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Transforming Schools Alternative Perspectives on School Reform Essay


Mulcahy (2013) addresses various issues regarding the USA’s educational system while attempting to discuss its transformation. In this case, he manages a range of pertinent factors of education, including achievement gap, literacy, standardized assessment, social justice, aesthetic, general, and moral education. These aspects are discussed in the subsequent chapters, as addressed in the book.

Achievement Gap and Literacy

In this regard, the book focuses on the disparities between the different groups of students in the schools. The author essentially identifies differences that may be defined along with race, gender, and socioeconomic lines. In a standard way, these aspects of achievement gaps are measured by using indicators, which include grades, standardized scores, and the rates of dropping out, among many others. In this regard, each group’s measure can be used to obtain comparative results among the various groups. For example, if a group shows a higher rate of dropping out, it implies that the category is incapacitated in academic performance and excellence (Scruggs, 2011). In addition to the achievement gap, the author focuses on the level of achievement steered by the educational system in schools around the country. In essence, he seeks to address some of the issues regarding the schools’ status of academic knowledge instilled. In such a perspective, the author aims to reveal how the system has been transformed and the underlying factors that have led to these undertakings in the country.

Standardized Assessment

The author also focuses on the use of standardized assessments to evaluate the students’ achievement and aptitude. In these assessments, the students are tested in a standard manner such that the measure of each student’s review can be evaluated compared to other students. Various tests have been used in the USA, including the California Standard Test and Metropolitan Achievement Test, among others. These tests are used to provide a legal basis for evaluating students’ academic prowess and act as the platform for improvement.

Social Justice and Eco-justice

The author also addressed the issues of social justice in the educational system in the USA. In this regard, social life is seen as a fundamentally vital aspect of academic success. In that context, social justice in school, which addresses how students are treated, becomes an instrumental factor of consideration. Additionally, the inclusivity of education in terms of the social arena is addressed. This is necessitated and based on the idea that the USA is a country that incorporates people from all walks of life. Accordingly, there should be a consideration regarding the system’s social inclusivity (Wolk, 2011). This undertaking is considered as the primary concern towards the creation of sustainable education.

Aesthetic and Moral Education

Aesthetic and moral education form a crucial topic in this book, as Mulcahy (2013) wrote. Essentially, aesthetic education is concerned with instilling artistic skills. They are planted by providing platforms whereby students can question and inquire about cultural learning. Also, they can apply their theoretical knowledge to ensure that they are well-versed in the skills. Indeed, arts are more practical than academic. In addition to aesthetic education, the author focuses on some of the moral integrations implemented in the USA’s educational system. Understandably, the ethical aspects of society and academic proficiency cannot be separated in any material way. Education without moral development is nearly deficient because the success of the former depends on the latter.

General Education

The author also focuses on general education in the context of the USA’s higher education. This is initiative ensures the undergraduates in the higher education system incur pertinently and involving education. It is concerned with the basis of skills and behaviors that determine the students’ success when they are undergoing their major. Further, it is associated with instilled values during higher education to strengthen the students’ personal lives after graduation. It is essentially developed preliminarily through the use of a core curriculum that has fundamental requirements for the students to attain before certification and qualifications as graduates. These requirements must be met despite the major that the students have chosen. The program facilitates various aspects of learning in terms of the acquisition of knowledge. First, it seeks to use critical thinking as the basis of obtaining information, conceptualizing it, and making the necessary observation from experimentations. Also, the students are trained on how to analyze quantitatively to make critical determinations. They also learn how to integrate the skills logically to think and act rationally when working. Notably, general education touches on communication as a crucial factor in academic success. The students are taught how to communicate through documented and oral means. In essence, it is based on the understanding that communication is a fundamental requirement in the workplace and education.

Agreeing with Non-academic Incorporation in School

Whereas the educational system has emphasized a purely academic approach, the integration of other essential life factors is fundamental (Mulcahy, 2002). In a personal view, these non-academic skills should be included in the educational system since they are essential in different ways. First, the educational system has been taken as an isolated factor that only addresses the acquisition of knowledge. However, academics are part of the more excellent essence of life. In that regard, the educational system should seek to equip students with the necessary skills that enable them to cope with different situations in life. In other words, the education system should produce all-rounded scholars who can surmount both the academic, social and economic aspects of their lives. Indeed, modern life has been bedeviled by issues of poor nutrition. Poor nutrition has subsequently led to the emergence of lifestyle diseases such as diabetes and high blood pressure conditions. In essence, nutritional education has been left to some selected people who take a medicine course. However, the specialists focus on treating those who have been affected by these conditions already. It implies that the educational system is not playing a real-time preventative role regarding issues of nutrition. If the students and pupils were taught about good feeding habits, it implies that lifestyle diseases can be solved proactively.

