What Is the Biggest Challenge in Education Today?

It is an honor to introduce ourselves to you as the 2010-11 Washington Teaching Ambassador Fellows.

We are all excited to be here at the U.S. Department of Education, working to help create the conditions and structures necessary for success in our schools.  With five Teaching Ambassador Fellows in Washington and ten in schools across the country, our mission is to do all we can to represent teacher and student voices in the dialogue on how to improve opportunities for our students to succeed in our classrooms and in their lives.

As we step through this path of change in education, we ask for your voices, expertise and engagement.  Over the course of the year, we want to know what you need, how we can best serve you and how policy can be guided to both support the work you are doing and change the way we do education.

To kick off this discussion, we ask you:

What is the biggest challenge facing education today?

With great hope for the future of education,
Antero, Edit, Jamal, Jeff, Katie, Laurie, Leah, Linda, Lisa, Nick, Pam, Patrick, Tracey, Stephanie and Steve

To learn more about us, please visit the Teaching Ambassador Fellows web pages.


  1. I recently disservice knowledge of is the lack of unions in SC.the teachers are frightened to go to work. What kind of environment does that provide the child. I believe even with unions the the teachers are too afraid to speak up regarding injustices of Criminal acts in the school.

  2. Teachers and schools have worked extremely hard in their attempt to raise achievement, I liked your blog it’s very interesting, your information had helped me very much, Please keep on posting the related information regarding this Article.

  3. the biggest problem today in education is turning out students that are well balanced-mentally,spiritually, emotionally,physically and financially.the curriculum today at schools deals more with academic studies and information than it does with being able to attain the success that every one aspires. it takes a “success minded” person to be successful .today, teaching success is not a secret.There is literature about this subject everywhere. it is almost a science. we see many people who are successful that didn’t get a “good education” and many people that did, that are not successful. Why is that? Because success is determined by character and not only by knowledge. We need to teach people to set and meet their goals, to raise there standards,to be masters in emotion, relationships,finance and time management, besides attaining knowledge in there seeked out profession.When all this comes together -Destiny is shaped.Its is called Success.So far, as I see it, school today doesn’t answer that criteria. Maybe it should be an integral part of the curriculum?

  4. A–Problems in the Educational System Primary Grades are:
    1.)Children are not taught phonics and therefore can not read.
    2.) Children are not taught addition and subtraction facts and therefore cannot add or subtract.
    3.) Children are not taught to memorize their multiplication tables and therefore cannot multiply, divide, do fractions, decimals, percentages or pass any higher Math.
    Rote memorization is scoffed at in today’s schools by teachers and administrators as an arcane way to teach–tell that to the Chemistry teacher and those in medical school or nursing programs. How can any student hope to pass any class if he is not taught how to rote memorize basics facts and commit them to memory so they become internalized and can be drawn on for higher level critical thinking skills?
    4.) Children are not taught the 8 parts of speech, sentence structures, paragraph structures, essay structures or punctuation and therefore cannot organize simple thoughts and ideas on paper or conduct an argument with supporting facts that has a focus.

    B–Problems with Special Education:
    1.) Many students are designated as Dyslexic by child psychologists if
    they have are having a problem in language arts in kindergarten/first grade,
    so these children who were not taught properly to read are now classified for life and their reading issue is never adressed so they continue to lag behind in all their subject areas.
    2.) Inclusion classes remove those five students for their major subjects leaving the teacher with only about 15 students to teach. Class sizes for inclusion classes should be 28-29.
    3.)Students who have academic problems should not be forced to continue through rigorous academics courses and be prepared for college. There should be technical H.S. schools that teach skills for life needed in the workforce: clerical filing, typing, dictation, office management, electricians, plumbers, painters, sheetrockers,carpenters, computer technicians, hospital aides, school maintenance personnel, how to run a small business—what ha[ppened to preparing people for a job? Why are we forcing people into molds they don’t fit into and pushing them further into a life of failure? No one wants to go to BOCES–you have to come up with an alternative name–a technical H.S. students could choose because of the course offerings or have them offered at every H.S. as business course of study and trade schools.

