The Sad Truth About America’s Schools
The sobering truth about the U.S. education system is that it is failing and has been failing for a long time. We can look at the international rankings and debate their validity, but at the end of the day, our own data does not lie. Nearly 10 percent of America’s schools – 8652 of some 91,000 – already face the first round of sanctions under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). The schools in question did not make adequate progress on state assessments. That means that ten percent of America’s School are failing. The 3.5 million students who attend these schools – all of which were given ESEA Title I monies – are entitled to transfer to other schools.
Before I discuss why I think this continues to occur, let me talk about some of my experiences working in failing districts.
My experiences in Mississippi
I spent 7 years as a teacher and many of the issues that I
faced dealt with a lack of resources and a lack of funding. I had to deal with
the reality that most of my
students in Mississippi came from impoverished backgrounds. They didn’t
need a savior, they needed access to a quality education and all the supports
and services that come along with it.
However, this was not what they received. In the districts that I worked in, I could only consider 1 out every 5 of my colleagues as highly qualified. This means that only 20% of the school’s teachers could be thought of as effective. Also, the textbooks and accompanying curriculum materials that students received were in unacceptable condition. Afterschool programs were nonexistent because of budget cuts. To make matters worse, the class sizes were huge.
Special education, and gifted education (except for a few colleagues), etc., were usually staffed by incompetent educators, who received their positions because of who they knew, or because the district had trouble finding more qualified candidates. The district administrators were a mixed bag, some were exceptional, and some knew very little about education; they received their positions because of nepotism or seniority.
Why are America’s schools failing?
The only reason that America’s schools are failing is that we allow them to. I know that students bring schools their own baggage, schools are underfunded and overcrowded, and parental involvement is low, but are these viable reasons for why our schools are failing? If a foreign power were to attack America, our military and its allies would unleash a counter-offensive that would be second to none. However, we let academic underachievement persist in our great country and label it as a problem that we can’t eradicate.
What if we spent trillions of dollars on education like we do on the military? We would have enough money to fully fund the public education system, which would result in teachers being paid a living wage, and school districts having all of the resources that they need to provide students with a quality education. Sounds like a fantasy, but the U.S. government could do it with the snap of a finger. Let’s pray that the powers that be come to their senses and quick.