Education Inequality in the United States
Will Durant, a businessman and the founder of General Motors, once said, “Education is the transmission of civilization.” Unfortunately, education is still one of the most deliberated and controversial issues in the United States. Thus far, the privilege or right to receive education has not attained the level of equality throughout the nation; poor districts obtain less educational funding while rich districts obtain more, creating an immense gap between the quality of schools in poor and rich areas.
The government does not fully provide funding for each school district since public schools are funded through property taxes (“Public”, 1). Therefore, the amount of money for education received by each district varies from one another; there is a minor probability of two school districts getting the exact amount of money. It is reported that districts with high numbers of low-income students receive fewer government dollars per pupil than districts with fewer low-income students (Brennan, 1).
However, the government is attempting to improve and resolve this matter by creating new laws or regulations, such as the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act. This act was approved by Congress in 2001 and signed by President Bush in 2002 (Popham, 5).
The NCLB Act is now envisioned to be a solution to this ongoing argument; this act guarantees extra funding for schools in low-income areas and for all American children to receive equal education (“The No Child”, 1). As expected, the government anticipates positive results and feedbacks from all public schools in the nation, before actually giving those schools more money as a reward. In this case, the government expects every school in this country to regulate a new standardized test for students (Popham, 14). This new standardized test will be used by the government to rate schools, whether the school is failing’ or not, based on their students’ performances on this test.
Despite the government’s noble intentions to reduce problems in the society by creating this act, more arguments arise among citizens on whether the NCLB Act will enrich or impair the equality of education in this nation.
An Argument for NCLB Act Subverts Education
Those who dissent the NCLB Act and believe that it will weaken education particularly base their argument on two main reasons- standardized tests and test scores are not the way to improve equality in education and also, NCLB concentrates more on giving the teachers education, not the students, on how to improve their students’ test scores.
First, the government believes that evaluating American children with the same test will reflect their abilities; therefore, these test results also indicate the school rating and whether the school itself is adequate for teaching purposes or not.
There are different factors which affect one’s test score. Someone may get nervous when taking a test, causing him or her to score a lower grade, while on the other hand, someone who feels confident about the test will most likely achieve a higher grade. Also, someone may be better at memorizing, resulting in him or her answering more questions than those who are not capable to memorize things and therefore, not knowing the answers.
Many educators find the purpose of the NCLB Act to be very confusing and disingenuous. According to Monty Neill, who works for the National Center for Fair and Open Testing, an organization which evaluates tests and exams for their impartiality, “NCLB is a fundamentally punitive law that uses flawed standardized tests to label schools as failures and punish them with counterproductive sanctions” (Neill, 1). Teachers will be of no use to educate their students according to the curriculum, if the only focus that both the teachers and students have is only to pass the imperative standardized test, just so their school district can acquire more money for educational purposes. When it reaches to this point, citizens of the United States can already assume that this law has already failed and is enforcing lower standards, instead of high quality learning and equal opportunity in education for students in both poor and rich districts.
George Pataki, the governor of New York, in contrast, thinks differently. He suggests that nothing, not even money, can diminish the inequality of educational opportunities in