Theeducation sector is one of the systems that have undergone gradualreforms over the years. Education reform is a process that involvesthe adoption of planned changes that affect the way individualschools or the entire education system functions in terms of theteaching methodologies or administration (Henry, Yuqing & Jose,2012). Education reforms vary in different countries and statesbecause reformers are motivated by different factors, such as theneed to enhance equality or the academic performance. However, allreformers aim at achieving some common goals, which include anincrease in social returns in citizen wealth, health, and the overallwell-being. The establishment of the black colleges and the “nochild left behind” are some of the positive reforms achieved in theeducation sector, while the decentralization of the entire educationsystem reduced the quality of education.
Establishmentof the Black Colleges
Theprocess of establishing institutions of learning that could cater forthe needs of the Black Americans started in 1862 following theenactment of the Morrill Act. The act was formulated to provideresources that could support the development of institutionstargeting the African Americans, who were underrepresented or had noaccess to existing institutions (Levine & Levine, 2014). Althoughthe funds allocated through the Morrill Act were diverted by thewhites who were the majority in the government, the idea of helpingthe black Americans access the education initiated the concept ofequality in the education sector. The act provoked religiousinstitutions and philanthropists. This helped them see the need toenhancing equality by supporting the Black Americans who had justbeen liberated from slavery. Although equality is yet to beachieved, the black colleges and other institutions of learning havegiven many Black Americans an opportunity to acquire education andfinds good jobs.
The“No Child Left behind Act” and Related Reforms
Manystrategies have been initiated in an attempt to bring equality in theeducation sector, the No Child Left behind Act brought changes thatnone of the previous reforms could achieve. These reforms wereinitiated in 2001 and their objective was to increase the academicperformance of all students (Henry, Yuqing & Jose, 2012). Thiswas accomplished by improving the principals as well as the teacherquality in order to ensure that all learners are taught by qualifiededucators and schools managed by highly trained principals. The actbrought back the aspect of accountability that had been trivializedby the process of decentralization. This was achieved by holding theteachers responsible for the poor performance of their students. Byholding the teachers and school administrators responsible for thepoor performance, the act created a level playing ground for learnerswith special needs, a limited English proficiency, from the minority,and poor families.
NegativeImpacts of Decentralization of the Education System
Theprocess of decentralizing the education system started in thepost-World War II period, but gained popularity in the 1980s and1990s. Decentralization is a process that resulted in the transfer ofthe authority to make critical decisions, curriculum review, testingof students, and monitoring of quality of education to lower levelsof leadership, including the states, local governments, andindividual institutions (Krull & Leijen, 2015). Althoughdecentralization was initiated with a positive intent of giving thelocal communities a chance to participate in the processes of makingdecisions on matters of education, it has resulted in a negativeimpact on the overall quality of education. The national educationbodies (including the ministry of education) have lost control overthe quality of education as a result of an increase in the level ofautonomy. The concerned stakeholders describe the current educationsystem as a bloated, watered down, haphazard, and distorted system(Krull & Leijen, 2015). This is because each level of educationdesigns its curriculum depending on its objectives, while thecapacity for monitoring the level of quality has declined.
ChangesThat Still Need To Be Made
Manyreforms have been achieved in the education sector over the years,but there are two significant changes that should be considered inthe future. First, a fair compensation of teachers has not beenrealized, in spite of the fact that the governments have beenincreasing their responsibilities and passing the blame for theschool’s failure to them. By adopting the pay-for-performance thegovernment will ensure that all teachers are compensated an amountthat is commensurate with the efforts that they put in impartingknowledge to learners (Krull & Leijen, 2015). Secondly, adequatechanges in the way the government finances the education sector arerequired in order to ensure that each institution is provided withresources according to its needs. According to the “no child leftbehind” reforms, resources are supposed to be provided according tothe performance of each school (Gius, 2012). This may not be aneffective method of distributing resources since some schoolssuffered from inequalities, even before these reforms started.
Educationreformers have achieved some positive changes through the “no childleft behind” reforms and the establishment of the black colleges,but the decentralization of the administration of schools lowered thequality of education. The black colleges provided the disadvantagedAfrican Americans with an opportunity to access education and goodjobs. This was part of the reforms intended to enhance equality.Similarly, reforms that were intended to ensure that none of theschool-going child is left behind focused on increasing theperformance of all students, irrespective of their backgrounds.However, the process of decentralization reduced accountability sincethe process of monitoring the quality of education was affectednegatively by the idea of assigning individual states, localauthorities , and schools the functions of changing curriculum andthe teaching methodologies.
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