Category NOTEWORTHY

Passages: Birth, Marriage and Death

I. PRELISTENING

B. Vocabulary and Key Concepts

1. Customs and traditions are often bewildering to foreigners, partly because the customs are so ingrained that people accept them without ever thinking about them.

2. The baby shower is given by a close friend or relative of the expec­tant mother.

3. The mother-to-be is often invited to someone’s home on some pre­text so that she can be surprised.

4. Through advice and expressions of envy, the expectant mother is reassured about the desirability of her situation.

5. A few years ago, it was almost unheard of for men to participate in baby showers.

6. In the past, men were banished from the delivery room, but today many men are with their wives to "coach" them through the birth.

7. Christians usually have a religious service, called a baptism, for the new baby.

8. Some customs are generally observed concerning fiancees, the en­gagement period, and the wedding ceremony.

9. Because priests, rabbis, and ministers are all legally empowered to marry couples, it is not necessary to have both a civil and a reli­gious ceremony.

10. Some customs about the bride and groom are rather superstitious in nature.

11. Some churches and other places where weddings are held have recently banned the throwing of rice as being hazardous to guests, who can slip and fall on it.

12. At the time of death, one decision is whether the funeral will be held in a church or in a funeral home; another decision is whether the body will be cremated or buried in a cemetery.

13. The family may choose to have a memorial service instead of a funeral. In either case, the family may hold a wake, where the body of the deceased is displayed in its casket.

14. At a funeral, a eulogy is usually given by someone close to the deceased person.

15. Those who want to express their condolences usually send a sym­pathy card to the bereaved family.

D. Notetaking Preparation

1. Key Words: Listening (Narrator: Read twice.)

a. Many ethnic groups still practice customs and traditions that their ancestors brought with them from their countries, yet if we look at the United States and the people as a whole, we can find a kind of general culture, (repeat)

b. One of the most common traditions associated with a birth is the baby shower, a nonreligious tradition observed by almost everyone in this society, (repeat)

c. As for the actual wedding ceremony and related celebrations, traditionally it is the bride’s family who pays for these expenses, (repeat)

d. For most people, whether they are religious or not, there are many decisions to be made at the time of a death, (repeat)

e. At a funeral service, it is customary for a religious leader to speak some words of comfort for the bereaved. In addition, a eu­logy is usually given by someone close to the deceased person, (repeat)

II. LISTENING

LECTURE: Passages: Birth, Marriage, and Death

Customs vary so much from country to country or culture that it’s often bewildering for a foreigner trying to understand the traditions and customs of a new country. Part of what makes it so difficult is that most of these customs are so ingrained in the culture that most local people accept them without ever thinking about them. Some of the reasons for the customs or traditions are historical and may have even been forgotten by the people who still practice these customs. When pressed for an explanation of some of their customs, people will sometimes be quite surprised that anyone would question their cus­toms. "Doesn’t everyone do it this way?" might be their response, yet some of the customs that seem so natural to the people in the country or culture may seem quite strange and inexplicable to people new to a country. In a country as large as the United States, with people from so many different parts of the world and different cultures, it can be even more bewildering. Many ethnic groups still practice customs and traditions brought by their ancestors from their countries, yet if we look at the country and its people as a whole, we can find a kind of "general" culture with traditions that are often accepted or at least adapted to fit the customs and traditions of each immigrant group as it becomes assimilated into the larger culture. Today let’s look at some widely accepted customs and traditions of most Americans concerning
three of life’s most important events: birth, marriage, and death. Please keep in mind that these descriptions are very general and that society is changing quite rapidly in the United States and that people adapt and modify these customs to fit changing societal conditions and their own situations.

The birth of a baby is a momentous occasion in any family and is cele­brated in some way or another. There are many traditions associated with this event. One of the most common ones is the baby shower, which is a nonreligious tradition observed by almost everyone in this society. A shower is given by a close friend or relative of the expectant mother shortly before the baby is due. In the past, showers were al­most always arranged in secret so as to be a complete surprise to the mother-to-be. The mother-to-be was usually invited to someone’s home on one pretext or another, where she was surprised by her fe­male friends and relatives who had planned this special party for her.

In recent years, the tradition has been modified, at least in some social circles, so that the shower is not always a surprise occasion, but one that the expectant mother knows about ahead of time.

