For far too many years we’ve tried to address the problem of failing educational achievement in America essentially by ignoring it. And by ignoring it, I mean, throwing money at it and hoping it’ll go away. But yet those problems persist. To wit, in the past year, for the first time in U.S. history, the majority of U.S. public school students fall into the category of the economically impoverished. This, despite the fact that spending per pupil in most American school districts is at an all-time high. There’s a gross disconnect here that no one’s talking about, and no one really wants to address.
The challenges with American public education came home to me as I watched my own niece struggling in school. She lives in a rural county of South Carolina that has one of the state’s lowest performing school systems. The usual culprits were to blame; ridiculously large class sizes, and frequent learning disruption by behaviorally challenged students that took away valuable learning time. The schools, despite having adequate funding, were nonetheless poorly managed and under-resourced. It got to the point that my sister and I were desperate to find a better option for my niece.
We do not have the luxury of raising another generation of failing children. It’s not being ‘nice’ to them to engage in social promotion only to arrive in the workforce unable compete for well-paying jobs. We have to prioritize effectively, root out the bad apples, and focus our educational resources on developing critical science and engineering skills that will move our nation forward.