education reform

Education reform could be considered as one of the most highly debated issues of today. People of many different backgrounds from many different locations have many different opinions on how children in this country should be taught. In this incredibly broad debate, one of the most highly discussed issues is that of a multicultural education. The problem with this topic is that the many different people who have an opinion on the issue have many different definitions of what a multicultural education should be. Perhaps if the ideas behind a multicultural education were defined more clearly, the issue would be easier to talk about and the seemingly circular argument that is education reform could move towards a definite goal. Some of the ideas that have been discussed within the parameters of a multicultural education include afrocentrism, tolerance, and morality, among many others. While these and other issues do have certain merit, they alone can not serve as the basis for a strong education. The aim of a multicultural education should be to integrate a child\'s acquisition of basic skills with a general knowledge of the people he or she lives with in the United States. One of, if not the main factor in education reform is the teachers. They are the foundation for a child\'s development, and the are the filter through which the child must learn. A single teacher should not be allowed the right to single handedly hinder a young person\'s education, as the material taught and the lessons learned should transcend the people teaching these lessons. The seemingly obvious way to eliminate differences between teachers would be homogenous teacher training. However, the fact must be understood that while most teachers will be similar, they will all be individuals whose personalities and experience will come into play, and should come into play. A training session does not compare to real life experience, and teachers will learn as they continue to teach and interact with different types of students. To some extent, environment will also affect teaching methods, but, as Lisa Delpit points out, some teaching ideas can be universal. "I learned that children should be in control of their own learning, and that all children would read when they were ready" (Delpit, 12). The universal themes that Delpit discusses bring up another debate within the realm of a multicultural education. The curriculum issue deals with how much the location of a school should determine what is taught within that school. Stan Karp has dissected the recent troubles within New York public schools, and thinks that local education must be determined within a local forum. As he states, "The added rounds of education, organizing, and political struggle it takes to turn progressive policy into actual practice must occur at the school and community level " (Levine, 27). While this statement has some merit in that the details of all educational goals must be decided in the community it affects, a national education must be implemented as well. A base curriculum that covered basic goals for education at different levels of schooling would eliminate further polarization of different ethnicities. While local "touch" would definitely improve the quality of any education, a strong national education which requires certain aspects of learning would make sure that education reform is performed in the manner in which it should. Another topic that seems to be included in most multicultural education debates deals with kind of material that is included in the curriculum. Thomas J. Famularo, an opponent of multicultural education, argues "A curriculum can contain just so much, and because education succeeds only when it includes prolong and in-depth consideration, ?more in education is often less" (Noll, 123). Perhaps Famularo is correct when speaking about older children like high school or even college students, it would seem highly unlikely that a third grader could deeply consider many topics in their lives. The key to integrating education is to mesh different issues into one lesson at the times at which this meshing process can be done. For example, in a reading lesson for a first grade class, the class could read about the cultural differences between living in the city versus living in the country. In a lesson such as this, the children could improve their vocabulary