The Decline of American Education

A blog article by Bonniejean Alford (Educator, Activist, World Citizen)

In 1895 Kansas 8th grade students were given a completion exam consisting of five parts that most students today don’t even come close to passing, my self included.  Granted, some aspects of the exam are highly relevant to social location and the agricultural society of rural America in 1895 meant you needed to know the weight and average price of a bushel of wheat.  Today’s world of service and computers doesn’t really require that knowledge for the average American.

That said, some aspects, such as the basic math skills, basic grammar skills, and knowledge of important historical aspects of this great nation are being left by the wayside, as are our young minds.  Programs like “No child left behind” and a lack of appropriate funding to provide the necessary skills to students today are part of the culprit.

As a college instructor for more than ten years I have seen a decline in the skills necessary to succeed in college.  This in no way means that I have seen a decline in the intelligence of my students.  On the contrary, I have many brilliant students frustrated by their lack of certain skills because the system let them down.

To put it bluntly, it angers me that we let our children down.  We let our future down.

Sure there are amazing teachers that put in massive hours of overtime and spend their own money to ensure that their students know the historical significance of William Penn and the nine uses of a capital letter.

But should teachers continue to be overworked, underappreciated, and drastically underpaid?  I mean the only people being hurt are our kids, right?


Society as a whole is being hurt by the decline in the American Education System that is far beyond simply being a shift in focus.  Yes, the shift in societal focus from agricultural to service society is an important factor that cannot be ignored, but it is far from the entire picture.  When I have a student, 18 years old, come through my college Introduction to Sociology class and they don’t know the difference between a noun and a verb, how can they succeed?  Well, to put it simply, College instructors, who are often also underpaid and overworked, are then expected to pick up the slack left when the educators in K-12 dropped the ball.

I am not trying to lay blame, just point out a major problem with our society right now.  I love listening to the brilliant ideas of my many students.  I love helping to guide them to new solutions and ways of looking at a situation that they may never have thought possible.  But it breaks my heart when I see those students who, due to a system that failed them, are left uncertain and confused.  Sadly, many have no option but to fail.

I am at a loss as to how to solve the problem, but it is important and essential that we do, otherwise it is our future that is lost!


80 thoughts on “The Decline of American Education

  1. The education system is worse than most of us think. The education system has believed for a long time that the solution is making the tests easier for the students. Students themselves, who see no need for the education, they want big easy money right away. So they think playing football, or becoming actors or singers would be the easy way. Another part of the problem is that not all the teachers are well educated and dedicated. Another problem is the environment the students live in and around. Students need to be taught to study and work hard.

    1. There are students who work very hard at being athletes or artists and good pupils all at the same time– the athletes in particular often have to keep their grades up in order to play. Athletic and artistic aspirations are not the root of the problem. The problem is, as you said, the lack of work ethic among America’s students. I’m not sure how to improve this— with the “get rich quick” culture that we have growing in this country, I’m not sure there is an easy way to change. But hard workers built this nation; we just need to find our way back to those roots and build again.

    2. I sometimes feel that student athletes care more about their performance on the sporting field than in the classroom. Many of them have to get certain grades in order to be apart of the team. I don’t see that as a beneficial requirement because sometimes it is not what the athlete personally wants. I am not saying that there aren’t students who care about both parts in “student athlete”, but they fail to realize that if they don’t make it professionally, they will have nothing left to fall back on.

    3. Students need to be taught how to study and work hard from their parents, not the teachers, which is probably what you meant but it was not clarified. I am a firm believer in teaching your child how to succeed in life by giving them a good education, making sure they understand how to study and do their homework, and emphasizing the importance of hard work and never giving up. Sounds easy? Not at all, but with continuous support throughout their life I’m sure it can make the difference. I witness many parents just giving up now a days, unable to understand the homework so they just leave the child to do it on their own, in hopes that they just get it done. Instead, as parents, we need to educate ourselves and seek out ways to help our children learn.

    4. I agree with you. The education system has gone down hill. With the standardized tests and making students have a fixed mindset. In elementary many students start to compare their test scores. Some don’t want to share their grades because they feel embarrassed that they got a low grade, and they believe that they are dumb. That should not be the results of those tests. Tests should not group students in a smart group and the dumb group. That is not the point of it. They are supposed to show where you need to improve. The teachers are also at fault because they are the ones that need to show students that there is nothing wrong with not being at paced with others. That there is always a way to improve and to grow as a student mentally.

  2. The system doesn’t care about kids learning anything. It’s all about money in this age. In different parts of the world education is being taught different ways, some areas like suburban areas get the best of the best when it comes to education. Then they make us take tests to get accepted into college knowing we are lacking certain skills in different areas. You have some students who come to learn and some who don’t. It’s sometimes about the reputation of the school. Internet and social networks and television have a great effect on education. To get information in older days you had to read and search books. In this age you just use a search engine and several things pop up. Then it’s stuck in most kids mind the easier way to get into college is playing sports or different activities. It’s a problem that we won’t be able to solve because it’s already triggered for the worse. Anything can play a role in education especially the environment.

    1. I agree with you Danny, the one thing people are constantly thinking about is money. We try hard in high school so that we’ll get accept into a good college so that we can find a good career. The effort we put into our school work is not solely because we want to learn something new, but because we know that if we do well we will get better grades which lead to a better career earning more money.

    2. I 100% agree with you. Grades K-12should be spent teaching you the basics, not only just to pass a test, but to have it imprinted in the studnets mind. A lot of times I see a lot of teachers not really giving their all to help students, and vice versa as well. Making tests eaiser, rounding off scores, etc are ways for the teachers to show that their students are passing (in my opinion.) Whether it be because their job is on the line or they will recieve less pay, in reality, the students are the ones suffering. They go home happy because they did good on a test, however, is the information they “learned” going to be memorized and easy to remember in the future. I’ve seen in a lot of situations, straight “A” students doing “good” in school, but once the SAT and ACT tests come along, it’s a whole different person taking that test.

    3. It really is about money. The youth are led to believe that if they mortgage their lives for an education that utopia waits. Instead it’s about $200,000 in debt you can’t default on and a good luck out there!

