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Problems in Public Schools
The average student goes to school from kindergarten through twelfth grade. That’s approximately thirteen years of our lives devoted to schooling. Therefore, shouldn’t we get the most out of those thirteen years? Shouldn’t every student get a quality education? A quality education is an education that is meaningful, worthwhile, responsive to individuals and social needs (Pirotta). In order to reach a quality education it is necessary to have proper funding and adequate teachers who let their students be creative and shine through their work. The effects on society and individuals that either do not do well in school or drop out are very overwhelming. A lack of funding, creativity and adequate teachers are negatively affecting our students and society in life after high school.
In pre-school, we learn through finger painting and making macaroni necklaces. This also teaches us the concept of creativity. However, as we work our way up through grade school, our lessons and displays of creativity slowly decrease. In high school, most projects have strict guidelines that restrict our creative side. So why does this creativity vanish? Ken Robinson says, “We get educated out of creativity.” This meaning that the strict rules of schools erase the creative aspect out of us.
Linquist says that we are running an education system where making a mistake is the worst thing you can do. Therefore, students become frightened to be wrong, so they don’t think outside the box to answer creatively. She also makes a very valid point, “There aren’t state test to judge creativity.” Even research shows that IQ scores are up, but creativity is down. This could be due to the fact that if there are kids in public schools, that emphasize standardized testing, not much is being done to encourage creativity and problem solving compared to the efforts put into routine memorization (Botches).
Also, if a teacher is bland or monotone in their teaching habits, students are not going to pay attention as closely as they would to an enthusiastic and creative teacher. This shows that creativity and teachers go hand in hand. In order to receive a quality education, students must be taught by top quality teachers. According to education.com:
Research shows that student achievement is greater influenced by the quality of their teachers. This is particularly strong among students from low-income families and African American students. This suggests that the most significant gains in student achievements will likely be realized when students receive instruction from good teachers over consecutive years.
However, what qualifies someone as a good teacher? An adequate teacher is defined as someone who is able to consistently assist his or her students in making significant academic progress (Wood). Teachers should be able to understand how their students work and how best to help them. As mentioned earlier, teachers also need to be creative. This plays a part in lesson planning. From learning visually, to learning hands on, every student learns in a different way. For this reason, teachers need to have broad teaching methods to reach out to every individual (Wood).
Another problem is that, “Many teachers have been in their role for too many years and in that time education has changed: Learner’s and parent’s expectations have also changed and a lesson considered good ten years ago would not be so today” (Hughes). Likewise, having brand new teachers is not always the best option.
An example of this was the New York City Teaching Fellows program run in 2003. This was a program to “solve the chronic shortage of teachers in the city’s toughest schools” (Brown 1). The program was aimed at inner city schools where the Board of Education “hired college graduates with no academic background in education and quick-certified them with a three-year Transitional B certificate” (Brown 2). Programs such as this just fill necessary teaching spots with new, inadequate teachers that are basically forced to learn how to be good teachers for themselves.
Due to programs like this, the American Federation of Teachers is suggesting that the nation create a new test that would be required by all future teachers (Krache). This test would be given to all up and coming teachers regardless of whether they are entering the profession through traditional means or an alternative route such as the Fellows Program. The report says "We must do away with a common rite of passage, whereby newly minted teachers are tossed the keys to their classrooms, expected to figure things out, and left to see if they (and their students) sink or swim. Such a haphazard approach to the complex and crucial enterprise of educating children is wholly inadequate.”
The effects of all of this after high school are overwhelming for both the students and society. “We are all born with immense natural talents but our institutions, especially education, tend to stifle many of them and as a result we are fomenting a human and an economic disaster” (Robinson). This economic disaster Robinson talks about is not having proper education for our jobs and thus not being able to support our economy. According to educationvoters.pa.org if the students who dropped out in 2008 had stayed in school, the nation’s economy would have profited about $319 billion over their lifetime.
The problem however is not just in careers, it is also in college. If students do not receive a proper education in high school, how are they expected to succeed in college? A college degree is almost necessary to not face unemployment though. A study showed that the unemployment rate for college graduates was about 6.8% and on the other hand, the unemployment rate for just high school graduates is a staggering 24% (Webley)
A real life example of struggling in college is that of Cedric Jennings. Jennings went to an inner city school and when he finally made it college he had a hard time. He said, “I’ll never forget being laughed at for saying I wanted to go to the Ivy League. I’ve been told that I wouldn’t make it and that I couldn’t hang” (Suskind 137). This just shows that once kids are faced with a lack of proper education, some of them give up hope.
Part of Cedric’s struggles comes from the fact that he goes to an inner-city school, with improper funding. This is a growing problem even locally. “A survey of school districts by the Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators found, 44 percent reduced elective course offerings and 70 percent increased class sizes. More than 30 districts said they either reduced or eliminated full-day kindergarten or pre-K programs” (Hefling). In many states, schools are cutting art, music, and sports programs or making students “pay to play.” In some states, schools have even cut the school week down to four days to save on utility costs (Hefling). All of these things have a negative impact on the students and their education.
A lack of proper funding, adequate teachers and creativity is negatively affecting our students and society in life after high school and it must be stopped. If not, it will snowball out of our control and continue hurting more kids and in turn our society. We need to receive proper funding for our schools. We need to keep a closer watch on our teachers and their level of training. We need to learn how our students learn and let them channel their creativity through their projects and assignments.