When in the process of building a society, it would seem very strange for one to suggest that the state mandate one size of pants in which to squeeze every American. No one would try to design one television show to entertain all Americans: yet the public education system in America feigns to create one system to adequately educate every child in America. This form of reasoning can only be bred in a monopoly, a monopoly that forbids competition and has no incentive to please its customers.
The data collected about the public education system in America is haunting. In Nevada alone, the graduation rate for high school students from 2006 to 2009 lies at a nauseating fifty-six percent, consistently ranking it amongst the lowest in the country. In the back yard of the Capitol of the United States and the heart of American government, public schools follow a close second, averaging a graduation rate of fifty-seven percent. These numbers are not token examples.
Among developing countries, America ranks 20th in graduation rates. Not only are students failing to complete their education up to their senior year, they are barely competent in the most rudimentary of skills. According to the Department of Education, seventy-nine percent of 8th graders in Chicago Public Schools are not proficient in reading, and eighty percent are not proficient in math .
The way people light their cigarettes has made an unrecognizable change from its nineteenth century counterpart, and yet the education of the young, perhaps one of societies most important issues, has not been help up to this evolutionary scrutiny. When people in the twenty first century are cramming their children into archaic molds, it is no wonder how the education system ended up this way, just as if how society fed children with a nineteenth century diet they would not meet modern life expectancy nor growth averages.
One Size fits all education simply does not work. Humans are an almost unimaginably eclectic bunch, and the thought of taking ostensibly every child in America and putting them into one form of education is egalitarian to a fault. Every student, regardless of abilities, interests, mental capacity, and personality are all crammed into one classroom and are taught the same things, in the same way, by the same people, at the same pace. The only thing students in public schools share in common is age, and this seems to be a very poor criterion to determine how a student should be educated. Not only are students expected to learn in a system that may be a malfit for them, but they are forced to attend them for eleven years.
Truancy laws keep students who are not satisfied with their education are kept to rot in a mindless purgatory. A student who may greatly benefit from learning a skill or getting a job is literally forced into their desk by the threat of legal sanctions against both the student and their parents for missing class. This being said, the public school system is not benignly inefficient, it is a vicious perdition that keeps students intellectually flaccid, hobbled, and left to decay until the day they turn eighteen. While students are free to leave during their last year, it is a very sick consolation to those unfortunate souls who have had their minds forcefully bound for eleven years.
These heartbreaking statistics are not the symptoms of a system famished for funding as the most prominent arguments against this thesis suggests. Thirty thousand dollars is almost enough to, “cover the costs of Harvard’s yearly undergraduate tuition or [to] send [one’s] child to the prestigious Sidwell Friends School” attended by President Obama’s children as Heritage Foundation Scholar Rachel Sheffield notes.
However, in Washington D.C. $30,000 is barely enough to indict a child into a school with some of the lowest graduation rates and achievement rates in the country, as demonstrated in the preceding paragraphs. Cramming more funding down the bloated throats of America’s failing public schools will do nothing to fix the systemic problems with education. The problem is not that these schools need more support, the problem is that they have been supported far too much.
Luckily the free market is finding ways to ameliorate the problems created by the government. Today, there are already private alternatives that have sprouted up as an alternative to traditional public education. While it is easy to scoff at online education, upon examination of their curriculum, they are beyond a veritable substitute. Wikipedia for example easily contains all the information one could learn in grade school. Groups like the Kahn Academy offer a free online university that hosts tens of thousands of videos and lectures that cover everything in K-12 education, to music lessons, to coding lessons.
These online schools are often free to anyone at anytime, and allow the student to engage their material at their own pace, in their preferred way. These schools not only encompass all the knowledge that could be gained through conventional public education, but they expand and offer information of an eclectic spread of skills that are rarely seen in public schools, such as computer programming, animation, video production, and musical education.
It is harrowing to consider that public education sprouts from the same group that bring us the Department of Motor Vehicles. With such a sordid lineage to boast, it is surprising there is not more animosity towards the public education system today. Luckily however, motivated entrepreneurs are finding ways around government incompetence to educate people in new, more efficient, and cheaper ways.