Changing American Education System

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The American education system is falling behind in comparison to other first world countries. Most parents think that their children are getting the best possible education when in reality they are not. So without a doubt there is no question that the U.S. school system must improve and quickly (Kopp).

The schools that are teaching in the old fashioned way which was benefit in the beginnings of the 1900s, but the needs are not the same and we need something fit for the 21th century (Garner). Sticking with schools that were designed for another era would leave more of our citizens increasingly ill equipped to compete for high skill, high paying jobs (Kopp). Pasi Silander wrote “Young people use quite advance computers. We therefore have to make the changes in education that are necessary for industry and modern society.” (Garner). The United States is losing ground in worker training to countries in Europe and Asia whose schools are not just superior to Americans but are steadily getting better (Editorial).

A first ever international comparison of workers’ skills in 23 industrialized nations revealed that younger Americans rank near the bottom in literacy, numeracy and “problem solving in technology rich environments” (Kopp). The American workforce has some of the weakest mathematical and problem solving skills in the current developed world with American teenager’s ranking 25th in math (Editorial). Today’s debate has become a distraction that keeps us paralyzed in old divisions and false debated, rather than uniting against common problems (Kopp).

Finland has been in the highest global ranks in literacy and mathematics for years (Editorial). Which makes it all the more remarkable that Finland embarked on one of the most radical educational reform programmers ever undertaken by a nation state, scrapping traditional “teaching by subject” in favor of “teaching by topic.” Subjects were replaced by what the Finns call “phenomenon” teaching, or teaching by topic. For instance, a teenager study a vocational course might take “cafeteria services” lessons, which would include elements of math, languages, writing skills and communication skills. In Finland they mix subjects like English and geography by combining weather conditions from different countries that are displayed on a board in which students would have to come up and say the location (Garner).

All high school students must take one of the most rigorous curriculums in the world including physics, chemistry, biology, philosophy, music and at least two foreign languages (Editorial). With this there will be a more collaborative approach, with pupils working in smaller groups to solve problems while improving their communication skills (Garner). The Finnish teachers are not drawn to the profession by money; they earn only slightly more than the national average salary but, by professionalizing the teacher corps and raising its value in society, the Finns have made teaching the country’s most popular occupation for the young.

The country decided to more preparation out of teachers’ colleges and into the universities, where it became more rigorous. Finland also requires stronger academic credential for its junior high and high school teachers and reward them with higher salaries. These schools standout in many ways, for example: providing daily hot meals, health and dental services, psychological counseling, and an array of services for families and children need while also holding a high academic standard (Editorial).

Another major innovation in Europe is the development of a European Credit Transfer System (ECTS), meant to enhance cooperation between universities. It is embryonic and completely voluntary, but suggests the development of a process for determining curricular transparencies and equivalencies of grades, course credits, and degrees. ETCS enables students to receive credit in their home university or transfer permanently to the host institution or to another institution, mainly by generating transcripts that translate the different educational system into an internationally recognized document.

Erasmus is an exchange project that allows university students to participate in exchanges in universities throughout the European Union and receive credit at their home university. In primary and secondary education, for most of Europe, language has been one of the most important issues as there are eleven different official languages in the European Union, most European schools have decided to teach more languages and to begin teaching them as early as possible, usually in primary school. Language instruction in all European Union countries must be developed for participation in academic exchanges in other countries, which will also contribute to creating a European identity. Moreover, because many European schools are decentralized and some do not even have a central curriculum, language training is one of the ways to bring the European dimension into the curriculum (I.K.).

There are also more options for the graduates after the ninth or tenth grade: full time specialization schools in which students receive education in such specialized fields as business, social work, home economics, civil service administration, management, and more. The European systems, examinations taken by 15 and 16 year olds “provide students with reasons to work hard and perform well in school”. Students in Europe see a direct relationship between their performance in school and the options that will be available to them after they complete their compulsory education. The Germans education system starts to prepare the students for a career path at the early age of 15, where for their final years of school they will specifically train for what they want to do (Berger). More academic pupils would be taught cross subjects topics such as the European Union which would merge elements of economics, history, languages,level and geography (Garner).