  3. I would have to agree with everything that was previously stated. In today’s society kids look for majors or places of employment to make the quickest buck. I would have to include myself in this category. I’m currently working a job that I could care less about, but I work almost everyday because it pays a dollar fifty over minimum wage. Mind you, I’m not forced to work whatsoever, but once I started I became money hungry. As many kids these days do. I also don’t believe there is a way to change this mentality unless people make the changes individually. If a child does not have good morals instilled in them to get a good education and express the need for further education after high school, why would they deem it necessary? This would fall back on teachers and parents to force this upon the student. Although there are many perks to going to community college right out of high school, I also think it is necessary to continue your education. Every student finds it easier to succeed in subjects that they find interesting, but we all are forced into the ones we don’t love. Ultimately, I feel that students at our age have a hard time seeing the bigger picture of things. They forget how important it is to get good grades in EVERY class and not just the ones you like. I also have found that although I may not be crazy about one particular subject, if I have a teacher that pushes me and makes learning a little more challenging or exciting, I find myself doing better. I have come across many sensational teachers up to this point- but the American school system is lacking more teachers that actually care about their students.

  4. I would definitely agree with everything stated in this entry. In today’s society it seems as though college is pushed as the main goal. Obviously there are many more options that can lead to success but going to a university is strongly pushed. Because of this, many teachers make it easier on their students just so they stay on that track. This is the opposite of caring about the students but many teachers either do not see it that way or it simply does not matter to them. It is very much on the student to push themselves and if they choose not to, they simply lose out. This is not to say that there are not teachers who push their students. There are many teachers that push their students to learn and succeed but it just seems that there are less and less.

  5. Yes I do believe there is in fact a let down in our education system and has been occuring and declining for years. I have been aware of this issue since I was a freshman in high school (8 years ago) and my Spanish teacher was appauled that we had no idea the difference between a noun, verb, adjective, pronoun and so on. I can honestly say that I have never learned as much about the English language and sentence structure, as I have ever learned in my Spanish class that year. Pretty ridiculous right? It is not fair for teachers to put in the overtime and extra hard work in order to teach our children the correct form of a sentence, and correct mathematics. This education should start from the beginning, from the teachings at home before the child enters pre-school and kindergarten. However, how is this possible if the parents were neglected of this information in school as well? It is just a cycle of unfortunate but never ending ignorance.

    How can this be solved? It will be a challenge, but since parents are not educated in that sense than our children need to be taught from the beginning and on up through the school system. The school and education system needs to incorporate these teachings within the curriculum if at all possible. I’m sure this is easier said than done, since along with the rapid change in our technology and economy, there is much to be taught.

  6. I agree with all that was stated. Sometimes I feel as though there are simple, basic things that I was never taught. It shouldn’t make me feel dumb but at times it does. The educational system really has been a let down as the years have gone on. Kids aren’t even taking school and their education as serious anymore, they have their priorities all mixed up. Less important things are becoming the most important. And I believe that this is a reflection from our educational system. There are definitely educators that still work hard and put in so much just because they enjoy their job, while there are other educators that put in minimal work for their job that are earning the same income.

  7. I would definitely agree that some parts of the 8th grade testing for 1865 in Kansas are unused today because of the location and technology enhancements. I also agree though that there were some important things that everyone should still be learning from the tests, but they aren’t. We’ve put more of a focus on getting all the kids through the classes. Most teachers just teach the test, and don’t actually give out information that will be useful to the student. Sure, some of the things on the test could be important, but soon after that test, the students are on to memorizing the facts and information for the next test. It isn’t only the teachers fault and I’m not sure if anyone in particular is to blame. But with advancements in technology and our society’s shift more towards the future, and less towards the past, I think it’s only natural that some things may be deemed unfit or not useful to teach/learn in school.

    Still, there are important things that must remain in the society in order for it to properly function. Some of the questions, especially in the English and grammar parts of the test, are important for the individuals to understand one another when using formal writing.

  8. I respectfully disagree with what you are saying. I understand that it is shocking that a majority of us students and you could not complete the exam, but there are clear reasons behind that. We are not being taught the things that are on the exam because they are not relevant to us. Also, we should take into consideration the fact that since so much time has passed since then, there is so much more to learn. History is constantly being made and scientists are regularly making new discoveries. Teachers and programs need to take into consideration what is relevant nowadays, not what was in 1985.

  9. It’s pretty interesting how times have changed. I recently read an article which was saying they are now starting to incorporate Ipads into the smaller children’s education and how it is going to help them over time. Although I agree with this and incorporating younger children with higher technology so it comes easier to them, but I just thought it was a little silly that it would take small children to put our best resources in. The hope is in the future of the children.

  10. Personally, I think that technology may be posing more of an issue in the education than the benefits it provides. Yes, it is nice and convenient having grades posted online, the flexibility of email, and even DVD movies for teaching. However, it is also increasingly becoming a distraction. How many times have we all had problems with this same technology? Emails get lost in cyberspace, online grade systems crash, and teachers don’t know how to work the projectors. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I miss chalk and blackboards.

  11. This is a very interesting topic for me, being that I was born in 1978 and have seen the evolution of technology, the good and bad that has come from it. In a way the students today are more advanced through technology and the internet. But, is this technology hindering the very source of our creative thinking for ourselves. Students don’t really need to spell anymore, because there is spell check on our computers. I don’t think we are needed to memorize as much anymore either, if you don’t know the answer you can just google it, information is right at our fingertips and this may take some of the thinking out of it. I recently read an article that said, Facebook is slowly killing our souls. What does this mean, basically it means that our intended perception of ourselves is fake, not real at all. Just a digital enhancement of how we want others to perceive us. This is comparable to education in the sense that, students don’t really seem to want to be smart, they just want to appears smart with the newest tools and technology to advance them to the next level of learning. I mean come on really, what is a noun and a verb, maybe this country is in trouble.

  12. It is very apparent in reading this blog and all of the comments that nobody has a clear understanding of how to fix this increasingly complex problem. Technology “is” slowly killing our ability to think. It’s hard to think when everything is a mouse click away. I agree that the solution to the problem has to be within our educational system, primarily in grades k-12. Many kids in college don’t have an understanding of the basic core subjects. It is sad that from my early school experience I can really only count on one hand the exceptional teachers I have had. Most never went the extra mile from teaching and following the lesson. I can’t tell you how many times I was left in the classroom with my fellow students to read over a lesson and answer questions from the textbook while my teacher graded papers or went off to the student lounge. My parents tried to help me but they really didn’t have the teaching skills necessary to have me grasp all of the concepts. I know what a noun and a verb are, but if you ask me to conjugate something I would be lost! It’s crystal clear that the problem stems from those teaching the basic core classes from k-12th grade. I just can’t begin to tell anyone how to fix it. I think teachers need to be graded too. If they flunk, then they may need to leave school or at least go back to school until “they” get it right.

