Education Reform in the US

Rushville Lions
Rushville Lions | Source

Broken Education System

As sad as it is to conclude it would seem that the entire public education system in this country has fallen by the way-side. Standardized test scores in the US continue to be consistently lower than many other industrialized nations. Schools and school funded activities seem perversely underfunded. Teachers and educators throughout the system are underpaid, overworked, and unappreciated. In my opinion a complete reevaluation of the entire system should be considered.

Red Apple
Red Apple | Source

A Simpler Time

The red apple is to remind us of a simpler time when it was customary for a student to bring their teacher an apple, as a gesture of their appreciation, and partially as payment for their services as a teacher. When I think of the value of a good education, I think; they should have planted a tree. Teachers are among our most important professionals, and the education of our children among our greatest responsibilities. If we fail to prepare our children for the future all of our futures could be at stake.

The Problem

Think about this for a moment, in 1999, 12th graders in the United States ranked 19th in Mathematics, 16th in Science, and dead last in Advanced Physics, among 21 industrialized countries. Yet, the US was spending an average of $11,000 per student which tied them for first place with Switzerland on the most money spent per student. Imagine, since 1960 with inflation adjusted that’s an increase of 212 percent. I believe we should expect more from our education system, from our teachers and educators, and from ourselves. Maybe part of the problem is the hierarchical subsystem interwoven into the public school system. Maybe, as the old saying goes there are too many chiefs and not enough Indians. One example of this is the fact that in 1994 more than half of the public school employees in the US weren’t even teachers. Also consider that between 1985 and 1995 Kansas City, Missouri was spending more than 280 of the largest school districts in the US, but could show no recordable evidence of any academic gains what so ever. To me, this indicates a problem with the way the public schools funding is being managed. It may also be a problem with the methods that are being used to educate our children. Either way our current public school system needs to be reevaluated, and reformed.

Legislation
Legislation | Source

Reform

To begin the process of a true reform, it needs to begin with us, us, being the parents, or guardians of school age children. We need to be diligent in the pursuit of a better education for our children. We need to be a part of that education; we can not solely leave it to teachers and educators to educate our children. We have to take an active role in what is going on not only at home, but in the class room as well. Our children’s future and our future depend on it.To take a more active role at home parents and guardians should start early; studies have shown that students who were introduced to educational material at earlier ages have consistently performed better than those who were not. Continuing to show interest and being involved when ever possible is also essential to a child’s development. In many cases if someone close to a young student doesn’t show interest in their education; neither does the student. The view that the public school system should bear the full weight of a child’s education and development is preposterous. Though in today’s society, in many homes that is the expectation.

Parents
Parents | Source
Rights
Rights | Source

Parents

Parents and guardians of school aged children should also take an active role in what is going on in the classroom. One way to achieve this would be to attend local school board meetings, and take an active part in discussions and decisions that take place. Petitioning Local, State, and Federal legislators to reevaluate the current system may prove helpful as well. Talking to teachers during parent teacher meetings is a good way to understand current policies and discover ways to improve them. Donating your time to help with school activities and functions could be worthwhile. If you’re not sure what you can do; ask. Ask a teacher, or the principle at your child’s school, you might ask your children for ideas and be surprised by the inventive ideas they come up with. The key is to do something rather than nothing. Just being involved will increase your child’s likeliness of success. Of course, we alone, can not fix the public school system; we need cooperation between legislators, educators, and ourselves. We need to pinpoint the most effective teaching methods and apply those methods in the classroom. A balance needs to exist between administrators and teachers and other staff.

Act Now

Now is the perfect time to act; with 4 billion dollars in competitive education reform grants recently being released as part of the Race to the Top program. Many guidelines have been set for school districts to actually receive funding, but the application process is being broken up into two rounds. The second round will give first round school districts that didn’t meet the criteria a chance to make changes and reapply. More money being dumped into the system isn’t necessarily the answer, but I like the way the Race to the Top funds are being distributed. For example, in order for schools to qualify they must adopt classroom material that meets national standards and they must use nationally standardized testing to evaluate student’s progress. Also, teachers and principles must be recruited and rewarded based on their effectiveness as educators. In closing, I ask each of you to think seriously about what you expect from the Public Education System. Also ask yourself, where is the current system falling short and what can you do to make it better?

Do you think that there is a problem with the public education system in the US?

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16 comments

Paul Kuehn profile image

Paul Kuehn 4 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand

Yes, I do agree with you that educational reform is needed in the U.S. I think one of the problems is the gradual dumbing down of society by saying that because everyone is a victim of a bad deal, you have to make kids feel good about themselves and relax standards. When I went to public schools in the late 50s and early 60s, you needed 70 to pass, and kids did actually fail classes. It's quite similar here in Thailand. In the schools, everyone passes no matter whether their score is 0 or 100. I am sharing this excellent hub.


