Saugerties student essay: “Education System”

Students in Jamie Rabideau’s English 9 class at Saugerties High School recently competed to write the best persuasive essay. The winner is presented below. 

Education System

by Robert McDonald

As Sam Wilson (The Falcon in the Marvel Cinematic Universe) once said, “The only power that I have is that I believe we can do better.” (The Falcon And The Winter Soldier Episode 1). Even though things are fine as they are, it doesn’t mean they can’t be better. Schools have let us down and we need to do something about it. It should be less about fulfilling requirements and more about giving students knowledge and opportunity. Schools should be restructured to make them more personalized and less systematic. For change to take place we must acknowledge that there is a problem and then begin acting towards a solution. 

One reason this issue should be considered is because schools run on an outdated system that’s working for less and less people. This year more students have been failing than ever and mental health issues have been becoming more frequent for teens. School systems instead of being adaptive have been evasive during this time of struggle and have been as least understanding as possible. “In North Carolina, 46 percent of students in grades three through 12 in Wilson County Schools failed at least one class which is more than double the rate from the same period in fall 2019.”(Strauss, Valerie. “More students than ever got F’s in first term of 2020-21 school year — but are A-F grades fair in a pandemic?” (Washington Post Accessed April 30th, 2021) These statistics are made true to the schools lackluster response to transitioning to online schooling. In response to students with failing grades during online schooling, schools have rolled out a program called “Credit Recovery” which is extra work for people who already don’t do as much work, which leads me to my next point.

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Another reason this issue is important is because schools focus more on requirements and grades rather than an actual learning experience which contradicts the purpose of schools. As much as this essay is against school systems, teachers for the most part do a great job with what they’re given. The teachers, though, are also limited in what they can do as they must abide by a set curriculum and don’t have much room to do anything innovative or different than topics that will show up on a test. As said in an interesting article, “One of the biggest things holding back the American public education system is a lack of teacher innovation, partially created by enforcement of standardized testing and Common Core curriculum” (Barrington, Kate. “The 15 Biggest Failures of the American Public Education System” Public School Review Accessed April 30th, 2021) In this article, the publisher expands on what has previously been stated. Programs like the Common Core curriculum and standardized testing are just ways of giving everyone a singular standard set way of doing things. This could definitely be rethought to have options instead of just a one-size-fits-all situation.

Enough has been said on the problems, let’s move on to some possible solutions. One way to fix the problem could possibly be relying less on grades and focusing more on growth. Students shouldn’t be frowned upon for getting bad grades, it should be looked at as an opportunity to help instead of acting like they just didn’t try. In an article previously mentioned, the publisher mentioned, “Leaders in education currently feel that the traditional letter grade model is not a sufficient measure of the skills most highly valued in the modern workforce – skills like creativity and problem solving” (Barrington, Kate. “The 15 Biggest Failures of the American Public Education System” Public School Review Accessed April 30th, 2021). This shows that the system we are using isn’t as effective as it should be. Schools should be more understanding and pick up on people not doing as good as they could be and try to help.

Schools should be restructured to make them more personalized and less systematic. For change to take place we must acknowledge that there is a problem and then begin acting towards a solution. Let’s take their latest gimmick, the dividers, as an example. Nobody actually believes the dividers contribute to anyone’s safety but they need to do it so the state sees they made an attempt. So they throw away funding to do bare minimum and call it a day. How can students strive to perform above and beyond when the school itself shows us such mediocrity at times when we need it the most. It’s gone on for too long and we must start working towards a change.

There are 2 comments

  1. Lauren Ruberg

    Robert, we’ll done! A testament to your parents and teachers on how they’ve fostered a thoughtful mind that uses facts to support constructive criticism on our very outdated system! You are on your way to do great things. Cheers to Ms. Rabideau for offers this platform for our young minds to thrive.

  2. Bill H

    What an excellent essay. I agree that such reforms are long overdue. Too many schools still operate with the manufacturing assembly line model, which has frustrated, rejected or crushed millions of students over a century. McDonald highlights some of the key principles of The Coalition of Essential Schools (you may have to scroll down a bit to get to them): http://essentialschools.org/home/

    Excellent insights and writing from this 9th grader.

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