One Of Our Everlasting Concerns

One of the most written and talked about topics from local to national levels is education, mostly as schooling. It’s methodology, money for schools, my child, his teacher and who controls what. Historically, schooling has been a local matter, but gradually states were pushed into providing money and setting state wide standards. So, now states set state wide curriculum standards and so much money for each portion of day that children attend school. Standards for teachers and other school related personnel are pretty much the same through the 50 states.

However, even though state standards are mostly the same, what they do within them can be quite different, mostly because of the size of districts within our 50 states. For example, the size of school districts:

Above 25,000 are 2% of districts enrolling 34% of the nation’s kids
10,000 – 24,000 = 4% of districts with 19% of children
2,500 – 9999 = 22% of districts enrolling 30%
1000 – 2499 = 24% of districts with 12%
600 – 999 = 12% of districts with 3%
599 & under = 35% of districts with 3%

So districts with 2499 children and under constitute 71% of school districts nationally with only 18% of school age children. Small school districts, particularly, are mostly rural and poor throughout the country, with the resulting problems of providing curriculum in math and science. Some areas meet this lack of students by combining several districts under one superintendent and bussing students, sometimes long distances, across district lines. Teachers in these districts are mostly from within the state and very often from the local area

The very large districts are in cities and are mostly divided by income and social class. Poor whites live apart from poor blacks and latinos, but they share lack of optimism and desire to work through the curriculum. In the more well to do areas, teachers are more likely to be invested in teaching, the schools have a wider curriculum with an atmosphere that encourages participation.

So, we have thinly populated rural districts struggling to provide a basic and varied curriculum with teachers who are often teaching subjects for which they are ill prepared. While in urban areas schools range from those which have students from educated parents down to those which have students who don’t know who their parents are and some/many of whose teachers are not well prepared. The smaller districts have few of these concerns, but have fewer students for speciality areas and fewer student to support a larger curriculum.

This brief report illustrates the difficulty in trying to set up government and professional organizations that can provide services to state educational institutions. One problem, of course, is cost. In addition, these institutions and the people working in them, particularly in poorer districts, are often overcome by the problems from such a wildly diverse population.

Our method for dealing with such diversity is to constantly add new methods and programs. Well funded districts (18% of children) do pretty well. The less well funded (71%) go from less well to struggling.

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