For decades there have been major
controversies concerning certain aspects of American education.
Most of these controversies can be lumped into three categories:
funding, curriculum control, and the separation of church and
state. There have been innumerable amounts of legislation passed
regarding these topics but an agreement has yet to be reached.
The passing of the "No Child Left Behind"
legislation which is imposing new federal standards
on districts and teachers has sparked another educational debate
and is now on the front lines of American education. 
Funding of public and private
schools will always cause differences of opinion among the members
of a community. Webb, Metha, and Jordan (2003)
 state that the majority of local funding for public
education is drawn from local property taxes. People who reside
in a community but do not have children in the public school system
often feel that their tax dollars should not be given to a service
they do not benefit from. 
However, local property taxes are put back into the community
when used for education. Educating our youth is an investment
in our future. Producing intelligent people to enter the work
force each year will impact every person that resides in a particular
community. If public education continues to decline there will
not be any people qualified enough to take over specialized positions.
Filling the specialized positions is a necessity for the companies
that will sustain our economy for generations to come. 
However, not all of the funding
can come from local taxes. In order for poorer districts to raise
the same amount of money as a wealthy district, they would have
to raise taxes. This would force the disadvantaged people in that
district even further into poverty. One way to help with funding
deficiencies is by collecting a participation fee
 directly from the student. According to Webb, Metha,
and Jordan (2003), the participation fee is being implemented
in more and more schools across the nation. This is simply a small
fee that students involved in athletics or other extracurricular
activities pay to cover some of their expenses. 
Many times the school can save money by having athletes purchase
their own uniforms along with any equipment they need. We paid
a small activity fee at my high school that covered things like
towels for the locker rooms and dry-cleaning for band uniforms
and choir robes. We also earned money through fundraisers for
specific departments. There were numerous different fundraisers
for the music department and we even had a volleyball fundraiser
every few years. 
This is a great way for the students to take charge of their own
activities and take the pressure off the administration to provide
complete funding for extracurricular activities. 
While public education should
be funded adequately by the local, state, and federal governments,
private schools should not be receiving money from public funds.
If there is any public support of private school, private school
teachers should be certified and the school should be held to
the same standards as public schools. Teachers in private schools
do not have to be certified by the state in which they are teaching
and they do not have to meet the new national standards that are
being imposed on the public school system. "No Child Left
Behind" should not leave out the students enrolled in private
This is also one of the reasons
I am against the voucher 
program. Giving parents the option of sending their child to the
best school is great, but sending public funds to a private school
is simply leading to a created decline in public schools. Instead
of encouraging students to go to private schools because they
can afford it with the voucher, we should invest that money in
the public school system. If parents choose to send their child
to a private school they should pay the expenses of that decision.
That may seem unjust to some because not all parents can afford
to send their children to a private school, but there is no decision
that is totally fair for all parties. There are other ways to
attain funds should a parent feel it absolutely necessary to send
their child to private school. If a voucher system was implemented,
the public would be paying to send students to a private school,
and while unfair to the taxpayers, it would be a clear breach
of the separation of church and state. 
The first Amendment states that
"Congress shall make no law respecting and establishment
of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." People
have challenged practices that support religion in public schools
for decades. According to Webb, Metha, and Jordan (2003), 
the decision in Lemon v. Kurtzman helped to created a three-prong
test to decide whether an action was unconstitutional. This test
was fairly simple. If an activity had a religious purpose, advanced
or inhibited religion, or fostered an excessive entanglement between
church and state, it was ruled unconstitutional. 
We must maintain the separation of church and state because of
the diversity of religions present in the United States today.
America was founded on the basis of religious freedom. If religion
was introduced in the schools it would more than likely be that
of the majority population. Basically, our public school teachers
would be telling students which religion and which beliefs were
the "right" ones. This would undermine other religions
and discriminate against the beliefs of a portion of the students.
In Wallace v. Jaffree, as indicated by Webb, Metha, and Jordan
(2003), the Supreme Court decided that a moment of silence is
acceptable as long as the purpose of the time is not specified.
Students can take the time to reflect on anything and they can
take the time to pray if the feel so inclined, but they must never
be coerced into religious activity. 
Possibly the most political issue
concerning education is curriculum control and national standards.
For the most part, education should be placed under local control.
While each state should set a minimum standard, those at the local
level are best aware of what students in their district need to
focus on.  Local
school districts in Iowa have had control over their own curriculum
for a number or years. This system allows teachers to take students
beyond the confines of national tests that are administered to
rate achievement. Iowa has always served as an educational model
for the nation. However, the standards that are being imposed
on the nation through the "No Child Left Behind" legislation
are forcing states like Iowa to become more like Texas. 
The educational system in Texas
involves a huge dependence on standardized tests. 
Texas students even have to pass a minimum competency
test in order to receive their diploma. While this test is usually
fairly basic, it is unfair and unrealistic to base a child's entire
education on one test. 
Often times students do not perform well on standardized tests
and those students who have received passing grades throughout
their career as a student could be denied a high school diploma
because they were unable to pass one test. The new legislation
passed by the Bush administration 
uses similar tests every year to measure growth within a grade.
However, they test the grade, not the students, so the results
are essentially worthless. 
For example, they compare the test results of fourth grade students
in 2000 with the test results of fourth grade students in 2001.
There will always be some classes that are brighter than others.
Comparing the scores of two different groups of students does
not give an accurate portrayal of the ability of the teacher or
of the learning that has occurred over the course of a year.