In another example, the issue of counseling is instrumental to the success of students. In most areas of the country, it has been evident that pupils and students are affected by depressions and stress. These afflictions lead to poor performance in school and social realms (Ravitch, 2010). As a result, the integration of counseling programs in the educational system is helpful to the student regarding how they perform academically and socially. Furthermore, an attempt to train students on how they can counsel each other is a fundamentally vital aspect of the educational system. In this case, it cannot be disputed that instilling such skills among the students would more effective than using the teachers. This sentiment is based on the fact that students can open up to each other better than their teachers (Saarinen, 2013).

These counseling and nutrition aspects are conjoined with other lessons that can be offered, especially regarding public and personal health. In perspective, it has come a time when students and pupils are used as the ambassadors of development in their little space. Most schools and societies have considered students as minor people in the public realm. They have not been used effectively to steer the crucial agendas of development in the country. In this consideration, healthcare education should be incorporated into the school curriculum to develop scholars who are aware of the public’s health needs. This undertaking will go a long way to ensure that the healthcare standards are raised without injecting funds into any program.

Furthermore, complete integration will act as a proactive measure against some of the health vices that face the country. Indeed, it is evident that the government must seek to use its elites to reduce the cost of promoting health and discouraging morbidity. The overall effect of this integration is improved hygiene as well as the creation of a health-conscious society.

In addition to the advantages that have been outlined in the paragraphs above, the creation of new jobs is a pertinent effect on the country. If the integration was implemented, the schools would need to employ more teachers to sustain the increased workload. For example, the integration of nutritional and counseling lessons in the educational system requires the addition of nutritionists as well as counselors. These personnel will be mandated to handle additional classes to ensure that the adjustments fit the system without affecting the school curriculum’s original functioning.

Although the integration is advantageous, it is crucial to note that some negative implications can emerge from this undertaking. Understandably, the integration will result in the dismissal of some critical content since the schools’ time, and schedule cannot be extended. This is based on the fact that time does not expand despite the addition of the content that may be included. This implies that successful implementation of the integration can be realized by creating more time for the programs to fit. Alternatively, it may call for the complete elimination of some vital content which was offered originally. However, the introduction of the new content does not imply that the original coverage was misplaced. Instead, it is just a necessity created by critical integrations. The overall scenario can lead to a crucial deficiency in the acquisition of technical knowledge required for the study’s main subject. In addition, although it was viewed optimistically as the creation of more jobs, this is an increment to the wage bill because of increased teaching staff.

Major Shift: No Child Left Behind

The educational shifts that take place in the USA, like other countries around the world, have critical implications on the political economy, the societal ideology, and the schooling institutions. These aspects intersect because of the players who are involved, the ramifications that emerge from the stipulations of the acts, and the implementers of the policies. In perspective, the significant shifts in the USA educational system have been conceptualized by the political players. Indeed, this scenario portrays the priority of the government towards education and its position. The commitment it envisages determines whether the policies are implemented with the required political vigor to bear the needed fruits. On the other hand, the stipulations of these shifts in the academic arena have been a critical portrayal of what American society purports as a nation. Lastly, the changes are directed towards implementers whereby the schooling institutions are affected profoundly in an attempt to put the policies into perspective. Evidently, this initiative is one that has envisaged the societal ideologies, the political orientation of the country, and made changes in the schooling institutions.

Political Economy

In essence, it focuses on addressing the academic needs of disadvantaged students in society. In regard to the political economy, the act increased the participation of the federal government in the assessment of the students’ skills. In this regard, the show set some standards and installed measurable goals for the country (Connor, 2010). In addition, it allowed each of the counties to set their own standards. This undertaking was a show of political independence as far as education was concerned. The political freedom of the county governments is a critical aspect in the political setup of the USA.

Another crucial aspect of the political economy is related to the issue of accountability among the players involved. In this regard, the schools were required to meet the standards of the annual test that assess the improvement of students over the year. The yearly standardized tests were the basis of identifying the schools that maintained the means and the ones that did not meet the requirements. In case the school did not make any progress according to recommendations, it was vulnerable to financial sanctions that would see its funding decreased. This was aimed to enable the teachers and schools’ administrations to know the importance of education as well as accountability to the whole nation.

Societal Ideology

Also, it was one of those acts that reflected the real ideology of American society. In essence, it portrayed that the American people are considerate about the disadvantaged people living among them. It shows the tolerance of the government when it comes to issues of disability. Furthermore, raising the standards of the assessment was a portrayal of how American society values the quality of education. As such, these two aspects make an ideology that is beyond reproach. They show the extent to which American company values all people with equity and seek to promote them despite their incapacitation.

Schooling Institution

Moreover, the act transformed the manner in which the schooling institutions operated in the USA. Importantly, it stipulated the conditions required for students to make a different choice of school. For example, if a school was performing below the standards, the act allowed the student to choose another school that is performing better. This implies that institutions have to work very hard in order to ensure they meet the needed standards. In addition to the assessment standards, the teaching staff was also affected profoundly in terms of how they are handled (Dowd, 2011). Before the establishment of the act, entrant teachers were mandated to have a bachelor’s degree, have a certification, and portray the knowledge on the subject matter of training. This was done by the act conducting a general assessment test for the purpose of making the above determinations. In addition to the entrant teachers, the existent teachers were required to meet the standards stipulated. Alternatively, the existing teachers could be assessed in accordance with pre-determined criteria. The impediment to the quality of this act has got limited attention in terms of the research studies that have been conducted in regard to this area.

