The Future of American Education
The American education system has become a corrupt institution and will soon fail all together. Every since elementary school, I can recall students receiving different treatment than I did, but I dismissed it because it was always in my favor. I have always excelled in my courses, so I assumed that was why I had so many opportunities. However, I began to witness more and more students at my level were falling behind. I didn’t know what the reasons were or why it was being done, but I knew that something was wrong. Unfortunitally, this observation has been proven to be an ongoing problem across the country. It is clear that race, gender, and income all have negative affects on the quality of student’s education. Either people have made steryotypes against their abilities, or their family’s income prevents them from having the same opportunities as others. One out of every six students attend a “dropout factory”, which is a high school having a high proportion of students who drop out before graduating. Thirty-two percent of minority students attend a dropout factory, compared to only eight percent of white students. In a 2010 statistic, only sixty-four percent of Latino students graduated high school. Children are taught not to judge each other, especially for the things they cannot control; and yet it’s okay when schools do it. Students that don’t fall under at least one of the categories of wealthy, white, or male, tend to have limited opportunities in education.
The article, “Puzzling out PISA: What Can International Comparisons Tell Us about American Education?” (November 2014), written by William Schmidt and Nathan Burroughs, discusses how income directly relates to a students mathmatical abilities. Students with low income families and other disadvantages are almost always placed into classes with weak mathmatical content. Because it is highly unlikely that students will understand math they were never taught, these students only know the basic topics they were taught in this weak class. This prevents them from trying to move forward in the program because they haven’t been taught what they need to know in order to move to the higher class.
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This article proves that there is an automatic disadvantage in education when a student comes from a low income family. Although they may not be pointed out for it so blatently, studies have shown that a family’s wealth corresponds with their mathmatical abilities. It is unfortunate that even though students cannot control their family’s income, they will have to pay a price that will affect them throughout their entire education, thus affecting their adult life as well. This source does not, however, answer the question as to why these lower income students are placed in classes with less rigorous math.
The article, “Good School, Rich School; Bad School, Poor School”, written by Alana Semuels, discusses the inequality presented in public schools across America. Semuels most likely wrote this article as a way to inform the general public about an inequality that many people probably didn’t realize existed. She starts off by using our homestate of Connecticut as an example of where there are such hue education gaps. Towns such as Greenwich and Darien are very wealthy, so they also have good public schools where textbooks, laptops, and guidance counselors are constantly at hand. Other areas, such as Bridgeport, have high poverity levels, and thus have little money for guidance counselors, teahcers, and technology. This source is an accurtate and reliable depiction of the American education system because it uses specific numbers, quotes, and sources to back up their information.
The article, “Improving Education Outcomes for African American Youth Issues for Consideration and Discussion” (February 2014), written by CLASP, is a discussion as to why African American students tend not to excell as well as other in the American education system. While the U.S. has long professed that a world-class education is the right of every child, there are still major inequities in the education system that leave African American children with fewer opportunities to receive a quality education. African American students have fewer high-quality teachers, less resourced schools, fewer gifted programs, and limited access to college preparatory coursework. These inequities are further complicated by issues of poverty and geography. For African American students, reduced and constrained access to educational opportunities begins in the early years and persists throughout the PreK-12 education system and beyond. This source is a direct example of how education is geared for specific students, leaving everyone else behind. Not only does it explain how race still effects a student’s education, but so does geography and money.
In the article, “A Critical Race Analysis of Latina/o and African American Advanced Placement Enrollment in Public High Schools” (2004), Daniel Solorzano and Armida Ornelas discuss how hispanic and African American students are highly unrepresented in Advanced Placement (AP) courses. In the state of California, Latina/o students have reached 51%, the majority of the state’s K-12 student enrollment. When examining California’s top 50 AP high schools, Latina/o students only made-up 16% of the student population enrolled in these top 50 high schools. Similarly, while African American students comprised 8% of California’s high school students, they were 5% of the student population in the top AP high schools. Therefore, students who do not have access to these courses are not afforded the extra GPA points and other college admissions benefits for taking AP courses and thus reduce their chances of becoming competitively eligible for university admissions.
This source shows how Latina/o students are also being left behind by the American education system. Schools that serve urban, low-income Latina/o and African American communities have low student enrollment in AP courses. Even when Latina/o and African American students attend high schools with high numbers of students enrolled in AP courses, they are not proportionately represented in AP enrollment.
The article, “How America Is Breaking Public Education”, written by Ethan Siegel, discusses many of the flaws in the American education system, as well as how we got here. The article appears to be written towards anyone who has a say in their education. It not only informs the public of the problem, but it also has suggestions for making it better. The American education crisis was kicked off in 2002 when the No Child Left Behind program began. Schools began focused on standardized testing, and eventually better scores became corrilated with teacher and school pay. Rather than helping children where they need it, teachers began focusing on the importance of grades. The belief was that if the student was motivated to avoid a bad grade, then they would magically be able to overcome all home problems, disabilities/disorders, and learning difficulties that held them back in the classroom. This source is important because it not only provides the root to the problem in our education system, but it also suggests methods that would help us make improvements.
