A Once Great Nation that Led the World in Education

Jake Hughes
The Paw Print

Nelson Mandela once said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” Yet, the education system, along with other crucial systems in the United States, is in danger of falling into the abyss.
To be educated is the ability to make your own decisions and form your own opinions about things. It is the imparting of skills that enable you to succeed in any field of human endeavor and make your original contribution. If this is true, why is the education system, and the highly educated people of the United States, letting down a once great nation that led the field in science, engineering, mathematics and other crucial fields? Almost every public school across the country is failing to meet standards set for public elementary and high schools.
Eighth graders in Alabama are 18% proficient in math; on the East Coast in New York eighth graders are 30% proficient. We see the same on the West Coast with eighth graders in California and Arizona both below 30% proficiency in math. The reading level in public schools across the country is at a staggering 20-35% proficiency in eighth grade, with Washington DC being the lowest at 12%. How can a whole nation of eighth graders be failing that badly? The truth is, they aren’t: the system is. The No Child Left Behind Act should be called Every Child Dragged Kicking and Screaming Through School Act. A normal child doing well in fourth and fifth grade will typically struggle and drop almost two grade letters once they get to seventh or eighth grade.
That leaves two options: children are either leaving their brains at home, or the education system isn’t working. When children hit eleven or twelve and come to terms with their failure in learning, a negative and demotivating cloud sets over their future education. They have been pushed and squeezed through a cookie cutter system. Dr. Robert Balfanz, at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, took it upon himself to delve into failing schools and study them. He began seeing a pattern that failing elementary and middle schools are feeding poorly educated students into high schools where they last one to two years and then drop out.
In his research, he found over 2000 dropout factories—a term he created for the high schools. Dropout factories only graduate 40% of their students on time. Most of the children have no aspirations and don’t know where they are going. The majority end up dropping out or committing crimes. Some people are fighting to change the education system which weighs a once highly educated nation down. However, a majority of people are clueless or don’t voice their opinion on the matter which feeds the fire. In the words of Bob Marley, “We gotta stand up for our rights.” Please don’t take my word for it, do some research into the issues that I’ve discussed. With very little effort you will discover these shocking facts for yourself.
Also, there is a gripping documentary on Netflix called  “Waiting for Superman”, which highlights key issues within the education system. The documentary also shows some of the people who are fighting to change the failing system so our future can prosper.

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