Should School End At Age 16 in The United States?
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Politics and Activism

Should School End At Age 16 in The United States?

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Should School End At Age 16 in The United States?
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High school dropout rates are on the rise and have been for decades. Students are bored, and most say that they have lost sight of the purpose of school long ago. Why do we continue to force students through four years of high school if they do not want to be there? Some students enjoy school and continue on to a University even after four years of high school. Others wish to pursue vocational school or other training, and that is okay! Formal education should end at age 16, because better use can be made of a student’s time before college or vocational training.

The middle class in the United States of America is quickly disappearing, and this is caused in part by our education system. Since the time children are in grade school, teachers and parents strongly encourage college. College is shoved down the throats of innocent students their whole lives. The simple truth is that college is not meant for everybody, and that is the beauty of life.

If everybody goes to college, then who will drain the drain? Who will operate the cash register at Target? The country needs blue collar class workers to thrive. Without a middle class, a society is not a society anymore. Every great society has perished partly because the middle class vanished. The middle class used to be, and should continue to be, the heart of a society. Some people enjoy physical jobs and vocational training, and society needs those people to remain as diverse as they are.

On the other hand, some say that ending formal education at age 16 could create more chances for youth to become mislead, and dangerous. The idea of teens being left to their own devices to make a big decision concerning their lives is an awful idea to some. Recent research shows the number of NEET teens, Not In Education, Employment, or Training, is on the rise in places where compulsory education ends at 16.

According to Clegg, “...with 15.9 percent of all 16­ to 24 -year­-olds in England being NEET as compared to 15.6 percent...” numbers are not showing much hope of slowing. “Britain has some of the worst dropout rates from schools and colleges in the developed world – more than nations such as Estonia, Greece and Slovenia, it was revealed yesterday”(Loveys).

As these numbers prove, the freedom that teens have after high school at such an early age can be excellently utilized, or poorly misused. This is a huge problem for everyone in the UK, more teens doing nothing, means more danger and less skilled adults.

Another problem with compulsory education ending at 16 in the U.S. is that most government and official actions cannot be taken until the age of 18. Some think that teens without wise and helpful knowledge after or during the sixth form can become inactive. However, the number of high school dropouts in England is still significantly lower than that in The United States.

Every system has some kinks, and a small amount of NEET teens seems to be a minute price to pay for such a successful education system. With the correct guidance, and stricter rules regarding being enrolled in college, vocational training, or apprenticeship until age 18 these issues could be easily solved.

Usually around the time that students are sophomores in high school, they have a good idea of what they want to do in life. Some students are highly motivated and passionate about learning, and continuing education. And if a student is very passionate about a certain topic, then they should be able to focus their time on that area. Others dread the four years of torture that they must endure just to be released into the free world. Our country could benefit from harnessing this power of variety and letting them go separate ways. Several countries have implemented this system and found success in it.

Countries like England, Wales, Scotland, Finland, Norway, and Denmark all end compulsory education at age 16. In England, you must either begin an apprenticeship or vocational school, or attend University until age 18. If a student chooses to complete the sixth form, they spend their time exploring fields that interest them the most before they enter Universities.

During the optional sixth form, students make use of their time by discovering topics that they are genuinely passionate about. This method helps students realize passions and strengths, so they find something that they actually like before they get to college or vocational school. In the United States, instead of this system, students spend their last two years becoming even more tired, confused, and bored of school which leads to an increased drop out rate. The high school graduation rate in the United Kingdom is 91%, compared to 77% in the United States (Lorsch). This flexible system provides structure and also creates different pathways for students, instead of trying to fit one shoe onto 14.9 million feet.

The education system in the United States tries to implement a “one size fits all” approach from the time students are in kindergarten. This system is outdated, and needs to be revised. Humans are all created differently for a reason, and it is a violation of basic rights to try to strip this away from them.

Students take countless standardized tests and meaningless benchmarks throughout their lives, because they “have to”. Not every child learns the same way, so to give the same test to everyone is only handicapping students, and setting them up to fail. Individuality is looked down upon, and ignored throughout the education of a child. Isn’t education supposed to help students realize their passions and highlight their strengths? So then why does the education system continually try this senseless method of hammering everybody into one shape.

The method of education currently implemented was created for an America that has long since passed. The job market of America today is looking for innovative, creative, and intuitive thinkers for the workplace. The school system is not creating these kinds of young adults. The simple truth is that America is stuck in an education era that needs a major face lift.

According to Mackey and Duncan, “Arguments against increasing the age are that costs will rise, that requiring older teens to remain in schools against their will cause disciplinary and safety problems for other students, and that doing so usurps parents’ rights to make education decisions for their children.” Another fantastic reason to decrease the end age of formal education is budget.

In decreasing the end age of formal education to 16, state and federal governments will both save money in operating costs, and safety. In this recent study, it was discovered that when the end age was raised to 18, in several different states, in­ school violence skyrocketed. Students of the ages 17 and 18 did not agree with this change for obvious reasons, and this made school less safe for them and their fellow students.

Most students now waste time in some classes that they share no interest in, nor will ever need to use in their lives. Passion is the most important and valuable thing around, but if there is none, then why should someone waste their time?

For example, take a look at someone who wants to become an accountant. Why on earth should this student be required to take a year of art class. The way the education system is set up is almost nonsensical. The current system is setting students up for careers in fields that they see as “practical”, or for careers that they are pursuing only for the salary.

Life is too short to take required classes, and take an unsatisfying job that leaves someone unhappy at the end of the day. The school system should embrace individuality, instead of crushing it. The current system has many flaws, but could be vastly improved by decreasing the end age of school to 16.

The system of education that would end at 16 can better prepare students, instead of giving them useless knowledge that is a waste of their time. Another positive effect could be more motivated and less tired students. This way more students will still have the energy and passion to pursue what they love.

The purpose of education has been lost, in that people are not lead to chase their dreams anymore, but instead follow at a safe distance that does not lead them directly there. A more flexible and specifically designed school process that ends at age 16 will create more motivated and productive adults.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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