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Mediocrity in Education

After recently reading Below C Level: How Americans Encourage Mediocrity and What We Can Do About It by John Merrow I realized how much our education system was in a dire need of a make-over. Our school system today does in fact encourage mediocrity and the schools itself are mediocre . It doesn’t supply the students with the right materials to be successful, such as teachers who are well qualified, and the equipment they need, and they very rarely encourage students to go above the exceedingly low bar that is set and achieve greater things that they’re capable of.

In high school my classmates and I were never really encouraged to do better than the average C. The main focus of our classes up to our sophomore year was to prepare us for the Ohio Graduation Test. After we took the test and pasted then it felt like we really had no purpose for being there. We had already passed the test that determined if we were to graduate so why did we have to go the extra two years?

My high school and  many others in America are mediocre schools. Schools in New York, Chicago, and Washington are shutting down because students are not not receiving an up to par education. It’s crucial for something to change if we want our future leaders to be properly educated and prepared for life.

What do schools need to provide students with a good education and not a mediocre one? According to a Huffington Post article by Jim McGuire, which can be read here, these are the characteristics of a good school:

  • Students want to be there.
  • Highest expectations for the school. That includes teachers and students.
  • Dedicated teachers.
  • Effective Discipline.
  • A variety of instruction techniques.
  • Individual instruction and approaches to students.
  • Leadership.

All of these characteristics seem like they would in fact create a great school. The problem is getting the money to do all of this. Let’s face it, in order to hire dedicated, effective teachers, and have the latest technology we need money. There are many people out there such as politicians, celebrities, billionaires, that are trying to raise money for our education system. John Legend, a successful musician who has won 9 Grammy Awards, is heavily involved in education. On Huffington Post’s website he blogs about his ideas about education. Legend has created a nonprofit organization, The Show Me Campaign, that works towards fighting poverty and reforming our schools. To make a donation to his organization follow this link and click donate.

Michelle Rhee, the Chancellor of Education, visited a school in Washington at the request of one of the students, Allante Rhodes. At Rhodes’ high school lack of computers is a problem. He knew that knowing how to work a computer was a crucial part of education and knew that if he didn’t know how do one of the easiest task that he wouldn’t stand a chance in college. Rhee took over Rhodes’ high school along with many other and is still trying to fix them. Even now, Rhodes is still worrying if he has what it takes to be successful in college. It’s not fair for a child to be placed in that situation but it’s happening every day.

President Obama recently said in his State of the Union Address that U.S teachers are ‘Nation Buliders.’John Merrow, the author of the book I read and a blogger about education on Huffington Post challenges this idea. Since Obama compares teachers to builders he compares the five basic needs of a builder to that of a teacher. These needs are:

  • Raw materials (the children themselves)
  • Tools (curricular materials)
  • Time and working conditions (About of time they have to plan and the conditions they work in)
  • Know-how (Education such as a Masters Degree)
  • Blueprints (What the teachers are supposed to teach)

Merrow believes that we don’t have any of these needs and he says it’s not the teachers fault. It’s the nation’s failure for not providing them with these tools. He’s exactly right too. If we don’t provide our teachers with the right tools to educate our children then how are our children going to get a good education? These kids really are our future. They’re the people who are going to be running our businesses and running for office.  It’s important for them to get the education that they deserve. To read John Merrow’s full article click here.

It’s been proven that it is possible for a school to be successful even in places such as New York where schools are constantly failing. In John Merrow’s book he mentions a man who he believes is the superman of the education system. George C. Albano is a Principal at a school in New York. He’s insuring that his students are receiving a proper education by hiring teachers who are dedicated and making sure the students have what they need and those students are succeeding. It is possible for a school to be successful.

The education system today is in dire need of being fixed. To do that we need to start spending more money on schools to get the supplies and technology needed, prepare the teachers better, hire better teachers, prepare our students for more than just a standardized test, and focus more on the students entirely. If we don’t start working towards a better education system then things are just going to get worse.

Works Cited:

Legend, John. “Wake Up! We Know How to Fix Our Schools.” Huffington Post. 4 October 2010. Web. 3 April 2011.

McGuire, Jim. “What Makes  a Good School.” Huffington Post. 4 November 2010. Web. 3 April 2011.

Merrow, John. Below C Level: How American Education Encourages Mediocrity And What We

            Can Do About It. Lexington, KY, United States: John Merrow. 2010. Print.

Merrow, John. “Can U.S. Teachers Truly Be ‘Nation Builders?’ Huffington Post. 31 March 2011. Web. 3 April 2011.

Ripley, Amanda. “Rhee Tackles Classroom Challenge.” Time. 26 November 2008. Web. 3 April 2011.

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Categories: Curriculum Reform
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