The American Public Education System: Adjusting to a New Era of Technology and Change

The world as we know it is changing in leaps and bounds on a daily basis. Our children are growing up knowing and using iPods and computers with gigabytes of data storage for all their music and video files. High-speed Internet has become a way of life where more young people subscribe to, read, chat, and communicate with friends online than ever before. As the Internet marketplace continues to expand rapidly, and technologies afford education access from the ease and convenience of home, it is imperative that parents and educators recognize the benefits involved in education online.

The public education system in the United States grew out of an economy based upon single income workers, zero competition from outside markets for internal education consumers, and more manufacturing jobs than service jobs. The baby boomers born during the post World War II era, enjoyed the benefits of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Servicemen’s Readjustment Act or the GI Bill of Rights, which granted affordable access to college education. The baby boomers of the United States catapulted into growth as a result of this, enjoying an unprecedented level of abundance and prosperity.

One of these baby boomers is President George W. Bush, who enacted the No Child Left Behind Act (NCBA), offering the societal challenge of making every child proficient in reading and math by 2012. A schoolteacher for more than thirty years, who now runs a management company for teacher training, described the resultant effect of this act upon the public school system as one which far exceeded the capabilities of what American public schools can currently offer.

Despite the grandiose claims of the NCBA, actual school performance began to decrease after the passage of the act and the United States, as a whole, fell behind in education.

Supplemental Educational Services

In 2004-2005, there were more than 22 million children eligible for “supplemental educational services”, which includes tutoring. About 19% of those students got those services, or roughly two out of every ten students who were not proficient in core subjects, received aid. A good analogy would be a physician telling the parents of ten children that that they need medicine to cure an illness and only two out of the ten children can receive the medicine that they need.

The need for tutoring is obviously there. Why then is the current method of tutoring inadequate? There are principally four reasons why tutoring has been ineffective:

1) Schools can recruit tutors for students in rural areas and even fewer for those students in those areas with disabilities.

2) School districts do not tell parents that tutoring is available. When letters are sent home they often arrive late and are hard to understand.

3) Tutors are not allowed into schools and do not coordinate with teachers or the curriculum in the classroom, leaving the student confused.

4) State education departments do not evaluate the quality of tutors, as the law requires.

On one hand we have American schools and students failing and in need of remediation, operating under an outdated system of education, and money going to waste, and on the other hand we have an emerging technology platform based on high speed broadband technology that is leveling the playing field for people, and companies worldwide. This technology is one that not only attracts our children, but also captivates them, so that they return to computers and multimedia repeatedly for entertainment.

Armed with this knowledge, how can we as parents and educators remain blind to the changes within our own culture for learning and acquiring knowledge and the ways in which our children are learning? Tutoring programs such as take these tools and put them to use to educate our children in a fun and engaging manner.

How to Ensure Your Special Education Child Receives a Free Appropriate Public Education

Do you have a child with autism who receives special education services and struggles with all areas of academics? Are you concerned that your child with dyslexia is not receiving appropriate reading instruction and is falling further and further behind their grade appropriate peers? This article will give you 7 things that you can do to ensure that your child is receiving a free appropriate public education.

1. Have high expectations for your child. With appropriate educational instruction, your child with autism or a learning disability, should be able to keep up with their age and grade appropriate peers.

2. If your child has dyslexia or a learning disability in the area of reading, make sure that they are receiving a scientifically based reading program which includes explicit direct instruction that is systematic, sequential and cumulative. Studies from the National Institute of Human Development have shown that for children with difficulties learning to read, a multisensory teaching method is the most effective teaching method.

3. According to No Child Left Behind, 5 skills must be included in a reading program to bring early reading success. These skills are: Phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary and comprehension. Make sure these skills are included in any reading program for your child.

4. Make sure that the reading instruction is given according to the person who developed the programs protocols. If the program is not taught correctly or for the recommended amount of time that child will not learn.

5. If your child has difficulties in the area of functional skills insist that your child receive functional skill training, and make sure goals are written for your child.

6. Make sure that all of the special education services your child needs are listed in their individual educational plan (IEP). Many special education personnel limit the types and amounts of special education services that they provide to children with disabilities, which means that you may have to assertively and persistently fight for your child.

7. Make sure that all services listed on your child’s IEP are actually given to your child. Check in with your child’s teacher and service providers to ensure that your child is receiving the services. If you are not sure, ask for written proof that your child has received therapies and services that are listed on their IEP.

