A Nation of Mediocrity: Discussing Mixed Decades of Educational Reform

Explore the impact American educational reform has on our students, the need for less politics, and more parental involvement.

by Ivy Locke

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Although the majority of parents seem somewhat hopeful that this country will one day get a handle on real education reform, results thus far demonstrate why this may be next to impossible.

A recent article published by Civil Beat delves into a couple of past initiatives and their mixed results. That said, let’s look at the article’s contents and what it means for future education reform in this country.

The article is summarized with three main points. They are as follows:

  • Outcomes were temporarily improved, but the progress was reversed over the last decade: Besides racial and financial disparities, studies have shown that the pandemic “erased two decades of achievement gains.” 
  • The reform efforts never addressed the root cause of the problem: As mentioned, many of the root causes of educational gaps were external factors. Nevertheless, poverty and other important risk factors have yet to be addressed. 
  • The political groups who created the reform have fallen apart: Lastly, bipartisan efforts were required to achieve past versions of education reform. However, parents, teachers, and political parties are officially too at odds with one another to come together and create new initiatives. Therefore, they are primarily working against one another rather than coming together for the sake of American students. 

What does this mean for American students?

In short, the American education system is in serious trouble. We are officially at a point where many parents have simply opted to homeschool to avoid these substandard conditions. According to PBS, “homeschooling has been on the rise with an estimated 30% increase in enrollment since the beginning of the 2019 school year.”

Moreover, both of America’s mainstream political parties are officially focused more on politics than on creating substantial education reform for students. One of the top hot-button issues is LGBTQ+ materials and “race theory.” On the one hand, republicans want to remove the material altogether. On the other hand, many democratic states mandate that this material be taught to all students. 

Personally, I believe parents should be allowed to make that judgment call. At the end of the day, students typically get the most information on these topics from family and friends. So, no matter what is taught in schools, their personal circles will reinforce or undermine the information. Therefore, I think the student collective would be much better served if politicians took the time to revamp math, English, and science curriculums and valuable life skills such as language and financial literacy. 

The bottom line

While the adults are busy fighting, the students continue to lose. Throughout these power struggles, plenty of students will graduate, fail, or even drop out of school. Therefore, if we ever hope to create the much-needed nationwide educational reform, we need to pressure politicians to allow parents to take a more significant role in how controversial topics are taught while focusing on the subjects that will most impact their educational and professional futures. Otherwise, we could look up in another decade and find our school systems unrecognizable and in the worst condition ever. 

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