Issues with the US Education System

Kevin Portillo

Public Policy: Deficiencies with the Education in America

With new accommodations, such as the internet, smart phones and other gadgets, education has found its way across various outlets. Since the late twentieth century, public schools have adopted new ways in which a student may learn through the interaction of innovative technology. However, even with these new developments, deficiencies in America’s education still exist. Unequal access to education, poor education management, and recently failed legislation have all contributed to the weak educational system in the United States.

When we learn about the Civil Rights issues America faced early in its infant years as a nation, we learn that black slaves were treated unequally because the simple difference in the color of their skin. White overseers and masters would have their way and do as they pleased over them with no remorse because they were considered property, not humans. After generations of mistreatment, disrespect and brutality, freedom finally came to all former slaves. Soon after, the United States granted their freedom with addition of the 14th amendment in 1868 which gave them the right of due process and equal protection of the law. Now that African American’s were free and protected by the law, they began to make use of their rights by sending their kids to school with the white kids. This caused an uproar in the classrooms. Children are mirror images of the one’s that raised them, and since most of the white kid’s parents were not okay with the new freedoms of African Americans, hatred and disorder were day to day issues at almost every public school in America. The problem, at the time, was not only from the children in these schools; teachers, staff and faculty members were a major obstacle for African American children to receive the same level of education as the neighboring, white children.Though African American children were on the spotlight of this educational gridlock, they were not the only race to encounter road blocks in their children’s education; any minority race or ethnicity were also thrown into the mix as races that did not belong. It took up until near the end of the century, for the issue to be tried at the Supreme Court in the case of Plessy v Ferguson. The court ruled that all establishments must be “separate but equal” to all private businesses. As a result of the ruling, minority races were forced to attend establishments that were specifically for them. For example, black children were not permitted to attend the “white’s only” schools, drink from “white’s only” water fountains, eat at the “white’s only” cafe’s nor use the “white’s only” facilities and commodities. Instead they had their own places where minority groups may do the things the supreme white men, women, and children did. These separate accommodations and facilities were always found in poor condition and lacked basic maintenance. You could easily distinguish which facilities were for the white’s and which were not.

The end of segregation, especially in schools, was when the Supreme Court overruled its precedent in 1886 with decision in the case of Brown v Board of Education. The integration of all races in schools and private businesses was in full effect. Though retaliation was expected, President Eisenhower was prepared with an executive order for all public schools to open their doors to all races. This ultimately marked the end of hostile tension between minority groups but did not cease the tension within the classroom. It took time for society to over overcome its ego but the day of unity in schools across America from minority and majority groups came towards the end of the century.

Education is about fostering the intellectual and curious ones. Mandatory schooling ends at age 17 in Texas. When we graduate from High School, it’s up to us to decide whether we pursue greater knowledge or develop skills. However, unless our preceding educational background is positive, our interest in learning will weaken. TheOECD report notes that facilitating lifelong learning is “paramount”. Yet, instead of embracing the facts, schools across America are hampered by an excessive bureaucracy that seems to diffuse learning. Take the SAT. With its distinct multiple-choice question and its defining influence in college admissions, the SAT is both intellectually omnipotent in its shaping impact. Teachers are forced to “teach the SAT” rather than sparking interest in knowledge and ultimately diminishes the learning environment. In doing so, it fails to encourage exceptional students and it fails to support struggling students. It defers developmental curiosity to college. In the end, the costs are clear. Those students who don’t go to college, are left behind. Those who do go to college, have to learn how to learn.

Within the last decade, legislation such as the No Child Left Behind Act (President Bush, 2001), was a mandate for accountability on educational standards and emphasis on test results. In theory, it will improve the quality of public education for all students. Supporters believe that the act’s initiatives will further democratize U.S. education, by setting standards and providing resources to schools, regardless of wealth, ethnicity, disabilities or language spoken. Those that oppose it allege that the act hasn’t been effective in improving education in public education, especially high schools, as evidenced by mixed results in standardized tests. They also claim that standardized testing is deeply flawed and biased for many reasons, and that stricter teacher qualifications have exacerbated the nationwide teacher shortage, not provided a stronger teaching force. Some critics believe that the federal government has no constitutional authority in the educational arena, and that federal involvement erodes state and local control over education of their children.

In addition to these problems, the No Child Left Behind Act hindered those students who are one level above their peers. The act made schools focus on those who are at risk of fallen behind and leave the students who stride in the shadows. Also, since their is no general definition for the “gifted” nor a standard way of implementing “gifted education, then leads those students walking into a dark room and expecting them to come out with everything they need for the rest of their lives. The No Child Left Behind Act shifted the attention of the higher level students and turned it to facilitating at risk students who only need the bare minimum to pass. At a college level, students combat themselves with a new learning environment and are forced to dropout because they can’t afford to go to college just to sit in a class and be bewildered and fail the class.

In conclusion, America has been seen as one of the worldwide leaders in industry. However, it is mostly because people from other countries come to do their business here. It is time for America to confront its mediocre education mentality and begin focussing on legislation that benefits the student body of the generations to come. Teachers need to stop worrying so much about teaching how to take a test and focus more on how to answer the problems given instead. They should focus on teaching and ensuring that lessons they’ve taught will stick to them for more than the time until a test but for a lifetime instead. The U.S should ensure the future of its education by urging more legislation that will benefit the youth and anyone seeking higher education. In the long run, America will benefit from having “home-grown” entrepreneurs, engineers, doctors, lawyers, law officials and teachers. Inspiring education today will guarantee America’s stability tomorrow.