The Bottom Line in Education: 1980 to the Present

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The Bottom Line in Education: 1980 to the Present (55:00)
Item# 11765

In 1983, the Reagan Administration’s report A Nation at Risk shattered public confidence in America’s school system and sparked a new wave of education reform. This program explores the impact of the "free market" experiments that ensued, from vouchers and charter schools to privatization—all with the goal of meeting tough new academic standards. Today, the debate rages on: do these diverse strategies challenge the Founding Fathers’ notions of a common school, or are they the only recourse in a complex society? (55 minutes)

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Segments in this Video - (16)

1. Are Public Schools Substandard? (02:55)
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Public schools were in good shape approaching the 1980s. President Reagan said the schools were not up to par. Teachers claim public schools are operating below standard.

2. Is the U.S. "A Nation At Risk?" (03:09)

"A Nation at Risk" claims the mediocrity of the school system threatens the nation itself. Students interviewed don't know answers to basic questions. Overcrowding is blamed for part of the problem.

3. Schools Return to Basics (02:59)

Schools attempt to return to standardized teaching and now include computer science. Students with below average or flunking grades are prohibited from extracurricular activities.

4. Right to Choose a School Location (03:08)

Should school children be able to choose what school they attend? Academic achievement should always be a school's main goal. City schools in poor neighborhoods are in special need of reform.

5. Marketplace Model for Schools (03:12)

Allowing children to choose their school and closing down schools that fail creates a "marketplace model" for schools. Like businesses, this creates competition and raises the standard of education.

6. Milwaukee Voucher Bill (03:13)

Milwaukee voucher bill allows selected low income students to attend private schools at the state's expense. This raises controversy as the funds for this program would have gone to public schools.

7. Questions Surround Voucher Schools (02:50)

Voucher schools in Milwaukee tout success stories with a high number of graduates. Opponents say some voucher schools cater to special interests, and religious schools push to be included.

8. Opponents of the Voucher Program (03:45)

Opponents say allowing vouchers in religious schools violates the separation of church and state. The increase in voucher schools draws money from the public schools, which are already hurting.

9. Home and Business-Run Schools (03:37)

Some parents opt to home school their children. Cities have hired private businesses like Educational Alternatives Incorporated (EAI) to take over and fund school systems for profit.

10. Schools for Profit (02:51)

Private companies can bypass government bureaucracy to boost school productivity. EAI says competition keeps costs down. Some complain these schools don't offer enough services for kids.

11. Private Company vs. Public School (03:30)

Teachers at EAI schools appreciate access to school supplies and having EAI make their own decisions on funding. Studies show EAI children do not excel academically over public school children.

12. Charters: The New Public Schools (03:02)

EAI focuses on small charter schools. These are public schools accountable to the state, but have more freedom. They are very popular and don't follow strict curriculums as in public schools.

13. Standard Testing and Core Knowledge (03:44)

High national standards for testing have had the biggest affect on student achievement. Core Knowledge schools teach students interesting history and art lessons at an early age.

14. Progressive Schools (03:11)

Students at progressive schools learn by doing. Projects drive the curriculum. Children are taught to think. Both Progressive and Core Knowledge students have shown positive test scores.

15. Yearly Testing and '90s Violence (02:54)

Yearly testing raises the bar on academics. Overcrowding, under-funding, and violence rocks the '90s school system. Despite this, parents still entrust their children to the public school system.

16. Public School: Still a Good Choice (03:15)

Excellence without equity equals elitist. While alternative programs are a good choice for some, most students still attend public schools, which are in need of support.

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