Throughout the 20th and 21st centuries, the American educational system has undergone much transition in response to our changing society. Though there have been many problems raised throughout the years in regard to what our school systems should be teaching our children, there have also been many developments.
In the final decades of the 20th century, education has continued to evolve in order to meet societys demands. The transformation of society has created numerous problems in the educational system. These problems consist of the segregation of races, religions, social classes, and politics. In the earlier part of the 20th century, African-Americans were segregated within schools. They were placed into lower-class school systems with little extra-curricular activities, limited resources, and lower quality teachers.
At this time, religion played a major role on the educational system in the sense that all types of religious groups were represented in the American school system, but they were challenged with how they could be loyal to their religions beliefs. With the Pledge of Allegiance present, some people felt as though the values of Americans and the Creators beliefs should be taught in the classrooms. Of course, others felt that religion and school should be separate. As a result of disagreements such as these, many problems arose.
Politics and business influence have been a long term problem for the establishment of a free and fair education opportunity. America has been called the melting pot of the world, meaning that within the nation live such an abundance of individuals from different aspects of life. Within the world, we find some societies less fortunate than other societies. Economic diversity is present within the United States as well. It is commonly understood that the wealthy are becoming better educated than the poor, and similarly that the wealthy have a better chance to survive in the economic growth of todays society.
In Joel Springs book American Education, he uses several examples of the politics and economics surrounding education. Spring discusses the decade of the 1970s, in which businesses put such a demand on the educational system to create educational opportunities in the fields of science and engineering. During this decade, the nation was in an educational inflation period. College graduates with doctorate degrees were working in jobs with typically require much less educational background. (Examples: Driving taxicabs and cooking in restaurants ). This inflation occurred because the labor force put such a high demand on education, but did not expand to accompany this high demand. The inflation became problematic due to the fact that businesses were donating privately funded money to the educational institutions rather than the citizens in the communities with higher taxes.
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Toward the end of the 20th century and beginning of the 21st century, the American education system has continued to evolve with some new curricular modifications. In 1992, the Children of the Rainbow curriculum was introduced in New York. This revolutionary curriculum required elementary schools to teach tolerance towards gays and lesbians. Other new curricula proposals centered around sexual education, which intended for schools to teach about family values, abstinence, and sexually transmitted diseases, and methods of family planning. Another major issue that the American school system was dealing with was nutrition and eating habits of youth. In 2002 the U.S congress passed the Obesity and Prevention Treatment Act, to improve the eating habits in the nation , where more than 60 percent of Americans are overweight.
Economic concerns and issues continue to plague the education system throughout the United States. The Head Start program has been established to provide early childhood education to give economically disadvantaged children early schooling, which seeks to allow them to compete on equal terms with other children. Similar to placing children on an equal plane economically, equality of opportunity is also a goal which continues to be addressed. The goal is whether a person is rich or poor, black or white, Catholic or Jewish, man or woman, everyone should be given equal opportunity to achieve the desired result of learning.
Perhaps the most significant development in the American educational system is the No Child Left Behind Act which refers to integrating secular character education into curricula and teaching methods of schools. President