The issue of students receiving equal education has been a popular topic among debates. Since the mid-1980’s state legislatures, state education departments, and courts have dismantled local school boards and administrative structures. Takeovers by courts and state governments are intended to lessen the bureaucratic routine and make room for people who have new ideas. As the effort to improve performance of urban schools continues there seems to be no effective change as of yet. In fact no one knows exactly how to solve all of the problems of big-city public school systems. However, it is obvious that the future of millions of young city dwellers advancement in employability and society is at stake. That is why something needs to be done to improve the quality of education for students who have no choice but to attend urban schools.
Urban schools are at the bottom of the ladder when comparing student achievement with other schools. Students in urban schools just are not getting the type of education that is needed. They are being beaten by students in rural, private, and suburban schools. “The average state standardized test scores were five points lower in urban schools than that of other schools” (Lippman 28). That may not sound drastic, but it is a problem. It is obvious from test scores that urban students are not getting as good of an education as those who attend rural or suburban schools.
In fact the problem of low test scores goes deeper than that. Urban schools also have a lower graduation rate than those of rural and suburban schools. “Only 73 percent of students in urban schools graduate compared to 80 percent of students in other schools” (Lippman 32). This in turn results in an economic disadvantage when these students attempt to compete in the “real world”. Society has progressed to the extent that most people must have a high school diploma to even be considered for most positions. Even McDonald’s, one of the lowest paying and least rewarding jobs, requires a high school diploma to be considered for employment in any area of work.
With the above statistics, one would expect urban students, on average, to have poorer economic outcomes. It has been well-documented that people who have less education or who come from disadvantaged circumstances have more difficulty finding and sustaining employment. When they do find work, their earnings are most often lower than people who have higher education. It has been discovered that former students of urban schools “are more likely to be unemployed and living in poverty than those who had attended either rural or suburban schools” (Lippman 37).
These statistics provide evidence that something is definitely wrong with urban school systems. The children that attend these schools have no choice but to receive a less adequate education. What determines the quality of a student’s education? The answer to that question is teachers. Teachers are the biggest and most effective part of a student’s education. If a student has a teacher who is not qualified to teach that class what is the chance that the student will learn what is needed in that particular subject? Not a very good chance; that is why society sees such poor education coming from urban schools. The low test scores, completion of high school and a student’s economic outcome is able to be improved by having certified teachers teaching.
Having qualified teachers is a huge and positive step in fixing the quality of education an urban school gives to a student. No one seriously questions the proposition that well-prepared and skillful teachers are more desirable than poorly prepared and less skilled ones. “The majority of big-city science and mathematic teachers lack training in their subjects” (Hill 50). How uncomfortable that statement must be for the parents who have to send their children to urban schools knowing in advance that their child is already at a disadvantage because they attend a certain school. Perhaps parents would rest easier if this problem could be eliminated, but the main question is how to achieve this.
Certified teachers are important in obtaining this goal of better schools. These teachers are more qualified than those who simply walk in the door every day for work. For instance, in the state of Missouri several requirements must be met before teachers can be classified as certified. Requirements include completing a major university or college with a bachelor’s degree in their specialized field of education; these teachers must also have several teacher recommendations from the college or university they attended. A Specialty Area Test is also required for consideration in Missouri. Uncertified teachers, on the other hand, have no qualifications in a specialized field. These people either simply fill positions that are needed in schools or have a desire to teach. Most low-funded schools are trying to fill spots so badly that they are not concerned with who they hire and whether or not they are qualified.
It is no mystery that urban schools are inadequately funded. A qualified teacher is more likely to avoid teaching at a school that pays a low salary. No one wants to work for low wages when they have the availability to receive higher pay somewhere else. In order for an urban school to receive teachers that are qualified they need more funding. How that needs to be done or approached is questionable. “Big-city schools need certified teachers but that will not happen unless funding is increased”, said Fred Hallo a principal at an urban school in Chicago (Hess 154). This is just one of many principals who teach in an urban education atmosphere that feel strongly on the subject of inadequate funding which results in having to hire unqualified teachers.
Urban schools have now been indefinitely characterized as the worst place for students to get an education. Once test scores reach a higher level and urban students are able to compete with other students in the workplace we can assume that something is being done right in bettering urban education. For years, society has been debating on how to cure this problem or at least offer improvements to urban education. Vouchers, school standards, and charters have been some of the ideas raised by the local, state, and even federal government. However, these improvements have there flaws, thus keeping laws from passing and new school policies from being implemented. It seems that an effective and easy way to improve urban education at this time is to get certified school teachers into the urban school systems. This is no doubt an effective way to improve the urban education. It is known that when there are better teachers, better students are produced. Hopefully an effectiv!
e solution will be reached soon so that students who have no choice but to attend urban schools will have equal opportunity with students in other schools in achieving a well-rounded education.
Hess, Alfred G., Restructuring Urban Schools: A Chicago Perspective. New York:
Teachers College, 1995.
Lippman, Laura, Urban Schools:The Challenge of Location and Poverty. Washington
D.C.: U.S. Department of Education,1996.