    C–Problems with Colleges:
    1.)Students are unprepared for college–poor math skills, poor reading and writing skills. Most colleges offer Remedial courses and financial aid pays for this. Are we morons? Why would we encourage a student who has failed or been socially promoted or passed on a major curve to attend college? This is insane or it’s a way to make money for the college. These students are not students. They do not attend class, they do not do their work, yet they collect financial aid checks.
    2.)Teacher preparation programs in this country–a person who gets a pre-k to 6 teacher accreditation can teach major subjects up to and including 6th grade. This is a person who NEVER majored in any content subject. This is a problem because they happen to know little more about any given subject than the student before them in the classroom–they have no context for the subject they’re teaching. They cannot answer a question from a bright student and encourage that student’s curiousity because they do not know the answer so the child is disciplined for not paying attention to the insecure adult. It is also a problem because the teacher is clueless as to what the student should know from the previous year and what he needs to know for the next year.
    In Europe, students who do not pass tests of excellence in their H.S. subjects do not go to the university. They do, however, go to college–a technical training school where they are taught to be treadesmen: steam pipe fitters, carpenters etc., or infant class instructors. An infant class instructor teaches what would be comparable to our k-2–no one there would even consider having this particular type of teacher teach any content area subject because she failed them herself. In America, a pre K-6 teacher can get an extension license with 12 graduate credits (and never take a GRE) in a major subject and go teach M.S. or H.S. This makes no sense and the children’s scores and performance in the workforce bear witness to the failure of common sense in the American School system.

    D–What’s the answer?
    1.)Teachers need to give diagnostics in every subject when students show up in class each September. The teacher needs to teach what she discovers the children don’t know before she continues with the next step in the curriculum.
    Teachers need to collect and correct homework and give the students immediate feedback as well as feedback to herself to see if the lesson taught was successful–no one does this anymore–homework is gone over for ten minutes in class and students who got the answer wrong get the right answer and the teacher moves on to the next lesson and lost half the class and no one thinks that’s a problem?
    2.) Administrators should never be allowed to enter an administration program until they have at least ten years of classroom experience in teaching a major subject–if they don’t have experience managing a classroom, how can they judge the success or failure of another teacher in a room–they can’t. Many of today’s administrators were k-6 teachers who were failures in the classroom which is why they went into administration in the first place–to get out of the classroom. Many PhD educators have absolutely no concept of reality outside of theory and paper pushing. The teachers don’t respect their judgement because it’s inane and the parents don’t respect their judgement because they speak in gobbledegook doublespeak to confuse the issue because they don’t know the answer and hide behind condesending attitudes and professional educational jargon–no one who’s sure of themselves speaks in those terms to a layman.
    3.)College costs are astronomical. Why? With 75% of the faculty being adjunct professors on every campus in the U.S., our country is in great jeopardy. Sending everyone to college will not produce a better educated person. Why? Adjuncts are “at will” employees and as such have no voice about their plight. They can never become full-time because they are looked down upon as second class citizens by the full-time professors even though they all have master’s degrees or better. These adjuncts make a living by teaching at three or four colleges and teach 10 to 12 courses a semester. How much thought do you think is going into their classes? Not much. Do you think they’re going to fail students who are paying upwards of $30,000. a year and be called in by their dept. chair because of an unhappy student and an irate parent and risk being fired? No they will not. They will lower the standards and everyone will pass and college diplomas and education will mean nothing. Right now, a H.S. diploma means nothing.

    Raise your standards. Start technical schools and apprentice programs. Open full line employment to adjuncts. Cap pensions at 1/2 of $50,000 no matter how much is made in a lifetime. Change ed. programs and prerequisites for school administrators. To get into an education program, we should only accept the best and the brightest if we want to turn out that type of population. Teachers need to be managed and evaluated and not be given tenure for time served. Tenure should be given after 5 years unless the teacher is a super performer.
    The problem in education is not a lack of money; the problem is a lack of common sense.

