Education is the foundation of the future, and it remains vital to provide students with the proper resources, guidance, and support to achieve success. Unfortunately, the United States public education system is unable to meet the adequate learning standards children require. In our society today, we allow one grade to define the material an individual has learned, and disregard the significance of cultivating our mistakes into accomplishments. There are identifiable issues including unqualified teachers, evolving programs, and deficits in government funding, contributing to the damage of the system. If we address these conflicts soon, students nationwide will be able to obtain the education they deserve.
Alongside an upcoming generation, children face underlying struggles affecting their performance in school. Furthermore, there exists a lack of teacher innovation. Outdated teaching methods are indirectly created through the enforcement of standardized testing and Common Core. This problem needs to be confronted on the federal level, as unpassionate individuals become teachers, with ease, to ensure job stability which interferes with the education of students. The process of employing teachers should become more rigorous to confirm they are educated, ardent, and dedicated for the benefit of the students. As previously mentioned, the stress placed on standardized testing is immoderate because it is not an accurate measure of efficacy. The pressure to receive high test scores detract from the learning process and shift towards a teach-to-the-test approach. In relation, the Common Core curriculum, developed in 2009, was intended to equalize the educational requirements across the country. However, the program is essentially a federal intrusion into the state control of education, and it prevents teachers’ flexibility with the learning process. Common Core homogenizes learning, discriminates against students who come from low socio-economic regions, and is unable to provide flexibility for students with special needs.
One of the most significant issues facing the public education system is the lack of government funding. Funding for over 90% of schools, from primary to high school, come from state and local governments. The funds, originating from sales and income taxes, are decreasing, and several states are issuing funding that is lower than it was before the Great Recession. Consequently, lower funding results in fewer programs, reduced resources, and decreased salaries for teachers. In fact, teachers’ salaries have decreased around 5% from 2009 compared to now. Regarding the issue of money, the National Center for Education Statistics declared that low-income students account for over 50% of the public school population in the United States- a 12% increase from 2001. Additionally, 40% of students across 40 states qualify for free or reduced-price lunches, and over 50% of students in 18 of those states experience poverty (Lynch, 2017). Research has repeatedly shown that higher family income correlates with higher student achievement measured by standardized tests.
In order to repair the damaged system, there are a number of improvements to be made to the public school program. Schools should refrain from viewing students as numbers and shift their perspective towards a growth mindset for the children. With the addition of a growth mindset, students build self-confidence and develop an understanding of learning through mistakes and failures. Common Core should be removed, as it is ineffective in enhancing education, and rather hinders the innovative teaching techniques of teachers. Although it is still adopted as the nationwide curriculum, at least sixteen states have begun or passed legislation to repeal the standards, twelve are in the process of repealing them, four have successfully withdrawn from them, and four did not adopt the curriculum to begin with ( “Common Core States 2020,” 2020). Furthermore, meaningless exams should be eliminated, yet the requirement of homework should remain. This idea is encouraged by 70% of educators, as the National Research Council found no evidence supporting test-based incentive programs are working. To ensure the well-being of all students, counseling, mental health awareness, and a safe school environment should be prioritized. Research shows that improving a school’s climate and connected-ness is associated with increases in student performance in reading, writing, and mathematics. A meta-analysis of social and emotional school-based learning programs, involving around 270,000 students in grades K-12, revealed that students who participated in these programs improved in grades and standardized test scores by 11 percentile points compared to control groups. The United States public education system needs to make essential adjustments towards the program to guarantee an exceptional education for students- a right every student should be afforded.
As this defines my first published article in Empower and Help, I wanted to express my passion for education through researching methods to enhance the public education system in the United States. I understand the system is only catered towards a specific demographic, however I believe having access to proper education is a right every student should receive. On behalf of my personal experiences in tutoring and mentorship, I was propelled to write about this subject. Because education is the universal tool to achieving success, I strongly wanted to stress the significance of refining the system for future generations. I will always remain passionate about equalizing education in the global community, and continue to advocate and involve myself in activities reflective of the cause closest to my heart.
[By Anushka Elavia, is Global Awareness Ambassador from New Jersey]