Dear Next President,
The public school system is responsible for educating the future workers and innovators of our country. The future success of our nation lies in the success of our education system, and it isn’t receiving the policy attention it needs. I live in Minnesota, as you know home to one of the best public school systems in America. I value the education that I have and am grateful that I was lucky enough to grow up in this school system. Even though I may be growing up in a pretty good system I know that others around this country and even within my own state are not. Other students don’t have the same privileges and opportunities that I do and I feel this needs to change.
30 years ago the U.S. was ranked highest in quality and quantity of high school diplomas, today we are ranked 36th. I read this statistic and wanted to find out what happened to cause such a drastic change. Now you could argue that our demographics have changed or that our wealth gap has grown . I think the real reasons lie in a much simpler place , the systems controlling the education system. One of the big barriers in fixing this system are the the teachers unions in place nationwide. These unions work to help the teachers in their jobs, not the students in their education. By instilling programs like tenure and seniority privilege teachers that may not be the best at helping the students to grow still get to teach and hurt the student’s education in the process.
Another statistic by Eric A. Hanushek, Hoover Institution, Stanford University, states that If the lowest performing 5-10% of teachers were replaced with the average teacher found in today’s classrooms, the achievement of U.S. students would rise from below the average for developed countries to near the top of all countries. This clearly demonstrates that the possible success lies in the hands of the teachers and faculty at schools. I know that some would say that it is terrible that I am accusing the unions of wrecking our school system. They may say that all they do is help the community by “speaking on behalf of the rights and dignity of teachers and the essentials of good education.”- Aft, a teachers union. This fact though just isn’t completely true. The “essentials of good education” are a teachers union second priority. The students are a teachers unions second priority. In the court case Vergara vs California the teachers unions argued against the school systems who were trying to uphold a Constitutional right, that all students deserve to be taught by an effective teacher. The teachers unions are hurting the school systems achievement as well as our country’s achievement as a whole.
I’d like to finish out with some explanation of the effects of our failing school systems on our nation. In the documentary Waiting for Superman a piece about our public school system, the statistic was given that by the year 2020, there will be 123 million high-paying, high-skill jobs in the United States, but only 50 million Americans will be qualified to fill them. Also from this documentary we learn that for each year's dropouts, America loses about $192 billion in lost income and taxes. The education system is hurting our economy in ways most people couldn’t even imagine. Not only are individuals suffering from the failing system but the domino effect hurts us all. I would like to conclude this letter with a quote from Geoffrey Canada, an educator and author. He said, “Your children and future generations are on the bridge of the Titanic, and everybody’s going to drown”. The children of this nation are the future, if they aren’t given the attention they need everyone will eventually suffer.