At this stage in the history of education in this country, most education analysts who focus on the federal No Child Left Behind Act prefer to “assess time allocation” and the strengths and weaknesses of this controversial piece of federal legislation, but Terry Stoops , the Education Policy Analyst for the John Locke Foundation, a North Carolina- based “think tank,” compares “course enrollment to student enrollment growth,”referring specifically to what is happening with education in North Carolina.
For the academic year 2000 to 2001, North Carolina Public Schools offered students over 450 courses. This number increased to 500 courses in the school year 2005-2006 and includes “Afro-American Studies, American Indian Studies, Contemporary Issues in North Carolina, Geography in Action, Latino Studies,” and a wide range of other subject areas.
Ironically, there has also been “a notable decline in elementary school foreign language courses between 2005 and 2006,” Stoops reports. “In the elementary schools, since 2000, there has been a drop by 23% in the enrollment in these classes.”
According to Stoops, “problems with staffing foreign language courses are probably one reason why this has occurred.” In middle schools, while the student enrollment for this period from 2000 to 2006 has increased by 12 %, the enrollment in foreign languages went up by 7 %.
In elementary schools, there has been an astronomical growth in students enrolling for “miscellaneous” courses such as “library/media assistance.” This rose by nearly 350%.
While enrollment in this area increased significantly, there has been a dramatic decrease in the enrollment in such areas as language arts, social studies and even mathematics. At the same time, in middle schools, the enrollment in mathematics and language arts has increased has increased 15% and 17% respectively.
The high schools saw a 24% enrollment increase among students during the school years, 2001 to 2006, and enrollment in language arts, science, and social studies courses grew at a rate comparable to enrollment in mathematics and language arts which exceeded enrollment growth. The language arts enrollment grew to 43% while Mathematics grew 35%.
Believe it or not, there has been a sharp drop in the enrollment in computer skills. More high school students enrolled in community, college, university and virtual school courses.
Nirmala Punnusami is an intern at the American Journalism Center, a training program run jointly by Accuracy in Media and Accuracy in Academia.