In Asia, Shanghai has taken several approaches to repairing the disparity between strong schools and weak ones, as measured by infrastructure and educational quality. One of its strengths is that the city has mainly moved away from elitists system in which greater resources and elite instructors were given to favored schools, and toward a more egalitarian, neighborhood attendance system in which students of diverse backgrounds and abilities are educated under the same roof. Teachers are transferred from cities to rural areas and vice versa so that between other schools ethos, management style and teaching used in the strong schools will be transferable. Some poor schools were closed, reorganized, or merged with higher leveled schools. Stronger urban schools were paired with rural schools with the aim of improving teaching methods. Money was transferred to poor, rural schools to construct new buildings or update old ones (Editorial).

As for America, in the states the wealthiest, highest spending districts spend about twice as much per pupil as the lowest spending districts, according to a federal advisory commission report. American school districts rely far too heavily on property taxes, which means districts in wealthy are bring more money than those in poor ones. State tax money is used to make up the gap but usually falls for short of the need in districts where poverty and other challenges are the greatest. This has left 40 percent of American public school students in districts or “concentrated student poverty” (Editorial).

Reforms like charter schools and teachers accountability pose a greater threat the bleak realities they were designed to address, like the fact that only nine percent of low income students are graduating from college. Even our rich kids perform below their peers in 18 other countries, according to PISA data (Kopp). Comparisons with performances of the American students were made somewhat difficult in this study because the United States has no official national exams, nor does it have ant privately administered exams taken by large numbers of average students nationwide. The lack of a national curriculum or testing system is the United States is an important contributing fact to the low achievement standards of our public schools.

A U.S. education department report shows that standards for judging American students vary greatly: depending on where they live and go to school. It showed that a student who earned an A in math at a school with a large number of economically poor students could get a D at a more affluent school. Grade inflation in U.S. schools and universities easily deludes students into believing a high grade represents high real achievement. In gives neither the teachers nor the students an appropriate measure of an incentive for realistically high achievements (Berger). The American’s marginal gains are not cutting it against a steep new learning curve. The U.S. used to lead the world in the percentage of students graduating from high school and earning college degrees but now about 20 countries outpace them (Kopp).

Americans tend to see such inequalities as the natural order of things (Editorial). American schools, by contrast, lack that same rigor and the expectation that all students can and should perform at a high level. The public discussion pit reformers who think that our education system is failing students against anti-reformers who what’s wrong with our schools is the people trying to fix them. Ravich, author of “Reign Off Error” argues that contrary to popular opinion, there is no crisis in American schools today. Her proposed solution reflect her belief that no progress in education is possible without first addressing poverty, more government support for low income families, prenatal care for women, etc.

She considers the real problem to be so called “corporate education reformers” a label she applies to a diverse group including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundations, hedge fund millionaire and President Obama. “The public schools are working very well for most students.” She writes and anyone who says differently is “crying wolf”. Ripely recommends giving fewer, better standardized test, making it more competitive and selective to become a teacher, shifting the culture of schools to emphasize academics more than sports (Kopp).

The students in these education superpowers take school seriously because it is serious. Kids are trained to persist in mastering difficult subject matter, and more than their American peers they are convinced that getting and education is the key to a successful and fulfilling life. Even if they do not like their teachers, they respect them because they know that only the very best students are allowed to become educators. America does a worse job than other countries at giving the poorest students the high quality education they need to lead better lives than their parents (Kopp). All of this could easily be fixed with simple solutions that are right in front of their faces and yet nothing is being done. So while other countries continue to move forward, America will be stuck at a standstill until changes are made in the America educational system.

Cite this paper

Changing American Education System. (2021, Jul 29). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/changing-american-education-system/

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