Whether the baby shower is a surprise or not, the mother-to-be is showered with gifts for the new baby by her friends and relatives.

The gifts may be small ones or very expensive ones depending on the financial situation of the participants, but there is always a very emo­tional outpouring of good wishes for the expected baby and its parents. The gifts are always opened at the party, and everyone expresses great admiration for them. There’s always a lot of advice from experienced mothers and expressions of envy from those women who do not yet have children. This way, the expectant mother is reassured about the coming event and the desirability of her situation. A few years ago, it was almost unheard of for men to participate in baby showers. How­ever, as I mentioned earlier, society is changing rapidly and men’s par­ticipation at baby showers is becoming more common. That reminds me of another related change in society in the United States. In the past, when births mainly took place at home, it was a strictly female event with men banished from the room where the baby was born. After women started going to hospitals to have their babies, men still never went into the delivery room and were expected to wait ner­vously in the waiting room for the doctor to come and tell them the good news. Today this is changing for many modern couples. Often they attend classes together to prepare them for the birth of the baby, and many men are with their wives in the delivery room and "coach" them through the birth along with the doctors.

After a baby is born, many, if not most, people want to have a reli­gious service for their baby within a few weeks of the baby’s birth, even if they are not very religious themselves. Friends and family will attend the service, which will be held in a church or a synagogue. For Christians, this service is ordinarily called baptism.

There are many customs and traditions surrounding marriage and particularly the wedding activities themselves. Once again, it is very hard to generalize about these customs, as they vary so much among different people, but there are some customs that are quite generally observed. It is no longer necessary for a young man to ask permission of a girl’s father for her "hand," and among modern couples a woman may actually be the first one to bring up the subject of marriage, but most young people still very much want their parents’ approval of the person they hope to marry. It is still traditional for a young man to give his fiancee a diamond ring at the beginning of their engagement period. As for the actual wedding ceremony and related celebrations, traditionally it is the bride’s family who pays for these expenses. The wedding ceremony can be a very simple one, with only a few family members and close friends present, or it can be very elaborate, with hundreds of people in attendance. The traditional reception that follows the ceremony can be as simple as cookies and punch in the church or as elaborate as a large sit-down dinner held at a local hotel with a dance and a private orchestra following the dinner. Sometimes people are invited only to the wedding or only to the reception. At any rate, these events can usually be attended only by invitation. One very popular tradition associated with weddings is, once again, the shower that we mentioned in relation to birth. At this shower given before the wedding, the bride-to-be receives gifts to help her set up her new household, such as electrical appliances, sheets, towels, and pots and pans. In addition to shower gifts, wedding gifts are also expected from people who receive wedding invitations. Occasionally people choose not to have any kind of religious service at their wedding and opt to get married in a civil ceremony in a government building. However, a civil ceremony is not necessary if a couple decides to get married in a religious ceremony. Priests, ministers, and rabbis are legally empow­ered to marry couples, and it is not necessary to have both a civil and a religious ceremony. By the way, there’s an interesting tradition asso­ciated with weddings that is rather hard to explain, but then many traditions are. It is said every bride at her wedding should be wearing or carrying "something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue." The bride will be checked at the last minute to be sure that she has one of each of these. There are some other customs similar to this one that are rather superstitious in nature. For example, people believe that it is bad luck for the groom to see the bride in her wedding dress before the ceremony. And immediately following the ceremony, as the couple leave the church, people at the ceremony will throw rice at them to signal fertility—that is, a hope that they will have many children. Some churches and other places where weddings are held have recently banned the throwing of rice as being hazardous to guests who can slip and fall on it. Some suggest throwing rose petals or some other substitute for the rice.

In addition to birth and marriage, every society has to deal with death. Once again, it is hard to generalize about the customs surrounding death. Each religious group has ways to help its members cope with the loss of a family member or friend. For most people, religious or not, there are many decisions to be made at the time of a death. One deci­sion is whether to have a funeral held in a church or in a funeral home. Another decision is whether to have the body cremated or not. If the body is cremated, a memorial service is held rather than a funeral. If the body is not cremated, a decision must be made about whether to display the body or not at the funeral. A day or two before the funeral, it is also quite common to hold a wake at a funeral home where the body is displayed in its casket. At the wake the family receives those people who wish to express their sympathy to the bereaved.