    1. All very interesting perspectives. What I haven’t read yet is how so many of the problems we have can be traced back to choices; choices our parents made, choices administrators made (reporting accurate numbers or not), choices we make as children and students, choices our teachers make, choices we make as adult students, and then choices we make as parents.

      We can blame outside of ourselves (the way I did in the comment I made) and walk a path created from that. Or we can hold ourselves accountable to do the absolute best we can do every day (which will be a little different each day) and hold others to do the same.

      Sure, we can mourn the death of our ability to think due to technology and remain passive or we can use it to challenge our minds.

      The test from 1895 are rigorous for us today for more than lousy teachers. I do not need to have the definitions for terms such as “trigraph”, “subvocals” or “cognate letters” in my head but I would say I’ve got a pretty good command of the English language! I know where to find the information – the internet – yay!!

      To connect back to my comment earlier, we make the choices where our attention, time and money will go.

      So much of what I’ve read recently discusses how the attitudes and expectations of others significantly affect outcome. Teachers and parents telling children what they will be before they, themselves have figured out WHO they are, much less what they will be. We can make better choices than these.

      I believe that there is no ONE to blame. No ONE makes a society – we all do. We all are.

  13. We discriminate against those applying for jobs at our companies who come from less-than-ivey-league schools, yet we refuse to support the educational system.

    What would we be without teachers?


    What would we have without teachers?


    We certainly wouldn’t be reading and commenting on blogs.

    The theory that our educational system reflects our culture couldn’t be more true. And our culture tends to reveal our “true” nature. We want to have all the toys. Unfortunately, education is not considered a toy, but sports is, which means we will pour even money we don’t have to support sports teams.

    Perhaps if we were to make education a contact “sport”? I know that spelling bees never did catch on and bring in the revenue we were hoping for, but we’re a creative country of people, surely we can come up with some other way!!

    Let’s start with this: What do we like to watch?
    1. people hitting other people – probably not.
    2. people humiliating other people – not good either.
    3. people having sex – too controversial.
    4. the underdogs succeeding despite the odds – mmm
    5.GO back to 4 – we might have the makings of something there…

    Right now our priorities are out of balance and with it our lives and our society – it cannot be any other way. When we’re ready to find our way back, we will and with our return to balance will come significant shifts in what we deem most important. Hopefully, it won’t take too long.

  14. I think that education is most defiantly declining. I have experience through growing up in the beginning of the huge turn in technology improvements and i have the privilege to tutor young individuals currently. I feel like kids rely so much on technology and its hugely affecting them negatively. Another huge blame should go on the teachers. I was fortunate to go to some pretty good schools but I have lots of friends who were in Chicago Public schools where they aren’t provided the same education. The lack of funding made for some poor quality teachers who didnt go that extra mile to help their students. I feel like the quality of writing, reading, and basic math is becoming worse and worse as the years go on. Something needs to be done because the youth is the ones that is our future and making decisions for us when we get to old.

  15. This is indeed very unfortunate. Education is arguably the most important thing in a society. It is supposed to create individuals to be ready for what tomorrow brings. It should not only give students the knowledge to understand the world around them, but to be able to have an effect on them. The youth is the future and if it is not ready in time, we will all pay.

    I also think it’s very unfortunate that some schools, for instance, in the more poverty-stricken areas of major cities like Chicago or Detroit, lack the funding to pay good teachers and get adequate materials. The government is doing these kids an injustice by not having a stronger educational system. Also, being that the students in these areas are predominantly black, them being uneducated could give them a bad social stigma. If these kids lived an area with good schools who is to say they couldn’t be whatever they wanted to be. Education is one of those very important topics that comes full circle to have an effect on a lot of other societal matters like discrimination for example.

  16. My personal opinion as a mother of a 10 year old child, is that indeed there is a big problem in our education system. I have experienced from first hand, the frustration of having my daughter have too much free time after school, and have to constantly find ways, and things to do with her that are educational to keep her challenged. Our kids are not challenge enough neither by the school system or their parents, and this helps perpatrate the issue that our society has with gangs, and peer groups doing things they are not suppose to do. I have the privilege of been a stay home mom and I have the time to constantly supervised my daughter, and also to be involved in any school matter, but many parents don’t have that oportunity, the culture of individualism and the need of both parents to work full time, also affects in the amount of attention the kids receive, even if the parent is not knowlegdeable of the subject that their child needs help with, and has the good intention to do their best, the desire of do more than that is overlaped by how tired they feel after a long they of work, and many times the kid is often left to do their homework on their own with no assistance.

  17. I personally agree with Bonniejean that we have to find the way to solve the education problem, since education is a key approach to perpetuate the cultural heritage, as she argues that without a good education our future is lost. I believe that the mistake on the education system involves several factors. We are facing a new era where the economy, the media, and technology have been affecting all of us, and at the same time all those factors are linked to each other as a paradox where the student is only a victim. The time that parents spend with their children is limited, since they have to work hard in order to achieve their needs. This gives their children alone with access to a lot of technology, which some times it is more the negative effect caused when the child doesn’t know the right use of this. They spend hours on Facebook and follow fashion links that at the end are only a distraction for the student. On the other hand, it is important to teach students how to learn, how to be focused. While new generations are more dependent of technology, their memory has been limited by the use of it. For example, at present time nobody memorizes any phone numbers. In contrast, the last generation knew not only several numbers by heart, but also birthdays and address. It could be a simple example, but at the end, the way in which we are technology dependent has been limiting our memory skills and the mode of how we learn.

  18. I agree with the decline in education for our children and generations to come. Experiencing it first hand with my daughter I found that trying to help her with her homework was difficult because of what they were teaching her in school; the basics have changed. Technology has taken up a big part of education that schools are spending more money on electronics (ipads, computers, etc.) rather than using the money for academic programs.
    Also, changing certain programs have affected the educators themselves. When my daughter was in 5th grade the school had switched their math program and I found that she was having difficulties and I had told her to let her teacher know. She had commented back that she was instructed to not work on the homework for more than 15 minutes if she was getting stuck on the lesson. I of course did not believe this so during one of her parent teacher conferences I had to ask if this was true, unfortunately it was. This teacher explained that it was a new program and that he was having a hard time with the lesson and that he was learning with the kids as he taught it .
    I understand that this was not his fault but to find that technology has such a huge impact on society that it is difficult to go backwards in order to teach something new. This overall affects the next generations to come and how society is molding these young minds by taking away what can be beneficial to them in the future- their education.

