The American secondary school system is not good enough anymore. A lack of focus has turned out students with neither the skill nor the ambition to compete in the current job market. Leaders and educators need to examine the problems in the current system and correct them before it’s too late. By looking at vocational and alternative schools, which currently turn out graduates ready to compete, they can remodel the current curriculum in order to meet the global occupational demands of the 21st century.
How can the richest nation on earth lag behind the rest of the world when it comes to education? We are already outsourcing many of our technology sector jobs to foreign countries. Asia and Mexico have virtually taken over our manufacturing jobs. Manual labor jobs are going to immigrants who happily take on the work that Americans don’t want to do. If things don’t change, how will this generation of high school graduates compete for jobs in a global economy? An education is essential.
Many of the current problems can be traced to the dumbing down of educational standards. “Virtually everyone has heard how poorly American students perform, weather compared to foreign students or students of a generation ago” (Sowell p.1). A study of American and Korean high school students showed that while both groups were close in scores on standardized tests, the Korean students far surpassed the Americans when it came to critical thinking (Sowell).
Most people will agree that the American school system doesn’t do a good job. Year after year American students fall behind the students of other industrial countries. It has become a national joke that a high percentage of high school kids can’t find the United States on a map of the world. Blame is placed on the overcrowded classroom, ineffective teachers and under funded schools. But these are not the root cause of the problems. Even if the problems were corrected, the schools would still fail to perform. According to John Gatto, in his book, The Underground History of American Education, they fail because they were designed to. “The secret of American schooling is that it doesn’t teach the way children learn, and it isn’t supposed to; school was engineered to serve a concealed command economy and a deliberately re-stratified social order. It wasn’t made for the benefit of kids and families as those individuals and institutions would define their own needs (Gatto p. 34).” He goes on to show that the work taught is classrooms fails teach students how to solve real problems they will encounter in life. (Gatto).
America can no longer ignore the need to change the way we educate our students. Once the jobs have all gone overseas, it will be too late. Thirty years ago, Alvin Toffler predicted the demise of the standard, cookie-cutter model for schools in his book, Future Shock. He warned that if the schools did not change to meet the changing world, than outside influences would act to make those changes. The advances in technology of today’s world require a workforce that is creative and diverse, not more of the same mass-produced students.
“In three short decades between now and the twenty-first century, millions of ordinary, psychologically normal people will face an abrupt collision with the future. Citizens of the world’s richest and most technologically advanced nations, many of them will find it increasingly painful to keep up with the incessant demand for change that characterizes our time. For them the future will have arrived too soon (Toffler p 9),”
One of the main problems that need to be addressed is that school are designed and run on the premise that all students are the same. Not every fourteen or fifteen year old is at the same level of competence. Nor do they think in the same way. Some students are very creative and do not do well in standardized testing. While others, test very well but they are just...