An examination of the current system of education based on my experiences in the U.S reveals three distinct factors: that there is discrimination even though the system says there isn’t, opportunities for social advancement are only for a select few, and that the system needs to change in order to accommodate a new reality that encompasses minorities as well as immigrants into the country.
If an outsider were to examine the current state of education within various high schools within the country they would notice that students within the same grade level are often separated into different tracks.
This particular process labeled “tracking” is due to the fact that students within a particular grade level often have varying levels of intelligence resulting in some of students with higher intelligence being places in the higher tracks while students with lower grades are often placed in lower tracks. A closer examination of the track system reveals that a large majority of students in the higher level tracks are often composed of Caucasians while students at the lower level tracks are usually composed of minorities.
While various schools may argue that it isn’t discrimination but rather a result of low grades the fact remains that the tracking system is in fact a precursor to discrimination since it propagates the notion that students from various minorities are in fact unintelligent and thus not capable of handling higher level methods of education or work for that matter.
The reason why such disparities exist is due to the fact that Caucasian students are often part of higher income families who are able to provide a far higher level of financial and educational support for their children as compared to children from minorities. In fact I observed that the inherent problem that most minorities faced especially those Latin American or Mexican descent was the language barrier that existed since the language most often spoken at home was not English but Spanish.
Even while I was at school I often noticed that teachers paid more attention to Caucasian students more so than other ethnicities within the school. While it is true that some Caucasian students do in fact outpace various members of the minority this is only due to the fact that barriers to education such as language and socio-economic status exist which actually delays the progress of other students.
In cases that I have observed where minorities were on equal footing with their Caucasian peers, minorities often parralled or even exceeded the capabilities of the Caucasians. It is due to this that I came to the realization that success and intelligence in such a system is often propagated along lines of ethnicity and race.
Over the course of my educational experience I have been fortunate to have been part of both the public and private sectors of this country. This is due to the fact that once I experienced the level of education found in the public sector of the current U.S. system of education I couldn’t help but want to get out and go for a far better and more academically enriching system, this resulted in me entering the public system in one grade then shifting to a more private system in another.
While I was unaware of it at the time the level of education I experienced while I was in the public sector was in fact due to strategies being implemented in various schools around the U.S. which target academic performance as a key indicator of the performance of teachers resulting in either higher or lower budget allotments per school or school district depending on the results of the national exams students are supposed to take which measure their academic competency.
For me such experiences were similar to a form of militarized educational system where students are made to memorize facts, figures and various details regarding subjects they are taking without regard to deeper contemplative thinking.
This results in students rarely understanding how such ideas came about and were formed in the first place. In other words it is a teaching style that does the exact opposite of helping students to question, discover, collaborate and to argue certain points (widely considered by numerous studies as the best method of teaching in order to encourage the development of intellectual thought) but rather inculcates them into a form of thinking that emphasizes mind numbing memorization, rote practice and mechanical precision in answering tests.
In fact this very method of teaching encourages a form of non-reflective acquiescence which practically destroys inquisitiveness towards learning and in fact creates a certain resistance towards the learning process.
For me such a process of education, not limited to a particular grade level but inherent in all of them in the public sector, practically destroyed any and all yearning to actually study and made me detest the system of education that was being implemented.
The reason why I chose to reveal this particular part of my experiences is it relates to my earlier realization regarding success and intelligence being propagated along lines of ethnicity and race. This particular educational trend that if left unchecked will not only contribute to the gap between the rich and the poor within the U.S. but will also result in a form of educational recidivism wherein education will be the new gap further dividing society between lines of class, race and ethnicity.
What must be understood is that this educational “reform” mainly affects children within various inner city schools most of which are occupied by economically disadvantaged classes which also happen to be constituted by various minorities and immigrants.
As such, while this educational “reform” targets the performance of schools it neglects to address factors towards the proper education of children since the form of “militarized” educational regimen employed by the teachers in order to cram facts and figures into the minds of students does little to actually improve their academic capacity and in fact creates a distinct level of dislike towards the concept of learning.
My own experiences from various private and semi-private schools that I enrolled in after being part of the public system of education reveals that such a method of militarized education is not utilized since, by their own words, it “restricts the capacity of children to truly explore and understand what they are being taught”.
As I look back on my educational trajectory it reveals that I actually did better and learned more in private institutions rather than in the public system. In fact I actually enjoyed learning from my various teachers within the private school system since they encouraged an exploration of concepts and ideas and helped us to build upon them rather than have us memorize rote facts and figures. The one thing I did notice though while I was undergoing private education was that a majority of my classmates were often Caucasians.
Minorities were a rarity and in fact when I went back to studying in the public system of education I often found myself comparing the various styles utilized and realized that white Caucasians that had similarly transferred to the public system of education often were more advanced as compared to the minorities since not only did their educational experiences in private school systems improve their intelligence but it helped them to better understand concepts that minorities that didn’t receive the same type of education had difficulties grappling with.
For me this was an indication that the system of education within the country definitely had something wrong with it since not only did it seem that minorities had difficulties catching up but the system itself which provides a sub-standard method of education (in my opinion) is actually causing them to remain in their social and economic classes since the gateway to a better life through a proper education is apparently shut to them (Perez, 19).
Based on my experience in enrolling in college I can say with certainty that the cost of a college education is increasing within the U.S. yet the ability of the government to provide sufficient loans or the incomes of parents being able to sustain such an expensive method of education is disproportional to the increase in tuition fees with both the government and parents suffering from the rising cost of education.
Studies examining the earnings of high school degree holders with those possessing college degrees often show that having a college degree results in that particular individual belonging to a higher income bracket. The benefits of a college education go beyond mere economic benefits but also extend into the realm of social and cultural distinction with college graduates often finding themselves placed at a higher social caliber compared to mere high school graduates (Perez , 131).
The inherent problem with the current ideology surrounding higher education is that it has led to the development of a “credential culture”. The basic tenet of such a development is the belief that without proper college credentials a person will wind up with a low paying dead end job.
It is due to this belief that high school graduates who initially cannot pay for their college education due to financial limitations wind up having to rely on student loans, scholarships and financial aid in their attempt to attain a college education. Statistics examining the prevalence of scholarships among the different social classes reveal that on average people belonging to higher social classes are often the ones who are able to attain scholarships.
This means that people who can already afford a college education without relying on scholarships are in fact applying for scholarships due to the level of prestige attached to them. The problem with the current system for scholarships is that they are often given to students with high academic grades however individuals with the highest academic grades within high schools are often students who are part of the social elite and thus have been given every advantage necessary to attain high grades while in school.
This leaves economically disadvantaged students, often minorities, having to resort to financial assistance from the government which is often not enough to pay for their increasing college tuition fees. As a result more students drop out of college in order to obtain jobs or receive low academic scores due to the task of having to both study and earn their college education at the same time.
I have seen this situation all too often from fellow students and other people I know in various colleges and universities. It is due my cumulative experience within the U.S. education system that I can say that the current system of education from grade school, high school and all the way to higher education is geared towards lines of ethnicity and race wherein a person’s ability to attain a particular social status is often dictated by color of one’s skin (Perez, 85).
While it may be true that there are cases where minorities do in fact achieve the so called “American Dream” they represent only a small fraction of a population that is being placed in a disadvantageous situation by a system that is inadequately capable of fully providing them with the tools they need to become a success.
Perez, William. We ARE Americans: Undocumented Students Pursuing The American
Dream. Sterling, VA: Stylus Publishing, 2009. 11 – 131. Print.