The education of the youngest generation is currently being debated across the world. This upcoming generation carries the weight of the world; however, not everyone agrees on the educational methods and programs being used across the nation. The disagreement among education has led to compromise, often at the cost of the student and his or her family. In many different areas of the world, unique types of learning have blossomed to top-notch educational methods. Despite spending more than ever before on schools in the United States, the quality of education is decreasing…
The United States have been battling low graduation and retention rates for decades.
In 2001, President George W. Bush instituted the “No Child Left Behind Act.” This act would implement standardized testing as a blanket requirement across the nation. Core classes are regulated, and standardized tests are administered with the increased funding to schools. There have been numerous cuts to school budgets, which have led to a decline in the non-required curriculum.
Despite the No Child Left Behind Act by President Bush, school budgets are misspent to encourage students to pass tests, without proper retention, according to Anne Whittaker, an avid critic of educational systems. Classes such as physical education, music, and art often feel the shrinking of the budget first; while, required state-tested curriculum flourishes.
The No Child Left Behind Act created a new era of measurement for education – Common Core. The Common Core program would implement a standardized level of education to meet by all schools in the United States’ for different age groups.
At first, the Act was welcomed and praised by all sides of the debate: school officials, politicians, and parents. After widespread implementation, the program fell under heavy criticism. The program did create a base level for all students to compete towards, but it failed to acknowledge the underlying issues of child poverty and lack of funding in schools. The program was created to help increase student retention and graduation but only created an unhealthy education environment.
Common Core created new standardized testing and measures a school’s’ success by the results. To receive funding, a state proposal for federal aid must have the district’s score results within the requests. (Whittaker) Therefore; a school that is struggling in an impoverished neighborhood may not receive the same funding as an excellent school in a wealthy area. A poll administered in 2015 revealed that 64 percent of people thought that public education put too much stress on standardized testing (Issit Standardized). In 2015, President Obama created a new act that received excellent support; this legislature called Every Student Succeeds Act would let states decide the evaluation methods, instead of a federal mandate. The new program is hopeful to begin showing results of increased retention and graduation.
Every public school uses its budget to describe its educational program plans for the upcoming year. While the concept of budgets is common across professional sectors and fields, the budget process in public schools has noticeable differences that impact how different districts allocate and prioritize their funds for the next school year. The school budget involves many different individuals and entities across several levels of government. At the local level, budget discussions and work will involve school administrators, school boards, school employees and community members. While specific budget priorities vary from state to state, in Virginia’s case, it is transportation, facilities, energy, health & safety, curriculum & staff development, food services, library services, and counseling services. The school budget resources come from a combination of local, state and federal contributions.
James F. Lane is the Superintendent of Public Instruction who enforces Virginia’s educational laws and programs. Lane states that Section 22. 1-94, Code of Virginia, requires local governing bodies to appropriate funds to respective school divisions sufficient to maintain an educational program that meets the Standards of Quality. Section 22. 1-97, Code of Virginia, sets forth the procedures that the Virginia Department of Education must follow if a county, city, or town fails to appropriate sufficient funding to support Section 22. 1-94, Code of Virginia, as well as the Standards of Quality. Division superintendents must certify that adequate local funds have been implemented to support a local match for the lottery and incentive programs in which the school division has been elected to participate.
As of February 2018, the Fairfax County School Board has adopted the FY 2019 Advertised Budget of $2.9 billion, an increase of 4.9%, or $118.9 million over the FY 2018 Approved Budget. School Board Chair Jane Strauss states, “We remain committed to making our teacher compensation more competitive in the Washington, D.C., market. In order to have the best possible teacher in every classroom, we have to offer competitive salaries. Great teachers are the best way to ensure that our 189,000 students get the best education possible. We need to ensure that the best possible teachers–those individuals who nurture and guide our students to be their best–remain a part of the FCPS family.’ (Fairfax County Public Schools)
Teachers especially have one of the most important jobs because education has a strong foothold in the basis of society. It’s nearly impossible to complete any task or do any type of work without being educated. Raising teacher’s salaries would be likely to enlarge the pool of applicants for this job. A teacher’s salary doesn’t offer too much money to work with to sustain them and in many cases their families as well. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, “Some argue that increasing teacher salaries would make teaching more attractive and competitive with other professions and would improve recruitment and retention of better qualified teachers.” As long as education continues to be a prerequisite in society, teachers will always be in need. Increasing the pay can encourage the youth to take more time considering a career in teaching and the existing teachers to stay in their profession. Teachers have very low salaries but make high contributions to our society; education is crucial to the success of a civilization. To be fair to teachers, they should be paid for the incredible amount of work they do.
This mindset allowed the Fairfax County School Board to include an additional $53.1 million increase to a multi-year plan to enhance teacher salaries in return making them more competitive. The FY 2019 Advertised Budget also includes $17.9 million for implementation of non-teacher scales, $13.4 million for health insurance, and $15.8 million for anticipated enrollment growth and student demographics. The School Board issued funder additionally “supporting equity-related work” to provide additional resources for speakers of other languages.
