It is clear from Chapter Seven of Corey Dolgon and Chris Baker’s book “Social Problems a Service Learning Approach” that American schools have developed an effective method of instructing middle school and college students. They have learned how beneficial service learning, a form of instruction, is for both educators and people. College and middle school students can use it as well, where they can cooperate and learn more from one another (Dolgon and Baker 243). Through service learning, students are able to recognize each student’s potential for achievement as well as the diversity among young people. In fact, the authors note that college students benefit less able students in the middle level through the interactions at the service learning. Less able students can learn and get encouraged to engage in career paths that lead them to join college. In turn, college students can learn from the middle-level learners through the exposure of a broader range of capabilities as well as multiple learning modes (Golden and Herman 29).
There are two social problems identifiable within the assigned chapter including economic constraints as well as school curricula that are narrowly constructed. There are inequalities in the access to education because of budget constraints for families. The kinds of training offered or available for students are also complicated. According to Dolgon and Baker (243), many of the schools face the challenge of fulfilling the expectations of the narrowly constructed curricula that requires students to learn writing, reading, and arithmetic. They now require teaching physical fitness, driver education, basic technological skills, and citizenship, intercultural as well as other vocational skills. These high expectations make schools require increased need for social and economic resources.
The Economic or budgetary constraint is a problem facing education today in the U.S system. Based on the current facts of the school system in the U.S, it is economic inequalities that lead to inequalities as well as access to education among children from families of lower socioeconomic background. The school curricula are also insufficient to meet the educational needs of all children. There is discrimination in the way education is offered in America. The issues of inequality, as well as access to education, have an impact on the different economic groups in the community. The inability to access resources as well as curriculum determines what type of training is available for the economically disadvantaged (Dolgon and Baker 244). Student’s can go to their classrooms, get the needed training, credentials as well as complete their degrees because of dropping out. Based on the statistical portrait of schools and social problems, the school drop-out rates in the U.S have increased by 10% because of the social issue of economic constraints and narrow school curricula (244). The drop outs make the 13% of the high school students in the U.S with only 60% of the learners graduating with their high school degrees (Almeida, et al. 1). The United States is currently ranked 11th among the industrialized nations with a student who has completed high school degrees. America is also ranked the highest in the low capability of education among the minorities. The low level of education among the minorities or those at low financial capacity levels is also evident in the unemployment rates. It is apparent with students who don’t have a high school diploma not being able to get employment positions like their counterparts.
The causes of the social problem leading to increased dropout rates are the low socioeconomic status of families where the children have been brought up. Many of the families are made up of single and unemployed mothers. Children from these families have the highest dropout rates. The family structure, as well as stress, also accounts for the economic constraints those families of children with inferior education face. Families facing pressure situations due to death, divorce, and family moves have kids with highest school dropout rates. The mother’s age is also a challenge that contributes to social conditions associated with dropouts in high school.
The Symbolic Interaction Theory can be used in analyzing the causation of the social problem within the education system in the U.S. Symbolic interaction theory, or symbolic interactionism is a model formulated in the year 1969 by Blumer. It argues that the communication process forms the meanings for individuals. Its basis is the belief that persons are better understood each other when they relate in a practical and interactive environment. Here, every communication is symbolic and have a basis of interaction as well as meaning. The core principles of the symbolic interaction theory include thought language and meaning. According to Griffin (1997), these norms are the basis of an individual’s self-socialization process within the larger society.
Based on the symbolic interaction theory, the social problem of inequality and access as well as varying types of education available in the U.S schools. Funding is a major issue causing inequality and access to education in America. Public schools have less interaction and learning when compared to private schools because the later is better funded than the former. Inequality in education is high among and between schools because of the quality associated with the schools whereby public schools are regarded as having poor quality. There is the poor quality of interaction in public schools, and this affects the quality of education that students receive in these institutions. The financial contributors to the poor standards of service learning in public schools are as a result of lowly salaried teachers. For example, teachers in schools with inadequate systems tend to be less paid when compared to those coming from wealthier schools. Schools located in higher income communities usually spend more and have the ability to spend more in implementing the service-learning model when compared to the counterparts. It means that those schools in poor or low-income communities cannot implement the service-learning approach and this limits their interaction with other schools. Without interaction, it is not easy to learn because learning is achieved through communication, thought and meaning making. Poor students get low SAT scores as this has a positive relationship with the level of income in households (Eizten, Zinn, and Eitzen 17).
