Liz T. Michigan

The American Education System Needs to be Reformed

Education is one of the most important parts of just about every American child's life. Unfortunately, the students of today are involved in a broken system. However, there are many things that can be done to change that.

Dear Future President,

When I go around my day in school, a choice high school in my county, I fear for the future. There are kids who still can’t write proper sentences, there are kids who fall asleep halfway into the day from lack of sleep (too much homework? Too early of start times?), there is only one small lady by the front door as our ‘security’, and there are kids that are unable to purchase the correct materials for class because they have prepare for paying the giant bills that come with college tuition. This has got to change. The American education system is broken. The youth of today is America’s future and do you really want the country you worked to become the president of to be put into the hands of the kids from this broken education system? A childhood defines a person to a large degree, and education is a big part of growing up, so I hope that while kids around my age and above have already taken an academic beating, the next generation and those after will be in a better education system and have a better upbringing because of it.

As for causes of this messed up education system, a large part is the lack of money. I don’t mean to focus everything on just my area, but look at the Detroit Public Schools; the teachers are going on strike because they aren’t paid, there’s 90 kids to a classroom because there’s a lack of teachers, the buildings are falling down and moldy, there’s no windows, the roofs leak, and also there aren’t even enough resources for all the kids. Detroit is a whole different ‘fix my country’ letter so I won’t get into anything more specific (what I listed is what I hear on my news almost daily), but the point is that it’s no wonder why the city is in pieces. Their future - I mean actual people in the city, not just the rich politicians that are building hotels and apartments - is not receiving a proper education, whether they are dropouts or are actually in school. The city’s broke, the state’s broke, so I suggest that the poor school systems need to be taken up by the government.

I do suggest that for all schools, actually. The education system in America should be controlled on that larger level so everyone received the same education. It would be much easier to supply resources, another reason for why the system is messed up; some districts lack the necessary supplies to support the proper curriculum. Take away private schools (leave the Catholic schools and all the other religious-based schools, though. Offer to supply those institutes, but do not take them away. This will avoid deeper conflict) so every child in the U.S. gets the same education and the same opportunities. The same opportunities make each of them equally qualified for higher education, equally qualified for a job, and so on. You cannot force the student to properly participate, of course, but if someone wants to take their education as a joke and write their assessments on topics not appropriate for school then so be it. It’s their future, their assignment, and their grade. They can’t say they didn’t have a chance to succeed equal to everyone else’s. This enforces personal responsibility and while a structured, provided guideline can help, it’s also up to the student.

There is only so much money that can be provided so changes must be made inside the schools as well. Let’s discuss a few.

First, I’d like to talk about security. Shootings, stabbings, and bomb threats have been very popular in recent years, especially in 2016 and schools have become prime targets since so many people are so close together. The locked glass doors and the little lady behind the desk isn’t going to stop much if someone were to come and shoot up my school. No one is going to know if someone has a bomb until it goes off under a lunch table, in bathroom, or in the hallway between classes. What would help promote security would be metal detectors by the doors, and a few layers of doors as well. If I can use my thumb to unlock my phone, maybe we should use the same technology to allow access into schools for staff and students. Keep trained security guards on hand all during the school year. Some might say that this is ‘too threatening to the friendly school environment’ and getting screened to go into school is ‘too scary for the little kids’ but I think a shooter walking into a school and killing 13 people is a little more scary.

Another aspect of promoting security at schools is all the media coverage of shootings and bomb threats. It’s okay to report something but constant coverage supports it. Twelve hour coverage a day on four news stations keeps it constantly talked about which supports keeping it in people’s minds; specifically those who have bad ideas. As said in the 1999 article ‘No more Columbines, no more Kosovos’, “We fail to see that we have built violence into the culture; we support it, subsidize it, applaud it.” It’s like the old monkey-see-monkey-do cliche; one person thinks they can get away with something because they see someone else doing it. That’s how people think, like when your friend is allowed to do something so you think you can convince your parents to be allowed to as well. How to not enforce shootings and threats? Ban constant coverage. Constant coverage fuels the fire, future president, and this isn’t where we want the fire to grow.

Next, I’d like to mention costs. More specifically college costs since I covered resource costs. College tuition is also a whole new letter, such as aforementioned topics like Detroit, DPS, gun control, and security, but it’s still an aspect of our broken education system. When my brother was applying for loans, we looked the statistics up and from, I learned that 71% of college kids in a four year plan in 2012 had taken out loans. That’s over ½, almost ¾ of the total going to college. The best analogy or explanation I can think of is my 5th grade history class: if all but maybe four or five kids got a C or lower on the test, the fault is pretty evident in the teacher, not the kids. Same goes for college costs: if three out of four students are taking out loans, then maybe the cost is too high. Future president, how do you expect a kid from the DPS, which is not that great of a school district, for example, to go to college if they are unqualified for a job to pay for their loans because their elementary and secondary schools failed to educated them enough? This goes for other inadequate school systems too. It’s a chain reaction, future president. It’s all inter-connected. Even if nothing else gets reformed, at least lower the rates by a lot so those less fortunate can have a chance.

