Historical Perspective of American Education
A contemporary educational system has a variety of institutions to suggest. However, they all emerged in the past centuries and transformed to meet the demands of every epoch. Fowler (year) singles out four major periods in the history of American education. There are periods of Young Republic, Common School, Scientific Sorting Machine, and Reform Period (from 1983 till present). In the period of the Young Republic, education policy was oriented on the market.
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The influence of other institutions, such as politics or bureaucracy, was weak. Common School was greatly bureaucratized with the moderate impact of professional and political spheres. The period of Scientific Sorting Machine faced the significant influence of legalization and bureaucracy while the presence of political and market determiners was minimal. At present, the influences during the Reform period are unsettled (Fowler, year).
The contemporary educational system is characterized by the importance of the academic realm and prestige (Reynolds, 2014). Another popular trend is academic mobility, which is usually supported by the government. One of the problems of the American education system is its diversity. The division into elementary, middle, and high school is different depending on the state or community. It can cause problems if a student moves from one state to another. Thus, one component of education reform can be a unification of the education system.
Contemporary Purpose of Public Education
National School Boards Association (2014) provides the answer to the question on the purpose of public education today based on research data. Thus, board members were asked to rank six goals of education. Almost one-half of educators considered that the primary goal of education is to help students fulfill their potential (42.6%). Another important destination of contemporary education was to prepare students for a satisfying and productive life (31.7%) (National School Boards Association, 2014). Other purposes were estimated as not so significant. Thus, preparing students for the workforce or college were equally evaluated by 8.1%.
The preparation of students for civic life had the lowest rating of 3% (National School Boards Association, 2014). Such distribution of education purposes differs greatly from those of previous years when education was professionally oriented. Jobin-Leeds summarizes the meaning of educating as “to prepare and train someone in the necessary skills to have the ability to participate in society as a full citizen” (2012, para.3). This purpose of education is broader than any other. It comprises the variety of knowledge necessary for living in a society such as understanding the functions of government, the knowledge of personal rights and duties, and other information important for a young personality.
Out-of-field Professionals as Organization Leaders
Superintendents are the professionals of the highest rank in the system of American education. They have much influence on the functioning of the school. However, the research proves that they have almost no impact on students’ educational performance (Brown Center on Education Policy, 2016). Another research reveals the necessary leadership characteristics that a good superintendent should have. It is considered that a school superintendent should combine task-oriented and people-oriented behaviors (Brewer, 2012). Some other conceptual skills include the thoughtful and balanced application of reason and intuition (Brewer, 2012).
Superintendents need qualities of good supervisors. They need to be understanding, goal-oriented, constructive, demonstrate human, technical, and conceptual skills (Brewer, 2012).
On the whole, the major features of a good school superintendent are not connected with specialized education. Thus, an out-of-field professional can become a school superintendent as long as he or she does not interfere with the educational process. In any field, a professional with leadership skills can become a successful manager while performing organizational functions. However, a perfect leader or a superintendent when it comes to school should know the needs and interests of employees from every level of the hierarchy. Thus, a good superintendent should start his career as a teacher and deserve the right to govern an educational institution.
Privatization of Public Schools: Effects for Students and Society
The privatization of public schools is a controversial issue in education. On the one hand, its initial purpose is to help schools since governments are not able to provide the necessary service for society due to their high costs (Rizvi, 2016). The supporters of privatization state that “the discipline of the marketplace will provide choice and competition,” which are not present in the current system (Belfield & Levin, 2015, p.2).
Moreover, it will provide more freedom for parents and a more thoughtful application of resources. Privatization in education is not only the case of administration and funding. It redefines “the very nature of education” (Rizvi, 2016, p.8). Private education is more focused on personal interests. It is aimed at providing students with knowledge and skills which make them competitive in the labor market and contribute to the social status (Rizvi, 2016). Traditional education is more concentrated on serving “the public good” (Rizvi, 2016, p.8). However, despite the broader access to education provided by private schools, they generate social inequality. On the whole, the evaluation of consequences of public and private schooling should consider aspects such as “freedom of choice, productive efficiency, equity, and social cohesion” (Belfield & Levin, 2015, p.20).
Belfield, C.R., & Levin, H.M. (2015). Privatizing educational choice: Consequences for parents, schools, and public policy. New York, NY: Routledge.
Brewer, E.W. (2012). Leadership characteristics of the ideal school superintendent. In Encyclopedia of E-Leadership, Counseling and Training. Web.
Brown Center on Education Policy. (2016). School superintendents: Vital of irrelevant? Web.
Fowler. (****). Provided by the customer. Location: Edition.
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Jobin-Leeds, G. (2012). What is the purpose of public education. Education Week. Web.
National School Boards Association. (2014). The purpose of public education and the role of the school board. Web.
Reynolds, G.H. (2014). The new school. New York, NY: Encounter Books.
Rizvi, F. (2016). Privatizing in education: Trends and consequences. Educational Research and Foresight: Working Papers. Web.