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High School Education Reform

It is a well-known fact that the high school education system in America is crumbling. According to the OECD Programme for International Student Assessment report, U.S ranks 17th in science, 14th in reading and 25th in mathematics. This study was done for students in the age of fifteen. Even though it is a well-known fact that the high school education system is crumbling, there is still an ongoing debate of how to fix the problem. Such debates include raising teacher’s salary, removing standardized testing and offering more specialized courses for high school students’. These are a few of the debates ongoing but the most brought up solution to the problem is raising and generalizing teacher’s salary. Raising and generalizing teacher’s salary is a solution to the crumbling education system and several people such as President Obama support this solution. This is what I suggest should be done in order to fix the education system.

In the U.S, as of 2009, the yearly median high school teacher’s salary was $52,200 with the lowest 10% earning $34,600 and the top 10% earning $82,000. These salaries, compared to other professions,are relatively low and insufficient compared to the work teachers put in and the importance of teachers to the society. Teachers are the passers of knowledge and information to younger generation, so teachers deserve more respect and higher pay.

The amount of salary high school teachers make is barely sufficient to raise a family. A friend of mine, who lives in New Mexico, has a family of four with his parents both teachers. The average teaching salary in the town where he lives in New Mexico is $41,000. His mum and dad make a total average of $82,000. This might sound like a lot of money but the calculated yearly living wage to support a family of four in the town where he lives in New Mexico is $40,261 and after paying expenses and bills, the money is barely sufficient. This is some of the problems teachers face and when a teacher cannot successfully take care of his/her family expenses, how do you suppose he/she comes to class in a good mood ready to take care and teach other kids?

Increasing teacher’s salary will increase teacher’s devotion and motivation to do their work. High school students are not fully prepared for college because some teachers don’t push students to work hard; they make school work very easy and are too lenient to the students. A suggested and backed up reason for low teacher motivation by Academic Leadership, an international organization that reviews educational problems in the U.S and other parts of the world, is low teacher salary. If teachers are paid less, they feel that they are not being paid well for their services and therefore, do not put in much effort with the students and don’t become personally involved with the students.

A better salary equals a better standard of living which equals a better attitude to life. This might sound too simplistic and general and some people might argue that there are other factors that affect ones attitude to life but we all have to admit that in the economic situation of the world now, money is a major factor that influences ones attitude to life. So, a good salary equals a happy teacher and a happy teacher equals a happy classroom. Teachers become more personal with students and play a major role in the students’ life; therefore, the students perform better. This statement is backed up by research done on CNN- Black in America Part 2by a renowned and famous journalist with a long history in education- Soledad O’Brien. The research highlighted a school in the inner city of Chicago. The school was headed by Principal Perry who was personally involved in the life of the students and he encouraged the teachers to do the same thing. Students were more open to the teachers and discussed personal issues with the teachers which the teachers helped them fix. Once personal issues were resolved, the students became more focused in their studies and all achieved good grades. This school boasts a 100% graduation and college acceptance rate.

The saying from the bible “to whom much is given much is expected” applies to high school teachers also. If teachers are paid higher, the school administration can demand more from the teachers and the teachers will be forced to work harder so as to meet the pay they receive. Higher pay will draw in more experienced and qualified teachers and teachers will work harder since the competition will be greatly increased.

Also, there has to be a generalized amount of income teachers can get i.e. there has to be an improved allocation of funds among schools. This will discourage good teachers from migrating to a community that has higher teacher pay; the ratio of good teachers will be balanced.

Opponents of raising teacher’s salary such as Kati Haycock, the president of Education Trust, might argue that teachers do not need an increase in salary instead; the government must enrich the rigor and relevance of teachers programs and ratchet up their admissions requirement. Although this argument is one of the solutions to the crumbling education system, this does not mean teachers don’t need an increase in salary because if teaching programs are made more vigorous and enriched, talented teachers will not be attracted to the teaching profession if the pay after going through such vigorous programs is low. Higher teacher salary will attract talented teachers and improve the financial status of teachers; thus increase the respect of teaching profession among other professions.

This proposed solution is only one of the many other solutions out there. Although there are so many proposed solutions, only a handful has been implemented and it is not enough. The issue of high school education quality decline needs to be resolved quickly unless U.S will face a major setback in education and high school students will become less prepared for college.

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