Opinion: Now Is The Time For Education Reform (2023)

Opinion: Now Is The Time For Education Reform (1)

The history of anti-literacy laws in the United States dates back to the mid 18th century and the early 19th century. These laws were specifically designed to prevent Blacks both enslaved and free, from learning to read and write. The fear was aliterate slave would have the means to forge documents that would aid in his/her escape from bondage. The fear was not unfounded. Many literate slaves did justthat.

The fear of the literate” slave was heightened in 1829 when radical abolitionist David Walker published Appeal to the Colored Citizens of the World. Among other things this remarkable pamphlet denounced slavery, racism and colonization. It also laid to bare America’s hypocrisy as it pertained to freedom (i.e. democracy) andChristianity.

But the Appeal’s most frightening commentary, at least for whites in the slaveholding south, was the call for Blacks to engage in armed rebellion to secure their freedom. Again the fear was not unfounded. In August 1831in Southampton County, Virginia, Nat Turner led the deadliest slave revolt in U.S.history.

Following the defeat of the South in the Civil War education became amajor priority for the newly freed slave. Despite resistance among white lawmakers, policy makers and ordinary white citizens, Blacks with the help of sympathetic whites established schools throughout the South. By the turn of the century, in spite of the inequities in education between whites and Blacks, literacy rates increased dramatically among Blacks. It is instructive to note that the U.S. is the only country in the world to have anti-literacylaws.

Turning north, while segregation of the races in schools was not mandated by law in the North de facto segregation was quitecommon.

On May 17, 1954in the case Brown vs. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas the United States Supreme Court ruled segregation in public schools unconstitutional. Thus, rejecting the doctrine established by Plessy vs. Ferguson ahalf century earlier that separate but equal” was constitutional. This landmark decision would serve as amajor catalyst for legislative reform during the Civil Rights Movement. The 1964 Civil Rights Act; the 1965 Voting Rights Act; and the 1968 Fair Housing Act serve as notableexamples.

The Brown decision was celebrated by most Blacks and rejected by many whites. Today, nearly 70years later American public schools continue to struggle with the challenge of providing an adequate (i.e. equal) educational opportunity that meets the varying needs of the 21stcentury.

Thus, we now have this boisterous call for education reform in urban centers across the country. Including New Haven, Connecticut. This isn’t a bad” thing. In fact exigent circumstances often times caters to suchdemands.

Not unlike other urban school districts New Haven has its challenges: chronic absenteeism, low literacy rates, school climate (i.e. student misbehavior), and working conditions for teachers. To name just afew.

And while the hiring of anew superintendent in the district will undoubtedly alter surface dynamics it won’t be enough to significantly impact the titanic problems currently facing New Haven public schools. So the call for reform is not aspeculative one. It is indeed legitimate and should be interpreted assuch.

However, (and this will sting abit) those supporting this petition for transformation must be willing to hold parents, students and the respective community accountable for the role each play in undermining publiceducation.

My mother, may she rest in peace, was raised in the Jim Crow south. She had aspectacular commitment to education. She believed in it. She valued it. She simply did not play when it came to education. Jean’s rules were simple: go to school every day; respect your teacher; pay attention in class; do your homework; no books – no ball. And although my parents were divorced, my father, aNew York City police officer at the time, was the enforcer” of her rules. All mom had to do was pick up the phone and my siblings and Iknew what thatmeant.

The point is asimple one. Parents must value education. Aside from health, food and shelter, education must be placed above all other things. Parents who don’t value education should not expect anyone else to fill that void and should consider themselves lucky if someone elsedoes.

Study after study concludes that two-thirds of what make achild successful begins in the home. Thirty percent is the responsibility of the educational process (i.e. school). The community (i.e. the village) is responsible for the remaining percentage. Too often we make the mistake of substituting the role of the school for the home. Let’s be clear schools get what parents and the child’s immediate environment create. If the child is a terror” in the home and community guesswhat?

It is not the fault of aschool when it inherits achild that lacks self-control. It’s simply unfair to students who want to learn and teachers who want to teach to have to contend with astudent who has such behavioral challenges. Astudent’s conduct should dictate whether he/she should remain in aconventional schoolenvironment.

