Friday, September 19, 2014

United States of America; the Sole Super Power in the World

Education in United States of America
Education in the United States

Education in the United States is provided by public schools and private schools. Public education is universally available, with control and funding coming from the state, local, and federal government. Public school curricula, funding, teaching, employment, and other policies are set through locally elected school boards, who have jurisdiction over individual school districts. State governments set educational standards and mandate standardized tests for public school systems. 

Private schools are generally free to determine their own curriculum and staffing policies, with voluntary accreditation available through independent regional accreditation authorities. 88% of school-age children attend public schools, 9% attend private schools, and nearly 3% are homeschooled. 

Education if compulsory in the United States of America
Education is compulsory over an age range starting between five and eight and ending somewhere between ages sixteen and eighteen, depending on the state. This requirement can be satisfied in public schools, state-certified private schools, or an approved home school program. In most schools, education is divided into three levels: elementary school, middle or junior high school, and high school. Children are usually divided by age groups into grades, ranging from kindergarten and first grade for the youngest children, up to twelfth grade as the final year of high school. 

There are also a large number and wide variety of publicly and privately administered institutions of higher education throughout the country. Post-secondary education, divided into college, as the first tertiary degree, and graduate school, is described in a separate section below. 

Samuel Read Hall founded 1st Normal School in USA
Government-supported and free public schools for all began to be established after the American Revolution. Between 1750 and 1870 parochial schools appeared as "ad hoc" efforts by parishes. Historically, many parochials elementary schools were developed which were open to all children in the parish, mainly Catholic, but also Lutherans, Calvinists and Orthodox Jews. Nonsectarian Common schools, designed by Horace Mann were opened, which taught the three Rs (of reading, writing, and arithmetic) and also history and geography. 

In 1823, Reverend Samuel Read Hall founded the first normal school, the Columbian School in Concord, Vermont, to improve the quality of the burgeoning common school system by producing more qualified teachers. 

The Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute, now Tuskegee University
States passed laws to make schooling compulsory between 1852 (Massachusetts) and 1917 (Mississippi). They also used federal funding designated by the Morrill Land-Grant Colleges Acts of 1862 and 1890 to set up land grant colleges specializing in agriculture and engineering. By 1870, every state had free elementary schools, albeit only in urban centers. 

Starting from about 1876, thirty-nine states (out of 50) passed a constitutional amendment to their state constitutions, called Blaine Amendments after James G. Blaine, one of their chief promoters, forbidding public tax money be used to fund local parochial schools. 

Charles W. Eliot, head of the committee of 10
Following the American Civil War, the Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute was founded in 1881, in Tuskegee, Alabama to train "Colored Teachers", led by Booker T. Washington, (1856-1915), who was himself a freed slave. His movement spread to many other Southern states to establish small colleges for "Colored or Negro" students then (now "Black") entitled "A. & M.", ("Agricultural and Mechanical") or "A. & T.", ("Agricultural and Technical"), some of which later developed into state universities. 

Responding to many competing academic philosophies being promoted at the time, an influential working group of educators, known as the Committee of Ten was established in 1892, by the National Education Association recommended that children should receive twelve years of instruction, consisting of eight years of elementary education (also known as "grammar schools") followed by four years in high school ("freshmen", "sophomores", "juniors" and "seniors"). 

Gradually by the late 1890s, regional associations of high schools, colleges and universities were being organized to coordinate proper accrediting standards, examinations and regular surveys of various institutions to assure equal treatment in graduation and admissions requirements, course completion and transfer procedures. 

Brown v. Board of Edu outlawed segregation
By 1910, 72 percent of children attended school. Private schools spread during this time, as well as colleges and — in the rural centers — land grant colleges also. Between 1910 and 1940 the high school movement resulted in rapidly increasing public high school enrollment and graduations. By 1930, 100 percent of children attended school. 

The 1946 National School Lunch Act, which is still in operation, provided low-cost or free school lunch meals to qualified low-income students through subsidies to schools, providing the idea of a "full stomach" during the day supported class attention and studying. The 1954 Supreme Court case Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas made racial desegregation of public elementary and high schools mandatory.

L.B Johnson at ESEA signing ceremony
private schools expanded in response to accommodate white families attempting to avoid desegregation by sending their children to private secular or religious schools. 

In 1965, the far-reaching Elementary and Secondary Education Act ('ESEA'), passed as a part of President Lyndon B. Johnson's War on Poverty, provided funds for primary and secondary education ('Title I funding') while explicitly forbidding the establishment of a national curriculum. 

Section IV of the Act created the Pell Grant program which provides financial support to students from low-income families to access higher education. 

In 1975, the Education for All Handicapped Children Act established funding for special education in schools. 

Policy changes have also sometimes slowed equal access to higher education for poorer people. Cuts to the Pell Grant scholarship aid programs in 2012 reduced the number of low-income students who would receive grants. 

