No one is going to argue that the American school system is perfect. Most people who are part of it or have been in the past few years will argue that it isn’t even good, but the universal opinion of it is, no matter how strongly you believe it, that the American school system could use some improvement. For one thing the food sucks, the days are debatable long and start too early, homework is too much, student stress is through the roof, I personally think, as I wrote in previous article that discrimination is still inexplicably present, the list could go on and on about what is wrong with our schools, but ask the average student what they think is the biggest problem, and their answer will most likely boil down to one thing; the american school systems harbors double standards.
There is no doubt the school system harbors double standards, though they will deny it. Students are expected to have their work in on time, but teachers can turn their work back into them anytime they want. Teachers can also neglect to put a student's scores in the grade book any time they want, sometimes making it nearly impossible for a student to know what they grade is and how hard they need to be working as the end of the semester draws near. Students are told that they have to respect the teacher and can be punished harshly if they don’t, but the teacher very seldom respects the student. As required in many classrooms students have to memorize ridiculous amounts of things in short times in order to pass the test, but some teachers can go an entire year without memorizing something as simple as their students names. In the classroom the teacher is a god and a student can do nothing about it.
The problem seems a trivial thing, and in most cases it is in isolated incidents but over the twelve years the average student spends in the school system these incidents can begin to add up and wear on a student's motivation, conscience, and attitude. It’s incidents like these that can be drawn as the source of so many high school dropouts, as people can’t take the injustice of it anymore, and there’s nothing they can do to stop it because the American school system is first and foremost for education and to try and take a stand against it would be taking a stand against one of the most important assets our country offers, no matter how corrupt it is.
Most student just live with the corrupt system we are forced to participate in. It’s a strain on our mental health but once it’s over it’s just a bad memory. Then sometimes it’s not. Sometimes it becomes something that is going to stick with us forever, ruin our view of what the school system is meant to be. Not a wayward system that is meant to be good. But a system consumed by self interest with little or no concern for those it’s supposed to be benefiting. Take for my instance, my school.
My high school opened in 2009. It was the newest high school to be opened in the state and because of it was the pride of the state’s schools, and us students felt the burden of it. On the one hand the school was good. We had carefully handpicked staff with good credentials to teach us, we had plenty of room for everyone, classrooms, common areas, the lunch room was big enough, we had a greenhouse and a theater. Our theater program was strong and our speech and debate teams were second to none. Our sports teams weren’t that good but our support for them was. We were a good school, the pride of the state school system, but only on the surface.
Anyone who spent any significant amount of time in my high school knew about the boiling underbelly just below our gilded mask. Really, under the surface we just like any other school. Everyone hated each other. Students didn’t like teachers, most of the teachers disliked the students. Students stood in cliques in the hallways only talking to those they knew, judging everyone else like a scene out of Mean Girls, they never mixed never spoke to each other, accept occasionally when paired together in groups and even then us students always seemed to find ways of getting in groups with our friends. The school was not a nice place, in fact it was hell, made worse by the standards we were held to for the sake of our school's good name.
My grade was especially hated. The school you see had a drug problem, most students smoked weed and a ridiculously high amount did heroin as well. The majority of the problem was concentrated in my grade. I am not trying to justify our drug problem, I hated the fact that my school was known by other students around the state as the one that lost three students to drug overdoses. I hated that my classmates came to school obviously drunk and high. I hated the fact that when one of my classmates died of a heroin overdose the way everyone chose to honor him was by going to public places around the city at midnight to smoke weed and get high. We had a drug problem. I’m not justifying that, or denying it. But that’s more than what my school did.
The first two times I had a classmate die from drug related problems, both heroin overdoses, the school officials ignored the problem. They denied that there was one, just two problem kids who made a big mistake, never mind that they were both well liked. Never mind that they had lots of friends. When my third classmate died from an allergic reaction to synthetic drugs, my school finally took action, but not the action necessary. Instead of increasing our lessons on the problems drugs bring, instead of sitting us down and telling us how it’s an insult to the memory of our friends to continue as we were doing, even instead of yelling at us for being stupid. They took us all into the auditorium sat us down, and yelled at us because we were ruining the schools pristine reputation. They didn’t care that three of our classmates had died, and we were all in shock and confused. They didn’t care that we were stupid and young and obviously not making good decisions. They cared that we were ruining the reputation of the school. They yelled at us because we were ruining something that the school officials were working for, something that they cared about. Not for ruining our own lives.
So what does this have to do with the double standards of the school system you ask. This past week, my former high school principal, the man who sat us down and yelled us for ruining the pristine reputation he worked so hard to build and maintain for the school (or was it himself) was arrested on seven accounts of possession of child pornography. I wonder what he thought that would do for our “pristine” reputation.