School systems should put apremium on the development of alternative programs to meet the individual needs of students who are unable to demonstrate self-control in aconventional school setting. I’m not astrong supporter of charter schools but if they are to exist they should to meet such aneed.

As for astudent’s performance — it’s so convenient to blame the teacher when achild is underperforming but parents should ask themselves have Idone or am Idoing everything expected of me as aparent to make sure my child values education? Is my child watching too much TV or spending too much time on social media? Is he/she playing too many video games? Is he/she putting sports before his/her studies? Is he/she keeping the wrongcompany?

Students should pose similar questions to themselves. In short, before holding educators accountable parents should hold themselves and their child/children accountable and students should hold themselvesaccountable.

Parents, civic leaders and other naysayers should stop blaming educators for all that is wrong with the educational process. Educating children requires apartnership involving parents, teachers and students. This triad only works if everyone dutifully plays their respectivepart.

As for teachers, the profession itself serves as the foundation of acivilized society. Without teachers we don’t have doctors, lawyers, accountants, engineers, librarians, astronauts, etc. Are there bad” teachers? Of course. But there are bad” individuals in every profession. Most teachers are not bad.”

What is important to remember is this – teachers join the profession because teaching is what they want to do. For many it’s apassion. It’s certainly not for the money. As for the triad discussed earlier – Iwould argue it is the teacher that is held accountable more so than any other member of this partnership. And if the truth be told it is the teacher who is most likely to honor his/her role in thetriad.

The challenge for teachers of all hues is to understand the socialization process that they have undergone within American society and seek to unlearn. Particularly as it pertains to race and gender. When one chooses to ignore this challenge it perpetuates archaic concepts and beliefs which is detrimental to the growth and development of their charges. Theirstudents.

Education reform is needed. This is the 21st century. While students should be encouraged to pursue the college track the reality is most will not. Thus, today’s curriculums should reflect the interest of today’s student. Think coding; robotics; 3D printing; and digital currency to name afew ideas.

Student schedules should be more flexible. Remote learning should be an option for those students and parents who desire it. The grade system should be abolished in favor of anon-grade system that demands true proficiency in reading and writing. In other words – schools (that haven’t already) should adopt a literacy across content areas” approach to tackle the many challenges associated with readinginstruction.

Uniforms should be universal and to eliminate obvious distractions, genders should be separated. Aschool designed for boys only or girls only is not abad idea.

But beyond and above all other matters resources (i.e. money) should be front loaded to early childhood education. Partnerships should be created with existing community based programs, initiatives and stakeholders (i.e. acollective impact model) that can assist in meeting the challenges of children and families early in the educational process. Think pre-natal to eight years ofage.

We have alot of work to do. Let’s not waste time bashing teachers and placing blame squarely on the shoulders of the educational system. We must all shoulder the burden – parents, students, educators, policy makers, lawmakers and thecommunity.

And just so we’re clear – Iget it. Systemic racism and the crippling effects of its by-products (i.e. mass incarceration, elevated levels of unemployment, food insecurity, health and housing challenges) cannot be dismissed. But as my mom used to say we’re not slavesanymore.”

Our history is replete with examples of overcoming seemingly insurmountable odds. We are resilient. We areunique.

Education reform is amonumental challenge which requires all hands on deck.” Or as Malcolm Xeloquently stated Education is our passport to the future. For tomorrow belongs to the people who prepare for ittoday.”

For full disclosure my wife and some of my dearest friends areeducators.


Why is education reform so important? ›

Education Reform Definition

Education reform's primary concerns include socio-economic status, equality, and equity. The general purpose of education reform is to create more equitable learning environments so all students can learn.

What are the current reform efforts in education? ›

Current reforms to public education include the new Common Core State Standards for learning, the Local Control Funding Formula for school districts, the rise of charter schools and the growth of partnerships between schools, nonprofits, businesses and other government agencies.

Was the education reform successful? ›

Due to the efforts of nineteenth-century reformers such as Horace Mann (1796–1859), the public school system became a reality. Although the American public school system is far from perfect, and undergoes nearly continuous reform, it remains one of the great democratic institutions of the nation.

