The views expressed in this article are the views of the author.
The education system in the United States is riddled with issues. From education practices and the structure of the curriculum to resource allocation and investment, we have a great deal of work to do to improve the way that kids are expected to acquire knowledge. The current system or group of systems fails the students it is meant to serve and makes education feel more like a burden than an opportunity.
We should encourage the use of different approaches to education, keeping in mind the range of needs that different students can have. A fluid approach to a personalized teaching method is, unfortunately, not as widely available as it should be. As a result, some students are dismissed as not understanding the material or as not wanting to participate when in reality, their struggles aren’t due to an inability to handle the material or a lack of willingness to engage. Rather, they struggle due to the fact that our education system tries to force them into a mold like trying to squeeze a circle into a triangular hole.
The way that our education systems are structured should be centered on the students and their needs and abilities rather than trying to get students to adhere to abstract ideas or principles of an ideal education.
On a school system level, there should be more equitable funding for public schools. There is an abysmal history of disproportionate funding in the public education system. While money is not everything, it does impact the resources and the programs that schools can have. Some school systems have programs that allow students to take home laptops while other schools do not even have updated textbooks. That kind of inequality creates gaps in achievement and if they start early in the education system, they not only persist but grow across a lifetime.
On an instructor level, we need to give teachers more respect and strive to meet their needs because what they do is a vital part of our society. This means more than just tipping your hat, smiling or making a Facebook post on Teacher Appreciation day. The fact that, all across the country, teachers have had strikes to earn the money that they deserve or to advocate for better resources for the classrooms is ludicrous and is a huge disruption to education.
Even a few days of missed instruction can be detrimental to students, especially when there are national exams to prepare for that cannot be rescheduled. Aside from the logistical problems of a teacher’s strike for students, the message sent by our current educational conditions are that teachers are not valued as professionals, or at least not enough to help them to help the future of our country.
These changes aren’t necessarily simple to make, but they are simple to justify. The fact is that our current educational systems are not giving enough students what they need to be successful and aren’t ensuring that their schools and teachers can provide them with the best chance to advance. With that said, we have a few options: we can continue to watch problems grow, we can try to grab some duct tape to patch them or we can try to adjust the foundational issues that create the problems. We get to choose.