At the funeral service it is customary for a religious leader to speak some words of comfort for the bereaved. In addition, a eulogy is usu­ally given by someone close to the deceased person. Sometimes many people will speak about the good deeds of the person who has died. After the religious ceremony, the body is usually taken to a cemetery, where it will be buried after another brief religious service. Of course, most people learn of the death of someone they know from the per­son’s family, but notices of funeral services are also printed in the newspaper, and anyone who wishes to attend the service is expected to without a personal invitation from the family. People who knew the deceased casually, but who want to express their condolences, usually send a "sympathy" card to the family. It is traditional to send flowers to a funeral, but it is important to check with a florist to be sure to send the correct kind of flowers. It’s sometimes important to know what kind of clothes to wear to a wedding or a funeral. Tradi­tionally the bride wears white, and guests at the wedding are free to wear whatever colors they like, except for women, who do not wear white. At a funeral, it used to be necessary to wear black to show grief, but today this custom is no longer observed.

As I said before, in a society so large and diverse as the United States, customs can vary greatly from area to area, among different social, ethnic, and economic groups, and even from generation to generation.

I have tried to give you some idea of customs and traditions that are generally accepted, but, of course, it’s always wise to ask if you find yourself in a situation where you might be invited or expected to par­ticipate in one of these events. When in doubt, ask.

III. POSTLISTENING ACTIVITY

A. Accuracy Check

1. When are baby showers usually given?

2. What are two recent changes concerning the custom of baby showers?

3. What do we call the Christian religious service held after a baby is born?

4. Who traditionally pays for an American wedding?

5. Do most American couples have a civil ceremony or a religious ceremony when they get married?

6. What four things does tradition say a bride should have at her wed­ding?

7. By custom, who should not see the bride in her wedding dress before the wedding ceremony?

8. Under what circumstances is a memorial service held instead of a funeral?

9. What two things are often sent to the family of the deceased or to a funeral?

10. What color shouldn’t a woman wear as a guest at a wedding?

Read More

POSTLISTENING

A. Accuracy Check

Listen to the following questions, and write short answers. You will hear each question one time only.

1. _

2. __

3. ________________________________________________________________

4. ________________________________________________________________

5. ________________________________________________________

6. ___________________________________________________________________________

7. T____________________________

8.

10.__________________________________________________________________

Follow-up: Check your answers with your teacher. If your score is less than 70 percent, you may need to listen to the lecture again or rewrite your notes so that you can understand and use them later.

B. Oral Activities

1. Review

In pairs, use your notes to reproduce sections of the lecture. Student A will present the introduction and subtopic 1 including details to Stu­dent B. Student В will present subtopic 2 including details. Check what you hear against your notes. If you don’t understand or you disagree with what you hear, wait until your partner finishes. Then bring your notes into agreement by seeking clarification, as follows:

• I don’t think the lecturer said 60 percent of the workforce were women in 1999.

• Could you repeat what you said about the average per capita income in 1999?

• Did you understand the meaning of "a rising trend"?

2. Transfer

If you and your classmates come from different countries, prepare a short oral report about work in your country, covering the points be­low. Work with other students from your country.

If your classmates are all from the same country, discuss work in your country as a class, covering the points below.

• how work changed over the last century

• what kind of work most people in your country do

• what percentage of women arc employed

• how many hours a week most people work

• whether things are getting better for workers or not

C. Collaboration: Discussion

Discuss the following questions in small groups. Appoint one person to report your group’s opinions to the class.

1. Do you think most people are happy to leave farms to go work in industry? Explain your answer.

2. Is there ever a good reason for children to work? Why or why not?

3. Should women have the same opportunities to be employed as men, both before and after they are married? Give reasons.

4. Should the government set the number of weeks of vacation workers get each year? Why or why not?

5. Should workers share in the profits of the companies they work for? Explain your answer.

D. Pursuing the Topic

The following are recommended for a closer look at work in the United States:

Books/Periodicals/Internet

Schor, Juliet B. The Overworked American. New York: Basic Books, 1993.

In her best-selling book, Schor concluded that Americans worked an average of one month more per year in 1990 than in 1970.

