Covering the Bronco Nation.

The Rider Online | Legacy HS Student Media

Covering the Bronco Nation.

The Rider Online | Legacy HS Student Media

Covering the Bronco Nation.

The Rider Online | Legacy HS Student Media

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Swim Team Competes in Regional Meet
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The USA is in the Middle of an Educational Crisis.

The+USA+is+in+the+Middle+of+an+Educational+Crisis.

The United States of America is in the middle of an educational crisis. Test scores are plummetting, school funding is becoming unattainable and students are graduating from 12 years of public school education with no knowledge of how to survive in the real world. 

This disaster of an education system is nothing recent. Since the Industrial Revolution, American public school students have been trained like robots to become factory workers. Students are taught to be docile and agreeable, only doing what they are told by authority. Lined up in neat straight rows, they are told there is only ever one right answer, and if they do not know that answer, they fail. Students can only speak if their hand is raised and have permission. If they challenge an idea, they are wrong. For an archaicly structured 9-5 work system, this might work and those children might grow up to work in an assembly line performing the same task thousands of times a day for 40 years straight. For everyone else, this has led to neglect and hatred students have developed for school. 

A June 2023 report by the National Assessment of Educational Progress, also known as the nation’s report card, noted that in the last 30 years, there has been virtually no educational progress. Despite rising funding and spending in nearly every nationwide public school district, performance and proficiency continue to decline. Year after year, students are told that funding and money are why performance is down. However, money has never been the problem, the problem is the system. 

A large issue with the school system is the accountability of teachers. Teachers cannot be fired for poor performance. Consequently, evaluations of those teachers have little to no meaning and are often not even conducted. Not only can teachers not be fired for poor performance, but they will be rewarded for mediocracy by receiving an automatic raise each consecutive year they teach. In essence, this pushes teachers no incentive to be half-decent knowing that they will receive a paycheck and raise regardless. 

Likewise, good teachers are not given any incentive to continue being good as they are given far more work than is manageable in a day. With hours of administrative paperwork, teachers have no time to balance how much they focus on their students and how much they focus on everything else given by their advisors. Countless teachers are forced to stay hours after school just to finish everything that they were not able to do during school hours. 

However, an overbearing workload is not just given to teachers, homework has become one of the most prevalent issues in American education. With some students having to stay up until 2 or 3 a.m. in order to finish everything on time and then wake up three hours later for school again, it is no wonder that failure rates are so high. 

Since the school system changed in the 1800s, the success of students has been solely measured on test scores. Because of the increasingly high rate of “failure,” students believe they are stupid because they cannot pass a standardized test. Various issues arise from standardized tests such as the lack of any feedback given. After spending four hours at a small desk circling multiple-choice questions, students are never told ways to improve what they missed. How can students be expected to improve and learn if they are never told how to do so? 

A large problem is also simply the multiple-choice aspect of it as it causes students to guess or cheat on half the questions they do not know the answer to. Possibly the biggest issue is that nearly all teachers of core subjects are forced to “teach to the test” because of the intense scrutiny placed on them by advisors. If a topic is interesting, compelling or useful to learn but not on the test, it is often never discussed as teachers have no reason to focus on it. 

Rather than focusing on all the negatives, it is beneficial to also focus on a solution: what can the United States do to fix this century-old problem? One of the best ways to do this is to look at the European country of Finland, rated for years as the best education system in the world. 

One of the biggest reasons for this is that Finnish students are not subject to a multi-billion dollar industry of standardized testing. Teachers instead grade individually with a system created by each teacher for their class. Finnish students also do not begin their education until they turn seven, meaning schools do not force four and five-year-olds to take lengthy tests. The Finnish school system also only offers teaching positions to master-degree holders and each school principal keeps close tabs on their teachers to track their performance and progress. 

Instead of having forced uniformity among students, Finns are able to complete their education at their own pace according to their own unique needs. Classroom activities are very active in Finland; Students do not just sit in silent memorization, they walk around, gather information, collaborate on different ideas and get frequent breaks, with 15-minute recess periods between each class. Education and learning involve frequent hands-on activities throughout all grade levels and teachers do their absolute best to keep kids engaged. Students also have little to no homework during the week. Instead, educators place a strong emphasis on sports and extracurricular activities after school instead of giving hours of homework each night. This increases overall mental health and rids of standardized education so commonly seen in America. 

An interesting facet of the Finnish education system is that students only spend about three to four hours each day learning and doing schoolwork, with the rest of their time spent outside playing for younger kids and sports and extracurriculars for older kids. While American school system creators might think this is not near enough, Finland has one of the world’s highest rates of high school completion at 93%, a literacy rate of 99% and primary enrollment of 99.3%. This compares to the US high school completion rate of only 75%, literacy rate of 86% and primary enrollment of 94%.

Although the American school system is broken and in desperate need of reform, it is completely possible. By looking at education systems like Finland’s, we can learn how to implement more successful schooling and raise kids to be prepared for their lives after high school.

About the Contributor
Jackson Gourley, Staff Writer
Hi, I’m Jackson. I’m a senior but this is my first year in journalism and I love to travel and discover new music.
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