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:

  • Re-writing the express purpose, goals, and objectives of education.
  • Shortening the school day to 4 hours per day for pre-school through 6th grade and 5 hours per day for 7th-12th grades. School start times can be morning or afternoon.
  • Discontinuing homework, current grading systems and tests. Youth will be given an NFD (Needs Further Development) PS (Proficient in a Skill) or MS (Masters a Skill).
  • Removing the competitive push for reading and math from kindergarten through 2nd grade. These primary grades should focus on manners, etiquette, sharing, showing empathy for others, hygiene, cleanliness, organization, respecting and celebrating those who are different through exposure to foods, traditions and languages, coping with negative emotions, nutrition, swimming and exercise.
  • Establishing in 3rd grade to continue through 12th grade, an Individual Educational Plan for all students, not just special needs students.
  • Teaching math basics, spelling, grammar and punctuation in 3rd-6th grades. Using art, music and poetry to impart these skills.
  • Teaching history, reading/literature, social studies and science concepts through a multicultural lens. Using mixed media and innovative technologies to teach all disciplines.
  • Middle school, 7th-8th grades, is a time to help youth explore identity, human growth & development, learn life skills, problem solve, create for the sake of creation and develop positive forms of self-expression. These years should be spent in think tanks, arts, theater and music-based classes, hands-on projects, foreign languages, literature and mechanics/production. 

High School education should consist of only a few required classes:

  • Consumer Math
  •  World History (African, European, Asian, North/South American)
  •  American Government/Civics
  •  American History
  •  Language Arts
  •  Environmental Science
  •  Social Sciences (African American, Native American, Women and Theology)
  •  World Geography/American Geography
  •  Computer/Tech basics
  •  Life Skills (budgeting, car maintenance, resume’ writing, interview skills, etc...)

Every other class and discipline will be an elective.
(Algebra, American Literature, Chemistry, Coding)

  • Abolishment of the ACT and SAT college entrance exams.
  • All breakfast and lunch shall be free of charge to all students.
  • After-school programming will consist of guided play, chosen activities and athletics
  • Training teachers and administrators in cultural competency, de-escalation tactics and classroom management skills that don’t emphasize keeping order and hierarchal structures. Teachers should engage students in an active role in their own education.
  • Removal of Student Resource Officers for all schools.
  • Online classes available to students whose IEP’s show propensity to learn independently.

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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