    Any questions? You can write to me.

  5. The biggest challenge in education today does not just lie in the hands of the teachers and schools but it mainly lies in the students. I am a student in my first year of college and although it has only been about two months I can truly say that my high school did not prepare, at all, for my college life. At the same time I can also say that part of the reason was my fault. I did not stay focused nor did I try my absolute hardest. If someone was to look at my report cards for each class they would see a lot of good grades, but also a lot of insufficient grades, mainly zeros. I cant say that I am proud of it but things are what they are.
    Students these days do not realize how great there lives are and many of us are spoiled. Most of us just settle for our low grades and averages while many others simply choose not to care at all. We dont have the motivation that our parents had when they were young. We dont carry the strive to succeed, we only carry the strive to get through. I say that I want to do better and sometimes I do but because procrastination has become a habit I often don’t. So the big challenge is finding the challenge that is withing the students. We have to get them to talk and we have to get them to care.
    Now we head to the schools and find the challenge there. The schools themselves dont truly care about their students, what they mostly care about is making a profit or getting them through the school year. My thirteen year old brother has started home schooling now and he says that he enjoys it much better than regular school. With home schooling he actually foucuses on his priorities and what he really needs help with, something that the teachers never did. Al that the teachers do is teach the lesson and go through each lesson a couple of times and answer questions. It seems like it is enough but they don’t sit there with each student face to face for thirty minutes helping them with what the student is struggling with. There is the difference right there. then there is the fact that teachers are not teaching what they should be teaching. they aren’t preparing us for the real world nor are they preparing us for college. children these days are not understanding the basic fundamentals of learning which in other words means that the future of our country is in trouble. apparently america is starting to realize this which is why they came out with my child can read but thats not gonna be enough.
    In Japan most children are already using chopsticks and know how to introduce themselves with politeness, they know the basic ettiquete of how and when to bow, and they know how to correctly use their manners all at the age of two or three. The schools in japan teach english, home ec., and japanese as required subjects. Children are learning how to cook and sow in elementary school and then after regular school a lot of the children, those who mainly have top grades, head to cram school where they get an extra amount of what they just learned. school is a major criteria in japan and in many other places in the world like europe, africa, china, and india. each country has a larger amount of school days in most of their schools than here in america. i think its time we buckled down and do what it is needed. now it is probably plain to see just what we need to do and what our biggest challenge in education is today.

  6. I think one of the most pressing problems with our education system is the narrow focus of the curriculum. Students who do not excel in traditional academic courses (English, Mathematics, and Science) feel disconnected in school and continue to underperform. Education is as much about preparing the next generation of citizens and leaders as it is about training students for future careers. When we focus only on how students are performing in English, math, and science, we lose out on developing other skills that students need to be successful in the real world. We spend too little time focusing on real-world skills such as creative problem solving, cooperation, communication, and leadership.

    Not everyone is good at the core academic subjects. Some are better in music, art, drama, or history. These skills are no less important in our world. After all, with the challenges that our society faces today, it is going to take experts from all fields of study to achieve lasting solutions. Our education system should reflect the society we are striving to have. If we desire a nation of people with a variety of backgrounds and viewpoints, why aren’t we fostering that same diversity of thought in the minds of our children? I think that our narrow focus on math, science, and English limits a student’s ability to flourish and become a well-rounded person, which is essentially the true purpose of education. While achievement in the traditional academic fields is incredibly important, students need to know that it is not the only way to make a meaningful contribution to society.

  7. I think that the biggest challenge right now is HOMEWORK OVERLOAD. Children wake up (some very early), and stay all day at school, and then are expected to go home, and complete homework, and some assignments taking all hours of the night to complete.
    Being a child is a once-in-a-lifetime experience(literally), and it should not be spent chained to the kitchen table doing homework. Children should be able to come home after school, and go outside and play. I wish the educators would keep this in their minds.
    Thanks for hearing my feedback! (:

  8. I talk and work with teenagers all over the country. What I hear the most from students is that they are not being heard from teachers or faculty. The end users are telling everyone that they are not being heard. Students want channels to release frustration and vent in a healthy way and there is not many ways for them to do this in our school system structure.

