Education decline: Schools not up to par

People begin learning the day they are born. An infant learns to crawl, then to walk and finally, to run. Once an infant becomes a toddler, he or she learns to talk. Soon enough, parents take their child to school for the first time. However, parents should have cause for concern about the quality of education their child receives at these schools as the quality of education children obtain there appears to be steadily decreasing.

School used to be more challenging, requiring much more of students. According to Digital, in order to pass the eighth grade in 1895, students were required to take a test covering grammar, arithmetic, U.S. history, orthography and geography. From a test used in the Kansas school system during this time, here are some sample questions from each category.

Grammar: Give nine rules for the use of capital letters.

Arithmetic: Name and define the fundamental rules of arithmetic.

U.S. History: Give the epochs into which U.S. history is divided.

Orthography: What the following means: Alphabet, phonetic, orthography, etymology and syllabication?

Geography: What is climate?

It is doubtful that even half of the population in the United States could pass the exam today. A recent survey done by the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences found that U.S. adults between the ages of 16 and 65 received the second-lowest scores in both literacy and numeracy out of the countries tested.

A large part of the problem with education today is not what is being taught, but, rather, the process of teaching. Students seem to be more spoon-fed than forced to learn things on their own. They complain when a teacher does not give a study guide for a test. Often times, students procrastinate on assignments, knowing that as long as they do well on the “big projects” they will be fine.

“Teachers are the key to improving the quality of education. Research has indicated that the individual teacher makes the greatest difference in student learning, with a stronger effect than other factors, such as curriculum, funding or policies. Every child deserves a great teacher,” Dean of Education Dr. Karen Parker said.

Part of the problem with education today is a result of society. With the government regulating education and implementing programs such as No Child Left Behind, education loses its value. The program instated by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 has caused teachers to “teach to the test,” according to These programs pressure teachers to meet specific numbers. It takes the focus off students and turns the school system into a numbers game.

As the quality of education suffers, so will everything else. Students stop gaining knowledge and practice the skill of short-term memorization. Gilbert Keith Chesterton, a writer born in 1874, once said that, “Education is simply the soul of a society as it passes from one generation to another.” The American society is passing on to this generation an education of laziness, immediacy and a focus on self. America will shift into a society of people who cannot think for themselves, who will be ignorant to anything of worth. When ignorance reigns supreme, disaster is sure to follow.

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