The public school system in the United States of America is in dire need of an overhaul. With thousands of problems that each person within the system can face every day, something needs to be done to protect the mental and physical health of both the student and the teacher. From the intense focus on testing, the school system being made a victim of budgeting, and all of the attendance hours that leave children ragged, there are problems. Something must to be done to change this, and there are potential solutions, as it has been done already in Europe. A major component that is necessary to change is the importance on standardized testing.
Standardized testing is something that no student or teacher can escape from in the public education system. The governmental attempt at assessing students and teachers alike creates a much larger issue for learning. The concept of learning for a test creates a “read and regurgitate” mentality. Rather than conceptualizing and retaining knowledge for the long term, students remember what they have to and forget when they no longer need it. It shows a single way of teaching and stifles creativity in the school system. The focus on standardized testing places an intense importance on the maths and sciences, yet gives little more than a glance toward the arts, as they are difficult to teach and classified as superfluous. Thus there has been the creation of a system of schooling wherein those who favor the arts are left underappreciated and without classes.
Schools are becoming victims of budget cuts. Unnecessary classes such as the arts, physical education, and music courses are beginning to be cut from curriculum because there is no longer money to fund them. This prevents students from being balanced and well-rounded in mind, body, and soul, and does not create the respect for those disciplines that they deserve. Classes are not the only things being compromised as a result of budgeting cuts, however. Teachers are not paid enough to care about their students, but rather to teach them to pass tests. This creates an environment where a significant lack of trust exists between the students and the teachers. As a result of this, teachers view students as unwilling to learn while students view teachers as dictators or wardens. Those teachers who have the greatest passion for teaching do not have the budget to make learning valuable without delving into their own pocket to facilitate. Budgeting cuts have created a prison-like schooling system that is even reflected in the design of new schools. The fenced in campuses and block-shaped buildings make it hard to want to go to school, further creating issues.
The attendance policies at schools are a combination of overly lax and overly strict. For some high school students, it is necessary to wake up in the beginning hours of morning, such as five o’clock, just to make it to school on time at seven. This can even be a safety concern, putting tired teenagers behind the wheel of a car, which has the potential to be disastrous. With only 24 hours in a day and the mandatory components that high schools have dictated such as classes, extracurricular activities like sports, volunteering, homework, and even for some students a job, there are not enough hours to sleep and safely get to school the next morning. The lack of sleep and rest can cause people to be ill, which makes them miss school, and are then hence punished and possibly suspended if they are unable to produce a note. This does not lead to a happy and conducive lifestyle in any way, shape, or form.
The next question may be, “how do we fix it then?” The answer is simple and has already happened in other countries. Follow the European education system. Made up of short school days, mandatory vacations, and an emphasis on breaks to play, this system produces some of the happiest and most successful individuals. Most European schooling systems reportedly make both parents and students happier, while still giving children a primary and secondary education. would this ever be possible in the United States? Probably not, but it's nice to think about. I believe that the entire world could benefit from this. The European style of public education is almost utopian; it is the most ideal form of education possible. Producing happy and successful students and teachers alike, who would not want to follow that?