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Ryan Janson

Dr. Mwenja

English 104

14 April 2018

Failing Schools in Montgomery

In a society centered so much around education, the notion that a school system could be

allowed to fail is mind blowing. Not only is education encouraged in the United States, but

getting an education required by law. In the modern age, getting an education is necessary to live

a more comfortable life. The U.S. standard of living, defined by the Organization for Economic

Co-operation and Development, is an income of $30,000 per year, which is easier to obtain if

one has an education. Whether it’s high school or college, some level of degree is required to

enter the work force and begin earning a livable wage. Alabama public schools aren’t doing their

job, and that is having a huge impact on the educations of tens of thousands of students in the

capital city Montgomery. The level of education in Montgomery, Alabama, negatively affects

the futures of thousands of students and creates a situation where students are not taught to

succeed, but instead are faced with unhealthy situations.

There is a total of seventy-six failing schools across the whole state of Alabama, ten of

those being found in Montgomery alone. Those failing public schools account for thousands of

students in Montgomery, thousands of students being failed, going into life being unprepared and

uneducated by a system that is not only supposed to educate them, but also ready them to provide

for the rest of their lives. A failing school is defined as having test scores lower than the 60th

percentile, those being tested in the 10th grade. There are far more schools falling into the

category based on tests statistics than are earn the label of a failing school, with a total of 39
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earning F’s on their report cards but only 16 earning the failing school title according to the

Alabama Accountability Act. Attending a failing school effects, a person’s education through

their life, which then connects to incarceration rates and other incredibly important statistics.

Education in Alabama, most importantly Montgomery, Alabama, is very poor when

compared to the national standard. Montgomery falls short of being the largest city in Alabama,

but what it lacks in population it makes up for in being the capital city. Being the capital city, it

would make sense for Montgomery to be a leader in public education in the state, but there

Montgomery falls short. In fact, the city of Montgomery falls extremely short. Found in the state

capital is a huge problem, that is the public-school system. Montgomery public schools are

plagued by failing schools or schools right on the edge of failure. An issue that has existed for

several years and has found little being done to try and change it.

The education of future Americans is one of, if not the most important issues facing our

country today. Education has been tied to countless important topics, including: crime rates,

incarceration rates, future economic standing/influence, and future social standing/influence. All

these topics have been tied directly to education levels and have direct correlations to the quality

of education an individual receives.

Lack of education plays a role in the amount of crime in the Montgomery area. Crime in

America costs the taxpayers an incredible amount of money, totaling over $200 billion in

economic losses each year. Research starting in the seventies shows a direct relationship between

crime rates and the level of education an individual has received (Ehrlich). According to the

research done by the Alliance for Excellent Education, “67 percent of inmates in America’s state

prisons, 56 percent of federal inmates, and 69 percent of inmates in local jails did not complete

high school.” The statistic shows how imperative getting a degree can be to one’s future. In the
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case of male students, lower levels of education have been directly tied to increased arrest and

incarceration rates (Coalition for Juvenile Justice). Receiving a high school diploma opens doors

into earning a manageable salary, thus increasing the cost of crime, making crime not worth the

risk. I argue that someone is far more likely to partake in criminal activities if they are a high

school drop out than if they are a high school graduate. A couple of key findings from the

Coalition for Juvenile Justice back up my claim by saying “Youth who drop out of school are

three and a half times more likely than high school graduates to be arrested.” Earning a good

high school education is so important in the America we live in today, as education influences so

much in a person’s life.

With over 700,000 students being enrolled, the public-school system is incredibly

important, as public-schools are responsible for most high school students receiving an

education. Montgomery public schools are responsible for about 6,500 students (Johnson), which

compared to the other large school populations in Alabama that might not seem like a lot of

people. Even though Montgomery houses a low number of public-school students, the education

those students are receiving is low quality and is not preparing the students for the real world.

Montgomery has ten failing schools which make up thirteen percent of the failing schools in

Alabama (Crain). 6,500 students attend those failing schools, with the clear majority being

African American students. African Americans below the poverty line have proven to show an

increased rate of drop outs, with these students being five times more likely to drop out of high

school than those who are financially stable (APA).

Failing schools in Montgomery have huge consequences for the entire community.

Located in Montgomery is Maxwell-Gunter Air Force base, a key strategic base for the nation’s

defense. Maxwell-Gunter is home to the Air University along with more than 12,500 active duty,
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reserve, civilian, and contractor personal. Because of these high numbers, Maxwell-Gunter has a

huge economic influence on the River Region (Montgomery, Pratville, Wetumpka).

