One look at the United States budget overview for the Department of Education posted on Crockett (2017), and a person can understand the reason for the United States lagging behind its peers when it comes to education. Data from OECD (2018) indicates that the United States is the world's leading spender of per-student education at an average of $ 12,157 in secondary and elementary school. However, when it comes to primary and secondary education, the U.S lags behind both Switzerland, Norway, and Luxembourg who spend more than $ 21,000 per full-time student each. Such figures bring up questions such as, according to the Americans, what is more important? Is it the roads and policing? Or do they still value the education that pushed America to the new age of information and technological advancement? One way to fix American education is to have a higher budget allocation for the department of education. But there is a need to understand the impact of the socio-economic factor of family income, on teaching quality and high school graduation rates.
The socioeconomic factor of family income denies students from low-income students the resources they need for excellent academic performance. One example of such an outcome is the No Child Left Behind Act(NCLB). According to Dee & Jacob (2011), the NCLB law harmed the very people whom it was meant to protect. The NCLB law was supposed to protect the minority groups and children from poor backgrounds. It was supposed to do this by ensuring that the children from low-income families get the same level of education as children from middle and high-income families. The elementary and secondary schools were supposed to tests their students for math and reading with the objective of achieving some overall performance for the year. The law also offered some form of punishment for the schools that failed to meet their yearly target. The penalty was usually in the way of funding cuts with the threat of school closure (Murnane & Papay, 2010). However, the majority of schools that failed to meet their goals were the ones with a high population of low-income students. Most of the children in these schools lacked the resources that would allow them to perform well academically. Some of them had to work to supplement their families' financial needs. Furthermore, the cuts in federal funding for their schools further led to a shortage of education amenities available to these students. The teaching quality depreciated because the teachers lacked the resources to offer a high quality of education which further lowered the student's performance and reduce the overall high school graduation rates in the country. Therefore, the socio-economic factor of family income is directly proportional to high school graduation rates.
The family income also affects the teaching quality and high school graduation rates by determining the parent's involvement in their children's education. Archer-Banks & Behar-Horenstein (2008) indicate that students whose parents are involved in their academic life tend to outperform the students whose parents are detached from the children's academic life. Parents need to be engaged by having a close relationship with their children's teachers. Acts such as consulting the teachers on their children's progress at school and checking up on the children's after-school study. Archer-Banks & Behar-Horenstein, (2008) also say that parents from minority groups such as African Americans and poor backgrounds are less involved in their children's academic life. As a result, many educators hold the opinion that African American parents do not care about their children's academic performance. Archer-Banks & Behar-Horenstein, (2008) also say that social-class has a strong influence on the parents' participation in their children academic life. The middle-class and low-class can customize their children's school experiences differently. While the middle-class are proactive in selecting their children's school and involved in the course placement, the low-class tend to have a confrontational tone towards the teachers. There are a host of issues that could come into play to influence such a reaction from the low-class. For one, the low-class families and minority groups have undergone a history of stratification and discrimination based on their social class and skin color respectively. According to them, they see any move by the tutor on their children as an attempt to discriminate against them based on their disadvantaged position. There is also the issue of historical background. Parents who have had successful histories with schooling will most likely try and ensure their child gets the same by being actively involved in their academic life. They will also have a positive attitude towards the education of their children. However, for the parents that had unsuccessful histories with their children, they will most likely adopt a negative attitude towards the concept of education. Furthermore, they will view their children's education as a formality rather than a necessity. As a result, most students from minority groups fail to graduate because of the inadequate involvement of parents in their academic life.
The socio-economic factors of family income go against the core foundations of the American society which is to provide equal opportunities for all Americans regardless of their background or race. The differential family income causes unequal distribution of academic resources among the students hence affecting their performance. It also creates an uneven distribution of resources leading to different teaching quality in elementary and secondary schools. The same socio-economic factor influences the parents' involvement in their children's academic life hence influencing the students' performance in school. The stakeholders in the education sector can correct the discrepancies in education by getting a better understanding of family income as a socio-economic factor that causes inequality in education.
Archer-Banks, D., & Behar-Horenstein, L. (2008). African American Parental Involvement in Their Children's Middle School Experiences. The Journal of Negro Education, 77(2), 143-156. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/25608677
Crockett, Y. (2017). U.S. Department of Education Budget News. Retrieved 10 18, 2018, from https://www2.ed.gov/about/overview/budget/news.html
Dee, T. S., & Jacob, B. A. (2011). The Impact of No Child Left Behind on Student Achievement. Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, 30(3), 418-446. Retrieved 10 18, 2018, from http://nber.org/papers/w15531
Murnane, R. J., & Papay, J. P. (2010). Teachers' Views on No Child Left Behind: Support for the Principles, Concerns about the Practices. Journal of Economic Perspectives, 24(3), 151-166. Retrieved 10 18, 2018, from http://pubs.aeaweb.org/doi/pdfplus/10.1257/jep.24.3.151
OECD (2018), Education spending (indicator). doi: 10.1787/ca274bac-en (Accessed on 21 October 2018)
University of Leicester. (2010, November 5). Parents' effort key to child's educational performance. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 21, 2018, from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/10/101029121554.htm
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