    When I speak to students I make sure they know that there are counselors on campus that are more than willing to listen to them about whatever they want to say.

  9. I crave feedback. I want to know how I’m doing, if I’m serving my students. I want to know how to do it better. Teacher assessments are great—if—-they are done kindly, with the intention of positive growth (not the threat of job loss) driving the effort. That is the kicker. This weekend the LA Times published the grades of teachers whose students scored poorly on the ONE state test. Now, come on, is this the way to provide innovative educational experiences for our students, to shame hard-working civic employees? What’s next? Publishing the scores of police officers? Federal funded nurses? State highway workers records? Thank you, Mr. Duncan, for addressing this issue, but I need you to be stronger and louder. Teachers are getting punched left and right. It’s not our fault.

  10. I think the biggest problem in public education is the idea that schools should and can be run as a business. This process began with President George Bush Sr. and our schools are still failing. It is time to re-evaluate this idea and move forward.

  11. Not destroying the curiosity, special gifts and self -esteem that every child is born with.

    #1 We must acknowledge that learning is a continuous process that takes place inside and outside of schools.

    #2 Children’s interests often do not fit into neat little packages called subjects.

    #3 Constant testing smothers intrinsic motivation.

    The current narrow definition of education alienates children and robs our society of precious talent.

  12. I agree with several posters here, it’s the arbitrary and inaccurate standardized testing.

    Without real tests there’s no reason to waste the massive resources on these standardized tests.

    We’d all be better off spending those dollars on supplies, training and better resources than wasting them on politics.

  13. The biggest challenge facing education in the millennia is investing in parent-teacher hubs circle and/or communities. I believe that once we developed an ongoing chain-link between these two credible potter’s hands, our children should be molded explosively as bright as the nearest nebulae and as the future “face” of our nation. The Scripture tells us something like this: “what you sow, is what you will harvest.”

  14. In the private sector when a true disruptor comes along…the rest of the world stands up and takes notice…or gets beaned. In the school system, it the “revolutionary” who gets beaned. If I were king, I would appoint Dennis Littky and John Taylor Gatto as co-secretaries of education. We need radicals desperately.

    I am paraphrasing quotes taken from Tom Peters book, Re-Imagine, published in 2003. If you are serious about changing the school system, read Chapter 22 of this book

  15. The biggest challenge facing education at this moment is the Obama Administration’s continuation of the testing portion of ESEA, or No Child Left Behind. After that, it’s the notion that education and learning happen because students are “taught”, when in reality we learn by doing.

  16. I think many of the problems with education stem from the movement to ever-larger schools. Unfortunately, bigger is not better when it comes to education. Yes, the bigger schools have more resources for sports and such, but the individual becomes lost in the shuffle. Furthermore, any money that is conceivably saved by consolidation into ever larger schools is more than spent on resource officers and alternative education centers. I’m sorry, but when you put 2000 7th and 8the graders in the same building, you are just asking for trouble no matter how many adults you have.

    Take those same kids and put them in small communities where they can build relationships with each other and the teachers, and the number of discipline issues will drop dramatically. As it is, teachers cannot teach the individual students because they are too busy with crowd control. They cannot individualize instruction because they have too many students and a crushing bureaucracy placing ever more restrictions upon them.

    Smaller schools provide the opportunity for to address all of the other issues facing education. They have more opportunities to be creative in their teaching because they can get to know their students. I’m sorry, but I would rather have one great teacher teaching my kid several subjects who really knows kids and how to teach than several “highly qualified” teachers who may be experts in their subject matter but don’t know how to teach and don’t really care about getting to know my kid and learning how to challenge her.