According to Webb, Metha, and
Jordan (2003), 
the goals of the program include expanded flexibility for teachers,
an increase in local control, and stronger accountability. While
this seems to be a great concept, there is no feasible way to
achieve all of these goals. If teachers are to be held accountable
by the federal government, they are not under local control. They
are answering to the federal government which has the power to
take over a school or a teaching position if standards are not
met.  The pressure
of making sure students meet the goals that have been set leads
teachers to give up their flexibility and teach to the test. They
do not have time to teach units that are relevant to the students
in their part of the country because they cannot afford to skim
over information that may be included in the standardized achievement
I believe that the constructivism
curriculum design would be the most beneficial to American schools.
According to Webb, Metha, and Jordan (2003), the goal of this
method is for students to construct new ideas and concepts utilizing
their past and current knowledge and experiences. Through this
system the purpose of the teacher would be to help students understand
new concepts and engage them in learning. The new information
that students receive from the teacher, combined with their prior
knowledge of the world, allows students to create their own personal
view of the world and society. The constructivism design will
create the most well-rounded students and will produce young adults
with an interest in improving the society in which they live.
These issues will continue to
be debated as long as public education is a part of American society
simply because they are so central to our society. It may seem
strange, but I would prefer that a unanimous decision never be
reached about any of these issues. The debate surrounding them
is what leads to the development of new and better ideas. 
If everyone agreed about the way our children were to be taught
there would be no new developments in educational theory. If American
society as a whole gives up on the fight to incorporate religion
into public education, we will be abandoning the desire for religion
to be an important part of our lives. I have definite opinions
about each of these issues and while I would like to see things
be implemented according to my preference, I encourage the debate
to continue and as a result, new theories be brought to the surface.
Works Cited: 
Webb, L., Metha, A., & Jordan, K. (2003). Foundations of American
Education. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Merrill Prentice.
1. Suggested revision:
There have been numerous legislative acts passed
are actually able to be physically counted)
2. Good idea to introduce
No Child Left Behind, but check facts. Not new legislation,
it is old legislation that has been revised.
3. Great introduction,
lays out everything that will be discussed in the paper in a
4. Good textual support
5. Suggested revision:
to a service from which they do not benefit. (easier to read)
6. A little unclear
about whether the writer believes a decrease in taxes would
lead to more decline in public education. Be more specific about
what you are trying to convey.
7. Good transition
from necessity for funding to source of funding.
8. Use of specific
terms (participation fee) and then defining. Good way to inform
even an intelligent reader as well as those more unaware.
9. What about the poor
students that participate but can't afford the participation
fee? Address this issue.
10. Nice use of examples
to explain and clarify your point. Answers questions about how
the process works.
11. Good transition.
12. Careful about blanket
statements. Teachers in private schools are not always required
to be certified by the state in which they are teaching
13. Once again, good
use of vocabulary. Voucher may not be a term people are familiar
with, but in order to inform your reader you should always use
and explain these terms.
14. Remember that while
many private schools have a religious affiliation, not all do.
Some are based on class, race, etc. (blanket statement)
15. Good textual support.
Shows understanding of the material and the ability to cite
16. Seems to suggest
that the voucher system creates excessive entanglement. Don't
be afraid to simply state, I believe the voucher system creates
17. Transition is lacking.
Jumps from religion in the schools to curriculum control and
18. Suggested revision:
students in their district need to be productive in their
community. (don't be so general, give details)
19. Good use of transition
tying No Child Left Behind to the educational situation in Texas.
20. Suggested revision:
The educational system in Texas depends largely on standardized
tests. (more direct statement for the beginning of the new paragraph)
21. Details- usually
students are given more than one opportunity to pass the test.
22. Details- The new
version of old legislation passed by
23. This sentence is
a bit unclear and difficult to follow. Suggested revision: However,
they look at the test scores of all students in a particular
grade, not at the individual students, so
24. Good example, make
connections for the reader.
25. Good textual support
and citation in this paragraph to set up the point you will
make in the next sentence.
26. This paragraph
is excellent. Each of the four controls is explained at the
beginning and then you do a wonderful job of debunking each
and every one of the controls individually. By singling out
each of the controls you illustrate your point perfectly, showing
that while the desired goal may seem good, it is impossible
to achieve all four at the same time.
27. Lacking transition
28. This paragraph
doesn't seem to fit in with the rest of the paper. Curriculum
design hasn't been mentioned yet. Consider removing it, or simply
explain with one or two sentences why it has included.
29. Good conclusion.
Brings in all the important, main aspects of the paper and ties
in the theory of controversy introduced in the introduction.
30. Excellent reflections
on a variety of issues. I appreciate the clarity of thought
present in your writing.
31. Important not to
forget to give credit where due and include your works cited.
32. This is an excellently
written paper. Most of the time students score in the B column
on the rubric for both the understanding of texts and discussion,
and the idea development categories. The reason that this paper
was scored in the A column is because of the clarity of the
writing and the overall organization. Everything that the paper
will discuss is laid out in the first few paragraphs and goes
from there. The overall flow of the paper is wonderful, although
there were a few transitions that needed work. Otherwise, the
paper was nearly error free grammatically which makes it much
easier to read. The textual support was embedded very well and
showed that the student knew exactly what information they were
getting from the book and how to relate it to the argument they
were making. Very rarely will a student turn in work of this
caliber. Most of the time students have a good general idea
and a good basis, but some aspect is usually lacking. Many students
forget to make the connecting of the applicability to teaching.
They make a good point and support it, but forget to give the
reasoning it applies to teaching. Overall, an excellent paper
with wonderful organization.