In the article, “Examining Gender Inequality in a High School Engineering Course” (November 2012), written by Catherine Riegle-Crumb and Chelsea Moore, it examines gender inequality within the context of an upper-level high school engineering course. Among the almost two hundred students who enrolled in this challenge-based engineering course, females constituted a clear minority, comprising only a total of 14% of students. A magnitude of surveys revealed significant gender gaps in personal attitudes towards engineering and perceptions of engineering climate. Compared to males, females reported lower interest in engineering, and expressed less confidence in their engineering skills. Additionally, female students felt that the classroom was less inclusive and viewed engineering occupations as less progressive. This source shows how females are being excluded from STEM courses. They are not included as much as the male students, which can lower their self-esteem and confidence in this area. This can also lead to females not showing as high of an interest for the subject.
In the article, “Why White School Districts Have So Much More Money” written by Clare Lombardo, it examines why many school districts are still so segregated, and why some receive more benefits than others. Although segregated schools are illegal, the original school district borders were drawn at a time when there was residential segregation. A recent EdBuild study stated, “For every student enrolled, the average nonwhite school district receives $2,226 less than a white school district,” (EdBuild 2019). That translates to $23 billion more in funding that predominately white school districts receive compared to districts that serve mostly students of color. The CEO of EdBuilds explains that a school district’s resources often rely on how wealthy an area is and how the residents pay in taxes. This means that many of the high-poverty districts made up mostly of students of color cannot pay as much of their taxes as a wealthy, suburban area.
In the article, “The Current Education System is Failing our Students” written by Abigail Cox, it examines how a student’s access to educational materials can determine one’s success in school. Americans have long seen education as a means to avert the poverty cycle, as well as boost economic growth and increase individual income. However, schools and students in need of the most funding generally receive the least. Districts serving the poorest students, predominantly low-income students and students of color are given less access to less resources, fewer courses, and more inexperienced teachers, only perpetuating the poverty cycle. By not giving equal funding to these schools and districts, low-income students within these schools are disadvantaged and less likely to receive the same quality of education as students in a better-off neighborhood. To make matters worse, budget cuts have forced schools to cut classes and academic programs, increase average class sizes, and teaching positions have been reduced. In addition, when districts do not have enough funding for new and updated textbooks, they resort to reusing outdated ones, or rely on their teachers to personally supply materials. A common alternative to this is forcing students to purchase their own supplies- some students families’ can afford to purchase their own, but an increasing majority of public school students are low-income and cannot afford these necessary materials.
In the article, “How our education system undermines gender equity” written by Joseph Cimpian, it described how girls are often underestimated as soon as they enter school. In a 2011 study, it was found that there was no average gender gap in math test scores when boys and girls entered kindergarten, but a gap of nearly twenty-five percent developed in favor of the boys by around second or third grade. State standardized tests consistently show small or no differences between boys and girls in math achievement; however, significantly larger gaps appear more on national tests such as NAEP, PISA, ECLS, SAT Mathematics assessment, and the American Mathematics Competition. Cimpian also found that the beliefs teachers have about student ability contributes significantly to the gap. When faced with a boy and a girl of the same race and socio-economic status who performed equally well on math tests and whom the teacher rated equally well in behaving and engaging with school, the teacher rated the boy as more mathematically capable. In order for a girl to be rated as mathematically capable as her male classmate, she not only needed to perform as well as him on a rigorous test, but also has to be seen as working harder than him.
Beyond the K-12 education, there is large amounts of evidence at the college and postgraduate levels that cultural differences may be driving women away from STEM fields, as well as away from some non-STEM fields such as criminal justice, philosophy, and economics. In a recent study, Cimpian examined how perceptions on college majors relate to who is entering those majors. It was found that the dominant factor predicting the gender of college-major entrants is the degree of perceived discrimination against women. Women are less likely to enter fields where they expect to encounter discrimination. What happens if a woman perseveres in obtaining a college degree in a field where she encounters discrimination and underestimation and wants to pursue a postgraduate degree in that field? There will only be more obsticles that await her in the future.
Educational inequity is holding our students back from reaching their full potential and holding the younger generations back from receiving the best education responsible. In holding students back, we are depriving future society of the best foundation possible for a better world. If education were treated as an investment into the future of a country, investors would not hesitate to do their part in planning ahead and securing the future of a nation. As adults, constituents, educators, lawmakers, parents, and lifelong learners, we are responsible for the education our children are receiving. The children we are subjecting to a poorly designed education systems will be the ones leading our country. If we want a more equal country, we need to be exposing this idea to our future leaders. Would you want your future president to be a racist, sexist, tyrant?
With our advancing twenty-first century technology, we have more opportunity and ability to create change than ever before. We have the power to shape how we think the world should operate, and so far we have not taken advantage of that opportunity. We can no longer allow our children to suffer through poorly-funded educational measures or selectively pick which students learn without the proper resources. If we can change how we approach education, we have the potential to decrease the achievement gap and change the future of socioeconomic inequality. We are all human. We all deserve an equal education. We can stand up to teach our students the importance of learning, develop a culture around education, and teach all students, despite race, gender, ethnicity, and socioeconomic class the skills they need to tackle the problems of the future.