Ciulla, Joanne B. The Working Life. New York: Times Books, 2000. Ciulla concludes that Americans let their work define them, which is dangerous as companies generally see workers as replaceable cogs.

Fraser, Jill Andresky. The White-Collar Sweatshop. New York: W. W. Norton St Company, 2002.

From her five years of interviews across the country with white – collar workers, Frazier describes what she believes has gone wrong and suggests possible solutions for workers.

Films/Videos

American Dream, Barbara Kopple, director; 100 minutes, no rating.

The film shows the attempts of workers at a huge meat-packing plant to negotiate salaries with the help of their union.

Interview

Interview an American who has worked at a job for at least five years. Beforehand, prepare interview questions as a class to ask. Here are some suggestions:

• where the person works

• how long he or she has worked there

• how he or she feels about the job

• what the person’s favorite and least favorite parts of the job are

• four to five additional questions the class is interested in •

During the interview, write down the answers to the questions, and later share the information with your classmates.

Variation: Invite an American to visit your class, and have the whole class interview him or her by using the questions you wrote.

Read More

Public Education

Philosophy and Funding

I. PRELISTENING

A. Discussion

Discuss the following questions with your classmates:

• What kind of school do you think this is, public or private?

• Who do you think pays for the education that the children who attend this school receive?

• Where do most parents in your country prefer to send their children, to private or public schools?

Q B. Vocabulary and Key Concepts

Read through the sentences, trying to imagine which words would fit in the blanks. Then listen to a dictation of the full sentences, and write the missing words in the blanks.

1. Education in the United States is_________________________

until a certain age or grade level.

2. A small percentage of students attend private schools, either reli­gious or, but most attend public

schools.

3. There is no nationwide_________________________ , nor are there

nationwide_________________________ examinations set by the

federal government.

4. The federal government influences public education by providing

________________________ for special programs such as educa­tion for the and bilingual education.

5. Control of education in the United States is mainly

6. Each state has many school districts run by school boards whose

members are________________________ by voters of the

district.

7. The amount of funding supplied by the state and by the local

school districts_________________________ over time and from

state to state.

8. Public schools are funded to_________________________

_________________________________________________ by local

taxes.

9. Government funding of private schools, which are generally

religious schools, is now and has been________________________

for some time.

10. Charter schools are________________________ public schools

that_________________________ with regular public schools for

students.

11. Charter schools operate under_______________________ to a

sponsor, usually a state or local school board, to whom they are

12. of the voucher concept believe that

private schools offer better education.

13. of the voucher concept claim that

using tax money for private schools__________________________

the separation of church and state built into the U. S. Constitution.

14. The federal government in 2002, passed an educational

________________________ that requires states that wish

to receive certain federal funding to develop and put in place extensive testing programs and other systems to ensure

________________________ " of students.

Follow-up: Check the spelling of the dictated words with your teacher.

Discuss the meanings of these words and any other unfamiliar words

in the sentences.

C. Predictions

Using the photograph and the vocabulary exercise as a starting point, write three questions that you think will be answered in the lecture.

Example: • What are the other responsibilities of the local school

districts?

1.

2.

3.

Follow-up: After you have written your questions, share them with your teacher and your classmates.

Q D. Notetaking Preparation

1. Structuring: Outlining

A good notetaker structures his or her notes. As you develop this skill, add numbers and letters to show the organization of your notes. Part of this chapter’s lecture is presented here for you to practice this skill before you listen to the complete lecture. Complete the outline below with information from subtopic 1. Some information is included in this outline to help keep you on track. Fill in the rest as you listen. Take a minute now to look over the outline to see where you need to fill in information.

ST1 Three levels of control

A. _________________________

1. Sets basic curriculum

B. School district

1. Numbers depend on

2. Responsibilities

a.

b.

c.

■’ r. уллй ан»іми, ііііц ^

C.

1. Teachers’ responsibilities

a.

b.

2. Rhetorical Cues

Read the following sentences, which contain rhetorical cues to help you follow the organization of the lecture. Decide in which order you will hear them. Number them from first (1) to sixth (6).

__ a. Control of education in the United States is mainly

exercised locally at three levels. Let’s begin with the state department of education.

__ b. The first issue deals with the inequality of educational

opportunities that students face.

