Our education system here in America has become atrocious. Our children are growing into ignorant adults. Not only do they lack basic math, science, and English skills, but they are falling short on social skills and critical thinking. Classrooms have abandoned learning for test taking. There are many reasons for this, and I would like to address the ways that I would change things if I was given the opportunity.
- Eliminate the U.S. Department of Education.
The US DoE was created in 1979. Since its inception, education in America has remained stagnant. No matter how much money our politicians promise for our schools, average student test scores have remained stagnant. The federal government has almost quadrupled investment from about 13 to over 50 billion dollars over the past thirty-five years. However, the average reading score has remained virtually unchanged. From 2009-2013, the US fell from 25th to 31st in math and 20th to 24th in science, and from 11th to 21st in reading among the 31 Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) nations; and are well below the average in all three categories. Yes, part of the slippage has occurred as more and more nations have become industrialized. However, there is no excuse for the highest spending nation on Earth to have an education system ranked 17th. Why are we still willing to pump tens of billions in taxpayer money to a monolithic organization with such a horrendous track record, when we get similar or even better results from private schools, privately run charter schools, and 30-37th percentile increases from homeschool? The federal government has proven inept in so many areas, and has zero constitutional authority to oversee American education. Moreover, whenever the feds introduce a new program intended to help our students—such as No Child Left Behind and Common Core, our international ranking drops. Stop the madness!
- Remove teacher’s unions.
Teacher’s unions, like most unions, have become obsolete and are impeding advancement. Privately run charter schools outperform public schools not only in academics, but in actual organization. They hire and fire teachers based on merit rather than seniority, and they do not have to jump through years worth of expensive (upwards of $250,000) bureaucratic red tape in order to do so.
These unions not only protect bad teachers, but use union dues to influence federal politics. They are near the top political donors for the Democrat party and other organizations that push increased education spending. In 2013-14, the National Education Association alone spent over $24 million. The average contribution to members of the Congress ranged from $7,500 in the Senate to $13,000 in the House for Democrats and $0 for Republicans. Spending millions on lobbying for increases of their own pockets simply perpetuates the issue, and yields no tangible positive results for our children.
- Abolish the socialist construction of our schools.
As red-blooded American patriots, we have a history of fighting for individualism and personal responsibility. Why then has our education system done the exact opposite? Every student in our schools must sit in the same classes and obtain the same standard test scores in every agreed upon subjects until the age of 18. Only then are they able to focus on the subject that truly interests them in higher education. Most universities still require one-size-fits-all pre-requisites for students. Why a Psychology major must prove proficient in College Algebra in order to be a better therapist is beyond my understanding. The only purpose, from my estimation, is to charge students another year of tuition in order to line the pockets of the powers that be.
- My radical solution.
I would keep the well-rounded education received by elementary students, but middle and high schools should be radically changed. I believe that students who show an aptitude toward a certain field should be free to specialize sooner. If a student is awful at math, but talented in the arts, s/he should be able to pursue and develop that talent. When you force students to fit the same mold, many get frustrated and give up. This, in my opinion, is another factor that plays into our declining educational ranks. Students who may become engineers become apathetic about education because of being forced to take classes that disinterests them.
I like the university system far more (with the exception of mandatory pre-requisites that I would love to see disappear). As a matter of fact, the pre-req system may be better suited to high school so that our kids can still remain somewhat well-rounded while really being able to focus on specialization.
Furthermore, we can change the ways in which our failing public schools operate. We could take the schools in most districts, especially inner-cities that have the worst education, and turn them into specialty schools. Offer parents the choice of whether to send their child to a math based, art based, engineering based, etc. school. Each school would offer other classes, but would really focus on their particular field of interest.
The benefits of this model include student satisfaction, parental choice, and the need to eliminate additional unwarranted college years. We could produce competent workers ready to boost the economy at a younger age, and could reduce the number of Universities that also waste their federal funding. It would have the effect of essentially attaining the equivalent of a Bachelor’s degree by the end of high school. Companies could hire high school educated students with the confidence of competence. For those who truly wish to continue to college, the option would remain available to them.
Remember that keeping our citizens out of the economy until age 30 does no one any good. Not only are our 20 year olds not spending their hard earned money on consumer goods that push our economy, but they do not put income tax back into the federal budget that keep our institutions running. Imagine an economy that is not overburdened with a failing federal education system, wasting time and money on disinterested students, and are keeping so many potential tax-paying citizens on the sidelines during their most labor-intensive years.