The system of education in America has undergone various reforms, which bears different dimensions. These dimensions can either be economic, social or political nature. Moreover, significant changes in the education system in the United States correlates with various political leaderships that take over control over United States government after every election. Consequently, it is worth noting that political party policies in terms of the economic progress of the United States dictate education reforms in the United States. Also, reforms in the education system tend to respond to the technological changes of the world plus the need to retain Americans the most competent individuals in the globe. This competency should be in terms of responding to global economic changes as well as fully participating in shaping the world’s economy through entrepreneurship and innovations. This paper seeks to explore the significant changes that the education system of the United States has undergone as well as the economic dimensions that those changes aim to achieve. While keeping the economic concept of education system in the United States, the government values the lives of United States citizens, and seeks to respond to any economic and physical threat, that may upset the people of the United States of America. In a bid to execute major changes in the education system, various considerations need attention for the success of the efforts. Such factors are economic in nature such as the cost-benefits analysis, cost function analysis, as well as computations of the gender parity index.
The education’s history in America can be split into two broad categories, that is; education during the colonial era and education in the post-colonial period to the present. This splitting gives the study of the history of education in the United States a more widely perspective and easy to comprehend. Moreover, it allows us to point out at the economic factors behind certain changes in the education of the United States depending on the period in question. Public education in the United States is subject to the provision of the public schools. As a result, changes in the public school system reflect changes in public education.
Education During Colonial Era
The first public school during this period was in Dedham, Massachusetts, and it was under the care of one Reverend, Ralph Wheelock. At this period, colonists were eager to educate Americans by ancient methods of learning such as family set up, apprenticeship. Schools would later become avenues the of socialization process. Further, European colonies would consider the presence of towns a factor in setting up schools. It indicates that schools would concentrate on areas, which undertake much of economic activities. As a result, Massachusetts Bay colony would become favorable for setting up a public school. Students of all ages would remain under the care of one teacher, and their houses stay in towns near schools. At these schools, enrolment would mainly include students whose parents had the residence in such towns. From the economic approach, it means that only parents who seemingly were economically stable would access education for their children. Amid this period, enrolments would stay high in Massachusetts and New York. These territories even today remain monetarily practical to the living arrangements.
Education in Post-Colonial America
John Adams the U.S. president, 1785 asserts, “ The whole people must take upon themselves, the education of the whole people, and be willing to the expenses of it. There should not be a district of one-mile square, without a school in it, not founded by a charitable individual but maintained at public expense by the people themselves”. However, would not happen instantly, as America would witness a problem of racial segregation during this period.
Segregation is visible and seems to dominate the provision of education and establishment of schools at this time with some schools dominated by blacks while others dominated in whites. Such separations would be because of economic backgrounds with the blacks falling under the inferior social and economic class. The blacks receive an education that is different from the one received by the whites, record poor enrolment as well as receiving a limited supply of books and teachers in their schools. Before 1910, less than 10% of United States youth would graduate from high school but this trend changes after 1940 when a larger number of teenagers would graduate from secondary schools.
Later in the 19th century, there would come a movement to provide elementary education to all American children regardless of their race. By this period, funding for primary schooling was a duty to the parents. It means that the only people whose economic status would allow paying for school fees would educate their children. Parents at this period seem to be the only spenders in the provision of elementary education.
It is worth noting the contributions of the progressive movement between the years the 1890s to 1930s whose champion happens to be John Dewey. This era did leave a notable change in increasing the number of schools and the enrolment rates, especially in metropolitan cities. Further, smaller cities began to build high schools. Such indications would show a relationship between changes in public education with economic factors. Moreover, progressive theorists would call for more schools to provide public education arguing that education was instrumental in realizing social change, enable the student to achieve full potential and use skills for the good.
The proponents of “black education” would emerge before 1915 with solutions to financing education in colleges. Philanthropists such as Booker T Washington and Rockefeller did fund black schools that had been segregated. These individuals happen to be also advocates of progressive education who sought ways to eliminate wastage in the way schools utilized the funds and uphold efficiency.
The comparative provision of education between the rich and the poor remain a subject of discussion in the United States. Further, disparities in funding of education are noticeable between the wealthy districts and poor small towns. These inequities still call for more reforms in the education system of the United States to provide equal funding to education for all communities regardless of the economic status of such areas.
Another noticeable change in education funding is the removal of the Pell grant program and replacing it with a loan program in the 1980s.It widens the gap between the poor blacks and the whites in the United States as majority blacks college graduates are poor to service the loan. It is believed that some schools have gone an extra mile to using economic status so as to recognize learners who are in need of financing.
A report Nation At Risk” did elicit massive reactions from the conservatives with calls to increase the number of schools and to tighten the testing standards. Subsequently, in 2000 the Congress did pass a motion to provide education for all children. By this action, the federal government would extend aid to the states to fund education. It indicates an inclination of education and its correlation with economic factors.
Today financing of public education is at the hands of local authorities. These local authorities finance school activities from the funds that they collect taxes from businesses and individuals. It shows a degree of relationship between provision of public education and economic activities that take place in the school environment.
Public schools in the United States accept all children who wish to join regardless of their income status. Moreover, university education is under financing by the national government with much emphasis put towards technology, research, and development. Public schools are subject to accreditation by relevant bodies. Also, the curriculum at the university level is such that it should produce competent Americans. Competency, in this case, refers to the ability to compete with all individuals in the world that involves economic advantage to America.
Apparently, spending by the local authorities in the provision of public education has increased in the United States. In the event that the budget goes higher, the federal government comes in to supplement the funding of elementary and primary education in the United States.