Jokes and complaints about the quality of the American public school system have been circulating for years from a multitude of places: media, pop culture, and even in our schools themselves. The poor quality of the education system has become so well-known that it is an American stereotype to be unintelligent. Though the US has implemented several changes to the American school curriculum in recent years, none of them seem to be effective. To truly fix our school system,we need a new curriculum, less unnecessary testing, smaller class sizes, and higher teacher qualifications.
One of the largest problems with the current school system is the curriculum. The standard Common Core curriculum used today does not benefit students, for it lacks teacher flexibility. Teachers know their students the best and are aware of their strengths and weaknesses, so it is more logical to allow teachers to teach their own curriculum rather than forcing them to stick to an ineffective curriculum created by politicians.
In addition, the Common Core curriculum itself is poorly designed; the National Review found it “widely denounced for imposing confusing, unhelpful experimental teaching methods.” Teachers teach the best when they are passionate about the topics covered, and the best way to ensure that is to let them create the curriculum, not by forcing them to teach to the test, which Common Core implements. In addition, teachers have to sacrifice individualization and passion to ensure students pass their exams.
On the topic of testing, students are being forced to take more exams than necessary. In the past, they were only expected to work towards one exam at the end of the year. However, now students have to suffer through a plethora of tests: PARCC, HSA, quarterly exams, PSAT, SAT, and the list goes on. Students have to constantly prepare for exam after exam and tests reduce important instruction time, which reduces the amount of actual learning.
Not only are students getting overtested, but classes are becoming more crowded than ever, making it more difficult to learn. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, almost a quarter of all American public schools serve a student population that is over their maximum capacity. As a result, teachers are less likely to build a meaningful relationship with their students, decreasing their education quality. “Kids don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care,” said Christopher Lloyd, a Montgomery County Public School fourth grade teacher.
Due to the rampant anti-intellectualism in American culture, there is a major lack of respect for teachers and educators. Teachers are often regarded as low status jobs, due to their easiness to get a degree and low pay. In comparison, BBC found that teachers in China, a country with one of the best education systems in the world, are given the highest level of public respect and are recruited from the top graduates. The US should emulate China and improve the public’s regard of teachers.
To achieve this, the qualifications and salary for teaching careers should increase. One of the main arguments against pursuing a teaching career is that teachers are not paid enough, which discourages qualified individuals from pursuing a career in teaching. According to the New York Times, the quality of one’s kindergarten teacher can influence one’s salary in the future, and an exceptional kindergarten teacher is worth 320,000 dollars in future earnings. As a result, the qualifications for becoming a teacher should increase, they should be hired from the top graduates, and their pay should be increased.
Education, after all, is a pathway to success and future achievements. It allows people move up the socioeconomic ladder, and it results in the innovators of the next generation; it took years of studying physics before Albert Einstein developed his theory of relativity. The American public school system is in urgent need to be fixed through combating anti intellectualism.
Article by MoCo Student staff writer Ashley Ye of Richard Montgomery High School