Recently I, Bridget Daly, have sought to understand why my education let me down. I seek justification for why students are ill prepared for college despite legislative changes and a large education budget. In 2012, I graduated from high school as a valedictorian with honors. I was told that I was ready to go any where or do anything, so I went to college. From day one, I realized how badly my education had let me down. In Chemistry, fewer than half of the students who began the class were present for the final. Of those who stayed, two received an A, three got a B, and the rest attained a C or below. Perhaps it was a bad section, or the professor was lousy, but these statistics were similar to the other sections. I believe there is a fault in our eduction. It lies at the lower levels where teachers are forced to teach to a test rather than educate students. For this reason I ask what the cause of our failing education system is, and what are some of the long term impacts?
The Public Writing:
To Senator Jeffery Merkley
Junior Senator of the State of Oregon
121 SW Salmon Street
Portland, OR 97204
To the Honorable Jeffery Merkley,
I am writing today to ask that you begin drafting legislation to repeal the No Child Left Behind Act that was signed into law by President Bush on the eighth of January, 2002. This act, written with the best of intentions, has failed to meet its purpose. Instead of educating our country, it has lowed our academic standards, increased the achievement gap, and limited the education that can be received by our most needy citizens. For the safety of our nation, the No Child Left Behind Act must be repealed and replaced by legislation that will achieve the primary goal of a quality education for every citizen, not just for those from states granted waivers.
Long ago, before No Child Left Behind, a high school diploma could earn a living wage for the average family. Now these jobs can only be attained by people with Baccalaureate degrees. The primary hurdle in getting this sort of degree is ones ability to enter and succeed in college. Since the implementation of the act, more than a decade ago, the number of high school seniors who are prepared to attend college or enter into the work force has decreased to below forty-three percent. To succeed, the remaining students must take remedial courses in the hopes that they will be able to be on par with their peers. Our students have no chance of competing successfully in the global market. In mathematics, the United States ranks twenty fifth, behind South Korea, China, and India. We are fourteenth in science and seventeenth in reading. Scientists of the past were able to innovate us out of any crisis. But now, the scientists that companies call upon for pioneering ideas, hail from foreign nations. To regain our status as a world leader in education, we need to repeal the ineffective legislation of the No Child Left Behind Act.
Condoleezza Rice, in 2005, noted that large swaths of undereducated people endanger our national security. One of her reasons was diminished cohesion. We have seen throughout history that a lack of education leads to an increase in cultural tension. Take, for example, the tensions currently present between American Latinos and other cultures. Up to eighty percent of Americans only speak English, and some large percentage of immigrants only speak their native language. When these two groups intersect, tension caused by a breakdown of communication, ensues. This tension forces lawmakers to make decisions and implement policies which are detrimental to the ideals of America. These ideals include perfect equality and the ability to create a better life through hard work and education. No Child Left Behind had the intent of creating educational equality, however, its implementation has caused schools that are often attended by minorities to fall behind those in more affluent districts or expensive private schools. This in turn creates a larger gap between cultures by keeping the children essentially separated.
Just answer this one question for me. How can the students of tomorrow be innovative if they are being taught using last decade’s educational system? No Child Left Behind is broken. It does not reduce gaps in achievement, it is not cost effective, and it does not elevate our students onto the same level as foreign students. Worse though, it creates disunity within the country that will cause destabilization and a national security threat. I ask that you propose legislation to repeal the No Child Left Behind Act for the good of our children and the security of our nation.
The Body of Research:
Source Number 1:
“Rice: Failing Schools a National Security Threat.” CBS New.com. CBS News, 20 Mar. 2012. Web. 10 Aug. 2013. <http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-505263_162-57400620/rice-failing-schools-a- national-security-threat/>.
This article is reporting on the opinions of former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice regarding the national security threat posed by a lack of education. Her argument is that poor education injures the nation of five fronts: economic competitiveness, physical safety, intellectual property, global awareness by the United States, and national cohesion. She continues to to argue that large swaths of uneducated people weaken the nations ability to defend its self and keep information secure. Furthermore people with a lack of education will be unable to achieve their ends through diplomacy. Rice proposes the use of a common core, allowing for the auditing of schools, and allowing parents to withdraw their children from failing schools. She wants the core to specifically focus on mathematics, science, reading, foreign language, and computer skills. This piece gives clear evidence for the dangers of a weak education system.
Source Number 2:
“U.S. Education Reform and National Security.” Mar 2012. Council on Foreign Relations. Aug 2013.
This report authored by Condoleezza Rice and Joel Klein, former director of New York Public Schools, notes that the United States spends more on education than any other developed nation, yet we have one of the least effective school systems. According to this report, American high schoolers rank 17th in reading, 25th in math, and 14th in science skills. More than one quarter of students take longer than four years to earn a high school diploma. Nearly 80% of students only speak English.
America can not keep pace, let alone lead, globally until the problems with our education system are resolved. Again this piece illustrates the dangers and realities of our failing education system.
Source Number 3:
Kenny, Charles. “The Real Reason America’s Schools Stink.” Bloomberg Business Week. Bloomberg News, 19 Aug. 2012. Web. 10 Aug. 2013. <http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2012-08- 19/the-real-reason-americas-schools-stink#p2>.
This article places the blame of failing schools squarely on the shoulders of the parents. It says that the parents of today are not able to be in the classroom as they were before. Parents of today are less empowered to make change, and they can’t be sure if their child is actually learning. The standard should not be arbitrary, but instead should be a measure of improvement over the year. This piece explains one possibility for the cause of the failure of education system.
Source Number 4:
Holland, Sally. “Duncan:’No Child Left Behind’ Creates Failure for U.S. Schools.” CNN Politics. Cable News Network, 9 Mar. 2011. Web. 10 Aug. 2013. <http://www.cnn.com/2011/POLITICS/03/09/education.congress/index.html>.
Secretary of Education Arne Duncan stated recently that four out of five schools will not meet the 2014 bench mark set by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. Instead of fewer schools failing, as time goes on more will fail. A one size fits all policy can not succeed in a country as diverse as ours. This piece speaks directly to my first question, and proposes a reason for our failure, the no child left behind act.