Us education

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US Education: The hot potato.
In 1785, Thomas Jefferson wrote: "What are the objects of an useful American education? Classical knowledge, modern languages and chiefly French, Spanish, and Italian; Mathematics, Natural philosophy, Natural history, Civil history, and Ethics. In Natural philosophy, I mean to include Chemistry and Agriculture, and in Natural history, to include Botany, as well asthe other branches of those departments." Thomas Jefferson had faith in a strong and rich education for American citizens but the last 60 years demonstrated a very different academic perspective. After the President Truman's Commission Higher Education for Democracy in 1947, the United States of America have conduct marking educational reforms. During the Eisenhower administrations, improving theeducational system became a major concern as the Soviet Union's school system was able to produce outstanding engineers and scientists. The year following the lunch of Sputnik I on October 4, 1957, President Eisenhower signed the National Defense Education Act into law (1958). This law targeted higher education and provided loans to students, financial Assistance to reinforce science, mathematics,and foreign languages. Testing in the law was a tool to identify talented students who excelled in these fields. Later in 1965, President Johnson's signed the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (inspired draft of President Kennedy administration). This law was a part of President Johnson's “war on poverty” legislative plan. Decreasing the poverty level in the USA (20% of the population) wasthe global objective of Johnson's plan. Education was designed as one the main means to reach this objective. The funds focuses on reading and arithmetic programs “that would supposedly provide equality of educational opportunity for students from law-income families”, Spring, J. Extract from: American Education. For the first time, the federal government embraced a role in elementary and secondaryeducational policies by funding the most expansive federal education bill ever passed before . The law provided financial assistance to State Department of Education and local educational agencies (school library resources, textbooks, instructional materials, supplementary educational services, educational training and grants to strengthen State Departments Of Education). In 1983, theReagan-appointed National Commission on Excellence in Education issued a report “A nation At Risk” (ANAR). The commission concluded that national success in a global economy depended on the quality of the educational system. ANAR recommended stronger high school graduation requirement (in response to the declining SAT scores from 1963 to 1980), higher standards for academic performance as well as higherstandards to enter into the teaching profession. The report focused almost only on high schools, underestimating the non-performance of elementary and middle schools, which obviously was academically responsible to prepare students for high school. It also excluded social and economic factors which raised justified criticism. The report has been hijacked by the administration of president RonaldReagan who used education as a political tool. The two main responses to A Nation at Risk were increased use of standardized assessments at state and local levels and increased course requirements for graduation from high school (which was positive). The report inspired the standard movement, but the assessment industry during this time fattened in synergy with the outcome-based education (OBE)movement, big supporter of high-stakes testing. “A nation At Risk was animated by a vision of good education as a foundation of a better life for individuals and for our democratic society, but No Child Left Behind had no vision other than improving test scores in reading and math. It produced mountains of data, not educated citizens”. Ravitch, D. Extract from: The death and life of the great American...
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