Saturday, May 21, 2011

Is a 360 degree education a realistic goal for inner city and rural youth?

At in an article written about a year ago, Arne Duncan said "I reject the notion that the arts, history, foreign languages, geography, and civics are ornamental offerings that can or should be cut from schools during a fiscal crunch," he also said "The truth is that, in the information age, a well-rounded curriculum is not a luxury but a necessity"

Now, if shared with middle/upper-middle class parents with children learning via a suburban public school system, this statement would probably be supported as a "no-brainer". Beside the fact that some parents may suggest an offering (or two) they felt should have been added to this list, there would most likely be a general consensus.

But, what about rural or urban parents with children attending schools that are struggling to effectively educate and graduate their students. What would they say about Arne Duncan's statement?

Would they agree?

Would the reaction from urban and rural parents be divided?

If they didn't agree, what reasons would they have not to?

Some administrators of traditional public school districts seem to hold "the notion that the arts, history, foreign languages, geography, and civics are ornamental offerings" as true. There are multiple examples of these same "offerings" being categorized as "enrichment" by (public school district) administrators across the U.S.

What does enrichment really mean and does the definition depend on who's defining enrichment? For instance, would administrators and parents define enrichment in the same way?

Here are a few recent examples of plans to both fight for and cut-back on arts, "gifted and talented programs", kindergarten and at-risk programs in school districts in the U.S. by state:

New Jersey

Although these examples vary in location - some being urban examples and some not - they all depict a need to decrease local education spending as an issue and cutting teachers and/or programs as a controversial solution. You may have noticed these examples are similar to those you've read about (or experienced) in years past.

So...if the same issue (a need to decrease local education spending) is a focus every year and the same solution is proposed every year; is it working?

How are American youth (no matter where they live) supposed to close the apparent achievement gap between the U.S. and the rest of the world -and (domestically) between socio-economic classes - by employing the same tactics? Cutting spending (via terminating teachers and programs), fighting about education reform and watching more children fail doesn't seem to be working.

If Arne Duncan's statement that "a well-rounded curriculum is not a luxury but a necessity" is true, how does the current cut-fight-fail cycle help American children attain this necessary 360 degree education?

Last question, what are the literacy, high school graduation, college graduation and salary rates of those students who do receive an enriched education?

1 comment:

  1. Every day the U.S. economy shifts from agriculture and manufacturing to services. The only way to grow and succeed in a service economy is through education and innovation. There's so much talk about leaving future generations with today's debt and paying it back may seem daunting, but if we continue to cut these programs, then our children will not have the means to compete in the future and paying back that debt will be truly impossible.