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Education in the US has created vital opportunities in several sectors facilitating development. Educated individuals are better equipped to participate in fulfilling the American dream as the skills obtained in school facilitate efficient and effective execution of tasks. Despite its effectiveness, the quest for equal opportunities in the American education system has been at the centre of struggle since the colonial era. Depending on their background, some individuals have had access to the best education opportunities in America, while others seeking similar opportunities face numerous obstacles. Thus, in line with the American democracy, it is fair and just for every American to receive equal educational opportunities regardless of his/her race or ethnicity (Williams, 2011).
Civil rights in the US history have spearheaded the right to equal educational opportunities (Williams, 2011). Under slavery, African-Americans were forbidden from accessing education. However, some African-Americans were brave enough to risk their lives in educating themselves. Whenever identified, learned African-Americans were tortured and their limbs were amputated. After the American civil war, the US government in its reconstruction efforts focused on education. During this time, 3,000 schools were constructed in the south together with the first black colleges, among which were Howard and Hampton colleges (Williams, 2011). Nevertheless, the restriction on African-Americans to access education was still witnessed with the burning of schools and beating of students and teachers by the whites. In 1897, at the end of reconstruction, the US Supreme Court in Ferguson made a ruling approving separate, but equal access to education by all Americans. With the ruling, the US education experienced more problems as schools witnessed racial division, which later led to segregation. In 1954, all the segregated schools met and demanded for equal access to education in the US educational system. The rise of civil rights groups in the mid 20th century set the foundation for the creation of equal educational opportunities in the US (Williams, 2011). Eventually, in1964, the civil rights act of 1964 was passed illegalising racial segregation and discrimination in all US public schools (Williams, 2011). In this regard, American women and African-Americans obtained equal opportunities to access education.
Currently, in the US, colleges and universities have adopted students’ prior criminal conviction basis to deny students equal access to education opportunities. With increase in this practice, the gains achieved through the hard fought struggles of the civil rights movements may be compromised. By crucially analyzing the US justice system, experts have warned that the basis of criminal conviction in admissions for higher education might considerably affect minority races and prevent them from accessing education. As a result, all policies that restrict admission to higher education on this basis will lead to exclusion of individuals of color who disproportionately constitute the majority of population of the criminal justice system (Equal Opportunity and Higher Education, 2004).
Another challenge faced in the current education system is the increase in disparity in private and public schools (Equal Opportunity and Higher Education, 2004). It is difficult to ignore the effect of private schools in the US education system. Education experts have established that private schools have higher expectations and tend to perform better than public schools. As a result, more parents are now seeking ways to educate their children through these institutions only affordable to the rich white families.
Through the proposed voucher system, the government aims at issuing vouchers to all parents so that they can take their children to schools of their choice whether private or public. Nevertheless, critics argue that the system would eventually drain public schools’ funds, among other adverse effects. The opponents in this regard argue that with the appropriate system in place, segregation would take its toll on schools (Equal Opportunity and Higher Education, 2004).
Increased international competition faced by US in the current global economy mandates that the country’s youths receive appropriate education. However, the current education issues facing public schools are a clear indication that the US educational system is flawed (McClure, 2008).
To address these vital issues, the US government must solve inequality issues currently threatening the existence of public schools. Thus, the government should stop the proposed voucher system and instead use the supposed funds in improving the performance in public schools. The government should provide public schools with more funds and teachers to solve the performance disparity currently witnessed in the education system (McClure, 2008). With focus, public schools will be able to perform equally with the private schools. Similarly, improved public schools imply that parents will stop transferring their children to private schools.
The government should establish measures that ensure equal access to higher education for all individuals irrespective of their background. The government should abolish college and university policies of admitting students based on their criminal records and replace them with policies that are more considerate. Due to their effects on minority groups, these policies have locked out a significant number of students from minority groups from accessing higher education. The minority groups perceive this act as a clever scheme aimed at denying their youth a chance to access higher education (McClure, 2008).
In conclusion, the government should research more on bilingual education issues (McClure, 2008). Supporters argue that the system is beneficial in that students whose first language is not English can have equal educational opportunity. However, opponents suggest that students who are not taught in English eventually lack fluency needed in social life. To solve these debates, the government should research into the system functionality addressing its controversies to finality.