American education needs to be updated alongside new discoveriesBy Carolyn Duke | 11/30/2014 9:38pm
New discoveries are being made daily – discoveries across all disciplines, including education. These discoveries not only affect what we teach our children, but also how we teach them. A constantly changing knowledge base requires reexamining our entire education system and striving for continual improvement
More studies are being conducted on how students learn, and more effective teaching techniques should be implemented. Unfortunately, our primary and secondary education system is less than proactive when applying these findings to new curriculums or teaching plans.
As a result, America’s education system is falling behind other countries’, and this has become a problem. According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, among the top 34 industrialized countries, the U.S. scored below average in mathematics, and performances in reading and science were close to the average. Additionally, results gathered from the Program for International Student Assessment in 2012 indicate the United States’ math rankings are comparable to countries like Hungary, Lithuania, Spain and the Slovak Republic.
There are countless reasons for U.S. students to score poorly in math, science and reading. Two main areas for improvement are found in inadequate, unequal funding and teacher training.
Increased spending is not the silver bullet to solve our lagging education system. There are ways we can spend our education dollars more wisely. The Association for Supervision and CurriculumDevelopment conducted research and concluded that “funding differences in the United States generate huge disparities in the quality of school facilities, curriculum, and teacher experience and qualifications.” With most public school funds generated from local property taxes, it is inevitable that poor areas will have poorly funded schools. State and federal funding also support public schoolsand districts. With budget crises on both state and federal levels, there is little hope for improvement. Until primary and secondary education takes priority over corporate welfare, excessive entitlement programs and the sort, we will continue to suffer from a below-average education system.
Finding and retaining effective teachers is a formidable task. The Editorial Board for the New York Times said America’s teacher training system is “abysmal” compared to the systems of countries leading in quality and effective education programs. In another Times article titled “Why Other Countries Teach Better,” it was reported that the National Council on Teacher Quality rated “only 10 percent of more than 1,200 of [teacher preparation programs] as high quality.” The U.S. has good teacher training programs scattered throughout the nation, including the one found here at the University, but there are more effective programs found in other countries. We must be open to incorporating some of the same techniques in our own system.
The problems facing the U.S. education system are numerous. Two solutions are right in front of us. We must prioritize the funding of education over misguided programs. It wil l take decades, but money spent on education will prove to be far more effective than money spent on welfare or prisons. Second, we must be willing to mimic effective programs from within and outside of our nation. There is no reason we cannot replicate other nations’ successes in education.
As an education major, I hope to improve the education system. We must all be proactive about our education system – otherwise, we will never see ref orm.
Carolyn Duke is a sophomore majoring in secondary education – English and Spanish. Her column runs biweekly.