For this semester, I am choosing to write about something I have never written about before, but that I am very vocally passionate – public education. Education has lost its creativity. Its innovation. While the world quickly changed over the last 50 years, the basic model of the education system did not. Education has stopped being about learning, about creating and developing new and original ideas. Instead, it has become an area where all importance is put on testing and data and reaching set standards for every student. Conformity. Teachers spend more time preparing students for test upon test upon test than actually helping them learn. And teachers are forced to do so in order to follow standards set by the state and the nation as a whole.
My best friend is a high school physics teacher in Florida, in a Title 1 school where most students are barely expected to retain enough information and struggle through enough tests to graduate and get a job. Over the last six months, most of her students have missed multiple days of class for testing, everything from FCATs to end-of-course testing. These same students are the ones who need the extra class time, who can’t afford to miss any opportunity to learn. And the schools don’t care. They care more about these tests than any individual student’s ability to learn and grow. And what do they have to show? That their students continue to fail to achieve certain standards? What a surprise.
And when these test scores come in, showing that these students are still failing, are still below standards, what does the administration do? Nothing. Nothing changes. And they expect to get different test results next year? When they are doing the exact same thing they’ve always been doing? Ha.
So the students learn little, only memorizing what is needed to take the tests, get the expected scores and then they quickly forget everything. No creativity, no actual learning involved. This is what the public education system has come to.
So why am I the one to talk about this subject? Because my mom is a teacher. My friends are teachers. And I may not be one, but I still care. I care that students are being forced to conform to standards or be left behind. They leave all their creativity tucked away because innovative, original ideas won’t help them pass the tests.
Something needs to change. I don’t want any future kids of mine to be stuck in an educational system that is still living 70 years in the past. That’s not fair to them. Nor is it fair to the kids who are facing this right now.