The role that the education system should play in people’s lives is to educate them to be conscious, critical-thinking people who do not passively accept knowledge but question the knowledge that is being taught. Education must be taught to give students the skills and intelligence they need to understand the world and how the world works in order to survive in it. However, the American educational system is known to produce students woefully ignorant of the world and different cultures. One reason is that the education system in its current state doesn’t leave much room for critical thinking, instead training people to be docile worker bees in a global economy that maintains the rich status quo and “others” barely survive. . The problem becomes evident if we look at the varied curricula and subjects that are being taught. There is a lack of emphasis on academic learning, and all that matters is high stakes tests. Schools in this country have been inundated with confusing curricula that assume that through constant testing, students will be prepared for life in a new global society. . . whatever.
I recently had a conversation with a co-worker and we were discussing how African-Americans were treated forty years ago and I was struck by her naivety on the subject, considering the fact that she was a college graduate and African-American. From the moment I entered college, I was eager to explore the history of Africans and African-Americans from a point of view that didn’t make them seem subhuman, and college gives students that opportunity. I couldn’t help but wonder what kind of history and sociology classes he had taken; from her conversation, none. But the sad truth is that when most people make the decision to attend college, it is for the purpose of reaping financial rewards, not for expanding consciousness.
For the education system in this country to produce students who are not unaware of their history and the world around them, it must be restructured in several ways. Parental involvement should be required, just as school attendance for students is required for graduation. Lack of parental involvement is a huge contributing factor to the failure of the current education system. Parents need to instill in their children how detrimental a lack of education is to their future. Teachers are wonderful people who can take students from the top of Mount Olympus to the cold and desolate Antarctica, but they are there to teach, not to parent. Many teachers spend much of their class time disciplining children and playing babysitting, two things that are not part of their job duties. Teachers need parental involvement to make the education system work and education begins at home.
The financing of the educational system must also be restructured. Public schools are traditionally funded by property taxes, resulting in a highly unequal distribution of educational opportunities. Communities that are wealthy have more funding for their local schools than those that are not. This situation directly affects the quality of education received by children in poor urban and rural areas. The No Child Left Behind Act will only make things worse because of the required testing and public reporting of the results. When parents buy a new home, they want to live in a school district that has good test scores. This increases property values in those areas, which means that only wealthy families can afford to live in the top-performing school districts. This means more property taxes in those areas, while lower-performing schools lose their funding if they don’t meet federal standards. There should be a fair tax system for education that is not based on property taxes on homeowners. Government funding, for the most part, is distributed to various schools by state and local governments and there are wide disparities in this funding based on race. According to the text american education According to Joel Spring, there is a gap of more than $1,000 per student across the country based on race, with large states like New York, Illinois, and Pennsylvania leading the nation in their unwillingness to fairly fund education (Spring , p. 77) . Children should not suffer because of their economic background or ethnicity, and public education should not discriminate between rich and poor, or black and white. All children who attend a public school must receive an equal education. Equity funding would give teachers adequate resources to better educate students. School choice and privatization of the public school system would not be a factor because, under my plan, the educational system in the United States would be fully and equitably funded by the federal government and closely monitored. With the influx of money from the government into the education system, schools would change dramatically for the better because that is the biggest problem in most public schools: lack of money.
The educational system’s curriculum would be modified to accommodate the national melting pot of different cultures and ethnicities. From grade school to high school, students are bombarded with facts and figures about wealthy white men as if women and other minorities don’t exist or contribute anything worthwhile to American history. No wonder so many students leave historical facts blank: they don’t care about these facts because they can’t relate to the actors in history. Students should be required to take courses that give them a deeper understanding of the world around them, courses that discuss the history of marginalized and oppressed people in this country and around the world. They should be required to read books that make them think, not just process information for the next test. If more students understood the values and cultures of people different from them, it would not be easy or possible for the government to lie and use propaganda techniques to lull the masses into believing that all was well and that their leaders were competent. High-stakes tests would be eliminated because most tests are designed by people who have no idea about the demographics, ethnicities, or economic backgrounds of the students being tested, and these tests are biased against minorities and the poor . If students are to be tested, additional tutoring will be available to students at no cost to parents.
Having competent teachers, board members, and administrators is also a vital part of restructuring the education system. It is important to have qualified administrators and board members who are aware of and enforce the standards and guidelines. What are the qualifications for an administrator? Are there required qualifications? These are the questions that need answers. Just because someone has earned a degree doesn’t make that person the best person for the job. Board members should not be elected because they play golf with the mayor; all board members must have a master’s degree in education or have extensive experience in social justice. Regarding teachers, the education system must ensure that the best teachers are chosen for the positions and evaluations must be carried out frequently. This would give parents and the education system the opportunity to find out what is wrong and what is needed to correct the problems. Public education needs teachers and board members who genuinely care about children and their education, not people who want the perks of working for the school system: free summers and holidays, constant raises, and a great compensation package. American children are suffering because of the shortcomings of the people involved in the educational system.
The “culture of poverty” theory that has been used by various politicians to explain differences in learning between different ethnicities would be exposed as a blatant attempt by the status quo to “blame” people for their poverty if the education system were to be restructured to meet the needs of all students, not just the wealthy. The huge educational gaps between poor students and rich students do not occur because the poorest students have adjusted to their existence of poverty, but because they do not have the necessary resources to succeed in school. If students have to deal with outdated textbooks, lack of toiletries, and computers from the late 1980s, their chances of advancing academically are dismal and they are likely to drop out of school.
In a just and equal society, the educational system I’ve talked about would have been in place decades ago, but it hasn’t and most likely won’t be. In a hierarchical society like America’s, there will always be someone at the bottom end of the totem pole, and the best way to do that is through rudeness to the most vulnerable: children. Neglect of the educational system in the United States threatens the economic well-being of the entire nation. Unless inequalities in education are reduced and its system completely restructured, the gap between the rich and the poor will continue to widen and the US will become infamous as the nation of the undereducated. Spring, Joel. American education. (2006). New York: McGraw Hill.