The Fracture of American Education

A “fracture” is defined as the separation of an object into two or more parts because of being under stress. Today, the American education system is under extreme stress, as it is attacked from the right for being too expensive, from the left as not holding teachers accountable, and from the business community, as not providing the graduate students industry needs. This stress is splitting education into two groups of students and educators; haves and have nots.

After World War Two, the United States recognized the need to educate all its citizens. The technological advances of the war made it clear that the future would require massive numbers of well- educated and technologically sophisticated workers. Finding such as these were also supported by reports from the American Society of Engineering Education which was appointed in May 1952 to study this problem and produced the groundbreaking report, “Summary of the Report on Evaluation of Engineering Education” known as the Grinter report. The age of atomic energy would require larger numbers of trained employees in engineering sciences.

The result of reports such as this was the opening of university doors to increasing number of Americans. The United States in nineteen fifties and sixties became the shining beacon of educational success to the world. Yet, today as the country enters the 21st century and a new era of technological advancement, we begin to see those doors closing. In the name of fiscal responsibility, conservative administrations around the country are balancing budgets by drastically reducing, or in many cases eliminating areas of education and technology. This year, the state of Florida will take $1.75 billion from its educational budget for grades K through 12, and additional significant amounts from its colleges. In states all across the country educational systems are under extreme stress, not to do more with less, but to do something with nothing.

At a time when the country desperately needs well trained and well educated workers, we are removing the very institutions that can provide them. In the years that I have been involved in education in this country, never have I seen such drastic cuts. This stress is creating two particular classes a people within our society, those who have the funds to seek education, and those are being denied access to education because of these cuts. Even as these administrations begin to reduce funding four educational systems throughout the country, the president of United States begins to list all the virtues and needs of having a better educated society to remain competitive in this technological world. These two forces are moving in opposite directions to each other and creating the very stresses that will break our system into two competing camps of haves and have-nots. Power Chords

The poor, minorities, disenfranchised, will be forever locked out of the system because of economics’, and declining opportunity as schools reduce instructors and become more selective in the types of students that they take in an effort to meet the requirements imposed by governments in these tight fiscal times. Already in states such as Michigan there is discussion underway to close half of the public school systems of the state in order to meet fiscal stability. With moves such as these it will not be long before we have seen the establishment of a permanent underclass that will be forever denied education. But this is not the only stress on the educational systems in this country. Teachers find themselves under attack by the very government that is extolling the needs for more educated populace.

 

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