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What is Wrong with American Schools and How We Can Fix Them

Updated on August 15, 2014

Education Reform

I was a teacher in California for 3 1/2 years, that was enough for me. Anyone who tells me that they are going into education I tell them, DON'T. If they still insist upon pursuing an educational career I strongly encourage them to go and sit in a classroom for at least a week. Around 50% of first year teachers quit, there is a reason for that. The primary problem with the Education System is NOT the teachers, it is NOT the lack of money and it isn't even the students. The problem with the Education System in America is Bureaucracy, Authority and Teacher Unions.

Superintendents make 3 to 5 times what teachers make, principals make at least 2 times what a teacher makes. What do they do for that money? Nothing, that's what! Eliminate them and instead have the teachers run the school as a whole, making decisions democratically to hire, fire and promote. The teacher pay should be directly related to the job they do and should be decided by a citizen committee whose children attend the school. They should have to run for election (like the school board) and should not be able to stay on the committee for more than 2 terms.

Moreover, the authority given to teachers in order to promote a healthy teaching environment is undermined. As it is now, every student sitting in a classroom generates money for the school. It doesn't matter if that student is disrupting the entire class each and everyday, it doesn't matter whether that student is learning a damn thing, if their butt is in a desk, the school system gets money, if it's not they don't. So, when a student is disruptive to a class, the principal is reluctant to take that student out of the classroom and instead puts pressure on the teacher to keep the student in the room no matter what. The students know that the teachers have no authority whatsoever and they use this knowledge to play around, misbehave, disrupt the class and so forth. Little education truly goes on in these classrooms, pretty much they are very expensive babysitting jobs. All teachers should have the authority to refuse to teach certain students. If that student is violent, has no interest in learning or is disruptive to the rest of the students, a teacher should be able to have that student removed. Education should be looked on as a privilege and not as a right. Should a student, mend their ways, prove that they are willing and able to learn then they could be reinstated, if not, let them go and teach the students that want an education.

As a teacher you are forced to support the Union unless you opt out for "religious" reasons, even then they make it difficult for you to do that as there is a lot of social pressure to support them through paying your dues and participating in strikes. If you "opt" out you still have to pay dues but you can choose to direct it towards a charity of your choice instead. Most teachers participate and many of them do not know where their union dues goes or the politics involved. Lastly, the tenure system does nothing to help good teachers while promoting a political agenda and protecting bad teachers. It is a system that needs to be abolished.

If you are a parent and you have your child in a school that isn't working, take him/her OUT. Home-school them if you can and if they are older (16 I think) they can take the GED and go to a junior college. That is what I did. I skipped 2 years of High School and instead of graduating with my class I had my AA degree from a junior college. Think outside the box. Furthermore, if your son or daughter is being bullied take them out of school and file a lawsuit against the school. Under no circumstances should you let your child be tortured just so that they can get an education.

Finally, if the U.S. wanted educated citizens the U.S. would have educated citizens. The reason we don't is because the powers that be DON'T want educated citizens. Educated citizens might object to the slavery our masters have foisted upon us. Uneducated masses are happy to watch American Idol every night while letting their masters pull the puppet strings and line their purses in Washington D.C. This has all been done by design.

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Tenure Song

Do you think public schools can be saved?

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    • Brie Hoffman profile image

      Brie Hoffman 6 years ago from Manhattan

      Yes that is so true. The public school system is in a shambles. I would suggest watching the movie "Indoctrination". Thanks for commenting.

    • rebeccamealey profile image

      Rebecca Mealey 6 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

      Superintendents, principals and other admins sweep the dirt under the rugs in order to keep their higher paying jobs. I have known principals that go to the "board"and put on a dog and pony show to make everything look good when in reality the school is a big social and political mess! Thanks for this view!

    • profile image

      wanderer 6 years ago

      anyone interested in the topic of education or the lack there of should look up John Taylor Gatto

    • Brie Hoffman profile image

      Brie Hoffman 7 years ago from Manhattan

      Thanks for writing a well informed comment, hope you will check out my other articles Shawn.

    • profile image

      Shawn Quien 7 years ago

      Almost thirteen yrs in and still enjoying myself despite enduring much of what you write about...bad kids can be a real challenge, but if you can crack through their issues and get something done, then it's a victory! Agree with much of what you say, especially about the dumbing down of our society as a whole. I have often said to foreign relatives and friends that as long as Chuckie Cheese stays open, Budweiser keeps brewing, some sort of sport is on tv, reality tv shows keep producing mindless stupidity and our politicians continue to point at eachother with cute talking points then the real power can keep doing what it has and will always do...screw us over in every possible way!!

      The only thing I would like to add is the responsibility of parents! If your kid is being denied an education because of a bad kid and it's relentless misbehavior, then the parents shoiuld be forced to fix it quickly!! Or they should be forced to handhold, pay back or something that will get the problem fixed quick!!!!

      Good post!

      Shawn Quien

    • Brie Hoffman profile image

      Brie Hoffman 8 years ago from Manhattan

      Thanks Neil, welcome.

    • Neil Ashworth profile image

      George Poe 8 years ago from United Kingdom

      Nice article, heading back later for another look...

