A Visit to a US Elementary School


It was Sunday, October 19. Alpana and Rakesh had invited us to join them in a carnival with their kids. Montair Elementary School, the public school of Keshav and Anvita in San Ramon had organized it for fund raising as mission. Rakesh said, ‘a middle class Americans can’t afford private school in US’. For those in India whose children are in US keep on boasting about their salaries in US converted in Indian currency. But that fat salaries can’t buy a good school for their own children. Is it not surprising? As I understand, almost all young parents in Noida must be sending their children in private schools. Every sector of Noida is having a good private school. It is unlikely that anyone except from the very menial workers such as maids and cart pullers send one’s child in government schools.

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The elementary school in US covers KG to class V. Rakesh and Alpana took us through the carnival, that didn’t have anything unusual. However, the book fair was a unique idea. There was a section where a parent could buy the books for the class teachers of their kids. Moreover, the fair makes it easy for the children to get exposed, attracted and interested in books. The school was closed. But I could see some part of school. The creativity center, science centre, and the beds for plantation made me feel happy and excited. Even in this totally urban population, the school tries to make the kids plant some flowers or teach its need. The science centre imparts basic science knowledge through models and easy to carry out experiments. The creativity centre provides the means to find out the special interest in the pupils. I wish India could emulate the concept of creativity centers in every school. I don’t think it means a lot of investment. The education must provide facilities to identify and further the latent creativity in every student. I could find the website of the school that provides interesting information.

All the while I was thinking about the public schools in India. Yamuna was associated with one in our own sector that is maintained by Noida Authority. I can’t draw any comparison. Media of both the countries express concerns about the poor rather miserably poor condition of government schools. In US, parents keep a watch of the locality with better public schools based on ratings that are easily available through Internet and shift. Perhaps, in India too, a system of rating system of all the schools by an independent authority must start to help the parents.

Rakesh feels the American system is pretty good. In a chapter on American Power in ‘The Post-American World’, Fareed Zakaria writes, ‘it (American education system) is much better at developing the critical faculties of mind, which is what you need to succeed in life. Other educational systems teach you to take tests; the American system teaches you to think. It is surely this quality that goes some way in explaining why America produces so many entrepreneurs, inventors, and risk takers. It’s America, not Japan that produces dozens of Nobel Prize winners.” US certainly gives a lot of importance to education.US is going to invest $18 billion to overhaul of the nation’s public education system over the next few years. It was clear during the campaign and even now. We are happy. We can dream a better future of our grand children, who are all American citizens by birth.

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