasted long. 10 years, to find efficiency strategy, which provides such a prominent results is not very long time. Nowadays it is working perfectly.

The methods provided Chesterfield county are still on the development stage and they suppose to meet first results in several years.

Identifying Difficulties within the Education Sector Providing a Significant Influence on Realization of Methods Decreasing Drop Outs Rate

The same time we should not also forget that the re-newing method, involving quite huge expenses: “A new, $76.5 million Clover Hill High School near state Route 288 and Genito Road will replace the existing facility on Hull Street Road. The new Clover Hill is scheduled to open next fall, while the 21st Century Academy will open in the fall of 2011. About $9 million has been included for the academy in the proposed 2011-15 capital-improvement plan. The money would pay for classroom additions for career and technology education; some repairs; and a dataand asset-management center to support the school” (Lizama, 2009). Despite the significant support from federal government it goes without saying the development, introducing and realization of new methods need huge expenses for every educational establishment. The researchers of this question that financial support provided on education aims is still not enough for providing efficient realization of contemporary legislation rules and No Child Left Behind: “Funding for the Department of Education rose 58% during Bush’s first three years, a bigger increase than during the previous eight years under Clinton. But many say even that increase is not enough, considering the demands the law imposes on schools. Funding is still $7 billion a year under what was envisioned in the authorizing legislation for No Child Left Behind, according to the National Education Association. And it isn’t just Democrats and the teachers unions saying it. In Republican-dominated Utah, the superintendent of the state’s largest school district estimated it would cost $182 million over the next 10 years to implement all the provisions of No Child Left Behind, compared to the $2.2 million per year it now receives in federal aid. And in Republican-dominated Ohio, a study for the state department of education estimated the cost of compliance with the law to be $149 million per year” (Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania, 2004). It goes without saying that appropriate financing is also needed for realization the ideas aimed on decreasing the rate of drop outs. Making a stress of the lack of financial support is the most significant for secondary education, as in the United States governmental schools predominate against private. The poor statistical data dealing with secondary education was widely reflected in the media showing that drop out problemacy is very significant and needs appropriate financial support.

Possible Solutions for the Difficulties in Methods Realization

The financial question is probably one of the most significant and contradictory one, when it comes to the realization of drop out decrease methodology. Some would say that the only way to support the necessities of educational system of the United States is to increase private schooling and this would significantly solve the question. But he is raised another. Describing the situation in agricultural area, where dwells high percentage of immigrants, it would be impossible to invent private schooling, without causing certain discrimination.

It goes without saying that No Child Left Behind Act is really strong attempt to provide certain reforms and decrease the dropout rate, but the lack of financial cost significantly prevents to that and the solution could be found in the rapid reforms. Educational institutions understand the significance of dropout rate decreasing, but the same time they understand that new innovational programs needs financial support. The governmental issue promised to raise financing of the No Child Left Behind as it is the program which is directly oriented on decreasing drop out rate: “The president defended his administration’s funding of education, saying, “We’re providing more funding for our schools — a 36-percent increase since 2001”. But key Republicans in Virginia argue that the new law will cost “literally millions of dollars that Virginia does not have.” The House Education Committee Chairman added, “the damn law is ludicrous.” President Bush promised to increase funding in this year’s budget by an additional $1 billion8, a figure that is still approximately 27% below full funding for the program” (Coopersmith, 2004). It goes without saying that governmental financial support would help higher educational establishments and secondary one to solve the current problems that mainly deal with innovative technologies integration. It goes without saying that certain education would be needed for the staff of these establishments to become familiar with the new technologies and methodologies.

The lack of finances provided huge resonance and some states were even intended to refuse from participating in it. The Bush administration strongly supported the program and that is probably its main success.

It goes without saying that to solve such difficulties as financial, the participation of governmental issues is necessary as providing certain legislation and programs, they need to support financially realization. The drop out rate is probably among the most significant problems within the contemporary education and the fact that government turned its attention to it and is intended to support the initiatives and new methodologies aimed on decreasing drop out rates, is a good sign for further promotion. It goes without saying that some difficulties are essential but the aim to make school friendly and contemporary to the students and appropriate financial support would help to decrease aim to make school friendly and contemporary to the students and appropriate financial support would help to decrease drop out rate problem

Conclusion

In the end I would like to make a stress on the fact, that the United States is not a single country struggling against the problem of drop out. Even the countries with better statistics (such as the United kingdom) also find it one of the most significant problems of the present day world, dealing with the educational realities of the country. The experience of United Kingdom could be also undertaken as a method of struggling against the drop out problem. As it was mentioned earlier the strategies of one particular region could not suit for certain realities of the other region, but some positive ideas and suggestions (which supposes sharing of successful experience) could help in development of personal strategy, that would be a suitable solution of the problem in one particular region. The US and Great Britain have a lot of in common: both countries have a great number of immigrants, people speak one language, both countries have more and less developed regions that is why positive experience of struggling against the drop out problem within the educational sector. Sharing experience and new technologies involvement would be able to assist the drop our decrease.

Reference List:

1. Sykes C. J. (1995). Dumbing Down Our Kids: Why America’s Children Feel Good About Themselves but Can’t Read, Write, or Add. St. Martin’s Press.
2. Lizama J. A. (December 15, 2009). Chesterfield plans academy to reduce schools’ drop-out rate. Richmond Times-Dispatch.
3. The Christian Science Monitor. (February 10, 2010). How to reduce student dropout rates: link volunteering to studies. The Christian Science Monitor
4. Associated Press (November 15, 2005). U.S. college drop-out rate sparks concern. Educators turn attention to getting students all the way to graduation. Associated Press
5. U. S. Census Bureau. (January 19, 2005).One In Four U.S. Residents Attends School. Retrieved February 19,2010, from U. S. Census Bureau
6. WashingtonProfile (February 16, 2004). Problems with the U.S. Education System. Retrieved February 19,2010, from WashingtonProfile
7. Dillon S. (April 1, 2008). U.S. to Require States to Use a Single School Dropout Formula. The New York Times.
8. Toppo G. (January 8, 2009). Literacy study: 1 in 7 U.S. adults are unable to read this story. USA Today.
9. Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania (May 12, 2004). Bush Education Ad: Going Positive, Selectively. Retrieved February 19,2010, from Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania Factcheck
10. Coppersmith J. (2004). No Child Left Behind financial problems. Texas A&M University