    • Brie Hoffman profile image

      Brie Hoffman 8 years ago from Manhattan

      Umm, ok, well thanks for writing Chris Nichol. We seemed to do better 100 years ago when there was NO administration though. I do realize that the world is a different place but I think you get the point. Many of these people are just sucking at the teat of big government, they do more harm than good.

    • profile image

      Chris Nichol 8 years ago

      A tad simplistic, but I agree with much of what you say. Schools do need SOME administration. Unfortunately school adminstration has grown more than 40% in the last 15 years alone.

      But either way, I think you're extremely attractive. So...I'm willing to go along with the parts I don't agree with.

      See? There's that public education for ya! It;s all about compromise.

    • Brie Hoffman profile image

      Brie Hoffman 8 years ago from Manhattan

      To Everyone who has commented in the last 2 months: For some reason my email notification was off so I wasn't notified when you wrote your comments. Thanks for commenting and I'm sorry I wasn't able to respond in a timely manner.

    • profile image

      ThrowNoStones 8 years ago

      Hi as a former part time teacher I enjoyed your posting. I was surprised in my experience to see that about 10 to 30% of teachers at Middle and HS level are there to find sex and/or companionship with students. This seemed innocuous in short term, but over long term multiplied over many classes has been devastating to our society. The other main problem is the focus on competition between students in schools ( from test grading all the way to sports and relationships). Yes, we now have the military recruit slogan "be the best you can be" but only in the context of "so you can destroy the shit out of whoever your boss (or you) deems the competition". The girlfriend who reads at 3rd grade level at age 18years may be neurologically doing the best she can given the educational approach/program. Only when we can shift to a dual philosophy of a) strict rules and discipline to support b) a loving cooperation based meritocracy (i.e. everyone works hard and acknowledges when a peer has a talent or doing better, and if doing worse, everyone is supportive and helps not sees it as opportunity to snicker and get a leg up.

    • Brie Hoffman profile image

      Brie Hoffman 9 years ago from Manhattan

      Thank you, I guess the least we can do is make sure that our own children are educated even if that mean educating them ourselves.

    • Mighty Mom profile image

      Susan Reid 9 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA

      Thanks for confirming my suspicions about the forces behind the ineptitude in America's schools. We need a giant paradigm shift starting with the parents DEMANDING better and insisting on it for their kids. And insisting their kids go to school and actually do something rather than occupy a seat (so the district can collect its $). It's very sad to me. I grew up in a time when education was very different. It was valued and I enjoyed school and the kids I went to school with for the most part graduated and went on to college.

      Of course, we didn't have American Idol back then. Who's to say how I or my classmates might have turned out if we did:-)!! Great hub, Brie. Thanks for tackling this subject. MM

    • Brie Hoffman profile image

      Brie Hoffman 9 years ago from Manhattan

      You're welcome, thanks for commenting

    • Tom Cornett profile image

      Tom Cornett 9 years ago from Ohio

      My son's ex-girlfriend (sweet kid) graduated high school with him and she could only read at a third grade level. She became a stripper because she can't even understand or fill out an application. She is raising her 4 year old daughter and the child is well cared for. She is back in school now, to try and make herself and her little girl a better life.

      The system let her down severely because the system only cares about creating worker bees for the political and corporate hive. The system blames teachers and parents for failure but the intentional incompetence of the system is and always has been the root problem.

      This is a great Hub....Thanks!

    • Brie Hoffman profile image

      Brie Hoffman 9 years ago from Manhattan


    • majicat profile image

      majicat 9 years ago

      Education is not a right in the this country, certainly not a privilege if a student is in the public schools. Education is compulsory, to me the educating happening there is what is actually needed but ratherhow to navigate through a mob. the idea was flawed from the start. Schools are not rewarded for their production in real educated graduates, as you said they are paid merely for how may asses they have in the seats. I went to Jr. high school in Northern Burlington New Jersey, thirty some odd years ago, the school was so over crowded they were on triple split sessions. I learned nothing there.

      student are essentially forced to be there, teachers that get little of nothing for their work in a caste system of pay that mirrors the government and corporate america, where those in the trenches starve while those calling the shots walk away sometimes with obscene amounts of money.

      You are so right, it is a small wonder that some abandon the whole thing and go to the private sector for schooling for their children. it is my feeling that if one does decide to opt out of it, then they should be able to opt out of the taxes as well. that will never happen however I am sure that if the average american could take what they actually spend in taxes for cumpulsory education and offer that same amount to the private sector, they would most certaainly be able to get a better value for their dollar.

      this government program is a dismal failure

      I guess you can add it to the list of others.

    • Brie Hoffman profile image

      Brie Hoffman 9 years ago from Manhattan

      I also know many people who "home school" their kids and it has worked out very well for them. It is especially successful when you have a community or a church to gather with so that you have some sort of group and can keep from isolating your children.

    • Jerilee Wei profile image

      Jerilee Wei 9 years ago from United States

      I so agree with you. No amount of money is going to fix America's public schools. We washed our hands of them and just swallow the $8000 in tution a year to send our granddaughter to private school. I'd scrub toilets for a living before I'd let another offspring of mine go to public school. Great hub!

    • Brie Hoffman profile image

      Brie Hoffman 9 years ago from Manhattan


    • Vladimir Uhri profile image

      Vladimir Uhri 9 years ago from HubPages, FB

      Good opening eyes hub. Thank you.


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