Tuition rates are simply too high, and where does all that money go? Only so much money is necessary for the building, the supplies, and the staff, right? George Roche in ‘Why money can’t buy a better education’ - in 1994, might I add; this was when college rates weren’t as high as today - suggests, “Parents protest that tuition costs have far outstripped the rate of inflation and their ability to pay. Meanwhile, growing numbers of professor receive huge salaries for teaching one or two classes a semester.” If professors were getting paid far too much then students are paying far too much. Having to spend almost every dime students, and parents if the student is lucky, have on tuition loans and books can cause the inability to buy a car or fix it properly, the inability to purchase a proper meal or pay for medical needs, to name a few obvious effects. That shouldn’t happen. Tuition rates, as well as the prices for things like use-once books, need to be lower so these students have the chance to pay for things aforementioned.

Another messed up part of the American education system are the times; starting time of day, ending time of week, how long the school day goes, how long the school year goes, and how many mandatory years of schooling there is. I have friends that do five hours of homework and three hours of practice a night, often most of the days of the week. Somewhere in there, these kids need to eat, sleep, shower, and spend time doing things with family or things that they enjoy. After all of that, these kids are going to sleep at maybe midnight or one, sometimes two, and are getting up at 5:30 to catch a bus. That’s not enough sleep. That’s not enough break time to lower stress levels. In the recent article, ‘Let Them Sleep: AAP Recommends Delaying Start Times of Middle and High Schools to Combat Teen Sleep Deprivation,’ it says “Studies show that adolescents who don't get enough sleep often suffer physical and mental health problems, an increased risk of automobile accidents and a decline in academic performance.” The kids of today are going to have a terrible future if they grow up sleep deprived, depressed, and bitter. To change this, school should start a 9am and end at 1:30pm, and school should only be 4 days a week. This allows for adequate time to sleep and eat breakfast, enough time after school for homework, work if they’re old enough, and there’s still time for extracurriculars.

The question you’re probably thinking: how can we crunch 6+ classes into four hours for four days a week? Easy answer: cut the curriculum. 10th graders should not be spending 30 minutes a week learning basic grammar that we should’ve known in 3rd grade. Students should learn the basics like grammar, persuasive writing, basic math like multiplication, division, and basic algebra, how the water cycle works, etc. in the early years. Future president, please change it so that happens. We can’t have kids in 8th grade who don’t know the difference between there, their, and they’re. Remedial classes won’t have to exist if everyone is educated sternly, efficiently, properly at a young age, and incorrectness with simple things like that cause point loss for grading. Additionally, cut things that are taught but are really only necessary for a specific field, such as learning complex equations for a very specific shape in geometry or exactly what Shakespeare meant by one line. Yes, skills like analyzing and understanding what is read, knowing the states, and memorizing practical mathematical equations like mx + b are important, but spending two months learning something that is used once and once only is pointless and wastes time. What is taught must be taken seriously and must be relevant so students can balance home and school all while getting an efficient education.

Things such as the arts, sports, health classes, and languages should be highly recommended courses, that are optional to take but still are suggested, to go on to a, “wide range of institutional; specializations…. similar to the way that technical schools, colleges, and universities become identified with particular courses of study and departments,” as suggested by Blair Lybbert in the article ‘Restructure our schools - now!’ This would be like a trientary school; something that’s like a college that specializes in a more specific curriculum for what the student is into. This program, as suggest in the aforementioned article, could be optional because some aren’t ready to pick a career at sixteen years old, which would be when this would be available to students. That is why I say mandatory schooling should end at 10th grade so the students have the chance to make money and/or choose to start a third schooling session that’s more specific to their aimed college major. This is a very radical idea, yes, I get that, but this allows for useful and personal time management that I believe would encourage responsibility in the student and would also be beneficial to their future.

So, future president, each of the previously discussed subtopics are each very specific subjects when talked about alone, but I hope the big picture is clear: the American education system needs to be reformed. Many aspects are broken and to not fix at least one of those would be like breaking the pieces even more. You ran for president because you wanted to make a change, see a change in your country, and as I see the kids of my school, the students on TV, on social media, all complaining about their school, I hope to see a change too.


Liz T.

Clarkston Community Schools

5th Hour

ELA 10

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