  19. I had the same experience as Mericis this weekend with my daughter, who is in fourth grade. She asked me to write a division problem for her, as she started solving the problem, I realized I had no clue what she was doing! and I was not the only one, not because I don’t know how to solve a division problem, but because the method she was using to solve it was completely different from the one I was taught, which it doesn’t make sense, because it takes longer to solve it. I have also experienced the introduction of ipads to her classroom. In some way I understand that there is a need for the new generations to learn about technology from a young age because the needs of our society has change, especially in the work force, but I disagree with it to a certain extent. I believe that our society is becoming more and more dependent on technology that as individuals we are losing the ability to solve problems because the machines do it for us, and I am afraid that our new generations will lose the capacity to learn essential knowledge because of this new programs integrated to their education, that sometimes don’t even make sense. which is why, by the time they arrived to college they are clueless, our education system, needs to be reform and prioritize.

  20. In my experience with the education system i can say that this social phenomena is definitely true. I am currently working my way through college and i have found it hard sometimes to do some of the most basic things. I often am forced to go back and relearn something i was supposed to retain in middle school and high school. I am no exception to the rule either their are many of my own friends who entered college and felt as though they were unprepared. The task of gaining a higher education can be one of the most challenging parts of a individuals life and so many of my high school class mates were not prepared to go to college, so when they arrived a large number couldn’t succeed and were forced to drop out and go back home. I believe that we need to put education as one of our nations top priorities if not the top priority. If we do not reform our education system then i also fear for the worst in generations to follow.

  21. I think that the shift in education has a lot to due with our society’s new craze of having babies at a younger and younger age. Years ago families were not started until both parents had their careers or lives planned out; nowadays people are having children before they even finish high school. Whether or not this is intentional the parents are placing a lack of emphasis on education. The example is set for their children that one does not have to finish their educational career in order to start a family. Another thing that has a strong impact on education and youth is technology. Children today do not read or desire to do their homework because they have Facebook to check, video games to play, and television shows to catch up on. I think children are just lacking the guidance and encouragement to learn and pursue education.

    1. I agree, there are a lot more distractions in today’s society that kids are having trouble prioritizing over. Some don’t realize that these distractions are the beginning of future laziness or ignorance. Kids who slack off throughout high school are more likely to do the same in college because they haven’t had the consistency of a hard work ethic. On the other hand we do have to consider the kids who have more responsibility than others. Some high schoolers are balancing school, work, extracurriculars, college preparation, and home responsibilities. Their attention cannot solely be on school because there is other important things they have to worry about.

  22. Personally I believe that education has truly declined since the 1850s. They have law in schools called the no child left behind. Witch basically means if a student can’t excel to the next level by achieving good grades, he will still progress as being a failure. When I took that test from the 1850s I instantly got a headache just by trying my hardest to answer the first four questions without the use of the technology we have today to handicap ourselves. The thing that I don’t understand is people in our society will go out of there way to learn how to play a new game. In fact. that is one of the first time I saw one of my family members read, and the was to learn the controls so that he could know what buttons to press on his new play-station3 game. We can only change this statistic by introducing the next generation to a book before a game.

  23. I agree with this entry because students now-a-days are losing skills that students even ten years ago had. With this new age of computers and smart phones, students can have anything done for them or figured out in just a click of the mouse. One example I can think of is the dictionary. Are students still using the book and learning how to find words in alphabetical order, or are they just taking the easy way and just going to an online dictionary? Even back when I was in elementary school, computers were not as advanced and we barely used them. I think we still need to teach kids how to do stuff the old fashion way ( dictionary, math by hand, etc) before they all become technology reliant.

    1. I agree with this, I am a prime example of this. I was taught how to use a dictionary but still go straight to the internet. Sure I could skim through the dictionary, but why do that when I can search a word in ten seconds on my smartphone? Students are lazy now because of how easy it is to access something online. Many students would rather skim through databases to find a source then look in a book because it takes less time and effort. When it comes to anything math related, even simple addition/subtraction, I use a calculator to double check myself. We all learned addition and subtraction, yet we refuse to take the time to do it by hand when just about every piece of technology has a calculator. The key here is laziness, that over everything is the reason education is declining.

  24. This reminds me of a paper I wrote my second semester of college last year about how student athletes do not care about their grades as long as they are succeeding in their sport. I feel that some of the kids in college that for example, do not know the difference between a verb and a noun were the kids who cared about playing outside with friends and not doing their homework more than getting their homework done and participating in the classroom. Although, in high school most athletes needs certain grades to stay eligible on the team, however, that doesn’t seem to benefit at all because the students don’t seem to work extra hard to play and stay eligible.
    Parents need to make their kids regardless of how good at sports they are for their age and make them do school first. Because without good grades in school, a student most likely will not go anywhere in life unless they are THAT good at a sport. But good grades don’t come easy, their always has to be hard work.

    1. As a former Varsity Athlete, this comment disappoints me. You’re placing all athletes in a box and labeling them as not committed to school. But I was always more committed to my schoolwork when I was competing in athletics because I had to be. I managed to maintain a 3.8 GPA throughout high school while attending honors and AP classes and while participating in three sports in Varsity for four years. So, not every athlete just focuses on sports.
      But I agree one-hundred percent about parents teaching their kids the importance of their education. It feels like there isn’t much parental involvement in helping kids with their homework or teaching kids that their education is important. Or, worse, that they need to be respectful in school and how to behave when kids have a problem at school.

  25. Very interesting article, I did not realize students are being set up to fail through the “No Child Left Behind Program”. I have witnessed a lot of students who do not try in school, take it for granted, and just cruise a long hanging with friends. Well, after college they have nowhere to go. Some students have no choice, coming from poor families and having to support their families as well. That to me is why students do not learn enough. They start off on the right track, then they have to work to support the family. That causes the student to collapse at a young edge, therefore leaving college professors with “What is a noun?” or “I don’t know what a verb is.” But also, technology is ruining kids as well. Instead of looking in a dictionary, they Google the definition now. That will not teach the student anything. Doing it the old fashioned way and researching stuff in a book will teach the student better.

