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The United States has the world’s largest economy and spends the most money on education. Yet, the U.S. still lags behind countries such as the United Kingdom, Finland, Norway, and Japan. Many lawmakers have blamed this on public schools not having enough money. Other’s blame it on the quality of the education. However, it’s more of an issue of how schools spend their money.
For example, an audit on public schools in Fort Worth, Texas, showed that schools spent over 2.5 million dollars on technology – that was never used.
Fruitless spending has never been an option, especially when the budget is limited. There is a saying that goes, “Quality, not Quantity.” Instead of adding more to the budget, schools need to be more careful about what they spend their money on.
Another example would be a school’s spending on software. Many schools subscribe to a variety of web tool, most without many purposes. These tools Grammarly Premium, a grammar checking service that costs ~ $9.99/month/user, Hapara, a student web monitoring extension that allows teachers to spy on what students are doing, which costs ~$10/user. These costs quickly add up because of the number of students at each school. Many schools also end up spending money on anti-drugs/alcohol videos/lessons.
However, this also reflects on the type of students we have. After all, if everyone was hard-working and had no knowledge of drugs, why would we need student monitoring services in the first place? I’m not saying that we shouldn’t educate students on this topic. I’m simply saying that districts should have a better program to streamline a student’s education. Instead of finding tens of Chrome extensions that overlap in functionality and require a subscription, why not just hire a developer once and pay only once?
More than that, we should have better standards. Yes, we have Common Core. But that is education standards, or what teachers need to teach. We should also have better classroom quality standards. Standards like how a teacher should teach. For example, they should offer help to students who need it. They should always have a good attitude. Many teachers teach solely based on the textbook. They will simply read the textbook and ask students to do the problems. But most of the time, that’s not a good way to teach. The Washington Post says, “Research shows that with rare exceptions they [textbooks] do not help improve student achievement much. They are not effective because effectiveness doesn’t sell.” Instead, teachers should actually take the time to design a lesson plan that they actually think will work, and change it based on feedback. If they are unwilling or too lazy to do that, they shouldn’t be teachers.
Experienced teachers are usually better teachers. There should be a program that allows new teachers and receive lessons from experienced teachers and learn what work and what doesn’t.
It’s not a matter of more money. It’s more of a matter of how to spend the money. Increasing the budget and hoping that the education system will magically improve is like cutting off the leaves of a tree and hoping to kill it; we need to focus on the problem and solve it directly.
This article was written by Ricardo Henderaz, a ninth-grade student responding to why they think the US education system is failing.