Chapter 7 of the textbook presents various consequences of the social problem of inequality and access to education as well as narrow curricula in schools. Students from low-income families are segregated among the minority in the school system. The isolated student populations receive low-level education with many of them being trained for industrial and domestic work. As a result of low levels of educational attainment in high school, students from the disadvantaged groups do enter colleges. In this case, poverty or economic constraints impact their higher education as these students receiving an inferior education have a less likeliness of entering universities. They do not have the chance of taking the college test-preparation courses or joining college recruiting organizations. The economically disadvantaged student and facing inequality in education cannot access trainers to equip them with study skills. Unlike the students coming from higher-income communities, different education for the disadvantaged students makes them not able to meet with college application specialists. Because of government loans funding private student, there is an increased individual debt that accumulates in the form of loans, and this makes the state not able to support public schools anymore. The economically challenged groups also fall within the categories of race and ethnicity. In the U.S. unequal education and access as well as narrow curricula challenges are experienced by the African Americans that make up about 12% of the American population. However, from the statistics, it is evident that African Americans who receive college degrees are about 6.5% only.
The solutions that have been provided to the problem of inequality and access to education, as well as the available curricula, entails dealing with disparities in achieving higher education. There have been laws to eradicate race and ethnicity in the U.S., and this has helped increase the enrollment in college for a student from the minority groups including those of race and ethnicity. For example, in the 1980s and 1990s, college enrollment for the minorities had reduced when compared to the 1960s and 1970s. It was due to resources available for these students after the civil rights were implemented and the war towards poverty levels in the 1970s. There were also programs implemented for improving student’s school performance by tapering off. Grand’s and loans to needy students were also expanded in the in the 1970s. These are useful solutions that can help disadvantaged students in high school continue with their classes and achieve their higher education.
In the case of Brown v. Board of Education, the Court held that racial segregation was unconstitutional. It was a step ahead in implementing laws against racial discrimination to help students from minority groups to access equal education like their counterparts. It assisted in achieving desegregation whereby the white students flew from urban schools hence leaving the poor students in the classes. However, it did not take long, and re-segregation took place, and white students went back to urban schools.
The response of the society to the problem of inequality in education and school curricula was not adequate. The solutions provided by the state in the 1970s were not useful since they did not extend to the later years. That’s why a student from the minority groups continue facing economic challenges in financing their education in high school up to college. Student grants and loans for education need to be revamped as a way of helping poor students continue their studies. Inequality and access to education as well as ability to implement the school curricula requires an intervention of the government. Civil rights have been neglected since the 1970s and are less reviewed or implemented when applying in the provision of equal education for students from all socioeconomic backgrounds. More resources need to be provided to reduce poverty for disadvantaged students from minority groups.
The law that made segregation unconstitutional did not operate adequately as re-segregation occurred again after a few years after its beginning of implementation. Preventing further inequality in education for students from low socioeconomic background requires the society needs implementing a race and ethnicity predictors in school to monitor the performance of students. There is also need for an affirmative action to be executed to demand colleges and universities to recruit and continue recruiting minority students. As stated earlier, providing funding for these students is also crucial in supporting their high school education up to college level.
All in all, there is much that needs to be done in the education system in the United States to ensure the problem of unequal education is eradicated. From the economic and social perspective, American school curricula is facing a challenge that requires amending to ensure the needs of all students are put in place. Looking the problem in the social interaction theory, disadvantaged students attend public schools, they receive less funding from the government, and they also have less to spend in paying for their education.
Almeida, Cheryl., Robert, Balfanz, and Adria, Steinberg, “Dropout Factories: The New Strategies States Can Use.” Education Week.
Blumer, Herbert. Symbolic Interactionism: Perspective and Method. (1969), Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.
Dolgon, Corey and Baker, Chris, Chapter 7: Why Can’t Johnny Read? Education in Crisis. “Social Problems A Service Learning Approach,” 2010. Sage Publications.
Eitzen, D. Stanely., Maxine, Baca., and Kelly, Eitzen, “in Conflict and Order: Understanding Society.” 12th ed. (2009). Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.
Golden, Catherine and Herman, Majorie, “Reading and Learning as a Community,” Wide Initiative Community Works Journal, 8, (2006), 23:29.
Griffin, E. (1997). A First Look at Communication Theory. New York: The McGraw-Hill Companies.