What is the meaning of educational reform? ›

Education reform comprises any planned changes in the way a school or school system functions, from teaching methodologies to administrative processes.

What is the impact of education reform? ›

Most students will have more time in school, more testing, and more choices. In seems probable that school days and school years will become longer. Time for non-instructional activities such as recess, lunch, and traveling from class to class will be reduced.

How can we reform public education in the United States? ›

5 Ways Policy Makers Can Improve the Quality of Education
  1. Acknowledge and address overcrowding.
  2. Make funding schools a priority.
  3. Address the school-to-prison pipeline.
  4. Raise standards for teachers.
  5. Put classroom-running and curriculum-building decisions in the hands of the community.
Apr 7, 2019

What are 2 problems with the education reform? ›

There are three primary reasons that education reforms failed to live up to our expectations: too few teacher-led reforms, a lack of real community support from those most impacted, and a lack of focus on policy change for public schools across the board, not just the lowest of low-performing schools.

Who are some important people in education reform? ›

Some of the leaders of education reform movements in the United States were Horace Mann, Catharine Beecher, and John Dewey. Horace Mann was a politician who made major changes to public education in Massachusetts when he became the Massachusetts secretary of education.

What is the top down reform in education? ›

Educational reform traditionally has been viewed as a top-down process that begins with national governments and is implemented with the goal of improving institutional results, as measured by student performance. This practice is well established.

What are examples of educational reforms? ›

What follows are reforms that I wish our policymakers would adopt when considering changes to public education.
  • Decrease the Number of Standardized Tests. ...
  • Give Teachers More Say in Policy. ...
  • Give Teachers More Classroom Autonomy. ...
  • Improve Teacher Training Programs. ...
  • Offer Different Curriculum for Different Children.
Jan 10, 2017

Why do educational reforms fail? ›

The reason most educational policies are not implemented is that they are vaguely stated and the financing implications are not always worked out. Another reason for failure is that the content of a policy is based on an empirically unsustained theoretical relationship between instruments and outcomes.

What is success for all school reform? ›

Success for All (SFA)® is a whole-school reform model that includes a reading, writing, and oral language development program for students in prekindergarten through eighth grade. Classroom reading instruction is delivered in daily 90-minute blocks to students grouped by reading ability.

How do you use education reform in a sentence? ›

Twenty years ago, this country was in the vanguard of education reform, with innovations such as city technology colleges and grant-maintained schools.

How would public education positively affect society? ›

It helps people become better citizens, get a better-paid job, shows the difference between good and bad. Education shows us the importance of hard work and, at the same time, helps us grow and develop. Thus, we are able to shape a better society to live in by knowing and respecting rights, laws, and regulations.

What are the six elements of educational reform? ›

  • An increase in graduation requirements.
  • More academic learning time.
  • Standards-based education.
  • Higher expectations for teachers.
  • Higher salaries for teachers.
  • School choice.

What was the impact of the reform? ›

The Reformation became the basis for the founding of Protestantism, one of the three major branches of Christianity. The Reformation led to the reformulation of certain basic tenets of Christian belief and resulted in the division of Western Christendom between Roman Catholicism and the new Protestant traditions.

Why did reformers want to improve education? ›

Reformers believed that education would help these children escape poverty and become good citizens. In Massachusetts, Horace Mann became the state's supervisor of education. The citizens voted to pay taxes to build better schools, to pay teachers higher salaries and to establish special training schools for teachers.

Why has education policy become more complex over the years? ›

According to the information you just read, why has education policy become more complex over the years? The role of education has changed as the nation has grown and changed over time.

How can education be improved? ›

14 Tips To Improve Schools and Overall Student Performance
  1. Technology Usage. ...
  2. Teacher Training. ...
  3. Cultural Activities. ...
  4. Motivational Guests. ...
  5. Student Counseling. ...
  6. School Maintenance. ...
  7. Parent-teacher Communication. ...
  8. Activities Outside Classrooms.
Jul 27, 2022

How can we change the education system? ›

15 Things that Need to Change in Education According to Teachers
  1. Implement higher wages for all educators now. ...
  2. Respect for the profession should be a given. ...
  3. Parents should enable their kids less and hold them accountable more. ...
  4. Teach life skills. ...
  5. The administration needs to be more hands-on and proactive.
Sep 16, 2022

Are there still reform schools in the US? ›

Today, no state openly or officially refers to its juvenile correctional institutions as "reform schools", although such institutions still exist.

