The School Years
Soon after the United States was founded, Thomas Jefferson, who was President from 1801 to 1809 wrote, "If a nation expects to be ignorant and free in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be. " Jefferson believed that the new republic would be served best by literate, well-informed citizens and that everyone should have a guarantee of some education with further education for those who wanted it and were qualified. The American system of public education has been built on this philosophy. Public education in this country is expected to offer equal educational opportunities to everyone enrolled in secular schools, which are publicly controlled and publicly financed, with free tuition, free books, and compulsory attendance.
There is no mention of education in the Constitution, and each state is responsible for its own educational system. Public schools are financed primarily by local and state taxes, and the amount of money spent on public school students varies from state to state. Alabama, for example, spent an average of $716 for each pupil in 1974, the lowest rate of any state. New York, by contrast, had the highest rate, $ 1809 per pupil. The majority of states spent more than $ 800 per pupil.
There are great differences in expenditures (花费 ) by communities within each state, depending on the amount of local funds available for public education. Often, well-to-do communities spend several hundred dollars more for each child than poorer towns nearby do. These figures reflect differences in expenditures . for such items as teachers' salaries, the purchase of books, and school construction and maintenance.
Despite these differences, there is general uniformity in the organization and curricula of public schools throughout the country. Each state is divided into local school districts. Usually a state department of education sets the general requirements that local communities or school districts must meet. Local school boards, usually elected by members of their communities, are responsible for the detailed organization and operation of their schools. This-responsibility includes hiring teachers and administration and setting their salaries.
The twelve years of public school education usually begin when a child is six years old. Some school systems are divided into eight years of primary school and four years of secondary school. Primary schools are often called elementary schools, and secondary schools are called high schools. Many systems combine the last two years of elementary school and the first year of high school in what is known as junior high school. This is followed by three years of senior high school. A large number of school systems also have a kindergarten program that provides one year of preschool training for five-year-old children before they begin the formal school years. The academic year lasts nine months, from September to June, with winter and spring vacations. Classes are held five days a week, from Monday through Friday.
Elementary schools are usually organized on a neighbourhood basis. Children living in the same area attend a school that is close to their homes. High schools, on the other hand, serve children from many different elementary schools, and a single high school often has several thousand students from various parts of the community. Many towns have just one high school. In rural areas one elementary school frequently serves the children from several communi-ties. When schools are located beyond convenient walking distance, children are transported free of charge in bright yellow school buses. Today more than 40 percent of all American school children are bused to and from school daily.
It took many years for Jefferson's dream of education for everyone to approach reality. In 1870 only slightly more than half of all children of school age attended school. It was not until 1918 that every state had a compulsory school-attendance law. Today most states require the attendance of all children between the ages of six and sixteen. Approximately 99 percent of all American children of elementary school age (six through thirteen) and 94 percent of high school age (fourteen through seventeen) go to school.
The quality of education has changed as the record of school attendance. For example, in a typical mid-nineteenth century elementary school class children sat in one place in one position for hours on end, with periodic arm swinging for exercise and perhaps occasional permission to go to the bathroom. The method of instruction was catechism (questions by the teacher with memorized responses by the students).. . The teacher fed the stuff out one day, and wanted it back the next, in her own words.
Emphasis was on good behavior and learning what were called "the three Rs"—reading, 'riting and 'rithmetic. Most of the teachers had no more than elementary school education themselves.
In the modern elementary school, in addition to the study of reading, writing, arithmetic, and language arts (including spelling), children are taught social studies (history, geography, and civics or government) science, art, and music. They are. often also taught cooking and manual skills such as carpentry and sewing. Outdoor playgrounds and indoor gymnasiums offer opportunities for lots of physical exercise.
Modern teaching theories and methods vary greatly, but they frequently reflect the influence of John Dewey, an important twentieth-century educator and philosopher. Dewey believed that education should be more concerned with the interests and needs of each child than with the particular subjects that the child is taught. Today many teachers try to give considerable attention to the personal development of each individual student, especially at the elementary school level.
Entrance to high school is automatic when a student completes elementary school. No examinations are required. High schools usually offer courses in English literature and composition, the social sciences, mathematics, laboratory sciences, and foreign languages as well as art, music, and physical education. After completing certain basic requirements, students are often permitted to choose the subjects that best suit their plans for college or for work after graduation.
Extracurricular activities including clubs, school newspapers and magazines, and sports are important features of high-school life. In addition, student representatives, elected by their fellow students, often work with school officials in planning school policies. This arrangement is an effort to encourage students' interest in self-government and in their responsibilities as citizens.
Most high schools are organized on what is called a comprehensive basis, which means that programs in academic (college preparatory), vocational, and general education are offered in the same school. In some large cities specialized high schools concentrate on just one type of program. In addition, many communities provide programs for handicapped children (children who are deaf, blind, crippled, emotionally disturbed, or mentally retarded) and children who are specially gifted, intellectually or artistically.
1. In American system of public education, everyone is expected to have equal educational opportunities, which is defined in the U. S. Constitution.
2. The amount of money spent on public school students depends mainly on local and state taxes.
3. The organization and curricula of public schools have much in common throughout the country.
4. All students can take yellow school buses to school in some states.
5.Both school attendance and the quality of education have been greatly improved today.
6.All children between the ages of five and eighteen are required to attend school in most states.
7.There are much higher requirements for public school teachers today than in the past.
8.Students can get well prepared for college study in_______________
9.Modern teaching theories and methods are generally influenced by_________________
10. Children may have one year of_ before they start elementary school years.
1 Y 2. N 3. Y 4. N 5. Y 6. N 7. NG
8. hydroponics 9. purifying sea water 10. transmitting communications across the globe