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American School Wars (2)

March 17, 2017
Plain English Version

A meeting in Richmond, VA to discuss new school plans. (Photo courtesy: Angelica Casas)

How we got here.

The last seventy years saw a lot of change in American education. The first great change came in 1954 from the U.S. Supreme Court. It was Brown vs. Board of Education. The Court ruled that “separate but equal education is unequal.” This ended racial segregation in schools.

Americans in the South woke up to a new day. But the court did not say how to remedy the problem. The answer was busing. Now, the North woke up to a new day. Busing became one of the biggest issues for sixty years. It still is.

Busing led to a movement of many white parents to send their kids to private schools. It is part of the reason that vouchers are becoming popular. Vouchers help support private schools.

Immigration brought large numbers of students into the schools. Many did not speak English. Many other youngsters came from poor families. These youngsters brought down the testing scores in many schools. Adjusting for these kids was a goal of the Obama’s “Every Student Succeeds Act” law.

Changes in evaluation techniques led to a class of children needing “special education.” It is a revolution in trying to teach youngsters with learning difficulties. The cost of special education raised the cost of schooling. It has led to parents fighting for their children to get better treatment. It has also led to programs to “mainstream” these kids to prepare them for adulthood.

While all this was going on, new ideas on how to best teach children flowered. The large numbers of children who lagged in the tests led to ideas like “pre-K” programs. Pre-K programs enroll children as young as three years of age. The success rates of these programs is still unknown

The new Secretary of Education supports vouchers. Which means she supports private schools. Religious orders run most private schools.  School issues divide communities.

Washington, the states, teachers, and parents do not seem to agree on solutions. When the goal is “the best interests of the children,” there are only strong opinions.


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