4 Major Issues Facing Our Schools Today
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Politics and Activism

4 Major Issues Facing Our Schools Today

Some of the most hotly debated topics in our education.

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4 Major Issues Facing Our Schools Today
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School. We’ve all been there, and while we were there we saw what did and didn’t work in our daily routines. A lot has changed since many of us have been in school, and for some of us we have just recently left or currently still are living through some of the issues that are now causing a stir in our curriculum. Below are some of the more prevalent debates that our school districts are facing today. After years of schooling, a few ahead of me and many more years of teaching in my future, these are dilemmas that we need to face head on. Hopefully you’ll be able to see just exactly why students are protesting all over the country over these heavily debated topics.

1. Start Times

This might seem like such a minor issue, but it plays more into an effective working school system than many may think. For years we have been agreeing that school start times are much too early for students to perform to their full potential, yet there has been little done to improve on this issue. The majority of U.S. schools start before 8:30 in the morning, forcing many students to wake up at 7:00, 6:00, sometimes even 5:00 if they have other responsibilities that they must get done at home before going to school. When students go in that early in the morning to school, they are often unable to concentrate to their fullest potential, especially in the first few classes of the day.

Throughout the rest of the day students are waking themselves up enough to retain information so that they are able to learn, and by lunch time they have gotten some information out of their last few classes of the day (not to mention they are eating to fuel their busy minds, which for many would be their first meal of the day). School finishes up and students get out of school to go to sports practice, clubs, work, or home responsibilities before starting their homework, something that can take hours on hours to do. I remember having to do homework during my junior year of high school and I was doing homework from the time I got home, most of the time that would be anywhere between 2:30 to 4:00, and I would be doing homework until 11:00 or 12:00 o’clock at night. To be a well-rounded student, you have to do all that stuff nowadays, and that is exactly what is killing students by getting up so early. By starting school at a later time, we would be helping students learn to their greatest potential.

2. Proper Advancement

The American school system is such a cut and dry system that it doesn’t allow for major or minor advancement in any area. What I mean by this is that you can have a student that is taking all AP classes their sophomore year of high school, which in a lot of school districts is difficult, not allowed or unheard of, yet they are not permitted to graduate early on and go to college early. On the other hand we could have a student that is really struggling in a math, English or other “core” class (I use quotes because what can be considered core is up to debate among the individual) and they need extra assistance, but they aren’t receiving it. Rather than getting the extra help they need, they are getting to the point where they are passing, which is not the same as excelling, and they are getting pushed through the system so that they can graduate “on time”.

That’s the issue. There shouldn’t be such a restrictive time frame that our students should be graduating in. Students should be given a better system of advancement so that they can succeed at their own pace, no matter if it’s faster or slower than how it is now. If we were to give our students better resources to succeeding and allow them more time to fully understand what they are learning before being assessed on what they’ve learned, we would have a much higher graduation rate than we do now and we would see a lot of minority groups succeeding as a higher level.

3. Privatizing/Under-funding

I put these two together because they can go hand in hand as well as individually. By privatizing our schools, we are taking funding away from our public school systems, which is taking an education away from those who cannot afford to go to a charter or otherwise private school. Students whose families suffer from poverty will no longer be able to receive an education. We will not be able to advance our technology in our classrooms, an expansive way of learning which is becoming a necessity in such a technological society.

Under-funding is taking away from simple school necessities such as pencils and paper. Under-funding means budget cuts that are putting all teachers at the risk of being out of a job, no matter how good of a teacher they are or how long they may have been in the school district. Tenure and job security no longer matters. Teachers are no longer getting assessed on how well they teach because in the end, it doesn’t matter in the hands of those that deal with the money. By privatizing our schools and taking funding away from public schools, we are facing a massive concern as a country in our youth’s futures.

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4. Standardized Testing

This is a debate all in its own. Students are being judged and held responsible for how they perform on these standardized tests. We’ve all heard it before; “in order to go to a good college you need to pass these tests” and “you hit the state standards otherwise you need to take it again” and “oh, by the way depending on your scores you might get scholarships but for those of you who don’t hit that level you don’t get anything so study hard but not too hard because then there will be a higher competition for receiving these scholarships”. It’s an endless cycle.

There are so many other things that need to be considered when admitting students into schools, judging their level of learning and their abilities inside and outside of the classroom. That’s why so many people have started boycotting these standardized tests; they know that they are smart but these tests aren’t showcasing their qualities. These tests don’t allow the art students to show what they can do with an instrument or a paintbrush. The tests don’t give students with test anxiety a chance to breathe because they are timed exams. These tests don’t allow teachers to teach outside of the curriculum and expand on student interests. We need to abolish standardized testing, among many of these other adjustments, in order to see real progress.
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