  26. The public school system is always better in the suburbs, the wealthier the suburb the better the school. This way the government can have better control on who will go on to be leaders, money counters, and money manipulators and who will be a worker. As the saying goes it takes money to make money, either that or hard work and a little ingenuity. The school system needs to be improved much like we need to be weaned off our petroleum addiction. These are both examples of outdated methods and technology we need to update. Memorization of facts is good but there are still lessons that need to be learned, dots that need to be connected that our school systems do not go into. Educators need more freedom to work with what they feel is a good learning process and more pay as motivation. If you want society to change how they educate, you need to view teaching as worthy of the same pay as a doctor. Only then will you get the training, specialization, and attention to detail that raising our youth requires.

  27. I personally don’t believe that the Education system has entirely declined. I think that the American education system has become stagnate, in the face of new skill sets that are in high demand in today’s society. Today America’s education system is very archaic in the way teachers educate their students. For example, in elementary schools, the Arithmetic curriculum has students memorizing multiplication tables and silly formulas, instead of allowing the students to truly apply the concepts. Most of the problems that arise in today’s education system is through student boredom; Memorization, Unenthusiastic teachers, and useless concepts plague schools across the nation. Students see no connection between the information and Ideas given in the school room, and the outside world. The best classes I have had are because of interesting professors, fantastic lecturing styles, and truly engaging material. By modernizing the education system we can help guide our future.

  28. The American Educational system has been on and still is on a decline. Teachers are being overworked and underpaid. The society is being affected. There is a gap between age groups and conversations being held between these age groups due to a lack of knowledge. I have experienced this first hand. The summer of my sophomore year in 2010 I was an intercity after school tutor as well as a summer school teacher. I dealt with kids from kindergarten all the way through high school senors. The thing that affected me the most from this experience was that some of the middle schoolers were reading at the same level as some of the high school senors. From my experience not enough was being done at home. When students came to class they were physically present, but mentally they were checked out thinking about what they were going to do after school. The teachers were doing all they could to help these students catch up. Some were so far behind that it was nearly impossible for them too.

  29. I agree with you 100%. I have ADHD and dyslexia and when i was in high school I was in contain classes. Which means that I had the same two teachers all day and the same people in my classes. When I tell people this they automatically think that I am dumb, but in actuality it just takes me longer to learn certain things and stay focused. Since I have been in school I have seen so many other kids with learning disabilities being treated as if they were unteachable. I have had numerous teachers simply give up on me because they think i am not trying or I am just dumb. I think that this is a horrible thing because when you tell someone they cant do something, they are going to start thinking the same way. For most of high school I thought that I was dumb and that something was wrong with me. But one of my teachers didn’t give up on me and stayed with me after to to insure that I understood what they were teaching. He would take time out of his day to take a little more time to teach me something that I though was difficult. I think that if every kid is not given the chance to succeed than this country is just hurting itself. Many people with learning disabilities and other disabilities have gone on to do amazing things for this country. Every kid needs to be given the chance to succeed or this county is just hurting itself.

  30. I personally have experienced the decline myself. growing up in a farming community i did not learn how to read, and write until fourth grade. when I eventually moved as i got to better areas the requirements for got more, and more difficult. it is astonishing how much the wealth of an area plays in to the type of educational system they have, and is unfair to those that wish to get out of the ruts they have been trusted in to are never given a fighting chance in the first place. Because people rather sweep the poor, and the uneducated under the rug then help them become prosperous, and intelligent.

  31. Even though perceived as the younger generation, I have notice not a true decline in the intelligence level, but definitely a decline in effort placed by the students within the educational system. In present time students do not have to fully read each chapter of a book, inquire within their textbook for the answers of questions as we have the internet. The internet is an amazing thing and even the so called “haters” of technology have to be impressed of how much knowledge this source hold and how easy the access of the internet really is. The simplicity of the internet has led to a decline of effort that students put forth within their classrooms, as they will just go home and search the answers on the World Wide Web. The calculator, which was before the concept of the “internet” took away mental aspect of adding, subtracting, multiplying, and division within in math. They have online classes now, where we are in fact basically teaching our selves the lessons, instead of having to go an actual classroom. As technology continues to advances, I believe that we will continue to see this decline and we as a community are trying to take the “easy” way to do things in order to succeed….I also see this hurting our society in the future.

  32. Their are some really important points brought up in this article about our current education system, and unlike you, I would like to lay blame. It is just so frustrating to see the decline that is in full effect when it comes to the education of our future generation.

    From a student perspective, I have seen these short comings when it comes to actual education within schooling prior to college. I went to a high school called Neuqua Valley and struggled, to say the least. Throughout my time spent there, I was overwhelmed with the hidden curriculum that plagued the school, and found it nearly impossible to focus on my education.

    Along with the drama, fights, and trends that held me back from the importance of my education, I also observed a different flaw. Coming from a no-longer high school, but college student, I view my experiences in high school as the result of a lack in trust. The way that I, and all students are, treated in high school creates a deviance sure to destroy a teens education.

    Now that I am out of high school I appreciate my education on a whole different level. You see in college, no one is forcing you to do your work, go to class, not text in class, or even “ask” to relieve yourself. With this in mind, you start to feel as though your education is a privilege instead of something you are forced to partake in.

    If high schools put more trust into students, then they will not feel forced to complete their work, which in turn usually causes deviance. I know that this is the case for me, along with several other college students I have spoken with, and I think it would be in the best interest of our society if we could install more trust in our youth throughout their years in school prior to college.

  33. I believe it is safe, yet also sad to say, that our education system in the United States is truly declining. I find myself in this state of wonder at various points in time, questioning what I am really seeing. One of my biggest pet peeves is when I see college students, or even working adults, still not being able to differentiate the words, “you’re,” and “your.” The work that I’ve seen from fellow colleagues at different points in my career, have led me to question how they even made it through all of their high school English courses. Oh right, the answer has to be that the American education system is failing. A key proponent in this lack of knowledge would have to be technology. It has hurt and helped us out at the same time, providing us with tools and resources such as spell-check, for those grammatical and spelling issues, and calculators for those easy mathematical equations, which we should be able to solve in our heads. I would say that in order to rebuild our education system, there would need to be more parental support to help guide students to succeed. But let us be honest, some parents don’t even have what it takes to help others, let alone, help themselves. I, too, am at a loss, wondering which steps are needed to resolve this issue within our technologically advancing world.

