classroom

An empty classroom at a South Carolina elementary school.

As my time at East Carolina University and as a student nears its end, I have to reflect on the education I have received and my thoughts on the United States education system as a whole. While I have received a great education during my time at ECU, I believe there are many pitfalls in the U.S. education system that need to be addressed.

The U.S. education system is flawed, plain and simple. Each year, we see large numbers of high school and college dropouts in the U.S. In fact, 33% of students dropout of college every year, according to Admissionsly. Along with that, 57% of enrolled college students take more than six years to graduate. I believe these rates would be lower if the U.S. focused on the education system more.

There are a multitude of reasons why the college dropout rate is so high and why students are taking longer than usual to finish their schooling. The first major issue in the U.S. education system is the deficits in government funding for public schools.

According to Public School Review, more than 90% of K-12 schools have funding that comes from state and local governments which is largely generated from sales and income taxes. That funding has unfortunately not increased with the schools’ needs, and in turn are receiving inadequate funding. Less funding for these schools can contribute to the higher rates of drop-outs and poor education for students.

The decrease of teacher salaries is another reason why the U.S. education system is failing. The average salary for teachers in the U.S. dropped by nearly 5% between the 2009-2010 school year and the 2018-2019 school year, according to Public School Review.

In North Carolina alone, more than 80% of North Carolina’s school districts report average teacher salaries that are below the statewide salary average of $53,975, Public School Forum said. In order for the U.S. education system to thrive teachers deserve proper salaries.

Something else I personally find problematic with the U.S. education system, particularly for colleges, is the extra time and money spent on classes that have nothing to do with a student’s major or minor. As a college student, I always wondered why we have to take elective classes. Sure, they can be interesting and can teach you useful information, but what is the point of them if they are not benefitting the student in their major or minor studies?

Imagine how much more time and money students would have to focus their studies on classes that solely have to do with what they’re going to school for. In addition, think about how much more prepared students could be in their career fields post-graduation if they focus more on their major classes and less on meaningless electives.

Problems with technology and communication between teachers and students contributes to the failure of the U.S. education system as well, especially now. Since the COVID-19 pandemic hit, education and communication between students and teachers continued virtually. While it is an innovative approach to teaching during the pandemic, many teachers and students are not properly equipped in using these new technologies, leading to students falling behind in school.

Since education has continued virtually, there has been a lack of communication between teachers and students. This is a problem I have personally dealt with, as I have had professors that didn’t know how to properly work Canvas, the platform ECU utilizes for online learning, and have additionally had professors who barely communicated or didn’t communicate with me about my classwork. Without proper training in these technologies, communication between teachers and students will continue to lack, and students will fall behind in their classes.

Overall, I am beyond grateful for the education I have received over the years, as I know this opportunity unfortunately isn’t available for everybody. However, I believe there are many issues that need to be addressed in the U.S. education system. Low teacher salaries, inadequate government funding, lack of focus on major and minor studies, technological and communication issues are only the tip of the iceberg.

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