A Critique of the Education System in the United States (Part 1)

An opinionated article discussing the struggles of being a high school student with the current education system in place from the perspective of a high school senior.

Many high school students will likely agree that the education system needs improvements, especially with the current curriculum.  

It is imperative that we discuss the issues and spread awareness, as the student’s wellbeing and success is the entire reason schools were opened in the first place. Also, education is important, and ensuring that students receive quality education in a secure environment is important. 

Here is a List of the Current Issues: 

The Mental Health of Students is Suffering 

  • In accordance from a CDC survey, Kathleen Ethier found that, “From January to June 2021, CDC researchers collected data on the behaviors and experiences of 7,705 public and private high school students across the U.S. Almost half of teens reported consistently feeling sad or hopeless — almost every day for two weeks or more in a row, to the point that they stopped doing their usual activities — in the 12 months before taking the survey” (NPR).
  • In addition to this, it was also found in the same survey that, “47% of lesbian, gay and bisexual teens said they had “seriously considered committing suicide” (NPR).
  • Lastly, in a survey made by Mental Health America, they collected the overall data of youth. They reported that, “16.39% of youth (age 12-17) reported suffering from at least one major depressive episode (MDE) in the past year” (Mental Health America).

Even with these questions, addressing this mental health crisis is incredibly important, as the longer it is left unattended, the more likely depressed and anxious teens will go undiagnosed and without help. 

Violence in Schools is on the Rise 

With national shootings on the rise, it is understandable that numerous students live in fear that their school is next, especially when the United States hit an all-time high this year. 

In addition to this, with bullying still at 20.8%, there needs to be a significant change in how the event is handled, as 20% is still far too much. 

Standardized Testing Limits Student’s Abilities 

  • In a study conducted by the American Educational Research Association, they stated, “…measured achievement gaps between male and female students on state accountability tests are larger (more male-favoring) on tests with more multiple-choice questions and fewer constructed-response (i.e., open-ended) questions. Gaps are more female-favoring on tests with fewer multiple-choice questions and more constructed-response questions. Differences…explain approximately 25 percent of the variation in achievement gaps across states and districts” (American Educational Research Association). 
  • In an article from Britannica, they release that “Standardized tests only determine which students are good at taking tests, offer no meaningful measure of progress, and have not improved student performance.” (Britannica). 

Even with improved testing techniques and teaching styles, standardized tests still discriminate against those who are not the best of test-takers as well as race and gender.  

Women tend to do better on open-ended questions, while men tend to get better scores on multiple choice questions, so where is the correct balance for students? 

How Do We Fix These Problems? 

Regarding the student’s mental health, there is a lack of professional care in general, such as a therapist. Therapy is not all that cheap either, averaging around $100 per session. Thus, making these resources more accessible and cheaper could be key to assisting some students with their mental health issues.  

However, for those who are unable to receive those services, I hold the belief that schools should have more accessible resources for those having mental health issues, especially in schools like Dakota.  

Students in Dakota have to share four counselors across three grade levels, making it extremely difficult to even make an appointment and talk with them in a timely manner. 

Large schools like Dakota are often understaffed when it comes to professionals who understand mental health, and with 400+ students in each grade, it is hard for students to receive the care they need. 

Moving on, violence in schools has long been a rather hot topic in recent years. Helping students feel secure can be difficult, especially when the news is filled with gun violence, but implementing new security techniques, informing the students of threats, and perhaps even increasing the security in schools in general could help some students feel safe. 

Finally, standardized testing has been hated for quite some time by students, especially those who struggle to take tests. Students with high anxiety can particularly be affected by these tests and can later feel guilty for not performing well. Thus, new tests and techniques must be implemented, as standardized tests only measure how good of a test taker you are as well as how good your memory is, not overall intelligence.  

By improving these issues, the quality of life for students will improve indefinitely, which could spark the student’s interest in learning again as well as their respect for their school and teachers in general.