I started my senior year of high school a few weeks ago, so there could be no better time to discuss how to fix the American public school system, as I’ve seen its successes and its failures. Here are three ways (in no particular order) that we can save American public schools.
Encourage More STEM Programs
Types of math classes like calculus and statistics serve as a huge asset when a) applying to colleges and b) figuring out what students want to major in when they enter universities.
Also, majoring in STEM courses in college result in higher salaries as opposed to majoring in other common subjects like the humanities. Students that receive bachelor’s degrees in computer science and engineering are projected to earn just under $70,000 dollars annually in their first year out of college, as opposed to around $50,000 for students that graduate with a bachelor’s in humanities or communications.
Even classes like accounting, economics, and business information management are beneficial in helping students prepare for their futures and discover potential career interests.
All in all, getting high school students involved with these types of programs helps pave the way for better and brighter college graduates, not to mention more people to help solve real-world problems in American society.
Eliminate Most Standardized Testing
As someone who’s taken several standardized tests, it’s safe to say that they’re a waste of time (and taxpayer money). Take the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR), for example. The STAAR test is implemented to “provide information about the amount of improvement or progress that a student has made in a subject area… [and] is based on a comparison of a student’s test score in the previous year with his or her score for the current year.”
Which begs the question—if we can use standardized tests for evaluating a student’s progress, then what’s the purpose of grades? Wouldn’t a student’s academic progress over an entire school year (or even a semester) be a greater indication of their growth, not a three-hour test?
After I’d finish taking the STAAR test, I’d wait for useless results to come in the mail saying that I was on track with my peers. Aren’t grades a better analysis of my scholastic success? What did I not know about my progress in school from report cards and exam grades that any standardized test would’ve told me?
With that said, tests like the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) and American College Testing (ACT) are at least used to measure readiness for college—but even they are still not the most accurate representation of a student’s future success in the classroom.
Turn Teaching into a ‘Free Market’
The United States has awful education rankings compared to other nations around the globe, especially considering that we are one of the most developed countries on the planet. The U.S. is ranked 14th in reading, 25th in math, and 17th in science. However, we could reform our education system to be much more personalized to the individual; take South Korea, for example, which is ranked first in reading and math and fourth in science. They also have a 93 percent graduation rate; compared to 75 percent in the United States.
The reason that South Korea has such an effective school system is due to their “shadow” techniques in addition to their normal primary education. Essentially, they have a private, after-school tutoring program that is high-quality, low-price. The students pick tutors themselves, and the tutors have an investment of their own in their client’s education.
As Minh Mai says in an article at mic.com, “[the system] operates very much like how a free market system would allow a company to operate: compete to provide the highest quality of goods and services to the most amount of people at the lowest possible price.”
Mai continues by stating that “these incentives for tutors provide that accessibility and motivation. As they compete for students, they have to market their prices accordingly to attract more parents.”
In South Korea, performance has a direct result in their pay, and there is no tenure.
The same type of system was proposed in Washington D.C., where teachers could be rewarded in much higher salaries if their students made better grades. However, the teachers’ unions won, and D.C. continues to have the highest dropout rate in the nation and is noted as the worst education system in the continental US (and 2nd worst overall, behind Alaska).
The American public school system has flaws. However, if it is localized, deregulated, and promoted more STEM classes, we can revive it to better serve high school students across the United States.
The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.