US Education Not Making The Grade: A Sociological Perspective

Submitted By mpv6
Words: 1842
Pages: 8

U.S. Education Not Making the Grade:
A Sociological Perspective
Mallory Velte

“After World War II, the United States had the number one high school graduation rate in the world. Today, we have dropped to #22 among 27 industrialized countries.” (OECD, 2012) According to this statistic, it is accurate to say that the United States is no longer the world leader it once was in terms of education. The explanation behind our country’s lagging lies in a number of issues concerning the current education system in America. No matter who U.S. citizens deem to be the source for its nation’s disappointing rank, the problem continues to point to this jolting reality: children are not being properly equipped for today’s competitive workforce. Of all those affected by the education systems’ current state of distress, students are the ones most threatened by the issue. With students abroad managing to surpass the intellectual skills of American graduates, our students will eventually be forced to bury their hopes of someday achieving the long-lived “American Dream.” According to some (Ripley 2015) the problems being faced by the United States’ education system are largely due to the devalued emphasis placed on teaching. People taking this perspective believe that it is the lack of respect for the teaching profession causing this downfall in education. Since teachers hold authority in the functioning of the classroom, citizens are looking to them as the reason for students’ weakened performance. The majority is not blaming teachers themselves, however, but see the root of the problem to exist in American culture, which does not place sufficient importance on this profession. Nonetheless, acquiring well-trained teachers in every classroom in the nation would take at least a generation in itself. These advocators believe that in order to seek any improvement within the system, new approaches to teacher training must be established. Mehta (2015) states “We need an education system that can do for teachers what medical residencies do for doctors.” This transformation will require raised standards for teacher licensure, vertically integrated training, and assessments based on actual teaching skill in place of the present tenure system. Arguers such as Mehta find that the only solution for America’s current problem is to create teacher preparation institutions that mirror the same principles used at teaching hospitals. By doing so, an upsurge in the number of highly competent and skilled teachers entering America’s workforce will ensure higher quality education. A completely contrary approach to the 21st-century problem in U.S. education, chooses to focus on the limits faced by children that essentially wilts their ability to learn. A study by the Southern Education Foundation suggests that the biggest challenge to educational achievement lies in the issue of poverty. (Strauss 2013) America, unlike any other nation, allows education for all students, no matter how poor or underprivileged they are. At the same time, unrealistic expectations are held for these students to perform exceptionally well in school, let alone graduate. Due to the vastly growing percentage of U.S. students that either live in poverty or have some form of disability, the education system is being called upon to generate an entirely new set of policies to prevent further plummeting. Those demanding such reforms believe that this education problem cannot possibly be resolved through solely raising standards or increasing testing. Rather, these advocators stress it is the living conditions of the student body causing pitiable outcomes in the U.S. education system. According to Layton (2013) a large proportion of schools in the United States consist of children who lack adequate parental support, leading them to continually lag behind their higher privileged peers. Solutions to the poverty crisis facing American education today include reducing class