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Improving Quality of Education in Virginia

What measures need to be taken in order to improve the quality of public education in Virginia? Public education is a form education that is provided to citizens by the government whether at the national, regional or at local level and is financed by the money that the government collects as tax. This type of education is provided to all irrespective of their sex, creed, and religion, ethnic or racial backgrounds.

Public education involves compliance in a number of things for example compulsory attendance of school up to a certain standards, employment of teachers by the government and reviewing of school curriculums by the government and also going by the standards that are set by the government. In this research paper, I will limit my focus to look at how public education in Virginia can be uplifted in terms of the quality and performance level. I will establish three problems facing education sector and then provide the solutions to these challenges.

One of the challenges that public education in Virginia face is the high drop out rate of the minorities and the African Americans both in high schools and college. This is a serious problem that greatly undermines the principle of equal educational opportunities. Every state provides education to all students for free. It is upon the local boards of education or what is basically referred to as the municipal council to offer free education. In public schools, there must be board members who are the representatives of the education board.

These people are well aware that it is only through education that the economy of a state can be improved. That is why they are very concerned with the high rate of drop outs. One of the measures that these boards take is to ensure that local public schools are well funded. The government sets certain standards in services provision and programs for all. The money that is funded is demographically located. This is made possible by the availability of the population information that is collected by the appropriation act and grant agreements (Roger T.

S and Strauss R. P. 2005; 2) This money is divided amongst schools depending on the number of children each school has. The money is currently being increased in an effort to control the drop out rate of the disadvantaged. For example in 2007, 708 US dollars were added on what was provided in the year, 2006. The government of Virginia has almost redoubled the money it is spending on financing education poor performance in public school however; drop out rate still remains a challenge.

Reports have shown that about 50-60% of students in the big schools in the district do not graduate in high school and this was supported by the New York times in 2006, June 21 which stated that over a third of the drop outs in USA do not go beyond the 9th grade. It also revealed that children in millions are in public schools that do not meet the government set standards for example, in math and in reading skills. It is for these reasons (Severino R. T and Strauss R. P 2005, 2) that the No Child Left Behind Act asks the boards of schools to ensure that the student’s achievement is closely monitored.

The act aims at ensuring that by 2010 students in all public schools will be performing excellently. This Act or the No Child Left Behind Act states that those schools that will fail to meet this objective will be forced to offer to provide the underperforming students with choice based school as an alternative. These public schools also risk enjoying some of the benefits that are accorded by the US department of education inclusive of the 25% of the funds that is supposed to cater for the administration of these schools.

It is believed that if the federal government withdraws its support to those schools that do not perform according to the required standards the those states will devise ways and means of ensuring that the parties concerned have performed as it is expected. ( Department of Education. 2007) Another reason that contributes to the high drop out rate of the African Americans in Virginia is the ratio of black to white teachers. This greatly affects the African American’s culture. In Virginia, of 19,982 teachers only hundred and ninety one are African Americans.

It is not a wonder to hear that in a whole school there are no black teachers. Out of 775 public schools in West Virginia there are only about 22 African American principals and not more than ten councilors. It is for this reason that the children for the blacks fail to get someone who would motivate them in schools. They also lack proper guidance when it comes to pursuing education programs. Lack of proper counseling leads to high drop out rate in schools. This is due to drugs abuse, unwanted pregnancies and delinquent behaviors.

In reaction to this the government is trying hard to bridge the gap between the African Americans and the whites by ensuring that each and every child irrespective of the color of the skin gets equal educational opportunity in all school levels. Be it elementary, high school or in colleges. In an effort to improve the education for the blacks for example in 2001, 35% of all those who performed poorly in their higher education they were provided with refresher and remedial courses especially in mathematics while was greatly affected (Cleckley B.

S. 2004; 4-5) Another problem that Virginia’s public education faces is the lack of safe environment for schools. There are many risky activities that are such as fights, harassing of fellow students, gang violence and continued misuse of drugs. One report shown that in the period between 1999 and 2000, about 20% of all public schools in Virginia experienced crimes like rape, robbery and sex assault. This problem is not rampant in high schools but it has found roots in the middle level colleges.

According to the report that was released in 2000, it revealed that about 21% of all middle schools were victim of this violence out of about nine hundred schools that were studied while in high schools it was only eleven percent who was victims of either physical assaults or fights with dangerous weapons. In Virginia, drug abuse remains a very big challenge. A certain report shown that about 30 % of high school students must have abused drugs before they graduated in their 8th grade. (Cleckley B. J. : 2004; 73)

These students who most of them are in their teens when they engage themselves in crimes and drug abuse they become a very deadly cocktail. It is as a result of the effects of the same that the school work takes a back seat in their minds. Only few students take their education seriously. It is believed that stricter administration in schools, proper guidance and counseling and drug control mechanisms if put in place could reverse this well propagated trend. Proper administration would ensure that students do not bully their fellow students in these schools. This would help them I living as brothers and sisters.

It is not usual for adolescents to detach themselves from their family members and then form some kind of relationships with their peers. It is assumed by most of the parents to these children that these relationships are healthy and safe. They also make assumption those children who have attained the age at which they can make informed decisions and choices. There is a danger that these children might influence each others badly especially if these kids come from families that do not have good role models. These children end up forming gangs that terrorize their fellow students as well as the public at large. (Ackerman R.