  34. I somewhat find it unfathomable that a college student wouldn’t know the difference between a noun and a verb, though oddities aside, I would agree with this article as a whole. My thoughts quickly wander to find a solution however. I would immediately question where the problem lies, where which stage of education moves from the advancement of knowledge to a simple day care. Of course I’m really just more or less unaware of most of the variables, but with my memory I can only really focus on what happened in high school, of which I remember being asleep in study hall, asleep in a special ed home room class (Did we all have homeroom or just ED? I never thought about that…), and half awake in a lot of courses which I never felt I needed, as I’m sure most of us felt. Exhaustion aside, my friend argued that high school was pointless, it was a waste of time, something of which we would have to retake most of in college courses anyway, which to a degree feels true most of the time as far as gen eds go. Since I only have my own experience, I really can’t tell how effective high school was as a teaching method, I believe I did poor to average on the ACTs, most of which to my recollection consisted of questions of which I had never learned material of, especially in science, which makes me feel like I was let down. On another hand I had passed most all of my classes, easily, and had even graduated early, which made the place seem easy. I suppose in the end, it wouldn’t hurt to increase funding to the education system though, to offer more classes instead of the pointless study hall fill in, to give the teachers [that deserve it] a raise, or to help teach us a higher quality of information which we might need: something to help us save time and money in college and in life.

  35. Our education system is a failure. Especially when compared to other countries today! I think the handling of the future generation is a lot more important than most jobs, even lawyers! In Finland, the world’s top education system, the teachers are paid like doctors, there is an hour of recess and there is no mandatory testing. Here in America, creativity is suppressed because children are taught that there is a right way to do something and they must submit to an authority figure. When bathroom passes and allotted times for eating are put in place there is a subtle effect on the subconscious. The effect is a diminished desire for learning.

    1. I feel as though we are supposed to act like adults in high school, most of the seniors are 18 years old, yet they still have to ask permission to use the bathroom. That idea makes no sense to me, at 18 you can enlist in the military, you are considered an adult, yet you have to submit to the authority figure (the teacher) to do a natural human behavior. School is all about taking in information and putting that information down on a test. I can tell you I forgot a lot of information after the test, and when a final came around I had to be retaught everything. We are taught to remember the information for a short time then use the information on a test, that’s about it.

  36. Yes, our education system is failing but, I believe a lot of our failure has to do with lack of interest. Kids don’t want to sit in a class and be lectured at. I understand that this isn’t the main reason for failure but we must take into consideration on how students feel about school and they feel they can improve educational systems. Yes, other countries have different education systems that may work well. For insistence year round schooling has good education systems. It helps kids busy throughout a year and to stay out of trouble. We should listen the students hear what they have to say on how to improve and education systems.

  37. i do agree with you. Because I at some point felt the lack of the school system, when i first started taking college courses I felt as if I was not taught many thing that I know shouldve been taught to me. But when things like this happen great teachers such as your self have to come along and try to give students the knowledge that they have missed out on. It is sad to know that our teachers are working hard to do what they have to and are poorly getting paid and overlooked, but it is those that work hard that feel as if they get no recognition. I do think that our school system needs to improve on the skills that they try to enforce and not always depend on technology to enforce it.

  38. I agree that the education system is flawed, and in a downward spiral. In my opinion, the education system is all about money now days! They do not even take into consideration what the students actually need to know. Take college for example. In college, students must take a certain amount of general education classes. What is the point of the gen. eds? There really is no good answer for that. All of the information in the general education classes has been taught all throughout high school. College should be meant for specialized training and educating. The only classes that should be required for students to take are the courses that are pertinent to the major of their choice. Some courses can cost upwards of seven-hundred dollars for one semester! Most students cannot afford to take all of the classes required by the degree program, because of all of the fru fru classes. For example, if i was going to major in Mathematics, why am I required to take upwards of three English courses. There really is no good reason, because the English skills required by a mathematician are easily obtainable through high school. So all in all, the government and colleges just want us to take classes that are useless to our majors because they want the money in their pocket, and they’ll stop at nothing to get it, even sacrificing the skills important to our youths does not fall too low for them.

    1. I definitely agree with this statement. Every “core subject” that I have had to take so far at college, was something that I had already taken in High School. Not only that, but I took AP classes in High School and most wont be accepted because the counselors don’t believe that they will transfer to other colleges. Than what was the point in taking AP classes? Why not just get rid of High School if it’s the same as college? Or, what should college really be about? So many questions.

  39. In 1895, it was about surviving and not thriving. More kids meant more workers to help with the farm. You needed to learn what was necessary to survive in the real world. Today our kids know very little about surviving without parental assistance or credit cards. I mean, how many college graduates really understand inflation, taxes, budgets, or the debt that they have incurred? The debt that will shadow them for many years to come.

    1. I really dislike when people say that all college students can’t do this and that. Are there people in college who really shouldn’t be there because they don’t know even the simplest of things? Absolutely. But some people are a lot more knowledgable than people give them credit for. I find that some kids take the flawed system and teach themselves what the teachers don’t. At least, that’s what I’ve been doing for years.

      1. You are very right there. After fifteen years of teaching I have seen how some extremely intelligent kids have been lost in the cracks of a flawed system. Simply put, they just aren’t given the skills to use their intelligence. They cone to college ill-prepared not because they aren’t capable but because the education system failed them. This is out future and we need to ensure that everyone has the skills for a successful future.

      2. Yes but usually with a mountain of debt. Life also tends to teach lessons along the way. If school prepared us more for life than perhaps we would be able to handle societal issues better.

    2. I agree completely with this, throughout high school I was thrown complex math problems and essays about history but only one semester on taxes, living on your own, and making payments. I entered the real world and here I am, relying on my parents. Without them i would be lost in this world. I cannot figure out taxes, the solution, pay someone to do them for me. I do not know how to buy a car, solution, bring my dad along and have him handle everything while I just hand out the money to pay for it. I am completely unprepared for the real world, but guess what! I can tell you the Pythagorean Theorem!

