The State of Our Education System

What I see every day is not a working education system. What I see are teenagers eating pot brownies in class, coming to class high and skipping class to get high. What I see are kids who no longer want to learn - have forgotten why they should learn. I see classrooms that cannot be taught to, and teachers who have given up teaching.

I am not the only one to notice this, I'm sure. And I can tell that the administration is trying to help everyone learn. But I think they are going about it the wrong way. Handing out lunch-time detentions and putting marks on Infinite Campus will not change the behavior of those who need help the most. Not even a little. They are so far gone that school does not matter.

This is not only about drugs. There is rampant depression. A classmate confessed to me that when she said she was absent, she really meant she was at the mental hospital due to a suicide attempt. This is about discrimination. I don't think I have gone a day without hearing the n--- word. Even more common is the term "faggot". These terms are being thrown around lightly. I have had a classmate of African descent use the n-word on me.

Parents need to take on the responsibility of teaching their children respect. Respect for their school, their teachers, their peers. Respect for themselves. They need to learn why they need to learn. I know it has been told to them multitudes of times - you will need it in the future, but it can be hard to convince someone they need to know how to dissect a frog or graph a quadratic. People seem to have forgotten that the primary reason we go to school is to learn.

And if learning no longer excites the masses then we have reached a sad point in history indeed. But I think an equally important issue is that teachers have forgotten why they teach. Most classes teach exclusively to the test. AP classes prepare the entire year for the test, whereas normal classes only prepare for exams a week or so in advance. I realize that good test scores reflect well on teachers, but what reflects on them better, in my humble opinion, is teaching students how to lead productive lives.

Something else that urgently needs to addressed is the huge number of children being left by the wayside as students are pushed relentlessly through a one-size-fits all education system that in fact, fits no one. The kids in PE who are standing and talking are very often the ones who have no other exercise in their lives. The students who are not in class because they are suspended are the ones who most urgently need to be learning.

So, what can be done? Forcing students to take classes on the dangers of drugs or alcohol does not work. They treat it like a joke. And it is, since we are shown videos from the 1950's and encouraged to color our notes thoroughly. Even if the quality of the class improves, the teachers would be hard pressed to convince high students that they need to stop doing drugs. So this is a problem that needs to be addressed from the legal end via stricter drug control. As I am too young to vote, I encourage you to in my place.

As for how to make my generation value their education, that calls for massive school reform. The Common Core was just introduced, to much controversy. Perhaps it's better, maybe worse. But more important is how disfunctional an hour and a half of classroom time is. It takes around ten minutes to get the class to focus, and their attention is held for maybe five. The teachers have become too lenient. I am not advocating knuckle rapping, but it is absolutely unacceptable for students to be talking, laughing and joking around while a teacher is conducting a lesson.

I was forced to miss two consecutive days of classroom time this year, and when I came back I was shocked to learn that I had missed nothing. I had no makeup homework or assignments. So next year the teachers need to outline how they expect students to participate, and then need to enforce their new rules. And not with lunchtime detentions. Punishment needs to have a direct effect on students' lives to be effective. I suggest the schools talk with parents about what would be appropriate.

All of this points to the need for massive reform. So what should we do? We need to stand up and say what we want. Not attend committee meetings, but demand action. Threaten to pull support from schools if they do not change. Schools depend on support from parents. Email congressmen en masse. Individually, a voice is small, but if we stand up and demand a better education for our future, the status quo will change. Schools need to increase the teacher to student ratio, so that no one is left behind. This will also allow the curriculum to become more customized and refined to the individual. Speak up for what you believe in.