2005; 3) these gangs provide friendship to members, security as well as some idea of belongingness or togetherness. In combating gang ship, the government has taken upon itself the role of teaching parents on how they could control the vice from cropping up in their children’s. Children need to be educated on the dangers of joining these gangs. The government has also ensured that the school environment is safe to ensure that the students do not form gangs in order to have security. The government is also trying to improve the living standards of all poor families because mostly children from these families cannot afford good education.

This is also taken care of by the governments program of sending and paying school fees for all. The government is aware that when people drop out of schools because of fees problems the join the world with no competitive skills that would help them in securing good jobs. Nobody can survive without money so these youths are only left with one option and that is forming gangs. Parents are also advised to be role models to their children. Youths, who hail from families where violence is the order of the day, most of them become criminals. Also if they are not shown love at home they move away and look for the same in gangs.

Parents are also to be blamed for these gangs. Some parents live in denial that the problem of gangs is not something serious. For this reason their children feel free to form or join gangs because it is like they are doing that with approval from their parents. (Ackerman R. 2005; 3) The government of Virginia is very concerned about its youth and gangs and that is why in 2004, July 12 there was established the Fairfax county coordinating council on gang prevention which drew its support and funds from the government. In 2005, its summit mobilized more than 300 people who were entrusted with addressing the vice.

These people came from different fields for example from schools, police, county representatives, and from society at large. The summit agreed on creating a Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Unit. While dealing with this problem, they adopted five strategies. The first one was community mobilization where by they brought the youth and residents together. Secondly they introduced social intervention measures whereby the agencies provide social intervention measures such as social services to the affected youths, families, organizations and schools. (Ackerman R. 2005; 5)

Also this regional gang task force is entrusted with the responsibility of providing the society with various opportunities that mainly target all those who are affected by these problems. They provide educational assistance, training and other employment opportunities. They also try hard in suppressing and monitoring these gangs with an aim of controlling them. The final strategy they use is to incorporate the youths in crime prevention programs. However, though the government is trying all it could to ensure that the environment is conducive in all public schools; gang fights and bullying still remain a challenge.

The government must try harder than what is currently doing to bring this situation in control. The effectiveness of this program is hampered by lack of enough funds to finance it. The people who perform these roles are many and the government does not have enough resources to pay them. The government in controlling bullying gangs and fights in public schools should employ many qualified counselors in schools so that every affected student should access them. America and Virginia in particular is facing a problem of teachers’ shortage.

Many teachers quit from this profession faster than they could be replaced. This greatly affects learning in public schools. Another problem is different races in America. Many children lack competencies that would ensure they succeed in these schools. This makes it hard to offer counseling to these children because they have different beliefs, values customs and cultures. For example studies that were conducted recently shown that most American schools do not provide students with social support and instructions that are vital in children’s achievement.

Infact of all schools in America, only about 25% do so. The government in dealing with these problems, it should deploy more teachers who are well grounded with different cultures so that they could be able to counsel and teach students who are from different racial backgrounds. Currently, Virginia Education Association is working on a legislative program that would ensure that the state supports all schools with funds and take other relevant measures to improve the quality of education. They are well aware of the many problems that the education sector is facing.

For example, Virginia is seventh wealthiest state and yet it ranks at 32nd position in financing public education for each student. Virginia currently is in 31st position in paying its teachers by giving them 6,000 US dollars. (Virginia Education Association. 2008) Today the government of Virginia is trying hard to keep and go with commonwealth standards of learning in all public schools. Students are expected to attain k-12 in English, science, history, technology and mathematics. The same is also expected in foreign languages, fine arts and in health subjects as well as in physical education.

The government provides schools with syllabus or the school work curriculums in English, math’s, science, history and in social science. These are referred as the core subjects in Virginia. In conclusion, we can say that quality level of public education has significantly improved and still the government is working harder to improve it further. Education in Virginia was hampered by many difficulties such as low salaries for teachers, poor financing and lack of concern on the part of the government.

If the pinpointed challenges that face the public education are addressed properly, then public education would run smoothly as everybody would like it to be.

Reference:

Ackerman R. Gang Activities and Prevention. October 2005. Retrieved on 4th February 2008 http://www. iwv=fairfax. org/gangs. Pdf Cleckley B. J. Broadening Africa Americans Participation in Education. April 24, 2004; 73 Department of Education: Including Direct Aid to Public Education and Virginia Schools for Deaf and Blind . June 30, 2007.Retrieved on 4th February 2008 http://www. apa. virginia. gov/data/download/report/audit-local/doe07. Pdf Severino T. S. and Strauss R. P. Improving Public Education Through strengthened Local control. 2005. Retrieved on 5th February 2008. http://www. andrew. Cmu. edu/user/rs9f/Severino_strauss_final_april_2005. pdf .Virginia Education Association. Funding Quality Schools: A Capitol Idea. February 1st 2008. Retrieved on 5th February 2008. http://veaweteach. org/home_articles_detail. asp? content ID=2749

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