.. o schools for having children collect items like soup labels or sales receipts from certain stores have increased by 83%, and corporate-sponsored materials that claim to have some kind of instructional content have increased 963%. After factoring in a few other types of media propaganda, the overall propaganda increase between 1990 and 1999 was 303% (Molnar). The USSR also pioneered some interesting programs. One such program was a School to Work Act.
In the 1958-1959 school year, the Soviet Union passed new reform laws that required all pupils in the three senior grades of the secondary schools to work in Soviet factories or farms for one-third of their school time (Noah). In other words, every two days out of six, the students would go to work in area businesses instead of going to class. The students were required to acquire qualifications in two different trades before they could obtain their school-leaving certificates. Soviet enterprises had to provide and pay for special clothing, materials, machine time, training, tools, and space used by the students (Noah). Unfortunately, there were some major drawbacks to this project. In order to meet the extra demands made on curriculum by labor-training, secondary education periods were increased by one year.
This increase raised the direct ruble costs of education for the State budget. Also, the invasion of factories and farms by young trainees caused many disturbances in regular routines. Managers wanted to either cut down on training costs by keeping the students working at a particular job or to use pupils for jobs where regular workers were hard to find. The educational staff wanted students to enjoy the highest level and most variety of work experience available. The students wanted either easy assignments or high paying jobs and did not want to change duties.
Even the money that funded the program was wasted because the training turned out hundreds of thousands of poorly-skilled students who had no intentions of ever going into the field in which they had been engaged. In 1964-1965, the Soviet Minister of Education announced that the program would be cut from three years to two years (Noah). Meanwhile, in the United States School to Work ideas were beginning to flourish. A Nation at Risk broadcast in 1983 announced that schools were not adequately preparing students for the workplace. The broadcast portrayed America as being uncompetitive in the global marketplace. Students were being trained for 1940s and 1950s workplaces.
Employers complained that graduates lacked basic reading, writing, and communication skills. The report asked for a policy that would address the needs of both the employers and the students. Congress responded by passing the School to Work Opportunities Act of 1994, which was expressed in fourteen parts. The goal of Congress was to implement a sustainable School to Work system that required key stakeholders to plan and implement a system as well as to support the system’s continuation. This system was to be designed in a way that provided for both state and local discretion in implementing the system as long as it addressed local capacity building, minimized overlap, used resources effectively, established clear goals, and provided flexibility (Glass).
States were required to come up with plans that showed how their resources would be linked together within five years to establish a statewide School to Work program. Plans had to show how each state would fund its program, and federal policy makers had to be critical partners in the program. Any federal funding would be dependent on how well the system implementation plan built upon previous School to Work initiatives (Glass). Eight states received funding in the first year. New York received the largest grant of eight million dollars for the first year and more than sixty million dollars over five years.
New York’s system included skill standards, skill assessments, skill certificates, and performance-based assessments. Parents, teachers, employers, etc. were required to be involved in determining proper preparation for the workplace. Efforts supported by allocated funds were required to provide equal opportunities for all students. Today, School to Work initiatives in the United States are seen as commonplace (Glass). Another idea instituted by the Soviet Union was busing. While the Soviet Union was still young, Lenin announced that he was upset that the government was doing almost nothing for the rural districts outside official budgets or channels. At this time, relationships between town and county were showing positive effects throughout the country. Lenin wanted to methodically, systematically, and consciously improve the relationship between town and country by getting the government involved. Lenin’s idea was to attach urban groups to village groups in order to give everyone the same cultural experiences so that everyone would have equal opportunities in life (Basgen).
Busing took a slightly different approach in the United States. An outgrowth of Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas in 1954, busing was introduced in the early 1970s as a way of achieving racial balance in the schools (Craver and Ozman). In Bradley v. School Board of the City of Richmond, a 1972 Virginia Supreme Court decision, the court of appeals overturned a court-ordered consolidation of Richmond schools because the segregated schools were not a result of legal actions. Rather, the segregated conditions were caused by residential patterns.
This pattern held true in many states. In cities including Boston, Cleveland, Los Angeles, and Indianapolis, courts ordered schools to bus black students from the cities to white suburban schools in order to desegregate the school systems. Compulsory busing ended in Los Angeles after state courts ruled that a 1981 referendum banning busing unless the segregation was intentional was Constitutional. In 1986, the Supreme Court declined to review a busing issue case from Norfolk, Virginia. The court was thought to have been signaling that a city can end court-ordered busing once the schools have been integrated. In 1991, the Supreme Court ruled that court-ordered busing in Oklahoma City could end short of integration if everything practicable had been done to eliminate discrimination and segregation.
Busing backfired in the sense that compulsory busing to achieve integration accelerated the flight of white families to the suburbs, thus resegregating urban schools; however, it is interesting to note that the academic performance of minority children improves when they are in classes where middle-class white pupils are the majority (Craver and Ozman). Communism is a part of every country. Marx’s ideas of the perfect society were not far off. The problem is that the human race is corrupt. The Soviet Union and other Communist countries corrupted a brilliant idea with their greed. It is in no way wrong to share some good ideas with other people.
However, it is wrong to not admit to these similarities. The American school system still has a long way to go before it will realize its full potential. Maybe a touch of Communism is just what this ailing country needs. After all, the Smurfs managed rather well. Bibliography Works CitedBasgen, Brian.
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