It's no secret that public schools in many areas of our country are struggling. There are a number reasons for this failure, but for anything to be done more people need access to the right information about this situation. This list is meant to provide an overview of six of the largest problems facing our public schools.
1 - Lack of passionate teachers
Increasingly, teaching in public schools is becoming a backup plan for those who study liberal arts and are unable to find jobs in their preferred fields. Those who really do want to be teachers and are passionate about the educational process are being drawn towards private schools that offer larger salaries and better opportunities or jobs in higher education. This has left our public high schools sorely lacking in good teachers.
2 - Poor student to teacher ratios
Due to the lack of funding, classrooms are increasingly crowded. It's not unusual for teachers to have classes of 50 students in some school districts. This prevents teachers from getting to know the students on a personal level and from providing the kind of individual support that is necessary for many students to succeed. Top students in these large classrooms are likely to do fine, but students in the bottom half of the class are likely to slip through the cracks.
3 - Insufficient funding for technical training
The skills needed to succeed in the workplace are changing incredibly fast, and public schools have failed to respond to this. If schools were to offer more technical training that actually prepared students for the types of jobs that are available, it would be far better for their future prospects.
4 - To much emphasis on test taking
Due to federal policies like No Child Left Behind, schools have been forced to focus almost all learning in the classroom around preparations for standardized tests. This prevents teachers from being creative and really engaging with their students. It also discourages teaching valuable things that simply aren't on the tests.
5 - Lack of resources for students who start to fall behind
If a student fails to learn the necessary skills to advance early in school, they are unlikely to ever get the support they need to fill these gaps and catch up. Students are very rarely held back and teachers simply don't have the time or resources to help someone struggling with reading while the rest of the class is going over more advanced material. This leads to high school graduates that aren't prepared for college or the workplace.
6 - Competition from charter schools
As these schools become more popular, they are taking up larger amounts of public funding. This in turn makes the public schools worse and drives even more people towards charter schools. Something must be done about this cycle if we want functional public schools to continue to exist.