February 03, 2013

What's Wrong With the United States Public Education System?


Despite being the richest country in the world, the United States education system again and again provides sub-par results when looked at from an international perspective. Students are not being prepared for a life after school. The effects of these failings become evident on both the individual and the national levels. So, what exactly is wrong with public schooling? 
  • Too much emphasis on standardized testing. The core of the modern public school system, everything from funding to ratings, relies on the system of standardized testing. Tests of that nature have to be simplified to ensure consistency, so it’s boiled down to facts that can be memorized, which is not necessarily an indicator of understanding. This leads to students with a good memory or test-taking skills excelling, while students who don't (even if they have a working understanding of the content) being left behind.
  • Too much emphasis on math and science. While vital subjects, they should not be the only respected fields. This emphasis seems to tie in to the prior point: these fields are emphasized in part because they can be graded more easily than other subjects. As well, because the impact of advanced knowledge in these fields is more easily verified. Nevertheless, a balanced approach is best. Other subjects improve the competitiveness and economy of a country, even if they are less easily quantifiable.
  • Teachers aren't paid enough. Arguably, teaching is the most influential profession for a country’s growth. And if you want to attract the most talented individuals, you need to offer incentive. At the moment, the average high school teacher in the United States earns about 28% less than the average college-educated worker in the United States. This is a much wider gap than other rich countries, where teachers still often earn less, but only by about 10% or so.
  • On top of monetary compensation, societal respect for teachers needs to be much higher. While many Americans generally act as if they hold teachers in high regard under hypothetical circumstances, the reality of the situation is not so. When in recent times teachers' unions have organized and fought for better pay and work conditions, they have been ridiculed and demonized. If we want the best for our children, we must ensure that we listen to the needs of their educators. 
  • There’s a hierarchy that needs to be shaken up. Have you ever noticed that the best, most experienced teachers tend to be given the honors courses? If you excel at school at an early age, you will be given the best education that your area offers. However, if you initially struggle, then it is tremendously difficult to catch up, given that your teachers are just not as skilled as those that teach higher-level courses. We must work on providing an equal educational opportunity for all.
The benefits of well-educated students are numerous; they range from creating a better understanding of the world to causing a surge in our economy. However, our educational system won't progress on its own. If we want to better our country, we must consciously and actively work on making educational improvement a priority.

209 comments:

  1. Is the first time I see in a post of this topic, someone to recall the fact of teachers not being paid enough but mostly the constant disrespect society gives them.
    Is very touching to me as a daughter of a Literature teacher, who have to work over the legal 42hs a week, and still have to go home and keep working correcting exams, and preparing the next class.
    So I'm really happy this was finally added.

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  2. I have to disagree on the "too much emphasis on math and science". I think our country has TOO LITTLE emphasis on math and science. In my 13 years in the public school system there about a 4:1 ratio of time, effort, and depth spent on English/Language Arts/Social Studies/History/etc compared to Math/Science. The US is painfully behind in Math/Science. And Math/Science is not just applicable for those going to work in Math/Science fields. The logic skills that math education provides is great. Many social issues facing our country (including lack of sex ed, correct info on evolution, climate change, and vaccination, etc) would have more meaningful dialogue if the average high school educated person didn't receive such sub-par science education.

    Even at the undergraduate level, to fulfill core requirements, Science students have to take intro college level English and History courses. But for non-science students to fulfill their core requirements, they can take ridiculously watered down science courses, including Elementary Education Science (aka the science that 5-10 yr olds learn).

    I'm not discounting the importance of liberal arts education. Being well rounded is the key, like you mentioned. Additionally, GOOD science education wouldn't rely on multiple choice questions and grading would be more like grading papers.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Your are right, but the problem is "how" science in high school's are taught. The School books are not at the same level as other nations. One might say that the books have pretty images but no substance in the books. Yes the science are talked about a lot, but the school system no longer talks about any other subjects. This means the whole teaching system is out of balance.
      It is so bad that it makes me wonder if it is planed!

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  3. The Nation Of America will crumble because of it's pathetic and laughable education system.
    America did not become a world super power by magic, it was because of the effort of the American people back then, nowadays we hardly see any of that.
    The education system is so easy now that a average person from another country can get excellent grades with the same effort they used to put in in their own country's schools to get average grades.

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  4. I remember times when everyone who got to study in the US was proud of it. It did not matter what country students were from they were willing to do whatever it takes to study in one of American universities or colleges. And what now? Now even native citizens question the necessity of admitting to a college: the price is too big and the quality I would say could be much better. No, there are still lots of powerful university, but I will repeat myself: the price is too big. It is not enough to simply write an impressive admission essay -any longer. You have to be prepared to long time debt as well!

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  42. The teachers who tend to teach honors courses once you get to high school are the teachers who know more about the content so they can answer higher level thinking questions. I teach both honors and inclusion science classes you need to be smarter to teach honors you need to be patient to teach inclusion.

    Also the emphasis tends to be on math and English science is often overlooked, underfunded, and understaffed. If I want to teach using a lab I have to buy the materials and even a lab that say would cost kids a dollar to do at home would cost me closer to $100 because of the number of students I teach in day $40 if I use groups.
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