  40. It’s funny, I was just talking about this with a coworker last week and the conversation really opened my eyes I didn’t realize at how underpaid our teachers were and had to think about it, that’s our future right there. Teachers are our future. I personally think everybody should be taught the basics but then when we know what we want to do maximize our skills in a certain area. Now that is kind of what we do where middle and high school are the basics and college is what we need. but the basics(middle school, high school) for the normal person are weak. When we go to college to determine what we need to do to survive were screwed because most of us don’t even know the basics.

    1. My daughter’s kindergarten teacher makes $82,000 a year without benefits. You must own your own company. Today I read that peoples wages have not been this low since 1951, relative to cost of living. That is true in the private sector.

      1. Oh, I completely agree that wages are too low. Especially since just going to work is costly with gas at almost 4$/gal. It’s just not enough too live on.

      2. This. Is everything. And when you ask people in the government how we should fix this, they say to go to college. And after spending upwards of $50,000 for some degrees, then you graduate and find that there aren’t any jobs. Our answer to fix the jobs and wage problem shouldn’t automatically be for someone to get a degree. That only weakens the degrees actual worth.

  41. I moved to a new city when I was about to enter the seventh grade. In order for me to enter the Jr. High and know where to place me, the school decided that I needed to take a placement test. Because my school record said that I had come from a school in Rockford. I tested in the high school and even college level on every subject, except math. What no one at the school had care to notice on my school records was that I had spent the last years at a charter school that would teach two grades ahead on every subject, except Math. So, you’d think I would skip two grades. But I didn’t. The official story was that they couldn’t let me move forward because of my math scores. But one of my teachers got fed up with me telling him that I had already learned the subject he was teaching, reached out and found out that the reason they didn’t let me skip a grade or two was because they wanted my test scores to help improve the schools performance. I purposefully filled in every answer as A for the entire ISAT test that year.

  42. I agree with you about how computers have lowered our intelligence, but if you think about it’s just because you might know chemical formulas or know certain things in history. Does that really make you intelligent? To me it just means that you know certain facts that interest you and that’s why you remember them. What computers have done is probably just made our writing bad because of autocorrect. We rely less on learning verbs or nouns because we assume the computers will always autocorrect us when we use bad vocabulary. Other than that a computer is just a huge library where you go to find out different things that you want to know.

    1. But then you also have people who believe that whatever is on the internet or computer, is true. Some news outlets (Fox News), don’t actually report facts. (Technically, that’s most news outlets.) Computers do have a vast array of knowledge contained in them, but we should be taught how to properly vet the information that we look for and receive on them. That rarely happens in schools and I think that is the worst thing that comes out of the embracement of technology in education.

  43. I don’t think that the educators have become worse, honestly I have had some of the best teachers in high school and it just took hard work to accomplish what I needed to in order to get an A in the class. I’m not saying I never had a horrible teacher that did absolutely nothing in high school or grammar school, but I’m not going to glamorize college professors either because I have had some pretty bad professors as well starting off in college. I think that in order to motivate the students to want to learn and educate themselves to be successful, the teachers have just as much responsibility to encourage them to want to learn and assure they understand what they are learning because it could mean teaching styles need to be adjusted based on the class of students. Since technology has become so much more advanced, I believe both students and teachers have become somewhat lazy, so I do think we need to back track a bit and teach basics as well as teach according to the technology we are blessed to have access to. I don’t put blame on any specific teachers in high school or grade school because some college professors aren’t much better yet some are, but I don’t put all the blame on the students either. It is a partner effort, the teachers need to engage themselves as much as the students in order for success to occur. Students need to remain motivated and so do the teachers.

    1. I agree. It is a partnership. Before college it is a 3-way partnership with the students, parents, and teachers. In college a partnership with students and teachers. It takes a lot of work to maintain a partnership, no matter what kind. If one party drops the ball, all parties suffer.

  44. I think that society and the government has affected our education in the wrong way. I believe that the gap between intelligent people and unintelligent people is getting wider. There are some 4.0 students who do not seem to have any common sense for real life situations. I think our education has to teach the person and the student at the same time. I think society is going to get worse if we do not do something about it. We should have a better education for the lower levels (K-12) so when you get into college you won’t have to take the general education courses because you will already know the general requirements and be able to focus on what job you want in the future and take the right classes for it.

  45. Though I agree strongly with the idea that K-12 teachers can drop the ball on our education, there are other reasons that students have trouble succeeding in school. The lack of motivation I saw throughout high school was astounding. Many students did not take their schooling seriously and were completely content not completing homework or failing tests. I cringed when I received a bad grade on a test. So throwing the blame solely on the K-12 teachers is a little rash when the students can be just as easily at fault. When a student was failing in the past, the parents would always punish the child, but now if a student is failing the parents go directly to the teacher to blame him/her. Though there are bad teachers who will pass a student onto the next level and in turn into someone else’s hands, they are not the sole reason. Teachers should be evaluated in a classroom setting during a lesson. Based on that and only that, they should then be considered a good or bad teacher.

  46. Today’s teachers may often drop the ball but i would look to the education system for this problem. The title of teacher should not be passed out so easily. When i have a bad teacher i think how did this person become a teacher and why are they still in the profession? This problem can not only be blamed by teachers though, as a student myself i see other students whom put no effort into their work and do not care about it at all. Is that any different than how it was in the past though? If it has increased than what has caused it. Students have to take responsibility for their lives. For their actions and their failures. This responsibility is lacking in today’s students, this could be blamed by society and parenting ways today. Either way, teachers need to be evaluated more harshly and students need to learn responsibility.

    1. I completely agree with Alison, teaching is not to be looked at as an “easy” career. Teachers need to have the time and patience for their students. Teachers also should be evaluated harshly, that is the best way to determine the good from the bad. Students do need to take the responsibility of preparing themselves for their futures, but that can be a scary reality for them, me included. Some people take longer to mentally prepare themselves for adult life, others may easily be able to step into that world and survive comfortably. It all depends on the student, and THAT is the reason our educational system is flawed. We look at the group of students over the individual. We are completely pushing math and science throughout education, we need more people in these fields. Some students are more artistic, they can paint, write, sing, play instruments, but we strip them of that and hand them a calculator or a science book because “that is the future.”

