The United States has needed a comprehensive overhaul of its educational system for many years. Considering American students have fallen for 26th in the world in math and 38th in science, we must admit that our current system is not working. We have also noted that depression and suicide are up 33% since 1999 and suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death among 10-14-year-olds and the 2nd leading cause of death among 15-24-year-olds. Graduation rates currently are holding at an average of 85% with those from minority populations coming in below that average by up to 10%. Bullying and hate acts among youth have risen exponentially. And then, there is the statistically proven school to prison pipeline that continues to rob the country of talented people for labor. The state of Pennsylvania is a microcosm of the US with reference to these statistics.
What this tells us is that lack of social-emotional health support, cultural competency education, institutional racism and misdistribution of resources has led to the aforementioned.
Many will say that education reforms cannot fix everything. We dare to say otherwise. First, we must take a hard look at what our goal and purpose for education is currently. It appears that our country is hell-bent on competing globally in math and science for the express purpose of maintaining America’s global economic power. Capitalism, in and of itself, pushes competition for jobs, material wealth, asset acquisition and the power that comes with it. We value human beings based on what they do, how much money they make/have, and what they can contribute to the edification of the 1% of those with the most wealth. If that is indeed the goal and purpose of education here in the United States, we are in need of a complete dismantling of that ideology.
We feel that goal of education should be and will be the development of happy, healthy adults who contribute to the communities in which they live and the families they love using their talents and gifts. The purpose of education is to show young people how best to thrive in a country that they will someday be responsible for. These goals cannot be met through rote learning processes, using antiquated, biased curriculum. And so, to improve the system, we must completely rethink what we are teaching and how we are teaching it.
In studying successful systems of education abroad, we looked at two countries, Finland and Japan. We also looked at possible comprehensive remedies for the above stated issues plaguing our youth. Here’s what we’ve come up with:
Outcomes will show an increase in interest in math and science, a reduction in depression and anxiety diagnoses therefore a decrease in suicide rates, an increase in graduation rates among minority populations, a lessening of acts of hate and bullying, and improvement of youth-teacher relationships reducing the need for security officers in schools.
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