Children spend 12 or more years going through an educational system that promises it will give them the knowledge they need to attend a college build a career and become an integral part of the American and even global society. Part of this promise, of course, is based on the student’s commitment to the process, but it seems commitment is not enough.
The American education system is not living up to expectation. All of our students are suffering from it, but it is those who live in low-income urban and rural environments that are feeling the most damage. It seems impossible that one of the richest countries in the world has an average to almost poor educational system. The logical question to ask is why? The answer is simple. Poverty. Poverty is the only reason our school system is failing.
It is believed that public schools do not put enough money in child education. This is not entirely true. American schools spend an average of $11,000 per child per year for education; more than any other country with similar economic status. Money is not the problem. It is the distribution of it that causes the education gaps that we see in our schools. Most public schools get funding from a state and/or federal source but a majority of the funding comes from property taxes of the surrounding neighborhoods. The lower the property taxes, the less monies will go into those schools. The less money that is put into a school the less a school can do for its students. Very simple.
Parents are also blamed for the poor education success of their children. It is true, there are some parents, regardless of their economic status, will not take part in their child’s education process. But, for a low-income person living in poverty, their jobs, the amount of hours they work, having multiple jobs or the stress of being jobless effects how much time parents can give to their child to help them with homework or to volunteer for the school or participate in activities.
Lastly, we blame teachers. “We need better teachers,” is the rhetoric we hear all the time.What is needed is better support for teachers. Poverty decreases how much support a parent can give to a child’s education. By default, teachers, in many cases, become a stand-in parent as well as an educator. This additional responsibility plus handling the reality that there is not enough resources to help teachers support students makes teaching a grueling job. It is unfair to blame a teacher for poor education especially when they are underpaid as they try to raise and educate children who are dealing with hunger, lack of sleep, unsafe living environment, financial challenges, medical challenged and distracted parents/guardians. How can a child learn when basics needs are not met?How can a teacher teach when basic resources are not provided?
So many different ways to educate children have popped up in the last three decades such as charter and magnet schools. Just recently online K-12 classes have become and option. These aren’t solutions since they only support a small portion of our society. If America wants quality education for all, it needs to end poverty. If we want a more solid education system, we can no longer base quality education on economic status or the luck of the draw.
We must go back to why we developed public schools in the first place. To ensure that all American children are getting the same education opportunities regardless of where they live or how they live. School is the safe place we find our friends, the things we love to do and where we learn more about who we are as individuals and people. What we are doing now is dividing us and watering us down our intellect and creativity. End poverty and we solve our education challenges.