SOI News

Public Education in the United States: From an A to a C- in 60 Years

HOW AND WHY IT HAPPENED. WHAT IT WILL TAKE TO REVERSE IT.

The Golden Age of U.S. Public Education

The “Golden Age” of public education culminated in the 1950s. It had steadily improved from one-room schools to become comprehensive, twelve-year systems. It was viewed as the primary means of upward social mobility.

  • U.S. schools consistently ranked among the top tier in International Assessments.
  • Schools were comfortably financed locally through property taxes.
  • School support was widespread, bolstered by local control.
  • The institutions of higher learning were generally satisfied with the high school graduates they were receiving.
  • The workforce had little difficulty absorbing those students who stopped their education at the secondary level.

In short, the system was fulfilling its mission of providing free education to all. As a social service enterprise, it deserved a grade of “A”.

The U.S. Public Education Today

In the past 60 years, public education has deteriorated on almost all counts.

  • U.S. schools are now in the middle group on International Assessments.
  • Schools are chronically underfunded to the degree that their programs are compromised.
  • School constituency support has waned, in large measure, because local control has been displaced by state and federal directives.
  • The institutions of higher learning are having to “educate” incoming students before they successfully enter a college curriculum.
  • The workforce now considers a large segment of high school graduates as “unemployable.”

The system has clearly slipped in meeting its mission. As a social service enterprise, it deserves a “C-” performance.

The Chronicle of Deterioration

This steady decline has has been documented in many ways. The first Continue reading “Public Education in the United States: From an A to a C- in 60 Years”

learning skills

Empowering Students to be Successful: SOI Paradigm

Working with children with learning challenges and concerns for the past twenty years has given a meaningful direction and purpose to my life. I have traveled extensively from New Delhi, India to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Denver, Colorado; and Sacramento, California in my journey as a student and a facilitator for the children with learning issues and their families.

I started my career as a remedial education teacher at Educare, New Delhi, where I learned the basics of the Orton Gillingham approach of teaching phonics and reading skills under Dr. Sunita Sodhi. This was a very fulfilling experience of understanding the concepts of learning disabilities and helped me to do my PHD in the area of learning disabilities in math (dyscalulia) among the elementary grades.

I landed in Pittsburgh in the summer of 2003 with my family and worked as a volunteer with the Learning Disabilities Association of America for almost two years and simultaneously joined the 32 Degree Masonic Learning Center to do my certificate course in remedial education therapy under IMSLEC (International Multi-Sensory Language Education Council). This gave me an opportunity to study and gain insight into the details of the language teaching process and improve my style of teaching along with the correct pronunciation.

I enjoyed working with students and could observe the significant changes with the remedial education but always wondered for how long to provide these interventions to the students. School systems have been giving modifications to students with learning issues within the regular classrooms such as extra time to finish the assignments, assessing the student on multiple choice questions, or using the scribe to write the answers for them. These accommodations and benefits are available in the United States as well as in India.

This does help the students stay in the mainstream schools in an inclusive environment, but I always failed to understand that what happens to the child when he/she steps out of the school environment and interacts with the community at large. This system and the accommodations/modifications do not equip the students to apply problem solving skills, use their memory skills, or build comprehension abilities.

Our present education systems both in the United States and India are helping the students to do well in schools by modifying the environment but not giving them the essential learning skills and abilities to become independent learners.

My family and I moved to Denver in 2008 and I started working with a local school district as a substitute special education teacher. I started Continue reading “Empowering Students to be Successful: SOI Paradigm”