Edwin Clark profile image

Edwin Clark 4 years ago from Thailand by way of New York

Like Paul I'm living here in Thailand too. From what I've been hearing in the news, part of the problem is with teachers unions in the USA. I don't know whether or not it's as bad as the news reports. And I have heard of teachers who do poorly are kept on the payroll. I really do believe that a teacher should get a grade too. And if it's an F then they should get the pink slip.


dmop profile image

dmop 4 years ago from Cambridge City, IN Author

Paul Kuehn, thanks for taking the time to read and for your thoughtful comments. I think one of our problems is that too many of us are lazy; students, teachers, and parents all included. We seem to have developed this attitude that we are owed something, and we sit around on our bums waiting for someone to give it to us.


Cre8tor profile image

Cre8tor 4 years ago from Ohio

Our educational system is structured around the slowest kids in class. I feel this is the biggest problem with the system. Standards are lowered therefore the underachievers just lower their efforts. At this rate, a 35 will be a passing percentage.


dmop profile image

dmop 4 years ago from Cambridge City, IN Author

Edwin Clark, thanks for stopping by and for your comment, have a great day.


zzron profile image

zzron 4 years ago from Houston, TX.

Great topic dmop. I wish they had more of a security system in place for the school system for the kids safety against all the violence that takes place today.


dmop profile image

dmop 4 years ago from Cambridge City, IN Author

Cre8tor, thanks for reading and for your comments. I agree that the standards are generally based around the slower students. I wish there were a way to be fairer without causing a political upheaval.


dmop profile image

dmop 4 years ago from Cambridge City, IN Author

You are so right about our school safety Ron. I'm not sure what more we can do in many cases, as many schools already have police or security and metal detectors, but it still just doesn't seem safe to send our children to school. Thanks for reading and for your comments.


Brett.Tesol profile image

Brett.Tesol 4 years ago from Somewhere in Asia

You make some excellent points. The red tape and paperwork of teachers needs to be reversed. They need to be empowered and supported by parents and officials. Parents need to be more involved and an active part of the education system.

Thanks for SHARING.


cardelean profile image

cardelean 4 years ago from Michigan

First, I would like to thank you for NOT demonizing teachers in this hub. As a public school teacher in an urban district, I completely agree that there are a lot of things that need to be changed within the current system and you've touched on many of them. I'll try hard not to make my response a hub! :)

First, laziness is a HUGE factor, yes in every capacity. There are good and bad teachers everywhere but as you stated, parents also need to play a role in their child's education. Everyone needs to participate. You don't take your child to the dr. and he is diagnosed with an illness,then as a parent refuse to give him his medicine but blame the dr. when your child is not getting better. You also have to do something at home. Unfortunately many parents do not see that it is part of their job as a parent to help educate their children.

The other thing is that much of the comparison data that is shown on tv regarding other nations is very skewed. We are the only nation that guarantees an education for EVERY child no matter of their physical, mental, or socio-economic status. Other nations only educate the best of the best and that is PART of the reason that we always look so inferior. Are there other factors? ABSOLUTELY, but most people do not realize that when they hear those stats and make quick, uneducated assumptions. Our educational system as it stands right now is no different than 50 years ago, separate and NOT equal. Thank you for this thought provoking hub.


TIMETRAVELER2 profile image

TIMETRAVELER2 4 years ago

Everything you've said here is correct, and I agree with all of it. However, you missed one important point. For years there has been a war against public education. Politicians have consistently put in place programs that are designed to undermine the system, such as IDEA and No Child Left Behind. Why? Well, look at third world countries. In those places, the few have everything and the masses have nothing. This is because education in those countries is manipulated to the point that the average person has no chance to advance and share in the country's wealth. Sounds a lot like us, right? Why do you think Charter schools are being pushed,and who do you think is behind the push? It's not a pretty picture. Thanks for this one. Voted up.


dmop profile image

dmop 4 years ago from Cambridge City, IN Author

Brett.Tesol, Thank you for stopping by and reading my hub, it is much appreciated. Have a great day!


dmop profile image

dmop 4 years ago from Cambridge City, IN Author

cardelean, thanks so much for reading and for your input. I had not really thought about our challenged students bringing our overall scores down that is a very good point. Have a wonderful day!


dmop profile image

dmop 4 years ago from Cambridge City, IN Author

TIMETRAVELER2, thank you for stopping by and for commenting. I see that you are a fellow conspiracy theorist. You certainly make a good point, and you could very well be right. It’s funny to me how many people think these politicians are just stupid. They have a hidden agenda, in pretty much every case, but no one wants to believe it.


cardelean profile image

cardelean 4 years ago from Michigan

I agree with TT. Not sure where you are from TT but I live in Michigan and our wonderful governor has passed laws that and emergency financial manager can come in and take over at any time without really much warning, get rid of the unions (not that they are perfect) and turn our school into a charter school and in the breath cut funding drastically to schools. Yep,systematic.


dmop profile image

dmop 4 years ago from Cambridge City, IN Author

cardelean thank you for stopping by again, all comments are welcome here. Have a wonderful day!

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