The U.S. Education System is Under-performing and Here’s Why
The U.S. public school system was originally established to educate America’s youth. More specifically, it was created to teach children basic skills, and to make them into productive citizens. Fast forward to now, and it is plan to see that the U.S. education system is failing to live up to its original intent. In the piece, I will discuss 4 reasons why we find ourselves in this predicament.
- Schools are closing left and right. It’s been a rough year for public schools. Many have found themselves on the chopping block. Parents, students and communities as a whole feel targeted, even if school board members are quick to cite unbiased numbers. There is no concrete way to declare a winner in these cases, either. Sometimes, a school closing is simply inevitable but communities should first look for other solutions. Instead of shutting down underutilized public schools – icons of the community – districts should consider other neighborhood uses, such as a community center or adult education classes. Closing public schools should not be a short-sighted procedure. The decision should focus on the only investment that really matters: a quality public education for all our nation’s children.
- S. schools suspend too many students. Statistics tell us that not only do urban students more often come from tumultuous home lives, but they are often punished more harshly for the same infractions than suburban peers. Over 68 percent of all incarcerated adult American men do not have a high school diploma. Removal from school as a disciplinary measure, while potentially the easiest short-term solution, feeds the school-to-prison cycle that is built primarily in urban schools. Instead, mentorship programs would go a long way toward directing urban students toward higher academic engagement and graduation rates. Many colleges have implemented mentorship programs for at-risk students, like first-generation college students, so why can’t K-12 schools do the same?
- For underperforming urban school systems, a lot of the “plans for change” are full of hot air. At least, they often seem to be. The problem usually lies with the inability to sustain existing reform efforts and initiatives. Mayors and school superintendents in these areas often concoct grandiose reform plans that are merely political devices meant to woo voters into believing they genuinely care about educational reform. It is sad and sobering to realize that often, politicians create school reform to gain popularity and votes. It is discouraging to realize that our children’s futures might be used as a political device to win elections.
- School spending is stagnant, even in our improving economy. As the U.S. economy continues to improve, according to news headlines, one area is still feeling the squeeze from the recession years: K-12 public school spending. A report this month from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities found that 34 states are contributing less funding on a per student basis than they did prior to the recession years. Since states are responsible for 44 percent of total education funding in the U.S., these dismal numbers mean a continued crack down on school budgets despite an improving economy. If we cannot find the funding for our public schools, how can we expect things like the achievement gap to close or high school graduation rates to rise? It was understandable that budgets had to be slashed when the bottom dropped out of the economy. Now we are in a more stable place, though, it is time to get back to funding what matters most: the education of our K-12 students.
Can you think of any additional reasons why U.S. education system is failing?