__ c. Finally, I’d like to discuss three issues related to the funding

of schools that have been receiving a lot of attention recently in the United States.

__ d. The second level of control is the school district.

__ e. The second issue is the issue of funding for private schools.

__ f. The third level of control is the individual school itself.

II – LISTENING_______________________________________________

£/! A. First Listening

Listen for general ideas. After an introduction in which the lecturer mentions distinguishing features of public education in the United States, she goes on to discuss the three levels of control on education within each state. You already have notes on ST1 in Section 1 D. l. She then goes on to explain how funding contributes to local control. Finally, she discusses three important issues related to how public ed­ucation is funded. As you listen, write the subtopics in the appropriate places and details you have time for. Structure your notes like the example in Section 1. D. l.

Introduction:

ST2

ST1

Follow-up: Check your major subtopics with your teacher before you listen to the lecture for the second time.

Q B. Further Listening

While structuring the notes, write down remaining relevant information.

Follow-up: Check your notes. If you missed important information or have doubts about your notes, (1) verify them by asking a classmate questions to fill the gaps in your notes or (2) listen to the lecture a third time. When verifying your notes with a classmate, do not show each other your notes,- ask specific questions to get the information you need.

Examples: • Who is responsible for the hiring of teachers? Is it the

school district or the individual school itself?

• Where does the largest percentage of money for the pub­lic schools come from? Is it from the state or the local school district?

• What are the major differences between charter schools and voucher schools?

This is also a good time to check to see if the lecturer answered your Predictions questions about the lecture.

(и) A Accuracy Check

Listen to the following questions, and write short answers. You will hear each question one time only.

1. _________________________________________________________

2.

3.

4.

5.

6.

7.

8.

9.

10. __________________________________________________

Follow-up: Check your answers with your teacher. If your score is less than 70 percent, you may need to listen to the lecture again or rewrite your notes so that you can understand and use them later.

B. Oral Activities

1. Review

In groups of four, use your notes to reproduce sections of the lecture. Student A will present the introduction, and Student В will present subtopic 1, including details. Student C will present subtopic 2 with details and Student D, subtopic 3 with details. Check what you hear against your notes. If you don’t understand or you disagree with what you hear, wait until the speaker finishes. Then bring your notes into agreement by seeking clarification, as follows.

• Excuse me, can you tell me what two functions of the state government are?

• Could you repeat what you said about public education in the nineteenth century?

• I’m afraid my notes about taxes are different from yours.

Discuss with a classmate how the educational system in your country is different from that in the United States. Try to use some of the ideas and vocabulary from Vocabulary and Key Concepts—for example, nationwide curriculum, standardized examinations, required courses, electives, control, compulsory.

C. Collaboration: Summary

Work with a partner, and use your notes to write a summary of the lec­ture in no more than 125 words. Be sure to include information about public and private schools, funding and control of schools, and current issues in U. S. public education.

Follow-up: Share your summary with at least one other pair. Tell the other pair what you particularly like about their summary.

D. Pursuing the Topic

The following are recommended for a closer look at public education issues in the United States:

Books/Periodicals/Internet

www. ed. gov

Explore the Web site of the U. S. Department of Education to find out about current topics in public education.

http://nces. ed. gov

Explore the Web site of the National Center for Education Statis­tics to find current statistics and research on education in the United States.

Films/Videos

Stand and Deliver, Roman Menendez, director; 104 minutes, PG.

This film is based on the true story of a high school teacher who tried to inspire students and raise academic standards in a U. S. inner-city, minority neighborhood school.

Dead Poets’ Society, Peter Weir, director,* 129 minutes, PG.

This film depicts the efforts of a teacher who uses poetry to inspire private preparatory school students to be more expressive and to “seize the moment, ” with unexpected dramatic results.

Interview

Interview a U. S. citizen who attended public schools to find out his or her view on some of the issues highlighted in the lecture. Beforehand, write questions as a class to ask

• the person’s opinion of his or her public school education

• what he or she thinks are the best and worst things about public schools

• what the person thinks about tax money in the form of vouchers going to private schools

• what he or she thinks about prayer in public schools

• any other questions your class is interested in

Write down the answers to the questions, and share the informa­tion with your classmates.

Variation: Invite an American to visit your class, and have the whole class interview him or her using the questions that you wrote.

