Is the education system in the US failing?


Chloe Ragsdale , Reporter

Education is the foundation of any society, and greater successes within school walls contribute to the advancement and triumph of those outside it. The education system in the US has struggled to find fair pay for teachers and adequate resources for students, which has caused their broken system to start failing. This widespread issue stems from a lack of respect and attention towards educators and their students.

On April 26th and 27th, underpaid and frustrated teachers from across Colorado marched in Denver and joined the flurry of protests that have erupted across the United States, including West Virginia, Oklahoma, and Arizona. Colorado’s educators rank 46th in pay among other states in the US, with a payday of about seven thousand dollars below the national average, and they are hoping to increase school funding, along with their salaries.

According to The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), an organization comprised of 35 countries to promote economic growth, prosperity, and development, American teachers are paid less than 60% of what their similarly educated counterparts are paid. Not only are they underpaid, they are overworked, which includes about 210 more hours than the average countries in the OECD. This startling fact not only devastates the lives of hardworking teachers, but also makes the profession highly unattractive to young students, discouraging them to work for such low pay.

Colorado’s economy has been rapidly growing, with an unemployment rate of just below 3%. This not only attracts more students into Colorado’s school districts, but brings light to the unfair wages of educators in a booming economy.

At least 10% of teachers in every state in the US and 22% of teachers in Colorado have an additional job outside of school, says the Center for American Progress, and could be another factor in our failing education system. Educators are the basic creators of our future, playing a primary role in developing the minds that alter the course of history. However, when teachers are faced with an inadequate paycheck, they must divide their attention from their students in search of a living wage , and therefore not giving enough support to our future.

Along with inequitable pay, a lack of work ethic has been detrimental to America’s education system. 27% of the US’ 1.2 million high school dropouts quit due to failing grades and a lack of motivation or confidence to simply do the work. According to The Daily Good, many teachers in the US have found that their students studying from abroad work harder and value their education more than their American born students.

Education has not only seen a lack of respect towards educators from students, it has seen a lack of respect from our government. Betsy Devos, the United States Secretary of Education, has never taught, administered, or sent her children to public schools, where 90% of American children attend. When asked if she would privatize public schools, Devos refused to directly answer the question, and instead, vaguely mentioned empowering students and their parents.

Despite her unclear answers about issues in public schools, Devos has clearly sided with President Donald Trump’s proposals about public education, including major cuts to funding, removing federal protections for transgender students, eliminating after school programs that serve primarily 1.6 million inner-city children, and terminating anti-bullying initiatives.

The US spends 70 cents for every education dollar spent on public schools, compared to the average 84 cents in other OECD countries, and a further lack of funding would prove disastrous to our education system.

Instead of focusing on public schools, which serve more than 50.7 million American children, President Trump and Secretary Devos suggest more funding for charter schools and pushing public schools to become more choice-friendly, which will allow families to decide where they want their children to attend school, despite their home address.

The failure of American school systems will only continue to develop as budget cuts are executed and as President Trump and Betsy Devos are blinded by the imagined lack of support given to private schools.

Education systems around the world also struggle with defining their priorities, whether it’s a student’s well being or a student’s test scores. Although the US lags behind in test scores, they have a significantly lower suicide rate than countries with a higher ranking education systems, such as South Korea or China, where the leading cause of death in adolescents is suicide. Whereas in Finland, one of the highest ranked countries for education, test scores are not prioritized and suicide rates in adolescents are notably lower than in countries such as China and South Korea.

Many issues in American society need to change in order to improve our education system, whether it’s by devoting more attention towards teachers and their needs or removing the culture of laziness within our communities. As a fundamental building block in our world, education must find the balance between a student’s happiness and a student’s success, which in turn, will create a better future.