By following these 7 items you will be able to help your child receive a free appropriate public education! Children who do not receive a free appropriate public education may not be able to get a job or live a fulfilled life.

Politics in Public Education: The Legislative Agenda

Public education in America has encountered many challenges, particularly in the last three decades. Declining test scores, declining graduation rates, poor results for high school graduates once entering college unprepared, and the clear lack of life-long learning skills are just symptoms of the underlying problems and issues with K-12 education.

The decline of direct parental involvement, poor university education school preparation for teachers, misdirected and inconsistent standardized testing efforts, and the lack of any teacher testing and annual monitoring of teacher progress have all contributed to the problems in public education, and alarming lack of results and preparation of our children. However, underlying the symptoms and the causes that I have cited is the compromising of the true mission and goals we all expect to be unwavering. That is to say, those given the sacred responsibility of educating our students have compromised the very mission of education, and the achievement of the goals and objectives that we have counted upon to be the foundation of our future and our children’s future. This is not an accusation, a supposition, or an opinion. This is a fact. I have seen it and documented it first hand in my own state, and have verified similar encounters and compromises by the educational elite, administrators, and most directly the two largest teacher unions in the United States. It is at a minimum, appalling, and potentially criminal.

What I am attempting to describe are the political compromises made by the teacher unions, with complicity by some administrators and ratification by local school boards, reducing the quality of education and the integrity of the teaching experience, solely for the benefit of power and money. The recipients of the increased power, funding, and funds into their own coffers to be utilized for purposes other than education, are the national teacher unions, their respective state affiliates, and their colleagues.

When union domination, and the marginalization of parents occur, our children are the losers. They are no longer the priority. They are no longer the most important participants in the educational experience as they should be, and must be, if we’re to achieve those lofty goals, and make our children the best prepared in the world. No matter what changes we make to public education, no matter how we improve standardized testing, measuring results, educating and preparing our teachers, and funding education, if we don’t take the politics out of education, and the implementation of good education policy in our government, we are doomed to fail. Yes, unions have a right to exist, and yes our teachers should be treated well, and be paid well. However, with regard to public education, we’re not talking about a typical working environment. The priority must be the students, or the proposition of public education on its’ very face, is false. Why do many private schools, parochial schools, and most “home-schoolers” often do significantly better than their public school counterparts, with much less funding? Their encouragement of parental involvement in education policy, and their children’s day-to-day education experience, as well as the absence of political pressure being exacted by the teacher unions, is a major factor.

Having direct, first hand knowledge of the referenced compromises and tactics by the education elite and teacher unions, I have seen how the entire political agenda has permeated the legislative process at the state and national levels. As Education Policy Chairman in my State’s Legislature, I have had to deal with these political pressures, and have seen how the masterful agenda on the part of the education elite and the unions have affected my colleagues, and their ability to resist the enormous pressure brought to bear on them, and their respective school districts. The compromise of our children’s future has permeated the legislative process through lobbying efforts, the recruitment of pro-union candidates, and sheer intimidation. My assessment is that it will continue until it can’t be fixed. Then a collapse of public education, as we know it, will occur, and something will have to take its’ place. Meanwhile, our children have lost their future, and our nation may never regain its position as a superpower, and the leader of the free world.

Yes, this is serious business. I firmly believe that if we wait until the alarming collapse that I have cited, America will have lost its’ future. This is a time for a loud call to common sense, our founding values, and the premise that the self-serving educational elite cannot be permitted to compromise our children’s education and their very future anymore. It must stop. As the new “Tea Party” movement has awakened the silent majority from their political and policy indifference of the past, a new movement must rise up out of the ashes of our disastrous math and science test scores, falling graduation rates, and politically-correct social transformational education experience. The basics underpinning our traditional education system including academic excellence, parental involvement and support, discipline, and clear consistent standardized testing and evaluation, must be restored.

Public education must clearly adapt to a global environment, and the teaching methodology must adapt to the times and current technologies. However, we must turn out a new type of teacher that can teach to ALL students. The actual pedagogy deployed must be based on the premise that students learn at different rates, have different backgrounds, and actually think differently. However, to be consistent with the goals and objectives that I noted earlier, the sacred mission-to-educate, we must find a way to deliver a quality education to every single student and to discard the premise that some students can learn, and some cannot. We owe it to ourselves, to them, and most importantly, we owe it to future generations of Americans, and to assure that America continues as the leader of the free world.