Field Trip

If you are studying in the United States, it may be possible for your instructor to make arrangements for your class to visit a local public elementary, middle, or high school. Although the details of such visits have to be worked out with the school you visit, American students will be curious about your country and culture, so be prepared to answer questions.

Read More

Public Education: Philosophy and Funding

I. PRELISTENING

B. Vocabulary and Key Concepts

1. Education in the United States is compulsory until a certain age or grade level.

2. A small percentage of students attend private schools, either reli­gious or secular, but most attend public schools.

3. There is no nationwide curriculum, nor are there nationwide standardized examinations set by the government.

4. The federal government influences public education by providing funds for special programs such as education for the handicapped and bilingual education.

5. Control of education in the United States is mainly exercised locally.

6. Each state has many school districts run by school boards whose members are elected by voters of the district.

7. The amount of funding supplied by the state and by the local school districts fluctuates over time and from state to state.

8. Public schools are funded to a great degree by local taxes.

9. Funding for private schools, which are generally religious schools, is now and has been controversial for some time.

10. Charter schools are nonsectarian public schools that compete with regular public schools for students.

11. Charter schools operate under contract to a sponsor, usually a state or local school board, to whom they are accountable.

12. Supporters of the voucher concept believe that private schools offer better education.

13. Opponents of the voucher concept claim that using tax money for private schools violates the separation of church and state built into the U. S. Constitution.

14. The federal government in 2002 passed an educational bill that re­quires states that wish to receive certain federal funding to develop and put in place extensive testing programs and other systems to ensure "adequate yearly progress" of students.

D. Notetaking Preparation

1. Structuring: Outlining <script>

Control of education in the United States is mainly exercised locally at three levels. Let’s begin with the state department of education.

The department of education of each of the fifty states has two basic functions. First, each state department of education sets basic curricu­lum requirements for all the schools in its state. For example, a high school might require four years of English, three years of math, two years of social science, and so forth. The state also sets the number of credits a student must complete in order to graduate from a high school. This total number of credits includes both required courses and electives. So much for the state part in education.

The second level of control is the school district. The number of school districts a state has depends on the size of its population and the size of the state. A large metropolitan area would have several school districts. A smaller community might have only one district. Each school district is run by a school board that is elected by the citizens of the district. The school district is responsible for the specific content of courses taught in its schools. In other words, the school district

determines what the students will study in each of their, let’s say, four years of high school English. The school district also decides what elec­tives will be available for students. Besides determining course con­tent, the school district is responsible for the operation of the schools in its district, for example, the hiring of teachers and administrators. The third level of control is the individual school itself, where teachers have primary responsibility for deciding how to teach the content of each course and for preparing and giving examinations to the students.

II. LISTENING

LECTURE: Public Education: Philosophy and Funding

Most young people in the United States today, like most young people around the world, attend public schools. Indeed, young people in the U. S. have to attend school because education is compulsory, in most states to the age of sixteen or until the students reach ninth grade.

A small percentage of American youth attend private schools, either religious or secular schools, but the vast majority attend public schools. One distinguishing feature of U. S. public education that sur­prises many foreigners is that although there are some standardized examinations, there is no nationwide curriculum set by the govern­ment. Nor are there nationwide standardized examinations set by the government. In contrast, in most countries a government ministry of education determines the curriculum that all students study and the examinations that all students take at a set time. Of course, U. S. stu­dents follow a curriculum, and they take examinations as all students do. Although the federal government does influence public education by providing funds to schools for special programs such as education for the handicapped and for bilingual education, the fed­eral government does not determine the curriculum or the examina­tions. Today I’d like to talk about the three levels of control within each state and then spend some time discussing where the money for education comes from and three issues related to funding.

Control of education in the United States is mainly exercised locally at three levels. Let’s begin with the state department of education.

The department of education of each of the fifty states has two basic functions. First, each state department of education sets basic curricu­lum requirements for all the schools in its state. For example, a high school might require four years of English, three years of math, two years of social science, and so forth. The state also sets the number of credits a student must complete in order to graduate from a high school. This total number of credits includes both required courses and electives. So much for the state part in education.

