Public Education and how it is Failing Students

Much of the failure in the education system is found in the words, “blame,” and “responsibility.” We blame everyone but ourselves, and in many cases responsibility is placed on the wrong shoulders. The educational system’s greatest failure is in taking much of the responsibility off of the shoulders of the students. By doing that, we have effectively opened the cocoon to let the them free. That butterfly will never be able to do what it was made to do if it has been released without effort from the cocoon. We in the educational system do the same thing to our students. If we want them to fly, we must make them earn their wings.

There are many policies, and procedures in the American educational system where drastic changes are needed. Many of these areas directly effect students’ behavior and grades . When a policy or procedure designed to improve students’ academic scores fail, or are inconsistently carried out, there is usually a direct impact on behaviors. The relationship between grades and behaviors is circular in many cases. Good grades lead to good behavior, and good behavior leads to good grades. Of course, negative behavior often drives the grades down, and bad grades usually impact behavior.

In the following paragraphs I will be discussing standardized testing, discipline, attendance and tardiness, in an effort to connect them to where blame, if any, can be placed.

Standardized testing students’, has an indirect effect on academic scores. These testing scores don’t actually effect to student grades. The methods used in conducting the tests, the weight placed on the test scores, and the stress caused by the amount of time and effort these tests take to implement, all have an impact on student grades. For example, when seniors have had a hard time passing the standardized test, and they have tried several times, they often get discouraged. Because of the heavy weight placed on the value of standardized tests, leading to some students not being able to walk across the stage and get their diplomas, some students just give up. This pressure leads to lower scores for many students just because they begin to believe it is not worth the effort.

Lack of consistency in discipline has an indirect effect on how well the students perform academically. Where there is inconsistent, or no discipline, negative behavior will increase. With negative behavior comes a disruption in the educational process in the classroom. When students think they will not get into trouble they will act out. Their personal grades will deteriorate, and the disruptions they cause in the classroom will effect the grades of their classmates. Where there is inconsistency in the discipline process, and disciplinary actions, students will act as if there is no discipline. As the teachers become frustrated with the lack of significance they perceive administration is placing on their behavioral reports, they begin to overlook many behavior issues. Once again, the educational process is frustrated, and grades deteriorate.

Students’ lack of attendance, and the large number of times they are tardy, have a direct effect on their grades. Being tardy, and being absent are not insignificant issues in the eyes of administration, because in the school district it relates to losing money. However, it seems there is little being done about students being tardy so many times, and the number of absences they have. The policies seem to have more bark than bite. There is a double standard in this area because, while the absences and tardies are serious matters, they are not addressed with serious consequences in many cases. This results in a written policy requiring teacher actions, which seemingly have no effect in altering the students’ behaviors. It fails to motivate students to improve in their attendance and promptness.

Because there are so many methods offered to students to make up their work, and to make up their attendance issues, students don’t see these as serious issues. It is easy to make up the time, and second chances seem to be a quick fix for them. As a result, these behaviors are not altered.

Where is the blame? Many believe the blame is on the schools and the education system. In some cases they would be correct. However, if you get right down to it, ultimately the students need to be held responsible for their grades. They are the ones who are given the assignments. They are the ones who choose to be absent or tardy. They are the ones who enjoy negative behaviors, and place their freedom above their grades.

While it is very true that students do have many challenges in their lives, the school system is not there to remove those challenges. The school system cannot remove all those challenges. The challenges are often brought on by dysfunction in the homes, financial issues, too many activities, lack of parental involvement, cultural issues, and many more, such as drug abuse, alcohol abuse, emotional issues brought on by environmental problems, and more. The school system is there to educate our students, and cannot work in all of these areas.

However, where the school system can work is in developing a better structured, more firm and consistent discipline policy. There needs to be less tolerance regarding being tardy and or absent Many believe that there needs to be a serious effort to finally get rid of the standardized testing that may be wrecking so many areas of school life. In this, the school has to shoulder their load of responsibility. This is where the educational system is failing our students and communities. We have to get serious.

There is still hope, it is not yet beyond repair. If somewhere along the way teachers, and other professional educators will get bold, make demands and not back down, someone will have to listen. However, with that boldness must come a well thought out, and prepared solution to all the problems they address. The same is true of the individual school administrators. They must also make demands and offer well prepared solutions. Policies have to be changed, but change will make no difference unless they are firmly and consistently carried out. Educational personnel need to wake up, get up, put up, or shut up. Please don’t shut up! Our students need for the adults in their lives to be strong, to develop a strong and structured program, and to implement it consistently and firmly. Their education depends on it.

Students are strong. They can adjust to having a structure that will not bend when they (the students) demand it. The students need to see us build a program that can support them when they fall, but at the same time allow that fall to have some impact on the student.

The Public education system holds it’s share of responsibility for failing the students. However, we must not overlook the fact that the students have an absolute responsibility for their part. Both need to be held accountable, firmly and consistently.