"No Child Left Behind" act was passed in 2002
The Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 made standardized testing a requirement. The Higher Education Amendments of 1972 made changes to the Pell Grants. The 1975 Education for All Handicapped Children Act required all public schools accepting federal funds to provide equal access to education and one free meal a day for children with physical and mental disabilities. The 1983 National Commission on Excellence in Education report, famously titled A Nation at Risk, touched off a wave of local, state, and federal reform efforts. 

The 2002 No Child Left Behind, passed by a bipartisan coalition in Congress provided federal aid to the states in exchange for measures to penalize schools that were not meeting the goals as measured by standardized state exams in mathematics and language skills. In the same year, the U.S. Supreme Court diluted some of the century-old "Blaine" laws upheld an Ohio law allowing aid to parochial schools under specific circumstances. The 2006 Commission on the Future of Higher Education evaluated higher education. 

High School Senior Classroom in Calhan, USA

In 2000, 76.6 million students had enrolled in schools from kindergarten through graduate schools. Of these, 72 percent aged 12 to 17 were considered academically "on track" for their age, i.e. enrolled in at or above grade level. Of those enrolled elementary and secondary schools, 5.2 million (10.4 percent) attended private schools. 

Over 85 percent of the adult population have completed high school and 27 percent have received a bachelor's degree or higher. The average salary for college or university graduates is greater than $51,000, exceeding the national average of those without a high school diploma by more than $23,000, according to a 2005 study by the U.S. Census Bureau. The 2010 unemployment rate for high school graduates was 10.8%; the rate for college graduates was 4.9%. 

Michigan State University Computer Center
The country has a reading literacy rate of 99% of the population over age 15, while ranking below average in science and mathematics understanding compared to other developed countries. In 2008, there was a 77% graduation rate from high school, below that of most developed countries. 

The poor performance has pushed public and private efforts such as the No Child Left Behind Act. In addition, the ratio of college-educated adults entering the workforce to general population (33%) is slightly below the mean of other developed countries (35%) and rate of participation of the labor force in continuing education is high. A 2000s (decade) study by Jon Miller of Michigan State University concluded that "A slightly higher proportion of American adults qualify as scientifically literate than European or Japanese adults". 

The US ranks 10th among industrial nations for graduates
According to the National Association of School Nurses, 17% of students are considered obese and 32% are overweight. 

The American school year traditionally begins at the end of August or the day after Labor Day in September, after a traditional summer recess. Children customarily advance together from one grade to the next as a single cohort or "class" upon reaching the end of each school year in late May or early June. 

Higher Education 

Higher education in the United States is an optional final stage of formal learning following secondary education, often at one of the 4,495 colleges or universities and junior colleges in the country. In 2008, 36% of enrolled students graduated from college in four years. 57% completed their undergraduate requirements in six years, at the same college they first enrolled in. The U.S. ranks 10th among industrial countries for percentage of adults with college degrees. 

A Classroom of University of California, USA
Like high school, the four undergraduate grades are commonly called freshman, sophomore, junior, and senior years (alternatively called first year, second year, etc.). Students traditionally apply for admission into colleges. Schools differ in their competitiveness and reputation; generally, the most prestigious schools are private, rather than public. Admissions criteria involve the rigor and grades earned in high school courses taken, the students' GPA, class ranking, and standardized test scores (Such as the SAT or the ACT tests). Most colleges also consider more subjective factors such as a commitment to extracurricular activities, a personal essay, and an interview. While colleges will rarely list that they require a certain standardized test score, class ranking, or GPA for admission, each college usually has a rough threshold below which admission is unlikely. 

Saint Anselm College's Alumni Hall, USA
Once admitted, students engage in undergraduate study, which consists of satisfying university and class requirements to achieve a bachelor's degree in a field of concentration known as a major. (Some students enroll in double majors or "minor" in another field of study.) The most common method consists of four years of study leading to a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.), a Bachelor of Science (B.S.), or sometimes another bachelor's degree such as Bachelor of Fine Arts (B.F.A.), Bachelor of Social Work (B.S.W.), Bachelor of Engineering (B.Eng.,) or Bachelor of Philosophy (B.Phil.) Five-Year Professional Architecture programs offer the Bachelor of Architecture Degree (B.Arch.) 

Professional degrees such as law, medicine, pharmacy, and dentistry, are offered as graduate study after earning at least three years of undergraduate schooling or after earning a bachelor's degree depending on the program. These professional fields do not require a specific undergraduate major, though medicine, pharmacy, and dentistry have set prerequisite courses that must be taken before enrollment. 

A Community College awards Associate Degree
Some students choose to attend a community college for two years prior to further study at another college or university. In most states, community colleges are operated either by a division of the state university or by local special districts subject to guidance from a state agency. Community colleges may award Associate of Arts (AA) or Associate of Science (AS) degree after two years. Those seeking to continue their education may transfer to a four-year college or university (after applying through a similar admissions process as those applying directly to the four-year institution. Some community colleges have automatic enrollment agreements with a local four-year college, where the community college provides the first two years of study and the university provides the remaining years of study, sometimes all on one campus. The community college awards the associate's degree, and the university awards the bachelor's and master's degrees. 