The second level of control is the school district. The number of school districts a state has depends on the size of its population and the size of
the state. A large metropolitan area would have several school districts. A smaller community might have only one district. Each school district is run by a school board that is elected by the citizens of the district. The school district is responsible for the specific content of courses taught in its schools. In other words, the school district determines what the students will study in each of their, let’s say, four years of high school English. The school district also decides what elec­tives will be available for students. Besides determining course con­tent, the school district is responsible for the operation of the schools in its district, for example, the hiring of teachers and administrators. The third level of control is the individual school itself, where teachers have primary responsibility for deciding how to teach the content of each course and for preparing and giving examinations to the students.

Local control of schools may seem very strange to some of you, but it will seem less strange if you consider how public schools in the United States are funded—that is, where money to run the schools comes from. Only about 7 percent of the money comes from the federal government. The rest of the money comes from state and local taxes. The percentages supplied by the state and by the local school districts fluctuate over time and from state to state. Currently approximately 49 percent of school funding comes from the states and about 44 per­cent comes from the local communities, that is, the school districts.

Finally, I’d like to discuss three issues related to the funding of schools that have been receiving a lot of attention recently in the United States. The first issue deals with the inequality of educational oppor­tunity that students face. Because public schools are funded to a great degree by local taxes, this means that schools in poorer communities or poorer parts of large cities do not have the same amount of money as schools located in richer communities. This, in turn, means that children from poorer areas are less likely to receive a good education than children from wealthier areas. The second issue, one that has been controversial since the beginning of public education, is the issue of funding for private schools, which are generally rim by religious organizations. As you already know, the First Amendment to the U. S. Constitution mandates separation of church and state. A little back­ground on the history and development of public education will be useful here.

During colonial times, education was largely a religious concern and most schools were supported by religious organizations. However, dur­ing the nineteenth century, there was widespread support and accep­tance of public education paid for by taxes as the best way to provide equal educational opportunity for all children. Nevertheless, some parents have always chosen to send their children to either private religious schools or private schools devoted to academic excellence. Because private schools are not funded by the government, parents have had to pay tuition to send their children to private schools. Peo­ple who have wanted to send their children to private schools have long

questioned why they should have to pay taxes for public schools at the same time as they pay private tuition for their children’s education.

Although this issue is not new, during the last twenty years or so, more parents have become unhappy about what they perceive to be the increasingly secular nature of public education and prefer to send their children to schools where they will receive an education more in line with their religious beliefs. Other parents are concerned about the questionable quality of education in public schools. These concerns have led to efforts by the school system, and the government, to offer alternative educational opportunities, that is, educational choices.

Two of the most important responses to these concerns have been charter schools and school vouchers. Both of these alternatives to reg­ular public education are based on the idea that competition in the ed­ucational market is a good thing, but otherwise, they differ quite a bit.

Charter schools are nonsectarian public schools that compete with regular public schools for students. Charter schools operate under con­tract to a sponsor, usually a state or local school board. Charter schools are accountable to their sponsors, the parents who choose to send their children to them, and the public that funds them through their tax money. In turn, charter schools generally have greater auton­omy, that is, independence, over selection of teachers, curriculum, resources, and so on, than regular public schools. The first charter schools came into existence toward the end of the 1980s. By 2003, there were 2,695 charter schools with almost 685,000 students en­rolled. This was a 15 percent increase over the year 2002, which shows how fast these schools are growing. There are many issues surround­ing charter schools, but a study published in 2003 found that charter school students did a little better than their public school counter­parts on standardized exams.

The school voucher concept is a much more controversial one than charter schools. The idea behind school vouchers is that the govern­ment provides students with a certain amount of money each year that they can use to attend whatever school they choose, public or private. The idea again is that competition will improve the education students receive. Voucher schools in reality are largely private schools, and most often religiously based schools. They are quite different from charter schools, which as public schools are first of all, nonsectarian, that is, not religious. Second, charter schools cannot apply restrictive admission standards, as public schools do. To date, voucher programs funded by taxpayers are operating in only three U. S. cities, and there are many court battles over the voucher system. Supporters of the voucher system feel very strongly that private schools offer better edu­cation than public schools. Those opposed to the voucher system claim that vouchers rob public schools of needed funding and that voucher schools do not truly provide school choice because of restric­tive admissions standards, which can include academic performance, religion, sex, and other factors. Opponents of vouchers also strongly

believe that using taxpayer funds for private religious schools violates the separation of church and state built into the U. S. Constitution.

