The American Education System; Cause for Rebellion

Kevin Stenger
EN 102-07
Nov. 29, 1996

If America's Schools are to meet the needs of the twenty first century,
they must be reinvented. It is not enough to try to fix the schools; they must
be reconstructed in both fundamental and radical ways. The school system must
be restructured. The future of the American public school system is
significant because the maintenance of an informed and productive citizenry is
vital to the future of this country. Historically Americans have strongly
asserted the importance of public schools in a democracy and despite growing
disdain for the perceived value of the school system, public schools remain
central to democracy in the United States.
For more than a century, America's public schools have been an
indispensable source of the country's strength. Public education has allowed
citizens to become productive members of society by providing them with the
skills and knowledge necessary for the labor force. Schools prepare students to
be literate, informed and reasoning citizens. According to Philip Schlechty,
author of Schools for the twenty-first century, “Public schools are the ties
that bind this pluralistic society into a nation. Our Nation's thirty-sixth
president, Lyndon B. Johnson, also believed that there is no institution more
fundamental to American society and democracy than its public schools.”(36)
Public schools are the cornerstone of America's future. The development
of youth's knowledge, skills and social dispositions has always been critical to
the country's success. In the next century, America's youth will play an
increasingly important role in the country's survival and well-being. By the
year 2025, one out of five Americans will be 65 or older, and by the year 2040,
one out of four Americans will be 65. In less than 15 years, the first baby
boomers will reach the age of 65 (Peterson 64). It is clear that the economic
success of America will be in the hands of youth to unprecedented extent. It is
time to invest in education in order to maintain the American way of life.
In the competitive knowledge-based world of the twenty-first century,
the education of America's youth will be more important than ever. More
responsibility will be placed on schools because of greater diversity in
classrooms, languages, preparedness, motivation, and the dynamics of the future
workplace. Schools also must assume more responsibility because of increasing
enrollment. Entering the 1996-1997 school year, there is an all time high
enrollment of 51.7 million students in public schools throughout the country
(Good 6). Because of enhanced enrollment and technological advances, there is
more material that needs to be taught if students are to be competitive and
productive in the future job market. Since there are more students and more
that needs to be taught, public schools are more important and have more
responsibility now than at any previous time.
Despite the need to develop youth as fully as possible, society treats
youth in careless and irresponsible ways. American schools are currently
failing to provide students with an adequate education. Many public school
facilities are out of date, underfunded, and not prepared to handle growing
student populations and the advent of modern technology in the classroom. The
United States General Accounting Office estimates that about one third of
American students, about fourteen million children nationwide, attend “
inadequate” schools (Schlechty 91). Along with crumbling facilities, Schools
face a variety of academic and disciplinary hardships. According to a recent
USA Today poll, seventy-two percent of Americans cite drugs and violence as
serious problems in their local schools. Sixty-one percent believe that
academic standards are too low. Lack of discipline and low graduation rates
also ranked as one of the biggest problems facing public schools (Edmunds A2).
Nowhere in this country are the problems facing schools more evident
than in the nations largest school system. The New York City Public School
system handles approximately 1.1 million students in the city's 1,085 schools.
Many of those schools are old and in serious disrepair. In 1994 the graduation
rate After four years of high school was a dismal 44.3%. That same year, more
than half of New York's children scored below their grade level in reading, and
almost half scored below their grade level in math. The overall dropout rate
for all students was 18.7% (Mandel 52).
With the education system in serious trouble, education is becoming a
more and more important political issue in this country. It seems that in every
election no matter how big or small, education is always an important issue.
Both President Clinton and President Bush before him said before their election
to office that they would be “The education