What were the major problems that led to the education reform movement? ›

The Educational Reform Movement was widespread and spanned a few centuries. Prior to the beginning of this movement there were many issues in the United States including racism, large class differences, women's inequality, as well as religious conflicts.

What were the results of educational reforms taken during the Progressive Era? ›

In the world of education, this meant offering high school to all students and bolstering urban education for the poor, immigrants, and minorities. Finally, the Progressive Era saw a rise in teacher education, starting with normal schools and progressing to undergraduate and eventually graduate degrees for educators.

Who had the biggest impact on education? ›

Top 12 Pioneers in Education
  • Horace Mann (1796-1859) – American Public School Education. ...
  • Friedrich Froebel (1782-1852) – Early Childhood Education. ...
  • Charlotte Mason (1842-1923) – Home Education. ...
  • Jean Piaget (1896-1980) – How Children Learn. ...
  • Margaret Bancroft (1854-1912) – Special Education. ...
  • Booker T.
May 27, 2009

Who was the biggest reformer of education? ›

Horace Mann (May 4, 1796 - August 2, 1859) was one of the prominent educational reformers of his time and is best known for his reformation efforts in public education.

Who is the most important person in the education process? ›

The educator is vital in giving support, encouragement, and direction during the process of learning. Learners may make choices on their own without the assistance of an educator, but these choices may be limited or inappropriate.

What are the three perspectives on school reform? ›

three perspectives--the technological, political, and cultural (House, 1979; House, 1981). often results in reform failure because of neglect of the other powerful factors.

Is top-down learning better? ›

Recent research in cognitive neuroscience has shown how a top-down approach enhances the learning process by stimulating areas of the brain that contains lexical knowledge. So when we learn a new word, top-down processing allows us to connect that word to concepts that we already know.

Which reformer improved the education system in America? ›

Known as the “father of American education,” Horace Mann (1796–1859), a major force behind establishing unified school systems, worked to establish a varied curriculum that excluded sectarian instruction.

How can we improve education in poor areas? ›

Create community schools

Schools can provide more than just academic services. Community schools are an important strategy to support students, especially in high poverty areas. They can support health and social services, youth and community development, and community engagement.

What does it mean to reform someone? ›

: to put or change into an improved form or condition. : to amend or improve by change of form or removal of faults or abuses. : to put an end to (an evil) by enforcing or introducing a better method or course of action.

Why is the education system failing in America? ›

1. Deficits in government funding for schools. Funding is always an issue for schools and is, in fact, one of the biggest issues facing the American public education system today. For more than 90% of K-12 schools, funding comes from state and local governments, largely generated by sales and income taxes.

Are education standards declining? ›

When we look at today's education, we see that academic standards in public education have been declining for decades even as education funding has reached nearly a trillion dollars per year to fund such failed programs as No Child Left Behind and Common Core.

What are the causes of failure of the reform government? ›

Causes of government failure
  • Imperfect information. ...
  • Human factor. ...
  • Influence of interest or pressure groups. ...
  • Political self-interest. ...
  • Policy myopia. ...
  • Government intervention and evasion. ...
  • High administrative and enforcement costs. ...
  • Regulatory Capture.

Why is education reform important? ›

Education Reform Definition

Education reform's primary concerns include socio-economic status, equality, and equity. The general purpose of education reform is to create more equitable learning environments so all students can learn.

Why is education reform good? ›

Research shows that community schools following best practices improve student educational outcomes, provide as much as one-third more learning time, and reduce racial and economic achievement gaps.

Why do we need school reform? ›

The purpose of educational reforms is to transform school structures with the aim of raising the quality of education in a country. Educational reforms deserve a holistic examination of their reasons, objectives, application and results generated, by those within the school systems where they are implemented.

