– U.S. PUBLIC SCHOOLS –
There are many people in the U.S. today who are not satisfied with the education that their children are receiving in the public schools. They are very worried about a number of developments that are taking place there. However, not all of these people are worried about the same things. In fact, they often do not agree about the problems in public education.
One group of people is concerned about the quality of the education which young people are receiving. According to these parents, their children are not learning enough in school, and some researchers agree with them. For example, according to recent studies, the number of high school students who cannot read is increasing not decreasing. Also the number of students who have difficulty with simple mathematics is increasing. Even students who graduate from high school and go to college show a depressing lack of knowledge.
In a geography class at a large university, 40% of the students could not find London on a map, 41% could not find Los Angeles, and almost 9% could not find the city where they were attending college. There are a number of possible reasons for the increase in the number of students who are not receiving a good basic education.
First, classes are sometimes too large. In some city schools, for example, there are often between forty and fifty students in a class. Then, there are many teachers who do not know enough about the subjects that they are teaching. The college programmes which train future teachers are not always good and do not always attract the top students.
But the problems are not always the fault of the teachers or the education system.
Often students who do not want to learn behave badly and disturb the classes. As a result, the students who are really interested in their school subjects cannot learn much in these classes. Finally, according to some people, television is also to blame for the lack of success of the public schools. Young people often watch six or more hours of television a day. They do not take time for their homework. They grow to depend on television for entertainment and information, and, therefore, they cannot see any reason for reading in this modern world.
All the entertainment and information they want comes from television, not from books.
A second group of people is dissatisfied with the public schools for very different reasons. These people usually have very conservative beliefs about life. They do not like the changes which they see every day in American society, and they disagree with many of the ideas which their children hear and read about in school.
For example, they are against the sex education classes that some schools give. For them, sex education is not a suitable subject for schools. They also object to schoolbooks that describe the lives of mothers who work outside the home or of parents who are divorced. They do not like history books which criticize the U.S. for mistakes made in the past. They are even against dictionaries that define one or two dirty words.
There are, however, many other people who completely disagree with the ideas and actions of these conservatives. “They are trying to limit our freedom. We must protect our children’s right to learn about many different ideas,” these parents say. Thus, in the U.S. today there is a lot of discussion about very important questions in education.
Who will decide school programmes and books? Does the government have the right to decide? Do the school administrators have the right to decide? Can teachers decide? Do only parents have the right to decide the things that their children learn in school? Watch television and read news magazines; you will hear a lot of different answers to these questions.
A. What do the following refer to?
1. ‘there’ (line 4):
2. ‘them’ (line 10):
B. Mark the best choice.
1. Which of the following does recent educational research show?
a) The number of high school students who cannot read is decreasing.
b) The number of high school students who cannot read is increasing.
c) Students who graduate from high school are good at all subjects.
d) Students at a large university are especially good in geography classes.
2. What is the main idea of the second paragraph?
a) In the U.S. there is a general dissatisfaction with public school education.
b) According to some people, students are not learning enough in the public schools.
c) There is a lot of discussion about the public schools in the U.S. today.
d) There are several reasons for the failure of the public schools.