    I think we need to take education out of the hands of the government and put it back in the hands of the communities.

  17. When are we going to stop “teaching” and start facilitating learning. If we tell the student exactly what it is he or she is to do by means of performance objectives, provide resources to achieve those objectives (the teacher/coordinator being only one), write quizzes and exams based precisely on those objectives, the results might surprise some of you. It sure works for me – and don’t accuse me of “teaching to the test.” I’m only measuring the students’ performance and whether he or she has achieved the stated objectives.

    Colleges of education have been teaching this method for 40+ years, but few teachers are practicing it.

  18. A lack of taking into account that not every person is math, science, or literary minded. It is important when considering education to consider the fact that this is not a country of accountants, scientists, and authors. We need a push for schooling that represents the needs of the population and the workforce. In grade schools, art, music and even physical education are slowly being eliminated. As adults, we are given the opportunity to find our passions and follow them in our careers. Children are not given this opportunity. How can we expect creative, free minded adults which are what this country was founded upon, if we don’t give our children the creative expression to follow their hearts and minds and learn what they are passionate about? We need to give our children a voice, that they may learn to use it while young, and be vocal involved adults. I am certainly not saying that “STEM” curriculum is unimportant, but saying that there certainly other important aspects to education. Part of being a democratic society is giving everyone a voice. In order to do that we have to realize that students, too, have voices and have a right to a curriculum that is interesting and of importance and relevance to them in their lives. Until this happens, we will not live in a truly ‘Democratic Society’.

  19. David (@dloitz)suggested that Coöp write towards this post and call from the USDOE’s Teaching Ambassador Fellows (TAF). The Fellows have asked teachers, “What is the biggest challenge in education today?”
    The biggest challenge in education today is its myopia and disregard for real-world problem-solving as concretized in our collective and sometimes willful lack of imagination in reforming education outside the tautological feedback loop of standardized testing.

    We are endlessly arguing the merits of standardized tests and how best to evaluate teachers in response to them while insisting that the tests represent standards that represent minimum competencies on the delivery of which teachers should be judged. Where to begin? All the excellent, innovative, global rhetoric in the world won’t move teachers past teaching to the test if the test is the job. See KIPP, TFA.

    Our leaders, duly enjoined by our pundits, can’t seem to achieve escape velocity from this debate or the standardized testing mindset. It’ as if “the best and brightest” a)can’t imagine other solutions to the Achievement Gap and the social justice issues it stands for, b)can’t imagine schools being any different than they are today, or c)have some kind of stake in preserving the status quo. Regardless, it doesn’t stop reformers from demanding that teachers change to teach better to tests while the system remains stagnant. Look at the stalled ESEA reauthorization, all the i3 commentary, and the passage of the Edujobs bill. There is nothing in any of those federal initiatives that actually reforms our system of public education to be more like the systems of the countries we’re chasing on the charts. What if we stopped chasing the charts? What if we assessed like the Irish? What if we taught like the Australians? What if we considered the societal cost and impact on innovation our stubborn pursuit of test prep? Do we want to have similar cultures and governance as the countries beating us in math (see page 7), for example, just to be the country best at math scores, or can we come up with an educational program that posits some kind of authentic, innovative end for math scores augmented by American ingenuity, which is largely absent in American schools?

    I share a lot of common beliefs about community-based education and relevant curriculum with test apologists.
    However, it’s the height of defeatism to say we can’t school our children differently or provide justice through differentiated, student-centered education while all around us the world continues creating new cures, products, and travesties. Standardized testing isn’t the end of American ingenuity unless we stick with it until it becomes the end of American ingenuity.

    Here are five questions we should be exploring in pursuit of authentic #edreform outside of testing:
    Why aren’t most public schools democratic and student-centered in curriculum, assessment, instruction, schedule, and structure, and why aren’t we scaling and researching models that are?
    Why are we measuring students, teachers, and schools on work done at desks and inside classrooms?
    What is excellent learning, how does it relate to community stewardship, and how do we help students achieve the former in pursuit of the latter?

