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The Increasing Burden on America’s Public Schools

Jamie Vollmer developed what follows. He has printed it on a high gloss, plasticized sheet.  He has given me permission to publish this copyrighted (2003) material.  He can be reached @ 641/472-1558 or by email at jamie@jamievollmer.com.  I am indebted to him for his research as well as his generosity.

America’s public schools can be traced back to the year 1640.  The Massachusetts Puritans established schools to:

  1. Teach basic reading, some writing and arithmetic skills, and
  2. Cultivate values that serve a democratic society (some history and civics implied).

The founders of these schools assumed that families and churches bore the major responsibility for raising a child.  At the beginning of the 20th century, society began to assign additional responsibilities to the schools.  Politicians and business leaders saw the schools as a logical site for both the assimilation of immigrants and the social engineering of citizens of the “Industrial Age.”  The trend of increasing the responsibilities of the public schools has accelerated ever since.

FROM 1900 TO 1910, WE ADDED

  • Nutrition
  • immunization, and
  • Health to the list of school responsibilities.

FROM 1910 TO 1930, WE ADDED

  • Physical Education, including organized sports
  • The practical arts,
  • Vocational education, including home economics and agricultural education, and
  • School transportation began to be mandated

IN THE 1940’s, WE ADDED

  • Business education
  • Art and music
  • Speech and drama
  • Half day kindergarten, and
  • School lunch programs appeared.

IN THE 1950’s, WE ADDED

  • Expanded science and math education
  • Driver’s education
  • Foreign language requirements were strengthened, and
  • Sex education was introduced

IN THE 1960’s, WE ADDED

  • Advanced Placement programs
  • Head Start
  • Title I
  • Adult education
  • Consumer education
  • Career education
  • Peace, leisure and recreation education

IN THE 1970’s, THE BREAKUP OF THE AMERICAN FAMILY ACCELERATED.  AND WE ADDED

  • Special education (mandated by The Federal government)
  • Title IX programs (greatly expanded athletic programs for females)
  • Drug and alcohol abuse education
  • Parent education
  • Behavior adjustment classes
  • Character education
  • Environmental education
  • Women’s studies
  • African-American heritage education, and
  • School breakfast programs appeared.  (Some schools are now feeding children 2/3 of their daily meals.)

IN THE 1980S, THE FLOOD GATES OPENED AND WE ADDED

  • Keyboarding and computer education
  • Global education
  • Ethnic education
  • Multicultural/non-sexist education
  • English-as-a-second-language, and bilingual education
  • Teen pregnancy awareness
  • Hispanic heritage education
  • Early childhood education
  • Jump Start, Early Start, Even Start, and Prime Start
  • Full day kindergarten
  • Pre-school programs for children at-risk
  • After school programs for children of working parents
  • Alternative education
  • Danger education
  • Anti-smoking education
  • Sexual abuse prevention education
  • Health and psychological services were expanded, and
  • Child abuse monitoring became a legal requirement for all teachers

In the 1990s,the school reform movement shifted into high gear and collided with the spread of technology. The World Wide Web was born, and we added:

  • Computer Labs and Internet Instruction
  • Tech Prep
  • School To Work Programs
  • Distance Learning
  • Homeless Education and its effects on children,
  • HIV/AIDS Education
  • Death Education
  • America 2000 Initiatives (Republican)
  • Goals 2000 Initiatives (Democratic)
  • Bicycle Safety, Gun Safety, and Water Safety Instruction
  • Conflict Resolution Classes
  • Service Learning Programs
  • Annual CPR Training
  • Technical Adequacy Assessment
  • Dropout Prevention Programs
  • Anti-Gang Initiatives
  • Inclusion and Mainstreaming Requirements
  • The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act greatly expanded the scope of Special Education
  • And, in response to horrific acts of violence, we saw unprecedented efforts to ensure school security.
  • In the 21st century, driven by the pressures of a rapidly changing society and the emergence of an increasingly literate global workforce, we added:
  • No Child Left Behind (Republican)
  • Internet Safety
  • Bullying Prevention Programs
  • Texting and Social Media Etiquette
  • Elevator and Escalator Safety Instruction
  • Body Mass Index Evaluation (Obesity Monitoring)
  • Eating Disorder Counseling
  • Suicide Awareness Programs
  • Organ Donor Awareness Classes
  • Steroid Abuse Prevention Programs
  • Media Literacy Training
  • Expanded Early Childhood Wrap Around Programs
  • Financial Literacy Development
  • Intruder Lockdown Training
  • Health and Wellness Programs
  • Leadership Training
  • Contextual Learning and Skill Development
  • Entrepreneurial/Innovation Skill Development
  • Credit Retrieval Programs
  • On-Line Learning Requirements
  • Race To The Top (Democratic)
  • Common Core Standards, and
  • S.T.E.M ProgramsAnd we have not a single minute to the school calendar in six decades!The contract between our communities and our schools has changed. It’s no longer “Help us teach our children.” It’s “raise our kids.” No generation of teachers and administrators in history has had to fulfill this mandate. And each year, the pressure grows.

    Social and economic conditions demand that we unfold the full potential of every child. Our futures are tied to their success a never before. But this is a job for all of us. Our schools cannot do it alone. We must all come together and help our schools remove the obstacles to student success both in and out of schools.

    Copyright 2012, Jamie Vollmer

    To order copies of this poster or Jamie’s book Schools Cannot Do It Alone please visit www.jamievollmer.com

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