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Devils' Advocate

Devils' Advocate

The Fault in Our Schooling System

Scores taken from the National Assessment of Educational Progress reflect a depressing reality- since the early 2000’s, nationwide test scores in reading and math have stagnated, despite the yearly increases in educational funding. These upsetting statistics beg the question, where did we go wrong? 

The modern schooling system has its roots in the second industrial revolution, during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and was created in response to a need for skilled workers. Bryan Caplan, an author and economist, said that “school, especially at the upper levels, functions mostly to help students signal conformity to modern workplace practices.” This failing system has many causes, very few of which can be easily solved. 

Beginning in Kindergarten, disparities in student achievement are already evident. Large class sizes, as well as a requirement for young children to stay still for hours on end are of no help to either students or teachers. Since teachers aren’t paid or incentivized enough to exercise the requisite amount of compassion and patience it requires to be an educator, more obedient students are often prioritized by teachers. These students are less trouble to the teacher, but focusing on them leaves other students-often those who need it most- behind. 

This problem is only exacerbated in middle school. Higher workloads, larger classes, no break time, and a fixation on textbook learning aggravate educational imbalances. Instead, a focus on interactive, case by case basis schooling should be embraced. 

The solution is simple, no? Allocating more funding to schools must solve this problem, right? However, the problem does not lie in money spent, but rather what it’s spent on. Over 30 billion dollars are spent yearly on technology aimed at replacing or overshadowing human educators. Henry Clay has contributed to that statistic, with the recent purchase of the IFP ViewBoards, and teachers have been forced to use them, often in opposition to their current teaching style. Hiring better teachers is also rarely possible, as those who are the most qualified would much rather go teach at university, or pursue a separate career because of the lackluster remuneration given to teachers. 

At the same time that teachers are lacking incentives for apt curriculums, students’ interests are being smothered by the all encompassing blanket of math, reading, and science. Students’ interests in trades, as well as in other subjects, like robotics, music, art and more are choked by strict school scheduling. Technical academies, like Locust Trace, are a step in the right direction, but it’s not enough. 

There is no one fix-all solution to the problems plaguing our schooling system, but as one of the largest schools in Kentucky, Henry Clay has a responsibility to help all its students, both disadvantaged and gifted, find and explore their interests, and help their employees reach their full potential.

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About the Contributor
Sam Kotter, Reporter
Sam Kotter is a sophomore and a reporter for The Devils' Advocate. He enjoys reading, programming, working out, and in his free time, you can find him hanging out with his family and friends.

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