      1. I agree, subjects like math and science are pushed on students and made to be requirements. They are considered the more important subjects. Ever since I was little I loved art, but adults told me it was unrealistic and it would never take me anywhere in life. What makes math and science more important than art? I agree that this is a reason the educational system is flawed. Everyone is different, some students are better at math and some are more creative. Why should one student be deemed better than the other.

  47. In my opinion, the modern education system doesn’t really care for students or teachers but for mainly the money. They can care less if the students graduate high school or if a teacher/professor are getting paid for the hard work they do. In other countries education is free because they want to see their future society be successful, unlike here in America where a college student has huge amounts of debt to pay back before they even have a reasonable job.
    I also feel that grades k-12 should focus more on teaching basic material instead of teaching student’s things that they will forget and never use again. Now looking back on my k-12 years I remember teachers curving test and removing harder material to make sure everyone was able to get a better grade. These little changes hurt students later in life.

  48. Great article, I believe the quality of the education system has declined since “No child left behind” was enacted in 2002. In fact there are studies to show that there curriculum is being narrowed due to teachers efforts to keep with teaching to the test, there for students are technically learning less than before no child left behind was brought to life. Another factor is that teachers are being treated worse every year in our society, they are not respected as they once were, teachers always seem to be spoken of in negative terms… and the pay is not that great. For this reason many people who could have been excellent teachers are now choosing other fields of employment where they are appreciated for their efforts.

  49. It is clearly evident that the quality of American education has significantly declined over the past hundred years. Many grandparents and others from the past generations have seen this decline first hand and are usually horrified by the level of education their children and grandchildren are receiving. Even my mom, who went to school only a few decades ago, is upset by the lowered standards of schools since she was a kid. What is now considered a C grade would be a failing grade when my mom was in school. As a result, children are deceived into thinking that they’re doing very well in school because they receive a good letter grade, but in reality their grades would be considered sub par in their parent’s day and age. Additionally, when our grandparents went to school, they were taught skills and knowledge that could be applied to their jobs, which was usually farming, so they remembered and used what they learned. However, today people tend to forget most of what they learn in school because it’s not really used for anything in the workplace. While the information is important and enriches our minds, it’s usually not retained. In fact, my current professor informed me that basic skills like reading are sometimes not acquired by the time students reach college level. Teachers don’t want to have to deal with these students, so they just pass them and let them continue without the skills needed for the next grade or life. Not only is the quality of our education dropping, but so is the quality of our teachers. If something isn’t done soon to get our schools heading in the right direction, the future is looking dim for the next generation.

  50. I completely agree with Bonniejean. Though I do know what a noun and a verb is, I myself have noticed many other flaws. I cannot spell. I have made many spelling errors already typing only a few sentences, but word always has my back. That’s my point though. Word is always there to catch my mistakes, leaving me to never learn from them. The same explanation can be seen in mathematics. I was floored to find out that in some college math classes, they are being taught addition and subtraction. I can’t even remember how long ago I learned that simple math! But connecting the problem of students not knowing simple math with simple language shows something similar: technology. With students having a greater access to a calculator can explain how they do not know simple math. Technology can be blamed because it makes already simple tasks even easier and does not provoke much thought while doing it. Bonniejean and I might not have the solution but I do think that lack of education comes from technology. So when finding a solution, we must first look at technology.

  51. I agree with you one-hundred percent! The education system is not quite failing but it did hurt our youth. I agree that we should not of had no child left behind in our schools. Even me when I heard of no child left behind in my grade school I took full advantage of it. Now don’t get me wrong I still retained what I have learned I can tell the difference between a noun and a verb. But, why should kids with Ds or Fs advance on to the next grade when they aren’t quite capable or who don’t fully understand the type of work they are working on. With me personally, I suck at math I did pass my classes but I have a horrible time remembering all the steps and formulas. So when I went for my college testing for math I got in the lowest math which was basic math. I knew everything in that math but I was not a strong test taker. Even in my class some kids did intact fail the class because they either did not try or did not understand the work. There should be branches in the education system that offer maybe more help. Sure we have the learning commons but you can only book a 15 minute session and maybe go over the needed areas. So maybe open up a learning common for kids who truly struggle so they can have maybe and hour or half an hour to work on their struggle points. Great article could not have agreed more!

  52. The decline of american education has been happening all around us since our parents went to school. Schools like Harvard and Yale have been giving more rigorous classwork while lesser institutions have been lacking this in search of higher enrollment and higher grades. These higher grades mean these institutions likely receive more money from the state they are in. The teaching styles of schools have gone from having their main goal of making people learn to getting higher grades. When people learn, they are supposed to be taught this to give them a better understanding of the world around them. This understanding allows them to develop further understandings and advancements in the world we live in. The dumbing down of our schools will likely result in a loss in growth of new technologies.

  53. I agree and do believe that American education is declining. Sure, some college students do not know the difference between a noun and a verb, but the real problem is that we are learning things that will not matter in the real world. For example: in math class, when will we need to know how to use the quadratic formula in the real world? I could not answer that for you. What we should be learning about is geographical things in the environment and how to balance a check. All the basic things we need to know we learn in kindergarten: ABCs, how to compose a sentence, colors, shapes, etc. The questions in the 1895 Kansas students’ exam were probably real world questions that were actually important and could actually help them in life.

    1. Sometimes a lesson has a dual meaning. Beyond actually using the quadratic formula, learning it teaches analytical skills – the ability to critically think through a problem. Though I agree that too often, students are taught only to prepare for a test rather than skills meant for real life. This is why I choose he pedagogy I did. It is all about thinking through the material and finding the connection, rather than it being handed to you. In the end, I don’t have all the answers, but I do hope I am a part of the solutions.

  54. The way the education system is set up today is severely flawed. There is such a huge emphasis on standardized testing and knowing information that will never be used in day to day life. I can explain the difference between a heterogeneous and homogeneous mixture but I cannot understand how to file my own taxes. The goal of secondary education is to teach kids how to test which is not helpful at all in the real world. All it does is pressure students to memorize information to be forgotten in a few years. There is too much weight to the tests such as the ACT. Perfect example, I had a lesser ACT score and a 3.8 GPA. My cousin had a higher ACT score with a 2.5 GPA. He received a full ride to Ole Miss while I am struggling to pay my tuition at COD. Meanwhile, I’m studying hard for my finals while my cousin blew his chance by partying too much. The education system focuses too much on testing well and knowing information that is only valuable in certain fields. The education system desperately needs to be reformed.

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