Throughout the political discussion, equality is a concept often tossed around. It is however an ideal that is largely out of reach, particularly within the education system of the United States. Education spending in the US varies by state because local governments decide what proportion of their budget will go to education, and the federal government allocates only about 4 percent of the annual budget to education. The money is divided among towns and districts after each state decides the education budget. This system of monetary distribution leaves room for bias in decision-making, in turn keeping the gap in achievement within education.
Education has long been seen by Americans as a way of averting the cycle of poverty, as well as enhancing economic growth and rising individual income. However, in general, the least is provided by schools and students in need of the most money. Districts serving the poorest students, mostly low-income students, and color students are provided less access to fewer services, less instruction, and more novice teachers, further perpetuating the cycle of poverty. By not offering equitable funding to these school districts, low-income students are marginalized within these schools and less likely to receive the same level of education as students in a better-off community. Compared with better-supported schools, these students tend to perform badly on standardized exams.
To make matters worse, cutbacks in the budget have forced schools to cut courses and instructional programs, increase average class sizes, and increased teaching positions. Moreover, when schools do not have adequate money for new and revised textbooks, they turn to the reuse of obsolete ones or rely on their teachers to supply materials directly. A popular solution to this is requiring students to purchase their own supplies-some student families can afford to buy their own, but a growing majority of students in public schools are low-income and are unable to afford these required materials.
Saving money is not the only obstacle to old-fashioned education by using out-of-date textbooks. During the agrarian period, the current system of education was developed and only slightly changed during industrial times; and it was produced with the intention of imparting these times’ values and skills to students. The transition between the industry and agriculture periods was affected by the belief that the best way of teaching unruly discipline to children was public education. Our school system today tends to prioritize discipline and a structured curriculum at the discretion of the teacher. Today our schools continue to teach many of the same principles but with the strategies of yesterday.
Despite the advancements of the last 50 years, schools struggle to teach without technical assistance. Even with the abundance of knowledge that we can access, our schools tend to require discipline and limit out-of-the-box thinking, leaving little or no space inside the classroom for innovative teaching methods and creativity. If the world around us shifts, and we don’t, how can our students be prepared for future jobs, mostly tech-based, non-traditional careers? The traditional system of education teaches us obsolete skills built for the industrial period and ignores recent history; a modern history that will determine current students ‘ career paths. Lumping together our students and teaching as if they were a person has only taught students how to conform and not understand. Through overlooking the students ‘ individual values, talents, and desires, our society has refused to use schools to promote the abilities and ambitions of students and instead has required them to perform arbitrary tasks aimed solely at preparing students to pass exams. Technology should be used to improve the way students learn knowledge, particularly as it allows individualized learning, leading to productivity and satisfaction for the students.
Our education program has come with standardized tests to assess the progress. Although equivalent assessments are spread around classes, counties, and districts, the standard of the education provided to prepare such assessments differs tremendously. Financing, as we have already seen, also determines output that in effect determines funding. The educational program shows you how to take an exam. Such assessments not only determine the curriculum but also what is considered important for each given educational level. Since standardized tests have become the foundation of education, innovation in classrooms is stifled, minority and low-income students are marginalized, and extrinsic motivators and irresponsible ways of obtaining higher scores are encouraged.
The standardized assessment takes no account of learner variations, out-of-the-box thinking, or students ‘ individual abilities, strengths, and interests. Requiring students to pass arbitrary, subjective, pre-determined pass-or-fail grades disservices our society at large. If we discourage creativity and individuality, how can we promote learning, innovation, and preparedness for ever-changing job forecasts? If we continue to favor students from higher socioeconomic groups who can afford tutoring and money, what opportunities do underprivileged students have access to? Associating high standardized test scores with success has helped to perpetuate our students ‘ achievement gap, and has declared students that their personal attributes and good characteristics are trivial and insignificant in their education and life.
Educational inequity prevents our graduates from achieving their full potential and allows the younger generations to be kept accountable for providing the best education. By holding back graduates, we deprive future society of the best possible opportunity for a better planet. If education is viewed as an investment into a country’s future, investors wouldn’t hesitate to do their part to prepare ahead and protect a nation’s future. They are responsible for the education our children receive as adults, residents, educators, legislators, parents, and lifelong learners. The children we are exposed to inadequately structured education systems will be the ones who lead our country. And what do we want our country’s future to look like? How is our education system meant to look like to accomplish this? These are the questions that we have to know. As method patrons, we can’t look the other way anymore. We can’t avoid the democratic cycle anymore. We have to do our part and make our voices be heard. When we can improve the way we view education, we can reduce the difference in achievement and transform the future of social inequality. We are simply human beings. We all deserve a level playing field. Let’s stand up to teach our students the value of learning, build a community around education, and give all students the skills they need to tackle the challenges of the future, including race, gender, ethnicity, and socioeconomic class.