What is a meaningful sentence with reform? ›

The party embarked on a programme of economic reform. He has urged reform of the welfare system. The Socialists introduced fairly radical reforms. A reformed party would have to win the approval of the people.

Why have school reform initiatives not shown improvements in public schools? ›

Unfortunately, the specific measures in the reform playbook rely on discredited and faulty assumptions about the best ways to improve schools. This is why these individual reforms have produced limited or nonexistent results.

What was the common school Reform Movement? ›

The common schools movement was the effort to fund schools in every community with public dollars, and is thus heralded as the start of systematic public schooling in the United States. The movement was begun by Horace Mann, who was elected secretary of the newly founded Massachusetts Board of Education in 1837.

How does a good education improve society? ›

Those who get an education have higher incomes, have more opportunities in their lives, and tend to be healthier. Societies benefit as well. Societies with high rates of education completion have lower crime, better overall health, and civic involvement. Lack of access to education is considered the root of poverty.

Why is public education important today? ›

Help children fulfill their diverse potentials. Enable students to become well-rounded individuals, focusing on the whole child and not just mastery of academic content. Prepare students to live a productive life and become good citizens, while obeying the social and legal rules of society.

Why should education be free for everyone? ›

If more people could attend college for free, then the workforce will expand. The workforce will also be more agile. In the case of an economic downturn when one industry falters, another generally rises to replace it. Then, workers need to be retrained and taught skills for the job.

What is an example of education reform? ›

The four key areas of reform include: Development of rigorous standards and better assessments. Adoption of better data systems to provide schools, teachers, and parents with information about student progress. Support for teachers and school leaders to become more effective.

Who were the key people of education reform? ›

Some of the leaders of education reform movements in the United States were Horace Mann, Catharine Beecher, and John Dewey. Horace Mann was a politician who made major changes to public education in Massachusetts when he became the Massachusetts secretary of education.

What makes an education system successful? ›

A successful system uses technology to broaden access to knowledge and to improve learning and productivity. Safety and Discipline. A successful system provides a safe, well-disciplined and caring environment for student learning.

What is reform and why is it important? ›

However, reform frequently presents an opportunity to restructure enterprises or the whole economy in ways that help to achieve long-term objectives such as sustained long-term economic growth and employment, changes in income distribution, improved access to basic needs, etc.

Why did reformers want to improve us education? ›

Educating children of the poor and middle classes would prepare them to obtain good jobs, proponents argued, and thereby strengthen the nation's economic position. In addition to preparing students for citizenship and work, education was seen by some reformers as a means for people to achieve happiness and fulfillment.

What was the main reason education reformers wanted to establish public schools? ›

Horace Mann and the education reformers' primary purpose was to bring local school districts under centralized town authority and to achieve some degree of uniformity among the towns through a state agency. They believed that popular schooling could be transformed into a powerful instrument for social unity.

What is the main goal of reform movements? ›

A reform movement or reformism is a type of social movement that aims to bring a social or also a political system closer to the community's ideal.

Which reform had the greatest impact? ›

The abolition of slavery was one of the most powerful reform movements.

Who was the leading educational reformer and what were his goals? ›

Known as the “father of American education,” Horace Mann (1796–1859), a major force behind establishing unified school systems, worked to establish a varied curriculum that excluded sectarian instruction.

Who believed that reforming the American education system was important? ›

Horace Mann (1796-1859), “The Father of the Common School Movement,” was the foremost proponent of education reform in antebellum America.

What did reformers want to improve? ›

What did reformers want? As the 1900s opened, reformers pushed for a number of changes. Together their efforts built the progressive movement. The progressive movement had four major goals: (1) to protect social welfare, (2) to promote moral improvement, (3) to create economic reform, and (4) to foster efficiency.

Which reformer focused on education reform? ›

Some of the leaders of education reform movements in the United States were Horace Mann, Catharine Beecher, and John Dewey.

What problems did reformers hope to solve? ›

Progressives were interested in establishing a more transparent and accountable government which would work to improve U.S. society. These reformers favored such policies as civil service reform, food safety laws, and increased political rights for women and U.S. workers.


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