    How does what we’re doing compare to what we know about child development, learning, and human motivation?

    In the near future, what is an ethically responsible balance of free and proprietary blended learning, embedded assessment, community-based project-based learning, school funding, and teacher to student ratio?
    If we can’t find the time and political will to engage in conversations based on questions like those, then it will be cold comfort when we sit back and chortle ruefully at the curriculum and test vendors bearing the blame for the Achievement Gap when there are no teachers left (at least not as we understand them) and vendors are caught in the bind of being tasked with eliminating the Achievement Gap while trying to make a buck off tests that perpetuate the Achievement Gap as a means to perpetuate the tests as a means to perpetuate revenue. I mean, you know, with apologies, how can they be expected to make a valid test if someone doesn’t fail? Can I be a valid teacher if someone doesn’t fail? Riddle me that, Stat-man.

    We don’t really expect to have all our schools succeeding anyway, right?

    Teachers: we own that collective and willful lack of imagination, too. As a professional body, what do we have to offer that any better than test scores? What have we organized to do? Are we accomplishing our mission? Is that the same thing as doing/protecting our job?

    How would you answer any of those questions? What are you doing differently this year?

  20. The parent is a child’s first teacher, which has little to do with that parent’s ability to teach. While there is MUCH the system can do to make education more effective- if education is made a priority at home, I believe education will be important for the student. Give the student quality guidance and achievement will follow. My mother only had a high school degree and I’m not sure how my dad made it through college, but my sister and I were always expected to make education a priority. As a teacher myself, I see this time and time again. Even the best teachers can’t be expected to be ALL things to ALL students at ALL times, despite how hard many of them (us, actually) try.

  21. perhaps it would be a good idea to have uniforms. the sexualization of young girls is now embraced by the media (movies like thirteen, miley cyrus, etc). this is definitely distracting to ppl going to school.

  22. I think compulsory education attempts to teach all kids the same way, but they are all so different. there are the spanish speakers, the ones who aren’t good at math but excel in art and vice-versa etc. trying to teach all kids the same way is asinine but more importantly, its ineffective. the dept of edu really needs to be abolished. or, the most they should do is teach all kids to read. children should be liberated from the temporary prison where teaching is confused with learning, grades with education, diplomas with competence, attendance with attainment, and, especially, process with substance. Schools don’t award achievement– only obedience. This greatly alters a persons ability to self-learn. not to mention there are so many distractions at school: cliques, who is going to be homecoming king or queen, being popular, who is wearing what, etc… no kid is really focusing on learning as much as that other stuff.

  23. The biggest challenge we are facing in America in our education system is assessments & incompetent teachers. (Anyone can learn there is no excuse to continue to let our children be left behind) We should realize assessments that were created and development decades/centuries ago were based on White males of European decent from prominent families with a Darwinism philosophy “survival of the fittest”. We need to develop assessments for a diverse population. Every child does not learn the same some are better taught through the lens of auditory, or visual, or kinesthetic techniques so, different modalities for different children, and this goes for assessment. A good teacher can identify a student’s strengths and weaknesses.

    We need to get rid of poor teaching habits, unfortunately, there are teachers that need to retire, and should have never been allowed to teach our children in the first place. Their teaching approach is using a cookie cutter systematic process, and they don’t understand learning styles at all or they simply don’t care. These individuals are detrimental to our children, because they are instrumental in killing our children dreams.

    Assess teachers just as you as you assess students, and let your students, and other teachers assess these teachers within a summative evaluation. The facts are simply there are some individuals who just don’t have the skills to nurture innocence, and the ability to mold our eager little children minds into productive individuals. So, these teachers are allowed to kill our children‘s dreams contributing to adding another layer/problem in our society in producing unproductive adults.

    Give SKILL/PERSONAILTY assessments to teachers, and develop a new diverse assessment for our children based on their learning styles.

    Look at James P. Comer School Development Program (SDP) – The Comer Process use it as a model if we have effective programs in place why not use them. What’s the problem here???

