Education: Advantage USA

Emma became five in July 9, 2012. Emma has started going to KG class in Turner Creek Elementary School. That is at a walking distance from our residence in the Harmony Community across the road in Cary. Shannon and Anand shifted here two years ago from Pleasanton in California. Emma’s school runs all the year with a three weeks break after every nine weeks.

Turner Creek Elementary School, Cary

Emma will be in this elementary school up to class V. She will shift to middle school for class VI to VIII, and thereafter to secondary school for up to XII. Education for K-12up (KG to class XII) is free in US and funded by the government. North Carolina has accepted the new education initiative of the internationally bench-marked Common Core State Standards. I wish Indian states could take a similar step to sort out the problems arising out of some two dozen or more of state boards for secondary and higher secondary education.

I find the parents decide the places of residence based on the quality of the nearest schools for their children when they shift. They access the quality of the schools based on the ratings available on websites. There are private schools but only very few perhaps for the HNIs. I assume Harmony’s builder would have selected this site because it was so conveniently placed near a good Elementary School. Shannon and Anand would also have the school in mind before selecting the community before relocation. I know Rajesh who has shifted recently to Austin also selected the house near the good school for Svanik.

Because of my interest, I take every opportunity to visit the schools of the kids. I had been to the graduation function of Emma’s play school, ‘Kids’R’Kids’. I also attended the orientation session of Emma’s KG class in Turner Creek Elementary School. All the teachers introduced themselves and talked about the school. I also saw her class rooms. Everything appeared to me very impressive.

Anand and Shannon are pretty much concerned about the school of the kids. Even for the play school they preferred the inconvenience of the one at certain distance rather than selecting the nearest one. As a grandfather, I feel extremely happy with the amount of their parental concern about the education of the kids. They keep on researching.

On my morning walk I find many kids from the community who are of Emma’s age waiting for the orange buses of North Carolina Public School. They go to the schools that are at some distance from the community. Anand explained me about the different types of schools in US.

Schools are three types: Public, Charter and Magnet. It will be interesting to know the specialties between Public and Charter as well as Charter and Magnet schools.

Shannon selected Turner Creek Elementary as it was so near. Emma can leave home at around 8.45 AM and returns by 3.45PM. Many times I have taken and brought Emma from the school in this short time. The school is fully air-conditioned with all the facilities inside such as library or creativity rooms. As per Shannon, all schools even in distant corners of US are almost having similar facilities. Naturally that is something that we from India can’t even aspire. How can it be so good there with the limited resources and poor governance?

Interestingly, it will be good to know that the Indian national education budget ($11.6 billion in 2010-2011) is a mere 1.2% of the US equivalent ($972 billion)!

After visiting the website of Turner creek Elementary School, I came to know about the advantages provided through the digital media. Emma’s teacher is having her own e-mail ID and a website too. She can communicate to any of her students as well as his or her parents. The site also has a lot of reading materials facilities to share information.

I have also visited the government school in Noida as well as in Pipra, my village in Bihar. I feel morose but hope and dream one day some miracle will happen.

Higher education in US, even for the US citizens, is pretty costly. Anand is really concerned about the money that will be required to send the two kids for the higher education at the interval of two years, after they complete class XII. If they get admission in any good university, the education will cost anything around $1, 00, 000 or more per year for four years, unless they get some assistant-ships. Alternatively, they can go for education loan from the banks. A large number of Americans do that. Anand very rightly doesn’t want his kids to graduate with a huge loan.

Higher education is good but costly in US. The student debt has become an important issue in US that has come up in the presidential election campaign too. As per one estimate, ‘the average student graduates college with around $22,000 to $27,000 in debt’. According to Kantrowitz, 36.2 percent of law school graduates and 49.0 percent of medical school graduates graduated with six-figure debt. And naturally, that becomes the reason for the young boys and girls to start working part-time. That has still not reached that serious level in India.

Even with so impressive education system, American President keeps on cautioning the Americans about the growing challenges from the students of China and India. It shows the concern of the nation to keep on improving the education system that really decides the ranking of a nation in the world.

Many in India are also concerned about the poor standard of education, particularly the one available in rural India. Education must become the priority number one. And it will involve the stupendous task of making even the illiterate and ignorant deprived parents in rural India aware about the role of education.

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