Public education in America has slowly been plummeting. American students have slowly fallen behind other Westernized democracies in educational success. Formerly, United States students were among the highest scored in reading, math, and science. However, now compared to other industrialized countries, scores are closer to the average range; scores are even below average in math. Due to falling scores and shifts in focus from academic success, there has been an abrupt effort to reform the public education system in America.
In 2002, former president George W. Bush implemented the No Child Left Behind Act as an attempt to improve the quality of education in public schools. The No Child Left Behind Act was a reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, originally enacted in 1965 as the central federal law regarding pre-collegiate education. At the core of the NCLBA were a number of measures and incentives used to promote student success. Some include annual testing, raining teacher qualifications, and perhaps the most important to school districts, funding changes. In 2011, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan helped rewrite the NCLBA, editing it to allow the individual states to set their own annual benchmarks and standards. According to a study by the National Education Association, test scores have risen in math and reading since the NCLBA was passed. The Center on Educational Policy released a report clearly indicating scores have risen and ultimately a step in a positive direction.
In 2009, President Barack Obama announced another educational program, Race to the Top. “Race to the Top marks a historic movement in American education.” This initiative provides additional funding for states that focus on educational reform. The individual states are scored on a number of criteria, such as aspiring teacher development programs (at the post-secondary education level), and are awarded funding based on scores. The program is voluntary, though most states have competed for the over $400 million in funds, several- including Vermont and Texas have opted out.
Another solution to school reform that has grown in popularity over the past two decades is the charter school. Charter schools are public, not private, however they operate outside the traditional school system and are free of many of the restrictions imposed on public schools. Charter schools are given the right to operate by state or local board, whichever they desire, after the charter directly stating and establishing the school’s program and goals is approved. Charter schools’ missions are not entirely different from that of other public schools. Often, the schools are opened to assist with the needs of a specific community of students. Since the early 90s, the number of charter schools has drastically increased. There are nearly five thousand charter schools across forty states. These schools are open admission. Any student within the district has an opportunity...