  24. Henry – I’m not discounting the fact that parents should continue to support their kids’ education. However, there is a reason why teachers earn the degrees that they do and get PAID to teach. Like many parents who has to make a living to put food on the table, by the time I get home from work, my child is already tired from a full day of schoolwork and the last thing they want to do is more schoolwork! I am fortunate enough to have a college degree but what about parents who aren’t educated enough to know how to help their kids with homework? Parents should SUPPLEMENT the curriculum by using teachable moments, like learning about measurements thru cooking or doing math when going shopping. However, teachers can be a lot more effective because they have the kids fresh at the beginning of the day not after a long day’s work. I fully support the PTSA but from my experience with many school districts, it seems that the school would rather the parents take a back seat when it comes to making policy changes because they’re not the “experts” with education degrees but only allow the parents to stick to fundraising and not have an opinion to voice.

  25. Education Challenge

    The biggest challenge in education today is that parents are not performing their duties as first teacher to their kids in education. Many parents left their kids behind and keep putting the blame on the teachers due to their misunderstanding of the No Child Left Behind Act. These parents concerned are the ones who left their kids behind and not the schools; teachers are secondary to kids’ education. I strongly suggest that the government shall pass a Law on Parents’ involvement in schools for better academic achievement of all their kids. I also believe that, if parents get more involved in their kids school activities and attend school PTO/PTA meetings, there will be a big difference in the academic progress of all the kids.

  26. I believe the biggest challenge in education today is that our current purpose for schooling is inadequate. We are not yet teaching for the future our children are inheriting. We have largely defined the goals of schooling as verbal, mathematical and scientific literacy in order to graduate students who are employable and able to compete in the global economy. But given the global challenges we face, from climate change, war, poverty, escalating worldwide slavery, habitat destruction and extinction of species, energy, access to clean water, overpopulation, genocide, institutionalized and massive animal cruelty, genocide, and so on, it’s imperative that we educate a generation that has the knowledge, tools, and motivation to be problem-solvers and system-changers in order to create a sustainable, peaceful, and humane world for all. If we were to succeed at achieving our current educational goals, we would simply produce a generation that perpetuates many destructive, inhumane, and unsustainable systems. The “basics” must be seen as foundational tools for achieving healthy societies. They are critical, but not enough. But if we expand our goals for schooling, making our children’s education truly relevant to their future, their personal investment and interest in their schooling would grow in proportion to the meaning and importance we would offer them through their studies.

  27. There are many challenges in education today is time in school. Have you ever wondered why Asian kids are stereotyped as smarter? It’s not because we have the smarts but rather education is the one thing that kids are required to excel in. My family immigrated to America when I was little so I had a brief opportunity attend school in Taiwan. In Asia, the children’s main job was to get good grades in school. We were disciplined by teachers and parents when our test scores dropped. It was the teacher’s job to teach (not parents) and if you disrespect your teachers, you bring shame to your family. My little cousins who are raised in Taiwan go to school from 7am to 5pm because that’s when their parents get out of work. Afterwards, they stay for additional tutoring or afterschool activities (sports or scouting, etc.) until 9pm! Saturday schools are not unheard of as parents typically work on Saturdays. These are the very same kids that American kids have to compete with in the future. If you get a chance to visit Asian communities across America, you will notice that test scores are generally much higher. In America, we can not leave it up to the teachers to give our kids a good education. In these neighborhoods, you can easily find private tutoring schools where parents pay money to send their kids to ensure that they get high SAT scores.

    I am a highly involved parent of a special ed student in the public school system. I understand the challenges that the teachers are faced with like fear of speaking up against administration for what their student need. I don’t understand why schools in America are willing to promote students even if they can’t read or write or do basic math. I am now forced to pay private schools to teach my child and they have been a lot more successful than the public school. Why is it that parents are clamoring to win a spot in a lottery to get their kids into charter schools? They must be doing something right!

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