The current state of education in this country, specifically grades K-12 and vocational/technical schools at the secondary and post-secondary levels is abysmal and sadly getting worse by the day.
As a citizen, who, from humble beginnings, benefitted greatly from the U.S. public education system to pursue an interesting and financially beneficial career which provided for my three boys and has allowed my wife and I to retire and enjoy the fruits of labors, I am outraged.
As a father and grandfather, I am scared because there is nothing more important to me than the futures of my children and grandchildren and there are few things, if any, which are more important to their futures than a good education.
What has happened to cause the decline and decay of what was the world’s greatest education system?
- Declining parental involvement in K-12 education
- Declining and poorly maintained and out of date infrastructure (hard and soft)
- Declining resources and funding
- Declining personal accountability and respect for education from students
These are not the only factors that affect the education process, simply the ones that I view as the most important and none of them are simple problems, but rather complex issues with many aggravating and mitigating factors involved in each.
While I personally believe that the first and last factors are huge factors in the current state of education in the U.S., they societal norm issues that are influenced by other factors, including the other two I cite, and will change slowly as other factors improve.
Ironically, we must educate parents and children about the value of education and the necessity of active participation, focus and discipline by parents and children in the education process in order for it to be successful. There are also societal issues that have contributed to lessening parental involvement and societal norms and pressures amongst the youth that have diminished focus and drive to achieve a high school education.
Just as the first and the last factor I listed are related so too are factors #2 and #3, with factor number three being the underlying cause of factor number 2.
Crumbling buildings, insufficient broadband access, lack of laboratory facilities, decades old text books, marginally qualified or unmotivated teachers, insufficient libraries and research resources, overcrowded classrooms and limited curriculum options are some of the obstacles the U.S> education system faces today.
And most people would agree that these obstacles are all caused by insufficient funding of our schools.
Private schools, urban schools, suburban schools, rural schools, et al should all be provide a standard of excellence education for all of our children, by providing the similar resources from which the education experience of our children emerges.
A new funding model for education must be put in place.
Annual school levies that in the past have been approved with little thought are now being soundly defeated by property owners that simply cannot afford to pay anymore.
School districts are receiving less money from the state and federal governments and after a couple of years of living the high life on stimulus funds are seeing budgets crash and burn in the harsh light of fiscal reality.
Perhaps and surtax on high income earners and corporations of 1% that is exclusively for education funding and some type of head tax that individual taxpayers would pay (scaled to income levels) while they have children in grades K-12.
Alternatively a 1% national sales tax on all purchases that is solely used to fund education and is distributed to school districts on the basis of $X per student per year.
We can work to change the attitudes of children and parents towards education and hope for the best, but if we can find a new and efficient funding method for our school systems then we will certainly have scored a victory for the ages,
Please refrain from making this a political hate fest by blaming one side or the other, as ultimately the cause of the problem we face is immaterial to the solution going forward.
Thanks to google images for the graphic.