Sarah D. New York

Letter about Education

I wrote a letter to our next president regarding the U.S. education system.

Dear Mr./Mrs. President,

An education is one of the most important things a person can have. Students in the U.S. are not being given the education they need and deserve. The current education system in the U.S. has caused the country to fall behind and has allowed other countries to pass America in the education ranks.

The U.S. education system suffers from several deficiencies that result in performance that is below that of other first world countries. For example, the uninvolvement of parents, the lack of teacher innovation, the underperformance of students and the complex and overbearing common core system. America has allowed other countries such as India, China and Finland to surpass us in education causing us to appear weak and ignorant to competing countries

Uninvolved parents are one of the main causes for the failing system. The breakdown of the families in urban areas, and two working parent situations both lead to scenarios where kids are left for the school to raise and to act as a babysitter. Lack of teacher innovation induces the failing system. Teacher unions promote tenure and seniority over excellence and achievement. There are no performance based rewards and no tools with which to discipline students. There is a lack of a supportive, creative environment that encourages innovation, instead there is an overly complicated and structured approach of common core.

Common core is an overly complex, burdensome system that forces a one-size-fits all approach and is heavily dependant on standardized tests which are used to grade schools instead of students. This promotes a culture of teaching to the test instead of teaching to learn. In addition, many new techniques have been introduced that are not intuitive and can be argued don’t work as well as traditional methods. This is causing students to underachieve and the lack of consequences for poor school performance decrease the drive to succeed.

The poor education system in the U.S. strongly affects current students and recent graduates. According to a report publish by American Progress/ Next Generation countries like India and China are constantly improving their education system so that their children are promptly hired by key industries. The report further stated that it is expected, by 2030 that the number of students graduating college in China will reach 200 million and that the number of graduates in India will be four times that of the U.S.. This will “Completely eclipse the american workforce” (Admin).

There are conflicting views on the education system in the united states. Some argue that the Common Core Standards prepare students for a competitive global economy and that they provide national continuity in education. However, other countries are excelling at a much faster rate which makes our preparations for a competitive global economy insufficient over the long term. In addition, the Common Core Standards cannot be tailored to the diversity of our nation. Common core is pushed by the government and if you don't adopt it they will withhold funding. The Common Core Standard is a program based on ideal situations and the aspirations of well intended education experts. The problem is, the system assumes a there is unlimited funding and that students are already proficient in their areas of study. In reality, there is plenty of money but it is often misspent and a significant percentage of the students are underperforming or behind grade level.

In order to fix the education system, we can look to other countries for ideas. Many countries, for example, Finland ( #1 in education) have taken untraditional and unconventional approaches to education. For example they cut school hours in half, give little homework, and there are no standardized tests. This has allowed them to excel and prosper and go from being down in the ranks to number one. However there are aspects of life in their country that allow them to succeed. According to Jane Walker, a board member of the Partnership for 21st Century Skills “There is a near absence of poverty”, “They are ahead of the game on the language side” and “Teachers are given respect and trust to a strong degree”. If we apply the lessons learned in countries like Finland and break the stranglehold that the federal government has on our schools, we can let the local districts experiment with what works best for their students and the marketplace of ideas will identify those techniques and tools that work best.

The reasons why education is important to a society are well known and understood by all. The U.S. education system is ineffective and our children are falling behind their international peers. If we do not fix it, generations of individuals will be competing against others that are better prepared and our country will continue to lose our place and fall behind. Let’s take action to fix this education problem and remain a strong, world leading super power.