The American public education system is failing. That’s the reality of it. It may not seem like it according to the statistics, but it is failing in aspects such as individuality, creativity, and overall relativity in the “adult world”. Now this may seem like a stretch coming from an 18-year-old but I have the facts to back it up.
According to census.gov as of 2015, about 88 percent of adults have at least a high school diploma or GED. About 59 percent of adults have completed some college courses but only 33 percent of adults in the United States have actually completed college and obtained their bachelor’s degree. Another interesting fact about these particular statistics is that the majority of those 33 percent of adults with bachelor’s degrees are Asian-American. Although the rate has dropped, Blacks and Hispanics continue to have the highest rate of high school and college dropouts since the 1990s.
So, what’s the problem with our education system and how do we fix it? One issue that Americans constantly struggle with is the concept of poverty and education. Unfortunately, Blacks and Hispanics are usually the ones having to deal with the fight of being able to afford living in a decent neighborhood which for the most part determines what school their children will attend. Bad neighborhood, usually means bad schools, which results in a higher dropout rate than graduation rate. It may be a difficult concept to wrap your head around but it is actually a very common concept that people point to when placing blame on our education system. However, there are a lot of components that add to the reason why the system is failing.
Education expert, Sir Ken Robinson says that the issue with our public education system is that it does not conform to the needs of individual students. We take a group of children and place them in a classroom for about 7 hours Monday through Friday for thirteen years where they learn various skills in order for them to be able to survive in the adult world. They are then tested on these skills every few weeks and regardless of how many students don’t know a percentage of the material, they move on to the next subject and then the next. So, according to Sal Khan (creator of Khan Academy) unless there is more than one child who managed to get 100 percent on the test, the children are indeed learning the material but they are not mastering it. Which is why everyone has their fair share of struggles in different subject areas.
The last flaw in the system I would like to talk about is the lack of relativity to the adult world that is taught in schools. Before 2014, in the state of Virginia it was not required for students to take a course on economics. This class, which I’m grateful for helped me to understand taxes, insurance, debt, and many other aspects of becoming an adult. There are not a lot of classes that are taught in school that actually teach us “how to adult”. Simple things like knowing how to change a flat tire, or paying a light bill should be something that teenagers are taught early on, because eventually it will come in handy. I could go on for days about the flaws within our education system. It works for some while others struggle. The solutions to these issues would be to change our education system entirely. How and what people learn can make a big difference on the outcome of their lives.