The debate further delves into the necessity, or lack of, fine arts program in primary education. Shirley Brice, a researcher at the Stanford University and Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, found that fine arts have a high impact on student success. Brice found that students were four times more likely to be recognized for academic achievement if they had participated in fine arts, as well as are three times more likely to have a higher attendance rate. A study by Bernadette D. Colley supports Brice’s findings by demonstrating that primary-aged children who attended a musical program had higher rates of academic success than the children that did not participate in any creative-based programs. (Whittaker) The logical conclusion of such findings is that fine arts programs have a positive benefit on primary aged children in school.
Despite the overwhelming amount of evidence supporting fine arts’ positively impacting school-aged children, there are critics. Labeled as archaic and for those students who are already excelling in the classroom, Fine arts programs have shifted to become a method of rewarding the child. While the fine arts program does take away from time spent learning practical items, it is proven to increase cognitive ability. The critics may have correct beliefs about the importance of traditional classes of math, English, and sciences; but they lack in understanding the overall health of students. Fine Arts are important to the process of learning in a student’s mind, even with the frivolous claims against such.
Fine arts programs are not the only areas of the school curriculum that are suffering budget cuts. Physical education in primary school is underfunded, and in secondary schools, it is not a requirement. The Department of Health and Human Services call for a complete restructuring of the physical education programs, claiming that it does not correctly promote vigorous action due to lack of funding and educated instructors. Numerous groups, departments, and people issue a call for change; yet, there has not been notable change as standardized testing as higher test scores more important than good health to those writing the policies.
School safety is also an important priority for Fairfax County Public Schools. Parents now more than ever fear for their children’s lives as showcased in several school shootings that have occurred in the past year. Road and traffic conditions plan an important role in the student’s safe journey to school as well. Jeffrey Platenberg is a hero unbeknownst to hundreds of thousands of children. Platenberg graduated from GMU in 1985 with a Bachelor of Science degree in public administration. His studies in public administration prepared him how to deal with major public policy issues. Since 2013 he has been an administrator for the 189,000-student school system, overseeing about 3,170 support staff with an operating budget of 220 million, a construction budget of 1.10 billion in conjunction with 1,643 buses and 300 vehicles.
As the school budget either decreases or increases, Jeffery Platenberg’s job becomes easier or tougher. In McLain’s article, he interviews Jeffery Platenberg, an assistant superintendent for facilities and transportation services. Here he explains why he calls for FCPS school closures on days of inclement weather. Platenberg states how he always, “airs on the side of caution,” and that he prioritizes the safety and well-being of the students over the inconvenience of the parents. This ties in with the research project because with a decreased budget, FCPS would not be able to more effectively clear roads of snow and ice so that students can return to school more quickly.
In order to reduce school spending on reconstructions, Governor Terry McAuliffe announced in June 2017, that the Virginia Early Childhood Foundation, in conjunction with the Virginia Department of Education, will award fight grants to local communities who have proposed innovative approaches to ensure all children are eligible for the Virginia Preschool Initiative. ‘If Virginia is going to lead in the global economy of the future, we must prepare our students to succeed as early as possible,’ said Governor McAuliffe. ‘These grants will support communities across the Commonwealth as they develop innovative local solutions to increase access to the Virginia Preschool Initiative for at-risk children. By investing in quality preschool education for these children, we can create a new opportunity for families in every corner of the Commonwealth and continue our efforts to build a new Virginia economy.’ Fairfax County’s proposal states that they will be responding to the unmet needs of working families to have full work-day and summer care for young children. With the grant, Fairfax County will work with high-quality family child care programs to provide preschool services for VPI.
Dr. Braband is the new Fairfax County School Board Division Superintendent for the period July 10th, 2017 to June 30th, 2021. School Board Char Sand Evans states, “Dr. Brabrand brings a wealth of experience in education and a broad perspective to the job of Superintendent. ‘His collaborative leadership style and his knowledge of Fairfax County schools will be strong assets for him as the new superintendent.”( Fairfax County Public Schools) After spending five years as Superintendent of Lynchburg City Schools, where he oversaw increases in the Virginia Standards of Learning (SOL) pass rates in math and reading and in the graduation rate, particularly for economically disadvantaged students and for Black students. During his tenure, Lynchburg City Schools saw its funding transfer increase for five consecutive years after five previous years of flat or declining transfers. This year, he was named Region V Superintendent of the Year by the Virginia Association of School Superintendents.
Fairfax County Public Schools have been steadily increasing their school budget; however, there is not enough funds to support the influx of students coming into the school system every year. In order to combat the lack of funding from the government, we as people who live within Fairfax County should put priority into getting these students the education they deserve. This young generation are the people who will be leading the 22nd century, in order to lead us in our old age, we must give them a proper educational program and setting where every student is able to receive a desk, chair, and textbooks. The primary solution to this crisis is increased taxes, donate to the local school systems, and to volunteer in school programs.