Juris Doctor Degree from Suffolk University, USA
Graduate study, conducted after obtaining an initial degree and sometimes after several years of professional work, leads to a more advanced degree such as a master's degree, which could be a Master of Arts (MA), Master of Science (MS), Master of Business Administration (MBA), or other less common master's degrees such as Master of Education (MEd), and Master of Fine Arts (MFA). Some students pursue a graduate degree that is in between a master's degree and a doctoral degree called a Specialist in Education (Ed.S.). 

After additional years of study and sometimes in conjunction with the completion of a master's degree and/or Ed.S. degree, students may earn a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) or other doctoral degree, such as Doctor of Arts, Doctor of Education, Doctor of Theology, Doctor of Medicine, Doctor of Pharmacy, Doctor of Physical Therapy, Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine, Doctor of Podiatry Medicine, Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, Doctor of Psychology, or Juris Doctor. 

Some programs, such as medicine and psychology, have formal apprenticeship procedures post-graduation, such as residencies and internships, which must be completed after graduation and before one is considered fully trained. Other professional programs like law and business have no formal apprenticeship requirements after graduation (although law school graduates must take the bar exam to legally practice law in nearly all states). 

Sex Education is very common in USA
Entrance into graduate programs usually depends upon a student's undergraduate academic performance or professional experience as well as their score on a standardized entrance exam like the Graduate Record Examination (GRE-graduate schools in general), the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT), or the Law School Admission Test (LSAT). Many graduate and law schools do not require experience after earning a bachelor's degree to enter their programs; however, business school candidates are usually required to gain a few years of professional work experience before applying. 8.9 percent of students receive postgraduate degrees. Most, after obtaining their bachelor's degree, proceed directly into the workforce. 

Sex Education 

Almost all students in the U.S. receive some form of sex education at least once between grades 7 and 12; many schools begin addressing some topics as early as grades 4 or 5. However, what students learn varies widely, because curriculum decisions are so decentralized. Many states have laws governing what is taught in sex education classes or allowing parents to opt out. Some state laws leave curriculum decisions to individual school districts. 

Life Expectancy Rate in the USA

The United States has life expectancy of 78.4 years at birth, up from 75.2 years in 1990, ranks it 50th among 221 nations, and 27th out of the 34 industrialized OECD countries, down from 20th in 1990. Increasing obesity in the United States and health improvements elsewhere have contributed to lowering the country's rank in life expectancy from 1987, when it was 11th in the world. Obesity rates in the United States are among the highest in the world. Approximately one-third of the adult population is obese and an additional third is overweight; the obesity rate, the highest in the industrialized world, has more than doubled in the last quarter-century. Obesity-related type 2 diabetes is considered epidemic by health care professionals. The infant mortality rate of 6.06 per thousand places the United States 176th highest out of 222 countries. 

Traffic accident was 1 of most death causing factors
In 2010, coronary artery disease, lung cancer, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases, and traffic accidents caused the most years of life lost in the U.S. Low back pain, depression, musculoskeletal disorders, neck pain, and anxiety caused the most years lost to disability. The most deleterious risk factors were poor diet, tobacco smoking, obesity, high blood pressure, high blood sugar, physical inactivity, and alcohol use. Alzheimer's disease, drug abuse, kidney disease and cancer, and falls caused the most additional years of life lost over their age-adjusted 1990 per-capita rates. U.S. teenage pregnancy and abortion rates are substantially higher than in other Western nations. 

The U.S. is a global leader in medical innovation. America solely developed or contributed significantly to 9 of the top 10 most important medical innovations since 1975 as ranked by a 2001 poll of physicians, while the EU and Switzerland together contributed to five. Since 1966, Americans have received more Nobel Prizes in Medicine than the rest of the world combined. From 1989 to 2002, four times more money was invested in private biotechnology companies in America than in Europe. 

Many people, in the US, do not carry health insurance
The U.S. health-care system far outspends any other nation, measured in both per capita spending and percentage of GDP. Health-care coverage in the United States is a combination of public and private efforts and is not universal. In 2010, 49.9 million residents or 16.3% of the population did not carry health insurance. The subject of uninsured and underinsured Americans is a major political issue. In 2006, Massachusetts became the first state to mandate universal health insurance. Federal legislation passed in early 2010 would ostensibly create a near-universal health insurance system around the country by 2014, though the bill and its ultimate impact are issues of controversy. 

Culture of the United States:

The culture of the United States is primarily Western, but is influenced by Native American, African, Asian, Polynesian, and Latin American cultures. A strand of what may be described as American culture started its formation over 10,000 years ago with the migration of Paleo-Indians from Asia, as well as from Oceania and Europe, into the region that is today the continental United States. 

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