School Uniforms

The popularity of uniforms in public schools continues to rise in the United States, as parents and school administrators exert efforts to keep our schools safe environments. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, nearly 20% of all public schools have adopted uniform requirements. Approximately 22% of elementary schools, 19% of all middle schools, and 10% of high schools currently require uniforms, and the school uniforms continues to accelerate from school to school.

School uniforms have been a controversial issue in schools all around the world. Many educators and parents believe that it will minimize the distractions in the school environment, such as, violence, bullying, discrimination, and etc. Students however, believe they should be feel to dress however they please and they think it does not affect the academic side in the school environment.

One of the primary reasons for students being against uniforms is the feeling of to be losing individuality. In many interviews, students believe they should have the freedom of self-expression and that a school uniform dress code would take this freedom away.  Students believe this imposed their right granted by the First Amendment.

Another reason people do not agree with the school uniform idea, is because of the extra expense for families. Especially with the homeless and poverty increase in school, this can become a major problems for some families if the school or state is unable to fund.

Parents and schools believe that school uniforms would make the learning environment more effective with the use of school uniforms as the dress code. Teachers and administrators are not distracted by the look of the students and are able to have more time for learning. The socioeconomic differences among students are reduced when all students wear the same school uniforms. There is no longer feeling the pressure to “fit in” with the right clothing choices, because everyone is wearing the same thing and spending the same amount of money on the uniform.

Some more benefits of the school uniforms are backed up by statistics. According to school-reported statistics and the School Administrator, the requirement of uniforms in schools has reduced tardiness, skipped classes, suspensions, and discipline referrals among students. This statistic makes a school look a lot better. Also, school uniforms have been proven to reduce the prevalence of violence, which is a major concern for many public schools. Outsiders who do not belong on campus are easily identified, and with the increase of school threats and school shootings, this can be a life saver. The school uniforms also decreased the cliques and gangs inside of a school.

I can see the positives and negatives of school uniforms, but I think the students should have the right to self-expression because that is their right, as stated in the First Amendment. With every issue there are pros and cons. I think that there are other ways to eliminate some of the issues such as the violence and improving the learning environment rather than just implementing a school uniform dress code. I think their could be more school structure with the faculty that could help the concerning areas for our students.

The Problems with Standardized Testing

Today, education is surrounded by standardized testing. This is what every school is forced to do by state and federal government. Though many people do not agree with the validity of standardized testing, they believe that standardized testing should not be the focal point in our schools today. With students in low-income housing, poverty, and homelessness on the rise, teachers and parents thing we need to put more effort into helping these students rather than the standardized testing scores. Though, this makes it difficult for teachers, because if they do not meet the scores, their job is at risk.

As a nation and a state, we have clearly failed to address the inequalities that disproportionally impact many urban school districts where kids are poor and segregated. Sadly, for the first time in 50 years, a majority of U.S. public school students now come from low-income families. But instead of addressing this crisis, we have demonized teachers for failing to solve problems our government cannot, or will not, solve. Poverty, homelessness and the dangerously high levels of emotional and psychological stress experienced by low-income students — these are the problems many of our nation’s public school teachers face every day.

Our nation’s obsession with standardized test scores will not solve these problems, and they put our country at great risk intellectually as well as economically. In a recent article, educational historian Diane Ravitch noted.  “Test scores are at the highest they have ever been since the National Assessment of Educational Progress starting testing American kids in 1970 … for kids of all races.” Graduation rates, too, are the highest they have ever been for every racial subgroup of students. Further, more students pursue higher education today than at any other time in our nation’s history, and the drop-out rates for all subgroups of students are the lowest since the origin of public education.

The most recent blame for our nation’s shameful achievement gap is teacher preparation programs, for failing to produce a steady stream of what the U.S. Department of Education abstractly calls “great teachers” to work in our neediest public schools. By blaming teacher preparation programs, the department can yet again distract public attention from the most crucial barrier to achieving educational equality: poverty.

There is a need for more “great teachers” who will commit themselves to our state’s neediest public schools. Today, an estimated 40 to 50 percent of teachers leave the profession within their first five years, and attrition rates have only increased in the current climate of high-stakes standardized testing. Teachers need to join together to petition the federal government to rethink its fixation on high-stakes testing and other forms of value-added models — all of which have been shown to discourage creativity, curiosity and innovation.

With the rates of first year teachers leaving their job at a high, this has an impact of the “great teachers” that are entering the field of education. Many teacher can still be great teachers, though their class test scores might not show that, resulting in them losing their job. As a future teacher, I think the problems with standardized testing needs to end. I think there is a better, more valid test teachers can do to assess students. Doing this, will allow other problems, such as the issues with poverty, be addressed and corrected.

Elementary Education

Education is a broad and expanding field. My focus is in Elementary Inclusive Education. People always question me on why I chose the education field. Two questions I am always drilled with are: “Why teaching?” and “why would you want to teach that age?” Educators are not in the field to get rich quick nor expecting to live the Hollywood Lifestyle. For me, teaching students goes beyond the sense of a job or the money, to me it is my passion and something I enjoy doing. There is something about watching a child’s internal lightbulb go off in their head; making it satisfying knowing I made a difference in the child’s life. As for the age group, I just love being around kids all day. I have two nephews and a niece and they have made an impact on my decision to study in the field of education.

Elementary school teachers instruct in a wide variety of subjects, from math and science to social studies and reading.  Effective teachers need a variety of skills.  Most importantly, they need patience, insight and great communication skills to work with young students and their parents. Some of the main jobs for teachers include: planning lessons, assessing student progress and communicating with parents regarding students’ academic and social strengths and challenges.

Most elementary school teachers spend the day in one classroom, teaching children in large and small groups as well as one-on-one. In addition to helping children master academic skills in the classroom, teachers may follow their students to recess and help problem-solve social conflicts that arise. They help students understand school rules and classroom etiquette. Beginning the year, the main goal is to teach the students the daily routine of the school day and how the rest of the year will be. From that, the teacher starts with the basics of reading, writing, math, science, and social studies.

There is always something new to learn and that goes for the teachers as well as the students. If a teacher is done learning, they aren’t doing their work properly. As an educator, there is always something new to learn. New methods and strategies are produced each day. New studies are always tested to show how students learn best. With the technology wave, there are so many ways to incorporate technology in the classroom and more ways to learn how to use it.

Elementary school teachers in the United States must have a bachelor’s degree and teaching certificate or license through their state to teach in public schools. Future teachers must pass a test and gain classroom experience through student teaching to earn a certification.  Most teaching experience is gained through practicum experiences during college classes. Teaching candidates usually need to complete a background check and the more school will make you a better candidate for the job.

Jobs for elementary school teachers are expected to grow at an average rate through 2022, which is great for new college graduates entering the field. Although teachers don’t make the most money, they have great retirement plans, and the more education and experience you have the more money you will make. The median salary for this career is $53,590, with the highest-paid teachers earning $83,600, as of May 2013. The greatest demand for teachers are in urban areas and in the South and Western parts of the country.

Teachers have an impact on students’ achievement and can influence them in the paths they take. They are a teacher, a mentor, a parent, a friend, a colleague, and need to make a positive impact on their students, so the students can take a step in the right direction.