The third and final issue I’d like to touch on today is also very contro­versial. I mentioned earlier that the United States does not have a nationwide curriculum nor nationwide exams set by the government. However, in the past fifteen or twenty years, there has been an in­creased emphasis in various states on raising standards and on giving students standardized exams to monitor their progress. The federal government in 2002 passed a sweeping education bill that requires states that wish to receive certain federal funding to develop and put in place extensive testing programs and other systems to ensure ade­quate yearly progress of students. Although the percentage of funding for schools from the federal government is relatively small, it still rep­resents a lot of money that schools do not want to lose. Some people support this movement toward standardization and accountability in the educational system, while others see it as a dangerous step away from local control of schools.

No one can predict the future of public education in the United States, but it appears that the emphasis on educational choice and on ac­countability of the educational system for student results will be with us for a long time.

III. POSTLISTENING

A. Accuracy Check

1. What two things about the American educational system often surprise people from other countries?

2. What are the three levels of control of education found in each state?

3. What is one type of decision that the state department of education might make?

4. How are the people on a school board selected?

5. From what three sources does the money come to pay for Ameri­can public schools, and what percentage of that money comes from each of these three sources?

6. During the colonial period, who generally ran the schools that children attended?

7. During which century did public education paid for by taxes become widely accepted as the best way to provide education for all children?

8. What do we call nonsectarian public schools that operate quite independently under contract, usually to a school district?

9. What kind of schools do students with vouchers usually attend?

10. How do opponents of the movement toward standardized exams and accountability view this movement?

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UIMIT QUIZ DIRECTIONS

Now that you have completed the chapters in this unit, your teacher may want you to take a quiz. Your teacher will tell you whether or not you can use your notes to answer the questions on the quiz. If you can use your notes, review them before taking the quiz so that you can anticipate the questions and know where to find the answers. If you cannot use your notes, study them carefully before you take the quiz, concentrating on organizing the information into main ideas and de­tails that support these main ideas.

Work in small groups to help each other anticipate the questions your teacher will ask. Before breaking up into groups, review your notes and highlight important, noteworthy points. After reviewing your notes, break up into groups. Discuss and write specific short-an­swer questions and more general essay questions. Follow these guide­lines in writing the questions:

Writing Short-Answer Questions

Short-answer questions…

• should be specific, easy to answer in a few words or two sentences at most.

• should be clearly stated so that it is obvious what answer is wanted.

• should ask for facts, not opinions or information outside the lecture.

Exercise 1

Judge these questions by the above criteria. Mark each question + if it is good and – if it is bad. Discuss reasons for your choices, citing the criteria above.

___ 1. Talk about the U. S. worker.

___ 2. Do workers in your country work harder than workers in the

United States?

___ 3. What is the basic difference between the service industries and

other industries?

__ 4. In 1999 what percentage of U. S. women were working?

___ 5. Compare the U. S. worker in 1900 with the U. S. worker in 1999.

Writing Essay Questions

Essay questions…

• are usually in the form of a statement.

• are more general and require at least a paragraph—that is, several sentences—to answer fully.

• usually begin with a headword such as discuss, describe, explain, compare and contrast, list, analyze, or summarize. These head­words explain the writer’s purpose in answering the question:

1. to give all sides of the topic (discuss)

2. to give all the important details of something (describe)

3. to make something clear by giving reasons or by explaining how to do it (explain)

4. to write the similarities and differences (compare and contrast)

5. to name the parts of something, one by one (list)

6. to break something into its logical parts in order to explain it (analyze)

7. to write something in a shorter form, giving the main ideas and omitting the details (summarize)

Exercise 2

Judge these questions by the above characteristics. Mark each question + if it is good and – if it is bad. Discuss reasons for your choices, citing the characteristics above.

___ 1. Compare the U. S. worker in 1900 and 1999.

___ 2. List the percentage of U. S. women who were working in 1999.

___ 3. Discuss the child labor laws that were in place by 1999.

___ 4. Discuss the U. S. workers today in terms of productivity and

wages.

Write your group’s questions on the following pages.

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UNIT QUIZ DIRECTIONS

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