Montgomery public schools are starting to pose an issue on the Maxwell-Gunter Air Force base

because Air Force families do not want to live on the base because of the quality of education in

Montgomery. John Terino, an instructor at Air War College, has said that through discussions

with his students, he has discovered that families are nervous to move to Montgomery because of

the amount of failing public schools.

Many people disagree with the idea that the school system is the main problem behind

the quality of education in Montgomery. Some people put the fault on the students that attend

these schools instead of the administrators or school board. The NCTE refutes this argument

because the organization has proven that students in smaller classes perform better.

Unfortunately, in Alabama the average class size is 29 students (NCES) while the national high

school average is 24 (NYTimes). Another argument is that many of the students are beyond

saving, which in unreliable because few people can prove that theory until an experiment is done

and proven ineffective.

Since Montgomery is capital of the state, being able to boast about the city’s quality of

education would make living in Montgomery very desirable. The Montgomery school boards

need start talking about what needs to be improved in the school systems to be able to elevate the

quality of education for the students. The issue of public schools goes far beyond the immediate

impact the issue has on students. The quality of education impacts student’s futures, but it also

impacts the economy around them. Failing schools lead to increased crime rates, and it also leads

to lowered amounts of military families moving to Montgomery. For Montgomery to reach its

true potential, the public school system has to be revamped massively.

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Works Cited

“Abandoned in the Back Row: New Lessons in Delinquency Prevention.” Juvenile Justice, Juvenile

Justice, 2001,

“About Us.” Maxwell Air Force Base, United States Air Force,

“Analysis of the Financial Impact of the Alabama Accountability Act .” Federation for Children,

SummaSource at Auburn Montgomery, Jan. 2017,


Crain, Trisha. “76 Alabama Schools on 'Failing' List.”,, 23 Jan. 2019,

Crain, Trisha Powell. “Failing Alabama Public Schools: 75 on Newest List, Most Are High

Schools.”,, 31 Jan. 2018,

Ehrlich, Isaac. “On the Relation between Education and Crime.” Edited by Juster F Thomas, NBER, NBER,

1 Jan. 1975,

Fleener, Jayne. “Addressing Educations’ Most Intractable Problems: A Case of Failing

Schools.” Emergence: Complexity and Organization, no. 3–4, 2016, p. 1. EBSCOhost,


Glasmeier, Amy k. “Living Wage Calculation for Montgomery County, Alabama.” Living Wage Calculator -

Living Wage Calculation for Montgomery County, Alabama, Massachusetts Institute of

Technology, 2019,

Johnson, Krista. “Alabama Public Schools Enroll Nearly 5,000 Fewer Students.” The Montgomery

Advertiser, Montgomery Advertiser, 14 Dec. 2018,

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Johnson, Krista. “MPS Enrollment Shrinks by Nearly 600 Students.” The Montgomery Advertiser,

Montgomery Advertiser, 24 Oct. 2018,


Lochner, Lance, and Enrico Moretti. “The Effects of Education on Crime: Evidence from Prison Inmates,

Arrests, and Self Reports.” Berkeley, Berkeley, Oct. 2003,

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Program Evaluation.” Drug and Alcohol Dependence, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 1 Apr.


Neher, Chris, et al. “Budgeting for the Future: The Long-Term Impacts of Short-Term Thinking in

Alabama K-12 Education Funding.” Journal of Education Finance, no. 4, 2017, p. 448. EBSCOhost,

“Population of Cities in Alabama.” Population of Cities in Alabama (2019), World Population Review,


Rampell, Catherine. “Class Size Around the World.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 11 Sept.


Rumberger, Russell W. “Poverty and High School Dropouts.” American Psychological Association,

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“Saving Futures, Saving Dollars: The Impact of Education on Crime Reduction and Earnings.” All 4 Ed ,

Alliance for Excellent Education, Sept. 2013,


“Schools and Staffing Survey (SASS).” National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) Home Page, a Part

of the U.S. Department of Education, U.S. Department of Education,
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“United States.” OECD Better Life Index, Sodexo,


Weingarten, Randy. “A Decade of Neglect-Public Education Funding in the Aftermath of the Great

Recession.”, American Federation of Teachers,


“Where Does Alabama Place in the U.S. News Best States Rankings?” U.S. News & World Report, U.S.

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