The Problem with Education – Part 1

There’s so much that’s wrong with education today.

I’ve seen it from the perspective of a parent and a teacher.

Don’t Know, Don’t Care

The system doesn’t really care about the kids. It never has. Granted there will always be teachers who stick up for their students. And parents that stick up for their kids. But the essence of the public school system is against kids.

Making a Difference

I’ve gone through the education program and teacher certification coursework. There’s always an underlying theme of “making a difference” when talking about educators, the history of education etc. I’ve heard that phrase numerous times from other working teachers as to the reason why they went into education.

The sad thing is you can’t really make a difference. You’ll get squashed if you do.

School Start Times

The thing that drove me to start writing about the state of education is the start time of school. In particular, my daughter’s high school (which shall remain unnamed here) changed their start time twice over the course of her attendance. It started at 8:30am originally (with a 9:30am late start on Wednesdays – that got eliminated because of “student abuse”), then changed to 8:15am, now it’s at 7:45am. Doors open at 7:15am, so essentially that is the real start time. It takes time to get there as traffic is horrendous in the morning and you have to fight your way through congested hallways to get to classes. And if you’re late even at the bell or a minute later, you’ll get sent out to get a tardy slip. No mercy. Ironically, all the tardy machines are not functioning this week. The teachers if late, don’t get the same treatment. They really should though. If they get three tardies, they should get a pay cut. Hey it’s the real world, right? That’s what they drum into the students. Get used to it, kiddos, that’s the real world of low wage earners who have to punch the time clock on time or get fired.

No Voices

No one was informed of the changes. No one had any say in these changes. No students, or parents, or parent-teacher council. Nobody. I was told that the change was mandated by the bus company. I have only seen one bus at the school.

Regardless, I chuckled when I heard of the change. Why? Because it’s the typical start time of elementary schools not high schools. And? Well when you go through a teacher certification program, you talk about how teachers need to understand the changes students are going through at that age. The changes in puberty and sleep needs. We also talk about how students function better at a later start time.

It’s proven that they do perform better. There are high schools that start at 9:00am and they are considered top performing high schools. I’ve been to those. I’ve seen students, who are more relaxed and more focused. My daughter has shared with me how everyone at her school appears to be severely tired even the teachers. Second week into the school year, and people are dragging their bodies in.

Out of Touch Administration

The school is obviously out of touch with who they service. You know the ones that they’re supposed to be guiding through four years of radical physical and socio-emotional change where a child becomes a young adult. Those are very important formative years whose impressions last a lifetime. I remember the trauma of my high school experience. I can say that there are many students who have not had a positive high school experience because of the disconnection of the adults who run these schools. They forgot that “making a difference part” when they signed up to be an educator and most are there for the paycheck.

Sleep Deprivation

According to the National Sleep Foundation (NSF), “if teens need 8 to 10 hours of sleep to do their best and naturally go to sleep around 11:00 pm, one way to get more sleep is to start school later.” It’s great that we have organizations that study these things. It’s sad that we don’t pay attention and actually implement the findings into real-world life. Much like the problems of daylight savings time.

Most high schools have a zombie population of students.

The National Sleep Foundation goes on to state that “schools that have set later bell times find that students do not go to bed later, but get one hour more of sleep per school night, which means five hours more per week. Enrollment and attendance improves and students are more likely to be on time when school starts. Parents and teachers report that teens are more alert in the morning and in better moods; they are less likely to feel depressed or need to visit the nurse or school counselor.”

The NSF goes on to state, “When schools shift their schedules, teens benefit. For example, seven high schools in Minneapolis moved their start times from 7:25 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. and tested the outcomes for their students. As a result of the change, the teens got five or more extra hours of sleep per week, and attendance and enrollment rates went up, as did alertness. Meanwhile, student-reported depression went down. This proves true for middle schoolers as well. In a study of 7th and 8th graders, those who went to a school that started at 8:37 a.m. reported sleeping an hour more on school nights. The ones who started at 7:15 a.m. were tardy four times as often and had significantly worse grades, both in the fall (when the start time changed) and again in the spring when they were re-tested.”

So you don’t want children left behind? You want them to succeed right?

America is at a 14th rank in education internationally.
You’d think we’d be doing something about it.

Insightful read and video:


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