Education plays an important role in enhancing how people of different cultures, ethnicity, and origin participate in public affairs. In many countries, education has been used as a tool in improving scientific research and information economy awareness among citizens for the economic stability and growth. This has seen most countries initiating educational programs and strategies that would ensure an educated citizenry. However, education can only be essential if its high quality standards and content can be accessed by all people regardless color, race, or origin. Moreover, it is essential to enhance the quality of education based on students’ assessment procedures that are not cultural or class biased. This paper, thus discusses other challenges facing African-American or Native Americans in accessing quality educational opportunities apart from race. It highlights steps that can be taken in addressing these challenges. The paper analyzes the current approach to curriculum design, standards, or testing in determining whether it favors some groups over others. Moreover, it provides an alternative to standard testing and educational philosophy that would improve the academic success.
According to Rosenstone (2006), accessing quality education is essential in generating tremendous scientific discoveries, solving social problems, and enhancing cultural vitality, which are vital components of our societies. He notes that providing equitable and quality education to all kinds of people ensures that all Americans realize their hopes and dreams in enhancing their social and economic mobility (2006). Just like any other country, America stands to benefit from the well-educated citizenry, who are vital for its economic productivity and growth as they are likely to have stable jobs due to their acquired skills to compete in information economy. Additionally, Rosenstone (2006) points outs that allowing equitable access to the quality education for all Americans promotes their engagement and understanding of social, political, and cultural issues. He notes that racial and ethnic factors have widely created a barrier in accessing equitable and quality education among other American population of different colors (2006).
Challenges Hindering African-Americans from Accessing Quality Education
As pointed out by Rosenstone (2006), the rising cost of education has jeopardized the quality of education that is being accessed by African-Americans populations. Most of the African-Americans are still ailing from historical discrimination based on racial and ethnic components that have adversely affected their economic status. Therefore, without the help of the federal government through sponsoring their children’s education, they are likely not to acquire quality educational opportunities.
Rosenstone (2006) notes that the looming U.S federal budget deficit has drastically shifted the culture of acquiring quality education in America from enhancing public good to private good. He adds that, unlike the past two decades where the well-educated citizenry was universally regarded to offer collective benefits to community, state, or nation; the increasing high cost of education has made educational opportunities be considered as private good for individual benefits. For instance, the rising educational cost forced private colleges such as Macalester, Smith, and Oberlin to drop their “need-blind” policy. The policy had been promoting the admission of children from Native American populations in schools through offering them financial support (Rosenstone, 2006).
It is such challenges that have led to a dramatic decline in state’s support for the low income African-Americans populations’ education. Rosenstone (2006) adds that college tuition fees has risen to $5, 132; a 158 per cent increase since 1976. Rosenstone notes that for low income families, such as Native Americans, acquiring public education accounts for 60 per cent of their income as compared to 5 per cent of wealthiest White American families. He, therefore, pointed out the need for the American government to increase their Pell Grants in order to cover larger percentages of the cost of tuition fees paid by Native Americans. Moreover, the financial aid of African- American students should be calculated before they are admitted into the school. This would allow them to access quality educational standards even when there is an increase in education costs.
On the other hand, Castellano & Frazier (2010) note that gender and English, as a second language, have also hindered the access of quality educational opportunities among African-Americans. They point out that, while boys’ success and failures are attributed to their ability to enhance confidence and external factors respectively, this is opposite in case of Native American girls. According to Castellano & Frazier (2010), the success of girls is normally attributed to either good luck or hard work while their failures have always been attributed to lack of ability to perform. It is such concept that have seen most of the Africa-Americans or Native Americans educate primarily their male children than their female counterparts. Therefore, the US government should engage mandatory educational programs that would ensure that all American children irrespective of color and gender adequately acquire quality educational opportunities.
Additionally, Castellano & Frazier (2010) point out that the linguistic diverse background of Native Americans, which present English as a second language, has undermined their ability to access quality educational opportunities. They note that most of the American public educational institutions incorporate programs that underrepresented children with diverse linguistic background. This results in underperformance of these native children thereby hindering them from acquiring better educational opportunities as they move from one grade to the other. Therefore, the US government should ensure that educational materials, which translate English learning model into corresponding native languages, are supplied for these children. Moreover, parents of Native-Americans should be involved in learning programs in order to be able to assist their children when at home in adapting to America’s educational systems.
Current Approach to Curriculum Design, Standards, or Testing
According to Levy (2011), the current educational approach to curriculum design has failed in offering equitable educational standards to all American students especially by leaning to favor other group of people. She notes that this is reflected in the literacy rates, which have shown that only 43 percent of Native Americans read above the basic level as compared to the 73 percent of students from white populations. This has been contributed by cultural stereotyping and misinterpretation of various African-Americans’ or Native Americans’ culture within the standardized testing programs. As a result, they felt humiliated by the education standards, which tend to force western cultures upon them.
While the enactment of Elementary and Secondary act or No Child Left Behind (NCLB), in 2001, was envisaged to be capable of enhancing standardized curriculum and testing among all American children, it has failed in its objective. For instance, the standardized, norm-referenced, and multiple choices that are incorporated in American standardized testing are culturally biased, as most of them correlate to socioeconomic status (Levy, 2011). This makes it more difficult for Native American children, who are from poverty stricken families, to match the standards of the new educational systems, which are odd to their cultural norms.
Levy (2011) notes that most of successful educational programs, such as Head Starts, which required parental involvement in child’s education, are no longer provided to these vital Native American populations. This has resulted in minimal participation in educational activities by the Native Americans as compared to other students from the white populations.
Recommended Alternative to Standardized Testing in Predicting Academic Success
Enhancing dynamic assessment can essentially help in improving the ability to predict the academic success of students irrespective of their color and cultural backgrounds. As pointed out by Flanagan, Mascolo & Braz (2009), dynamic assessment entails the use of active teaching process with the aim of enhancing student’s cognitive activity. Dynamic assessment enables teachers to present examinees with materials with no guidelines, intervention, or assistance in order to enable them come up with the necessary educational intervention measures that can improve students’ academic performance. This academic assessment approach thus enables teachers to identify both the cognitive and non-cognitive challenges that explain the poor performance exhibited by students.
The Basis for My Philosophy in Education
I believe that acquiring quality education is obvious in enhancing socioeconomic, political, and cultural values for all people irrespective of cultural background, gender, and economic status. Therefore, the government, as a key contributor to education standards and accessibility, should ensure that no interest on educational opportunities and programs is enhanced to favor one group of people over others.
In conclusion, acquiring of quality education should be regarded as a universal learning activity that brings good to the public, rather than suit certain individuals. The government should establish and engage active funding programs for students with financial deficits in order to realize equitable and quality education. Moreover, education should be seen as a tool for enhancing cultural diversity as opposed to bias enforcement of western cultures.