Running around New York. (futurebird) wrote in talk_politics,
Running around New York.

What is wrong with schools? What would you add to this list?

Before declaring how to "fix" schools it would help if we could agree what was wrong with them. (I don't think we can agree, to be honest, but could we at least get a full list?) Too often, in public forums, we hear "the solution" for our schools from politicians without stopping to discuss what the problem was.  Here are some of the charges made against US public schools:
  1. Public schools have graduation rates that are too low.
  2. Teaching attracts people who can't do anything else, so the quality of instruction is low.
  3. Teachers are not respected for what they do, making their jobs difficult.
  4. Administrators are useless and their salaries are a drain on the system.
  5. Students have not learned the core concepts in each subject, even when they can pass standardized tests
  6. Students who graduate from public schools have not learned enough to do well in college.
  7. Schools are segregated by race and class and the schools for poor and/or non-white students have the fewest resources and worst management.
  8. Public schools waste tax dollars.
  9. Teachers do not have enough experience.
  10. Schools do not provide equal education for students with disabilities.
  11. Parents do not feel welcome in schools.
  12. Teacher pensions are draining funds from education.
  13. Schools are not safe, there is too much violence.
  14. Students spend too much time preparing for standardized tests.
  15. Schools do not serve high-needs students with emotional problems effectively.
  16. Schools cater to the whims of parents at the expense of education.
  17. Scores on standardized tests are too low.
  18. Students spend too much time doing things other than read writing and arithmetic.
  19. Schools fail to engage bright and gifted children.
  20. Schools lack extracurricular activities that would help keep students in engaged in school.
  21. Students have too much to do each day.
  22. Schools are too much like prisons.
  23. There is too much homework. Students can't get it all done and are set up to fail.
  24. We don't make a serious attempt to provide intellectually empowering education to all students. Some are given the equivalent of a vocational degree dressed of as a high school diploma.
  25. Schools do not provide enough enrichment education for students. (art, music, drama and other electives)
  26. Schools are unable to keep pace with simple tasks like attendance and processing detentions and suspensions since administrative offices are understaffed.
  27. We try to educate too much of the population. Some people should just be in vocational school.
  28. The most influential parental constituencies are getting exactly what they want out of the education system and have zero incentive to change it.
  29. Our typical curriculum is a mile wide and an inch deep. See number one for why that won't change any time soon.
  30. We spend much too much time making up work that looks rigorous instead of actually being rigorous.
  31. Higher education and the workplace pretend that the current credentials earned via secondary education are actual predictors of success in either college or employment.
  32. Teachers react more to disruptions from minority students and will punish them for smaller infractions than white students.
  33. We've completely neglected the idea that universal education serves any other purpose other than individual utility.
  34. Too much emphasis on sports rather than scholastic achievement
  35. Zero tolerance rules (drugs, sexual harassment)has removed the critical decision making skills from our educators.
  36. Teachers are afraid of students.
  37. Too many discipline issues that detract from the actual education.
  38. Unions have resisted linking student performance to teacher evaluations.
  39. Some teachers do not have high expectations for minority students and fail to treat these students with respect.
  40. We are unwilling as taxpayers to invest in public education.
  41. Parents whose children are going to substandard schools have no ability to move them elsewhere unless they can afford private schools.
  42. Many students are not motivated by their environment to do their best.
  43. Schools spend money on the wrong things in the wrong order.
  44. Too much time is spent on fluffy 'self-esteem' stuff rather than on academics.
  45. Parents should be the ones who educate children, schools should just be a tool for doing this.
  46. Poor performing teachers/administrators are not fired/retrained.
  47. Poor performing students are passed along on social promotions, without any concern that they aren't learning necessary things (and once this has happened a few times, there's no longer any attempt to educate the children)
  48. Learning disabilities aren't identified until many children have already been held back and labeled as trouble makers/just plain stupid.
  49. There is no tie of financing to performance. Public schools/administrators/teachers continue to get money even when many of their possible customers have opted out of the system.
  50. Requirements for teachers eliminate many talented people from the pool.
  51. Schools want parents involved only on the schools terms.
  52. Students who are continually disruptive, as well as the majority of 504 and IEP students, belong in special education classrooms.
  53. Schools do not "track" students into separate groupings based upon ability. We wrongly believe that 95% of students belong in the same course, with the same rigor.
  54. It is difficult to get Individual Education Plans (IEP) when a kid needs them, because it's a lot of work for a school.
  55. School is too focused on sending all student to college and having student who don't go is seen as a kind of failure.
  56. Trying to improve schools are a waste of money since only parents can motivate their kids to learn.
  57. Public school districts generally receive funding from local property taxes, thereby reinforcing inequalities between districts.
  58. Schools in the urban cores have a harder time filling teacher vacancies, because of community wide issues with environmental violence and school wide issues with student discipline, therefore they tend to be filled with the least experienced teachers.
  59. No Child Left Behind doesn't acknowledge that everyone can't be taught in the same way to the same level with any kind of measurable consistency, so forces teachers to lower academic standards to meet minimum passing requirements so the schools look good on paper.
  60. Schools are not flexible enough about letting parents help in the classroom.
  61. Teacher are inflexible when students learn  their own way of doing academic work at home.
  62. There is not enough physical education.
  63. School has become too focused on training kids for jobs and serving the needs of large corporations.
  64. There is no way for non-academic focused kids to succeed.
  65. The curriculum is to inflexible.
  66. Schools that use tracking do not use it flexibly enough.
  67. The school system is coercive. Students are forced to be there even when they don't want to be there.
  68. Grading standards are too easy, it is too easy to get an A.
  69. School should be more focused on training kids for jobs.
  70. Schools teach science, math and art appreciation, they should teach kids how to use these things instead.
  71. In our culture education is not seen as something important.
  72. Educational methods are not up to date enough they have not changed over time.
  73. New textbooks and education methods are introduced too frequently and have little impact other than wasting time as schools adapt.
  74. Too much money is spent on textbooks, which are replaced too often,  when free alternatives are available in a number of subjects (math)
  75. The learning capacity of students is vastly under-rated.
  76. Teachers teach to the bottom of the class rather than the top too often.
  77. Too much interference by Christian evangelicals.
  78. Teacher pay is too low to attract good teachers.
What would you add to this list?

I don't want to debate the points on the list, just get a very full list of what people think the problems with public schools are if any.
I will add the things you post to the list. Later I'm going to group these problems together by identifying common themes... but, for the time being, I just want a big list of problems! After saying all of this-- I do think it is important to keep some perspective. I went to a public school and received and excellent education. There are public schools that work.

UPDATE: I'm going to stop when I reach 100, that should be enough to start grouping these problems in my next post.
Tags: education, recommended
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