The NCLB requires the schooling institutions to depend on research that is based on science when making decisions on policymaking and teaching styles. The scientific-based analysis enables institutions to apply robust, procedural, and objective knowledge in order to get the right strategies that are pertinent to the educational system in the USA. The research should be conducted in a manner that develops convincing and quantitative conclusions in order to make credible policies. It dismissed utterly the use of traditional methodologies of making decisions such as personal preferences and case studies, which have limited knowledge. In essence, the non-scientific determinations are not considered as the reasonable basis of making a decision about the teaching methodologies, assessment, and grading, among other issues that may be relevant to the profession (Giangreco, Cloninger & Iverson, 2011).

Millennium Development Goals

MDGs Making a Difference

Essentially, the MDGs have been of great importance in both the past and modern world. They were conceived in a manner that focused on the critical dangers that faced the world. This is portrayed by the profound and broad considerations that touched on health, education, and poverty, among other things. Indeed, the inclusion of the fight against HIV/AIDs and Malaria was a stipulation that focused on the health sector in a relevant and specific manner. These diseases had a significant impact on the healthcare systems in Kenya. HIV/AIDs posed a considerable threat bearing in mind that the condition does not have any cure. Presently, Malaria and HIV/AIDs continue claiming lives among the world’s population. Since HIV/AID does not have a treatment, the surest way of containing the disease is by initiating campaigns which can promote the prevention of the disease.

In this light, the decision made by the U.N. to embark on a campaign against the disease was a relevant undertaking to the world as a whole. Indeed, the stigmatization of people living with HIV/AIDS has reduced substantially due to the increased campaign to foster the acceptance of these individuals in society. In addition to this, the use of mosquito nets has also been popularized in many countries. The popularization of mosquito nets alongside the practice of sound environmental conservation has led to a subsequent reduction in the prevalence of malaria. As such, the relevance of these MDGs has played a significant role in helping the world’s population to circumvent the challenges of the modern world in terms of education, poverty, and health, among other things.

Further, the scope of the MDGs has an effect on the way of life envisaged by the world’s population. Evidently, it is clear that the MDGs cut across various fields of human development, as mentioned before (Raffer, 2011). This implies that the scope envisaged by the goals is nearly profound and inclusive. The broadness allows the inclusion of many eight factors that touch the core developmental principles which are pertinent to every country around the world. Additionally, the idea of conceiving the MDGs created a platform on which the world has united to solve the challenges of modern society.

This objective is envisaged in the eighth MDG, which advocates for the creation of partnerships between countries to fight the economic, political, and social problems. Although it was included upon pressure from the developing countries, the idea of fostering international partnerships has gone a long way in uniting the countries worldwide. This union, which has been triggered by the conceptualization of the MDGs, has been instrumental when it comes to the issues of fighting terrorism and promoting international education across the states. The global approach has led to better methods of reducing poverty since cooperation is crucial to development. Notably, the creation of these partnerships has played a fundamentally vital role in ensuring that poor countries develop good international ties with the developed countries. As a result, the relationship forms the basis of obtaining aid in order to create the various sectors of the corresponding economies.

Problems Associated with the Goals Set.

Substantially, the MDGs were conceptualized in an incomprehensive manner that did not provide a detailed stipulation for the implementation. In the present scenario, the MDGs were set in a generic form that stipulated academic goals without addressing the issues that impeded their attainment originally. For example, they disregarded most of the vices that have been bedeviling the developing countries, including lack of peace, inadequate systems of government, corruption, and higher education, among other issues. Understandably, stipulating the visionary goals of global development called for selection and relative preciseness. However, the problems that were disregarded are not negligible. In modesty, they are the underlying factors that have led to the issues indicated in the MDGs. For example, it is evident that corruption and poor governance envisaged in most developing countries are the crucial impeding factors to political and economic growth. As such, it is out of order to offer financial support to the developing countries without transforming its governing institutions.

Essentially, the problem does not lie with the stipulations of the MDGs, but how the involved players use them in their respective jurisdictions (Berg, 2012). The MDGs are excellent and satisfactory in such a manner that nobody can disagree with them. For example, one may not find a basis for disagreeing with the promotion of primary education. However, it is out of order for a government official to argue that they cannot promote higher education just because their goal is to achieve the MDG with regards to primary education. Unfortunately, this scenario has been very prevalent in modern society where the government focuses on MDGs without conceptualizing the aspects that characterize their respective countries (Jensen, 2010). Evidently, they ignore the efforts to identify and focus on their priorities in order to satisfy their MDGs. This is nearly dangerous because the MDGs might not necessarily reflect the exact needs of the country in particular.


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IvyPanda. (2021) 'Transforming Schools Alternative Perspectives on School Reform'. 15 January.

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