What’s Going On with America’s Public School System?

CPS board member

Osorio, Jose M. 2012. “Jean-Claude Brizard, back to camera, CEO of Chicago Public Schools, speaks at the Chicago Board of Education Meeting.

Chicago Public Schools slashes budgets midyear, Hazelwood School District in St Louis, MO to cut orchestra and band in several elementary schools, Detroit Public Schools remains in financial decline; these are the headlines being made by America’s public schools. What seems to be the problem with public schools? Why are they consistently battling to provide the tools necessary to prepare students for life in highly competitive college and job market after high school? Educators, parents, community members and others have suggested many causes beginning with the lack of accountability within the system for its performance.

System performance issues are compounded by the poor physical conditions of school buildings. Schools touted as technology institutes or advanced educational centers are experiencing a lack of adequate resources. However, the issues currently experienced are not new. These issues and efforts to reform schools predate World War II. It seems as if the system is constantly going through reform to no avail.

Becker, Lisa Friedrich. 2012. The Syndenstricker Schoolhouse, the “Little Red Schoolhouse”. National Register of Historic Places.

Each attempt to improve the failing system seems writhe with misdiagnoses of the problems, blame-shifting and parental frustration.  With every attempt at reform a new issue is identified such as with No Child Left Behind Reform efforts, in which teacher performance became the focus instead of the process of education.  Teachers decried this reform effort due to many feeling they were being forced to teach to state aptitude tests requirement and not students. It is quite difficult to pinpoint one cause for the constant uphill battle to maintain the public school system as one that can consistently, efficiently and successfully prepare students for life outside of the school hallway.

The one constant in this battle is the reluctance of anyone to give up. Everyone seems to understand the importance and value of a good public education system yet we continue to the unsuccessful search to find the best mechanisms to get us there. Hazelwood School District families bombarded a recent board of education meeting planned to discuss the impending changes to several elementary school programs but efforts fell short of success as many attendees were not allowed in the meeting. The goal of the families was to have their say regarding the cuts.

While their desire to be heard is relevant their timing was off. The meeting they were attending was not the meeting to vote on cuts but instead the meeting to determine the day the cuts would be go into effect. So again, What’s going on with America’s Public Schools? The answer though debatable is everything from, funding to voter/parent participation. Perhaps the next reform will be more holistic, defining a way to improve the system by addressing all the moving parts because there is not one thing limiting the success of schools it is a collaboration of many things.




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