Reading Assignment

Voucher Wars by Bolick (2003) looks at the legal battles concerning the choice of schools and the reality of dwindling performance among public schools. The author brings to light issues via educational cases. He is also recounting his twelve years struggle to give disadvantaged children real choices to better their lives through education. The author demonstrates how the school choice movement struggled since 1990 leading to enactment of the first urban school program in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Furthermore, the struggle resulted to recognition of voucher programs as part of the constitutional right in 2002 by the Supreme Court.

Bolick (2003) explains how children in low-income families feel dejected since they are condemned to failing public schools. He also demonstrates how their parents are willing to find all means possible to take their kids to better schools. The author also argues that teachers are not taking a clear stand concerning the matter. Participation of the teacher’s union in legal battles opposing school choice does not reflect among most teachers, who have enrolled their children in private schools. For instance, the Supreme Court overturned the injunction by the Ohio federal court that intended to block the Cleveland scholarship program. The ruling was well accepted by the school choice opponents. One may question the sincerity of the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association.

The Death and Life of the Great American School System by Ravitch demonstrates how school choices, testing, and all matters involving the education system are degrading the students’ intellectual capacity. This is despite the fact that she once praised the same policies. What might have changed to make her develop a totally different perspective? The author is of the opinion that students in both public and charter schools do produce equal performance. She argues that excellent performance recorded by the charter schools is as a result of unfair dealings. This includes enrolling few students with special needs, few first time English learners, and few students with disciplinary issues.

Ravitch argues that basing accountability on test results among students only serves as a recipe for disaster. Determination of success is not dependent on the exam results in reading and mathematics. The practice has resulted in stigmatization and sanctioning of schools that fail to show progressive improvement in exam performance. Furthermore, the author argues that Teach for America program may fail in improving the education quality in marginalized areas. She blames philanthropists for introducing educational agenda that is ruining the education system. From the reading, questions arise concerning the best approach to enhance education.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation aims at improving the United States K-12 public schools. This will ensure that students who graduate from high school will succeed in the various colleges. The Foundation acknowledges some of the challenges that will prevent it from achieving its mission. Some of them include improving the quality of education in other countries, need to develop learning experiences that will fit the needs of the ever changing world, and the need to develop structures that will ensure teachers grow professionally.

According to the Foundation, the education system should focus on innovation as an opportunity to improve education. How is this possible? The solution may include development of effective strategies, sharing of effective tools, and maintaining certain levels of standards. Another question also arises on how school leaders, educators, and nonprofit partners can transform K-12 education. The strategy of the foundation is to work with all education stakeholders so as to ensure the K-12 standards meet expectations of courses offered in colleges. The efforts aim at a stronger teacher-student relationship that enables individualized attention. The foundation shares its findings among schools, states, and other partners to improve learning. It has resulted in adoption of Common Core State Standards. How effective are they?

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