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The Economics of Education


Economics and Environment

While it is understood that the topics of economics and environment are two separate issues and topics, when it comes to education the two topics are to interlinked to be separated. The reason for this is because as we looked into the topic of continuation schools, it became apparent that the economics actually control the environment. Aside from the socio-economic factors of the children whom find themselves placed into continuation schools, such as being from single parent homes, less educated families, or even malnutrition, the funding for continuation schools determines the level of education and service these students are able to receive.

According to the California Department of Education, there are four types of schools categorized as Continuation Schools, they are as follows: 1. Adult Education 2. Charter Schools 3. “At Risk” Education Schools 4. Alternative Education Schools. All of these types of schools are funded differently, and offer different services. Charter and Alternative Education schools are funded by private donations, by charging tuitions, fund raising, and private grants. However, these “private” schools, still enjoy tax breaks from the government, and are subject to many of the Educational Standards which public schools expected to enforce. Aside from these schools classification of “continuation schools,” there is very little similarity between the private and public schools. These private schools enjoy and employ some of the best teachers, learning facilities, and programs money can literally buy. Many of these private charter schools offer specific courses in art, music, science, or many other subjects. Students are encouraged to grow and learn, in the clean, healthy, state of the art class rooms. Many of these private schools offer multi-media class rooms, and small class sizes. Theses private continuation schools, are not the overcrowded, “dumping grounds” for children with learning disabilities, which the publicly funded continuation schools have become.

The public school systems Continuation Schools are far less equipped and well-staffed then their “Private” counter-parts. In the public school system continuation schools have become an “Educational Death” and dumping ground for misbehaved children. However, this wasn’t always the case, nor was it the original intent of the program. The continuation school system was started as a way to “help” children with learning disabilities or other problems, but the government soon learned “Problems are expensive.” Continuation schools, in their true form are more expensive to run and staff then a regular school. In its true form a Continuation School is supposed to be staffed with teachers trained to help children with learning disabilities, such as dyslexia, or even emotional problems. Aside from the teachers being highly qualified, continuation schools are required to have a higher teacher to student ratio then regular schools, thus insuring smaller class sizes. However, in California’s failing Public Education System, these rules are not fallowed, and one would be hard pressed to find a “true” Continuation School with in the Public School System.

Since 1919 the Continuation Education Program has been an “Option” for students, yet for most of the 68,000 high school students, spread throughout 521 continuation high schools in 2003-2004, they had no “option” or choice. Continuation Schools no longer are an option, because students are sent these schools almost as a punishment. Today Continuation Schools are not filled with children with the worst learning disabilities, but with children with the worst behavioral problems. Californian Continuation Schools do not offer special programs to help children work through their learning disabilities anymore; instead they focus on teaching students vocational skills.

In his 2005 “Model Continuation High School Recognition Program” speech, the State Superintendent of Public Instruction, was quoted as saying “Theses schools are being recognized for outstanding programs that are working to keep our young people in school and on track for a better future.” It’s hard not to see a little irony in the Superintendents use of the word “track” in relation to the Continuation School Program, as a “track education” is exactly what the students in the Public Continuation School program are receiving. By focusing more on vocational programs, the children in the Public Continuation School program are almost assured no entry into higher education. Why is this? Who gets to decide what some ones career or future is going to be? Is a young boy with say ADHD and occasional behavioral problems truly less capable of comprehending regular high school classes? The answer is no, and the deciding factor is dollars and cents. Due to the fact that actually working with students, providing better trained teachers, having smaller classes, and specialized learning disabilities programs is costly, so Public Continuation Schools don’t offer these things. Instead they focus on cheaper and less “Teacher Intensive” vocation classes, with bigger class sizes, and almost no help for students with learning disabilities. Instead they tell students in effect “Sorry kid, you’re too stupid for regular classes or college. However, we’ll let you go to a Continuation School, where you may or may not get your diploma, for getting trained as a janitor, Plummer, Mechanic, or some other low paying job.” Why? Because it’s cheaper for the state to dump these kids off in these schools, instead of trying to address these students learning disabilities. At the same time; Politician’s get to trumpet the success of the Continuation School Program, because they’ve created the next generation of janitors.

What does this do for the environment at Continuation Schools? Aside from having some of the worst facilities, Continuation Schools openly state that they are not “College Preparatory High Schools.” This can adversely affect the moral of the students at these schools, and the view the students have of themselves. If you’re told you are “stupid” long enough, and then you are “dumped” into a substandard school, with a “track education” policy, eventually you’ll give up on yourself. Why not? If you were one of these Continuation School Students, it would be easy to feel like everyone else has given up on you. It doesn’t end there either. A great many of these students already live in low economic environments, which may have caused their educational problems to begin with.

Many lower income students have a harder time then their middle and upper class counter parts. In some families the fact that the parents are not college educated, and therefore do not stress the importance of academics, leaves students feeling that there is no need to excel in school. In some of the most unfortunate cases, students may not even be getting enough food to eat. When someone is hungry, their mind will be thinking about almost nothing except being hungry. These are not stupid students, these are hungry students. Yet, because they may often fall below par, they will be shipped to a Continuation School. This situation has even become worse, as the “No Child Left behind Program” and the “Public School Accountability Act” has begun to play in. Schools with substandard students now get punished, and the temptation to “dump” below par students into Continuation Schools could be even greater.

The most predominate factor in this environment of low morale and poor education for Continuation School students is money. Due to the fact that the Public School System isn’t willing to spend the money and pay for the teachers, many students get “dumped” into the Continuation School Program. There they receive vocational training, as opposed to college preparation courses, all but assuring that the track they are on is “Blue Collar” at best. A learning disability or an empty stomach should not mean educational death, but with the way the Continuation School program is set up today, it seems as if hunger, dyslexia, or even ADHD can easily kill your academic career or even young students dreams for the future.

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