Substantial educational change will never occur until we as a country decide that enough is enough and make a commitment to change, no matter what it takes. When America realizes all children deserve a stellar education regardless of who their parents are, their socioeconomic status or where they happen to live, we will be able to reform our education system. Specifically, Americans have to stop treating minority students in underperforming urban environments like collateral damage.
The disheartening reality is that America has billions of dollars to fight a two-front war, but cannot or will not properly educate its children. If a hostile country attacked the U. S., it would take less than 24 hours for American troops to be mobilized into battle. However, we seem unable to mobilize a sea of educated teachers and administrators to wage war against academic mediocrity, which is a bigger threat to our national security than Iran or North Korea.
Over the last century, many reform movements have come and gone, but in the end, it seems, there have been no substantial changes. Some might even believe the American educational system is now worse off than ever. That’s because the word “reform” is primarily used as campaign rhetoric, and when it comes time to take real action, the politicians simply unveil a grandiose plan with all the bells and whistles amounting to a dog and pony show. There has been a lot of talk about educating our kids, but not a lot of action. This is especially true when it comes to groups of at-risk or disenfranchised students.
America’s schools were originally intended to ensure that all citizens were literate but it seems today that in some districts, and for some students, even this concept is not taking place. When you add on the additional constraints of K-12 education today, it becomes quickly clear why some students fall through the cracks and are not able to achieve the type of education that should be a right for all American children.
Americans must have the courage to realize that in order for us to remain a world power, we must institute change. It is not enough for just some of our kids to succeed; each one must make it across the high school graduation stage, knowing what their peers also across the country also learned during the journey. The risks have never been greater: the future of our country and its children is at stake.
Education reform is possible, but it depends on what the nation is willing to do to achieve its educational goals. Will America develop and pass effective educational legislation aimed at creating viable solutions to the problem at hand? Or will America continue to develop legislation, such as No Child Left Behind, that operates under the fallacy that 100% of our students will be proficient in their core subjects? The bar for education should be set higher, but there has to be exceptions and differentiated goals in order to effectively accommodate all the differences among teachers, students, administrators, and school cultures.
Dr. Matthew Lynch is the author of the newly released textbook, The Call to Teach: An Introduction to Teaching. To order it via Amazon, please click on the following link.
The opinions expressed in Education Futures: Emerging Trends in K-12 are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.