This great country on the federal, state, and local level needs to invest more money in educating its citizens. In the past the United States boasted a higher percentage of technically trained, well educated, top of their field professionals to fulfill the needs of not only this great country, but those of the rest of the world too.
However those days seem to be over. Today most highly technical and intellectual jobs such as engineering, chemistry, physics, and research doctors are held by individuals who were educated elsewhere. Students in the United States test among the lowest in the world in the basic skills of math, science, and English. It is evident that educating the Americans of the future generation has somehow gotten way too low on this country’s priority list. We have done a poor job of properly educating our citizens in recent years to be able to compete in the world market of tomorrow.
The United States should pass legislature mandating higher pay for K-12 teachers, higher test scoring standards for schools, teachers, and students, smaller classrooms, and colleges should start actively recruiting prospective students in public schools at the elementary age, which is much earlier than they do today.
There are many who believe that our teachers here in the United States are severely underpaid. In an article in Weatoday by Tim Walker called “Low Pay Comes at a Higher Cost for Kids” The average construction worker in South Dakota makes about thirty-five thousand dollars per year.
This is more than the average teacher makes per year nationwide. Many across the country believe that this is unacceptable and is causing our country to fall far behind the rest of the world in its ability to give its citizen’s a quality education. According to the same article there are “two key factors that determine how professional pay enhances overall teacher quality, particularly as it pertains to attracting new, well qualified teachers. One
is that “higher pay promotes competition and therefore more and better teaching applicants.” Secondly, “Raising pay increases the “national status” of the profession, again making it more attractive to potential recruits. There is a clear statistical correlation between higher pay and student performance in all schools worldwide. Based on this and other facts Mr. Walker states in his article that a “ten percent raise in teachers’ pay would produce about a five to ten percent increase in overall student performance.”
The quality of our teachers here in the United States is of fundamental importance. If we as a nation desire to give our children a quality education and secure our spot as a world leader in the upcoming millennium, we must be willing and able to invest as much (if not more) than the rest of the world does to educate their children.
The truth is we are actually paying so much more in so many ways by refusing to invest properly in our children and our future. It is interesting that in recent years many states including California have put a new emphasis on teacher quality and evaluating teacher’s performance in the classroom but they all failed to take the next logical step, which is to offer teachers more incentive in the form of higher pay and better benefits to do well. If California and other states would take this vital step, this would cause more people to desire to become teachers, and it would improve the quality of them too.
Higher testing standards for all schools are an important step in helping our country become more competitive in the world market against countries like Korea and Japan. In an article written by Frontline correspondent John Merrow and producer John Tulenko when they interviewed teachers and school administrators who are grappling with the realities of increased testing and its effects on the quality of both teaching and learning, testing has already transformed what goes on in the classroom in places like California and Virginia.
By almost all accounts, these changes have been for the better and have improved overall teaching and learning experiences. There have been huge strides made in giving our children a better education in these places. Much more still has to be done. Holding teachers and schools accountable for the quality of the education they are delivering to our children on a consistent basis is very important. The most accepted way to accomplish this is through testing. We must raise the standards and expect more from our
educators because places like Japan and Korea has already been practicing this for many years and it has worked wonders for the quality of education in those countries. Most graduates from Japan and Korea (among other countries) are highly successful in technical fields worldwide. Engineering, physics, rocket science, and research doctors just to name a few.
As this great country has proven so many times in the past, once we recognize a problem and put our collective minds and energy into fixing it, there is a practical guarantee that it will be resolved. The problem is that this country has lost sight of the importance of educating its citizens to compete on the world stage. One simple and effective way of evaluating and correcting our educational deficiencies is through more testing and accountability of teachers, students, and schools.
Classroom size has been an issue in the United States for many years beginning in the 1970s and 80s. A disturbing trend of laying off teachers and closing schools has led to the inevitable increase in classroom size that has become the norm in today’s schools.
According to an article called “Why Class Size Matters” by Leonie Haimson, “ Studies from Tennessee, Wisconsin, and other states throughout the union have demonstrated that students who are assigned to smaller classes in grades K-3rd do better in every way that can be measured: they scored higher on tests, received better grades, and exhibit improved attendance.” Also, the fact is that there is no measurable threshold that must be reached before class size reduction produces benefits.
This means that in an average class of thirty-five students, removing just one or two students from the classroom would actually cause the remaining thirty-three or thirty-four students to perform better! There have already been large scale programs enacted in states like California to reduce class size. California is a perfect case study for this issue because it has some of the largest class sizes in the country. There have been at least six controlled studies of the California class size reduction program and each one has shown significant gains from smaller classes overall.
There really is no opposing argument when talking about the topic of class sizes in America. The fact is there is overwhelming and compelling evidence proving that simply lowering the number of students that each teacher must teach and be responsible for has huge and immediate benefits. The quality of each child’s education rises exponentially with the lowering of the number of students in each classroom.
Less students per teacher obviously translates to more time that teacher will have to spend with each student. This is one of the simplest and most straight forward steps that could easily be taken in this country to improve the quality of our children’s education. Unfortunately there have been countless obstacles standing in the way of achieving this goal of reduced classroom sizes. It really all boils down to money. Less money invested in education means fewer teachers to teach more children. This is an unfortunate that other countries have already taken steps to avoid while the United States seems to embrace.
Interestingly enough colleges don’t generally attempt to recruit students for their prospective colleges until the prospective recruit is nearly finished with high school. This is a uniquely American custom. Many other countries are actively attempting to interest students in a higher education as early as grade school. Instilling this idea of going to college at a much younger age is a very good way to improve the student’s chances of pursuing a technical career. Twelve and thirteen year old students are already in a position to start planning for their future, and if there are limited or even no options given for college, than it obviously cannot be considered as a possibility.
The United States would do well to start attempting to recruit students for college at a much younger age. There are few if any college recruiters out there looking in middle and elementary schools for prospective scholarship recipients. Also there is the issue of placing too much value on athletic recruiting versus academic recruiting. Colleges are too focused on the money aspect of student athletes instead of the greater importance of grooming tommo0row’s intellects.
There are those who argue that there really is no problem with the quality of education in the United States. The truth is that we as a country continue to be dominant in most areas of technology, manufacturing, and (some say) education. The fact is there are few who would dispute the United States place as close to number one in the world. Although there will always be room for improvement, this country spends much more on education than many other countries do.
Countries like Mexico and Israel are far behind the United States in education. Also there are many other areas where the U.S. far surpasses countries like Korea and Japan other than education. Some argue that our natural resources and manufacturing abilities more than make up for any deficiencies we have in education.
Without legislature mandating higher pay for our teachers, Higher testing standards for teachers, students, and schools, smaller classrooms, and college recruiting at a much younger age, the issues this this country have faced in recent years in its attempt to compete in the global setting will only escalate.
There is no denying that the overall quality of education available to our children has declined and will continue to do so unless these problems are addressed. The steps outlined above are sure to get the U.S. back on the right track and ensure the future of our children in this new and competitive world.