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Education in Mexico and The United States. A history of the education systems of Mexico and the US. Surprising Statistic.

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education in mexico and the united states

Education in Mexico and The United States

A history of the education systems of Mexico and the US.

surprising statistic
Surprising Statistic
  • A 2005 poll by UNICEF comparing the child poverty rates of 20 rich countries placed the United States 19th out of 20, only ahead of Mexico. With this in mind, just how similar are the US and Mexican education systems? Are these alarming child poverty rates and education systems related?
mexican immigrant population
Mexican Immigrant Population
  • Mexico and the US have a long history of cultural, economic and educational interdependence. This economic interdependence has created a steady flow of Mexican labor into the US. This influx of immigrant workers necessitates a cooperation between the two countries to help maintain a consistent level of education amongst the children.
stamford public schools are ahead of the curve
Stamford Public Schools are ahead of the curve.
  • As a teacher in Stamford, I have a unique perspective on this growing population of Hispanic immigrants. The Stamford Advocate quoted Census Bureau statistics stating that as of 2011 25.4% of the city’s population identified itself as Hispanic. I interact with many Hispanic kids every day in my art class, and they come with a rich artistic culture, most from Mexico.
some milestones of education in mexico
Some milestones of education in Mexico
  • 1867: Benito Juarez declared that primary education would be nonreligious, free and obligatory.
  • 1917: Article 3 of the constitution gave the federal government great power over education and made all private schools subject to government regulation.
  • 1992: The constitution and related policies were changed to require education
organizational structure of schools in mexico
Organizational Structure of schools in Mexico.
  • Preschool and Primary:
    • Pre-Escolar- Federally funded programs for ages 4-5
    • Primaria- Schools with grades 1-6 and one teacher per grade.
    • Multigrados- One room schools, grade 1-6, with one teacher, or multi grade schools with several teachers each teaching more than one grade.
  • Middle Grades (7-9):
    • Secundarias- Enroll most nonrural students including those who are college bound.
    • Tecnicas- Schools that provide vocational training for non-college bound students.
    • Telesecundarias- Rural schools that offer a televised curriculum. These cover most rural students.

High School (10-12):

Preparatorias and Bachilleratos- College bound youth. Student choose one of four areas. Physical-Mathmatics, checmical-biological, economic-administrative, humanities.

