The Truth About American Schools
The reality is that the United States’ education system is failing and has been failing for a long time. We can debate the veracity of international rankings, but at the end of the day, our data does not lie. Almost 10% of America’s schools — 8652 of 91,000 – have now received the first round of fines under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). On state assessments, the schools in question did not achieve acceptable progress. That means that 10% of American schools are failing. The 3.5 million learners who attend these schools, all of which received ESEA Title I funds, have the right to transfer to other schools.
Before I go into why I believe this is still happening, I’d like to share some of my own experiences working in failing school districts.
My Mississippi adventures
I worked as a teacher for seven years, and many of the problems I saw were related to a lack of resources and financing. I had to deal with the fact that the majority of my students in Mississippi were from low-income families. They didn’t need a savior; they just needed access to a good education and the support and services that go with it.
This, however, was not what they received. In the districts where I worked, I could only consider one out of every five of my coworkers to be highly qualified. This suggests that only 20% of the school’s educators might be considered effective. In addition, the textbooks and instructional materials that students were given were in poor shape. Because of budget cuts, there were no afterschool services. To make matters worse, class sizes were enormous.
Except for a few colleagues, special education and gifted education were mostly staffed by inadequate educators who were hired because of who they knew or because the district was unable to find better suitable applicants. The administrators were a mixed bag; some were brilliant, while others knew very little about education; they were appointed due to nepotism or seniority.
What is causing America’s schools to fail?
The only reason America’s schools fail is that we allow them to. I understand that students carry their baggage to school, that schools are underfunded and overcrowded, and that parental engagement is poor, but are these valid reasons why our schools are failing? If a foreign force attacked America, our military and its allies would launch a counter-offensive that would be unparalleled. However, we have allowed academic underachievement to persist in our great country and have labeled it as a problem that we cannot solve.
What if we spent billions of dollars on education in the same way that we spend on the military? We would have enough money to fully support the public education system, allowing educators to be paid a decent salary and school districts to have all of the resources they need to provide students with a great education. It may sound like a fantasy, but the United States government could accomplish it with the flick of a finger. Let us hope that the powers that be quickly come to their senses.