The Failing of Basic Education in the USA 

Max Cauchi, Staff Writer

There are several issues with the education system that need to be addressed, including students’ mental health becoming determined by a grade. This way of rewarding students’ work is ineffective and harsh. Sophomore Kunaal Chhabra states that “everything is based on how well you do and not your effort.” Since the effort of a student is valued below the grade why should the student put any effort at all into schoolwork or studying? The letter-based grading system is not the only thing that needs change; the qualifications and pay for the teachers both need to be raised as well. According to the New York Times, Finland “requires stronger academic credentials for its junior high and high school teachers and rewards them with higher salaries.” A more rewarding pay for a more complex education can be a simple fix of raising what qualifies teachers to actually become a teacher. Looking at other countries who may have better education should be a common practice. Senior Grace Cottrell agrees stating that the United States “should learn from other countries’ education systems.” With teachers who are underpaid or underqualified for the job it creates an environment which makes it harder to learn. Junior Ben Short believes that “learning environment is one of the most important things to be able to learn.” With unmotivated teachers and a poor learning environment, no wonder the system is failing. With its failure comes quitting. According to CNN, “Teachers are leaving, and few people want to join the field.” These are also problems that predate the pandemic but were supercharged during the past two years. So, while COVID-19 contributed to the teachers leaving, the main reason they are leaving is because of the horrible pay that they get after working for many hours every week, many of those hours after school is over. With a lack of pay comes a lack of motivation, this combined with the lower requirements for teaching makes teachers ineffective. This combined with the fact that school rewards students based off a letter grade and not their effort creates a lack of motivation. 

That problem has a simple solution but there are many other problems that need to be solved through a lot of change. For example, according to Brookings, “Students with complexities and differences too often faced systems immobilized by fear and a commitment to sameness rather than prioritization and problem-solving.” Indifference to every child crushes their imagination, forcing them into a system that does not allow much creativity. Some students like freshman Siyana Jiwani believe that “the system is too broad.” This broadness does not allow for the students to truly connect education to something special or important for themselves and instead they view it as a task that has to be done even if they do not want to. Some kids do not even have the opportunity to access education as according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, “some children live in places with poorly performing schools, and many families can’t afford to send their children to college.” The system is already not working, and many kids cannot even get to schools that have decent education or go to college without having money or being in a wealthy area. Not only that but the stress of living in poor areas can affect the brain development of a child which harms their education even more. With all these combined issues that come from uneven distribution of education it should be the first thing that is fixed. 

With all these problems it could be said that they are new, and the government has not had time to address or solve them, but according to the New York Times, “The Program for International Student Assessment announced that the performance of American teenagers in reading and math has been stagnant since 2000 Other recent studies revealed that two-thirds of American children were not proficient readers, and that the achievement gap in reading between high and low performers is widening.” With the gap widening between “good” and “bad” students, the levels of inequality are more prevalent as the main reason education is so unevenly distributed is the prioritization of the richer areas. With all these issues come some solutions like increasing pay for teachers and more in-depth evaluation of their teaching capability. Problems in the classroom like inattentiveness; however, require more steps, like changing the broadness of the U.S. education system and creating a more complex and effective way to target every student with equal teaching. With some of these solutions put in place many of the problems in education can be solved. One way to learn new ways to teach students is to model after other countries with higher standards and levels of education and to understand why they have a higher education and why the U.S. does not.