    • Technologicas and Comercios- Students who have a particular vocational career in mind.
curriculum and instruction
Curriculum and Instruction
  • Mexican schools have a national education mandate. Since 1964, the Federal Government has provided free textbooks for students in the primary grades while grades 7-12 pay for their books.
  • Learning focuses on Spanish and math, geographic and ecological knowledge, and health and human sexuality.
  • There is a national exam at the end of each year. Students scoring less than 6/10 are retained.
curriculum and instruction1
Curriculum and Instruction
  • Secondary School is divided into content areas.
  • In grades 7-8 students take algebra and geometry while in grade 9 students take trigonometry.
  • Students study foreign language every year and science is required but limited by facilities.
  • Students also take 2-3 hours in the arts and tech each week, but again, this is hampered by the lack of proper facilities.
  • By the time they enter high school students choose between college study, technical or business.
overview of mexican school system
Overview of Mexican School System
  • National Curriculum and Free Text Books
  • Free and Mandatory Preschool to 9th grade.
  • Divided into levels: Preschool, Middle, High, Jr. College, Vocational, and University
  • Very few students progress past 9th grade
  • Arts and enrichment are mandatory but limited due to unavailable resources
american education system timeline
American Education System Timeline
  • 1647 The Massachusetts law was passed requiring all towns of 50 or more to have a school master
  • 1734 Christian von Wolfe develops Faculty Psychology which sets the basis for American Education. This consists of tedious drill and repetition of basic tasks leading towards higher learning.
  • 1827 Massachusetts passes a law requiring all towns with 500 families to have a high school.
  • 1852 Massachusetts enacts the first mandatory attendance law, all states follow suit by 1918
  • 1859 Darwin’s Origin of the Species is published, setting the stage for public school controversy that persists to this day
  • 1868 The 14th Amendment is passed granting all people born in the states citizenship, due process and equal protection under the law.
  • 1926 The SAT is first administered
  • 1946 The US District Court in LA rules that educating children of Mexican descent in separate facilities is unconstitutional, thus prohibiting segregration in CA schools.
us timeline extended
US Timeline Extended
  • 1948 The US Supreme Court rules that “release time” is not allowed, stopping religion from being studied in public schools.
  • 1953 Skinner’s Science and Human Behavior is published, greatly influencing American Education
  • 1957 Federal Troops are used to enforce integration in Arkansas
  • 1964 The Civil Rights law is passed, prohibiting any sort of discrimination based on race, color, sex, religion or national origin
  • 1982 Louisiana’s “creationism act” is invalidated, stopping the practice of teaching creationism wherever evolution is taught
  • 2001 No Child Left Behind is approved by congress
  • In comparing and contrasting the US and Mexico, the first major difference I have found is in the development of the education systems themselves. It seems that there are many more important milestones in the US education history than Mexico. While many of the US milestones focus on Civil Rights, it seems that the US has placed more emphasis on not only content, but the practice of education. It seems that Mexico has historicly placed less emphasis on education in terms of math and science (though they are catching up), and focused more on simply preparing it’s students to function in the world. This indeed causes a problem for immigrants going to school in the US.
organizational structure of schools in the united states
Organizational Structure of Schools in the United States.
  • Based on the constitution, the US has a decentralized system that reserves the power over education for each state. In general, there are several stages, Early Childhood, Elementary, Middle, High and Post High school. There are private and public schools. Public schools are paid for through local taxes.
  • Early Childhood: Preschool is not required for ages 1-4. However, most schools allow the enrollment of 4 year old kids who turn 5 by certain dates into Kindergarten.
  • Elementary School: Grades K-5 or 6. Kids are divided into classes within the school with each class containing one or more teachers, with many specialist teachers who either enter the classroom, or have their own room where the students visit
  • Middle School: Depending on location, grades 5, 6, 7, 8. In most schools, students travel to different subjects like Science, Math and Art.
  • High School: At this level, these tend to be comprehensive schools enrolling students of widely different interests and capabilities who follow different educational tracks within the same school.
  • Post High School: College and Universities, Vocational School, and many other options exist for post high school education. USNEI
variety in us schools
Variety in US Schools
  • There are many options in the us other than public education.
  • Private Schools: Determine their own policy and curriculum and are free from government regulation and funding. However, they do pay close attention to local public school curriculum to maintain equity for ease of transferring, and graduation requirements.
  • Charter Schools: Public schools established by parent groups to serve special needs or populations. They receive public funding but are free from district regulations. They typically receive a charter that defines how they will operate and must maintain this code in order to maintain the charter, funding and freedom of policy.
  • Magnet Schools: Public schools that maintain a special purpose or curriculum that receive public funding and are free to enroll students from the entire district.
  • Home Schooling: School performed at home, taught by parents, that still meets the local requirements for graduation and admission into college.
compare and contrast school structure
Compare and Contrast: School Structure
  • Schools in Mexico and the US follow the same basic structure of Early Childhood, Primary/Elementary, Secondary and post. However the regulations are slightly different. In Mexico, school is required for all students from age 4-14 (9th grade) and made free by the government. However, there are no requirements for education beyond grade 9. The US requires school for all students aged 5-18.
  • Mexico has few options with most students attending public school. Do the isolation of much of it’s population, Mexico provides distance learning for students up to grade 9 and beyond. There are few private schools. The US has many options, sometimes many options within a single district or even school building.
  • Mexico has limited means. While education in the arts and humanities is required, there is often little resource to implement this. It instead focuses on basic mathematics and sciences in order to prepare it’s 9th graders to enter the workforce.
  • US schools receive funding through State governments. Most schools have plentiful funding to support all areas of the curriculum to some degree.
  • While elementary level students can make a transition into US schools without a major gap in learning, high school students find it difficult to integrate due to the lack of focus on education at that level in Mexico vs the requirement for them to enroll in school in the US.
curriculum and instruction in us schools
Curriculum and Instruction in US schools
  • There is no national curriculum in the US, however states, districts and national association do require or recommend certain standards be used to guide instruction. In addition, federal law mandates that state standards be developed and maintained in order for states to receive federal assistance.
  • All states have a wide variety of content standards for an equally wide variety of subject areas from Art to Dance to Mathematics and Science. In general, most states require a comprehensive education covering most or all humanities and sciences.
compare and contrast curriculum us vs mexico
Compare and Contrast: Curriculum US vs Mexico
  • In general, the US has a much wider, more comprehensive and required set of standards than does Mexico. Mexican students are prepared to enter the limited Mexican workforce after grade 9 and their schooling up until that point covers mathematics and science as well as some enrichment like Art. While Mexican standards are limited, they also seem to be more accepting of topics such as sexuality than the US. Essentially, Mexican schools teach their children how to succeed as adults by the age of 14 with little focus on post graduate education especially in the rural areas, while US schools focus on preparing students to enter a highly skilled workforce at age 18, or go to higher education. Few students in Mexico get that option.
  • Mexico
  • Population 116m
  • Median Age 27.4
  • Literacy rate 86.1
  • Literacy rank 145
  • Life expectancy 48/194
  • Infant Mortality 112/194
  • Internet Access 26.98%
  • USA
  • Population 317m
  • Median Age 37.2
  • Literacy rate 99
  • Literacy Rank 26
  • Life Expectancy 38/194
  • Infant Mortality 46/194
  • Internet Access 78.06
  • While the US as a world power has a lot of room for improvement, it still stands well above Mexico in terms of education. Here are some final facts about Mexico who strives to become a world power.
  • The number of Mexican students has surged by over 29 million since 1950
  • Most young students attend primary school however only 62% reach secondary school and only a quarter of them achieve college education
  • About 45% of Mexicans finish Secondary school asopposed to 75% of US students
  • Mexican students perform poorly on the OECD education exam administerd to 65 world countries. 46 in reading, 49 in math and 51 in science
  • Central Intelligence Agency. (n.d.) The World Factbook- Mexico. Retrieved from Central Intelligence Agency Website:
  • Central Intelligence Agency. (n.d.) The World Factbook- USA. Retrieved from Central Intelligence Agency Website:
  • Gordon, M. (2013, Feb) Stamford schools face a changing tide in demographics. The Stamford Advocate, retrieved from
  • OECD (2013, November). Education Policy Outlook: Mexico. Retrieved November, 2013, from
  • Reuters. (2011, April 13). Factbox: facts about Mexico’s education system. Retrieved
  • Quinonez, I. (2010.) A comparison of Mexico and Us educational systems. Retrieved from
  • Kendall, John. "Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning." McREL: , Content Knowledge Standards and Benchmark Database. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Apr. 2014. Retrieved from
  • Rosado, L. Hellawell, M. Benedicto, E. (2011, June 16.) An Analysis of the Education Systems in Mexico and the United States from Pre-kinder to 12 Grade. Comparative Analysis of the Education.. Retrieved from
  • Salas, A. ((2005.) Poverty and Education
  • USNEI Structure of U.S. Education. Retrieved from