US education system needs an update

Education in America is in a state of decay. With damaging policies like No Child Left Behind, (NCLB) we continue to fall lower in the global rankings of math, science and reasoning. America continues to voice its concerns, and promises continue to be delivered. However, the budget for education continues to be cut.

Dropout and delinquency rates are reaching an all-time high. There is a plague of apathy infecting students on a national scale. This is not because our generation is getting less intelligent. The problem is the American education system.

The over-regulated system we have in place teaches memorization instead of a more flexible curriculum that advocates problem solving skills, the promotion of student life-goals and allows students to reach their own conclusions about the subject matter they are studying.

Current textbooks tend to give mediocre information due to trivialization, omission and the manipulation of facts. This is coupled with the repetition of basic subject matter because of an oversensitivity to political correctness.

Furthermore, our method of educating students is often flavored with a strong American exceptionalism. There is a general refusal to change and become more open-minded toward information and policies even though the times deem it necessary.

Who is to blame for the state of America’s education system? Is it the teachers, unions, state and federal governments, students or the parents? The truth is, there is enough blame to go around. Teacher labor unions are often criticized for opposing meaningful reforms that could increase competition and for protecting lousy teachers while failing to reward the good.

And, true parental involvement often ends at kindergarten when it should be present through the duration of a young person’s schooling. However, parents are not the only ones who share a part of the blame.

Sometimes individual students need to be held accountable for their poor performance. It doesn’t matter how good the school or teacher is if the student doesn’t do the work and the parents do nothing to stop him or her. This attitude is only reinforced by the increasing amount of laws that lower standards and encourage a lack of student accountability and responsibility. School systems are subsequently deprived of the power and support to handle such problem students.

Universities are also not exempt from criticism. Every year students hang their heads at the reality of textbook price gouging, rising tuition fees, decreases in financial aid and frequently cut academic programs due to a great lack of government funding to public universities. This leaves students distraught at the idea of stumbling headlong into a future of unimaginable debt — if it’s not too expensive for them to attend college altogether.

Even though the issue is starting to gain more attention from a majority of America, the sense of urgency required from lawmakers is nonexistent. Education should always be the top priority and investment of our country. The payoff has a direct impact on the crime rate, the economy and the overall stability and progress of our nation. No civilization was ever toppled because its citizens were too educated and its educational system too effective.

Part of our American ideology has always been America is best. But it is a depressing thought, indeed, if we are currently the best we can be.

Marcus Smith is a creative writing sophomore and may be reached at [email protected].


  • Much to the chagrin of the CEB, I have returned. No, that ran-over-by-bus-and-then-front-end-loader 'accident' wasn't enough to silence the Voice of Reason.

    I read this entire editorial twice and I still don't know what your position is. This shouldn't appear under the heading of 'Opinion' it should appear under the heading of 'Confused Ramblings.' I'd love to respond to your position, but near as I can tell it can be summed to: "Education is Good." With a slogan like that you should run for President.

    I'll start with a critique of your post:

    Have an idea. As I noted, you don't seem to have a thesis here – other than something so thoroughly obvious and uncontroversial that it doesn't warrant an article (certainly not one that takes space on two pages).

    Show me data. You make reference to education performance, funding, and start with a completely unsubstantiated attack on NCLB – and provide me with *zero* supporting evidence. Not even a tangential reference to a study that supports one of your…I'd call them points, but a point must support a conclusion which your piece lacks.

    Keep the scope of focus narrow. You went far out of your way to criticize basically everyone in the country at least twice. You need to have a *specific opinion* (other than "Republicans are t3h suxx0r' you don't seem to have one) – this feeds back into the thesis. But the rest of your piece is all over the place. Unions, Congress, Teachers, Students, Parents – yeah, that's everyone. What about them? Do you really think you can effectively abrogate all of these groups in a 750 word piece?

    It actually frustrates me that you've wasted this column by writing such a poorly-thought-out piece. Education is a *huge* issue, and right now everyone who takes advantage of it is getting screwed by the 'old people' (Republicans, Democrats, Unions, etc.) because they want to GET THEIRS(TM). It is absolutely vital that young people get active in protecting education funding AND contributing to education reform. It's not simply enough to dump more money on the problem (Democrats) and it doesn't work to enact reforms while cutting funding (Republicans). Parents should keep their filthy hands out of the gradebooks, and keep them on the backsides' of their underperforming children. Students need to understand that they are going to get the best education for society, and not a Liberal Arts Secondary education. Society needs to understand that while arts programs are great – the idea that they should take an equal or God forbid primary role ahead of Math and Science is ridiculous. Texas requires 4 years of english and history, but 3 years of science and 2 and a half years of math. That's absolutely ridiculous, and goes a long way toward explaining why so many young people are unemployed.

    These problems won't be solved by a confused rant.

  • The last bit about American exceptionalism hits the nail on the head. No one is going to improve if they think they are the best. What so many seem to forget is that we are now ranked among many third world countries on a variety of scales. I'm currently working towards my Master's of Education online at this site: and I hope that when I enter the teaching workforce our leaders on Capitol Hill will have made tangible strides in the right direction.

    • > No one is going to improve if they think they are the best.

      Pretty sure Americans in the 50's though the US was pretty great, but that didn't stop us from overtaking the UK as the world's premiere nation for science.

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