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Why the American Education System Falls into the Obsolete Category

Nationalizing High Schools Would Mean Less Work in College

By Vasilka Atanasova
On October 12, 2010

Nowadays, traditions are not what they were. One good thing that emerged with time though, and has been valued in every culture, is respect of education. The most important pillar in one society today is its enlightenment.


Every nation has developed national educational standards, grades one to twelve, as this is the staple of a society. The US though, pretending to be a world leader, has not. Scholars compile data on a national level, talk and debate on national literacy statistics, asking why tens of millions of Americans are illiterate and why high school students graduate unprepared for college? The US government spends more per pupil on elementary and high school than any other country, yet it is behind most of them.

Every year the US keeps investing money in public high schools and then grant money to community colleges for developmental courses. This vicious cycle needs to be eliminated. Children all around the world take general education courses in high school. The US system should not be different; it should follow the example of countries with high literacy rates and national programs, and change.  


After intensive research, pedagogues and scientists from different areas have determined which subjects should be taught at the different levels. I have always had in mind that the school system is well developed and organized for each grade's programs. The educational systems in many countries are systematized in strict national programs, valid and obligatory for all children aged between 7 and 16.


Take Germany for example, even though the main responsibility for the educational system lies with the states, a multi-state agreement ensures that basic national requirements are met. If you drop out of high school in Germany, you must enroll in a special school that teaches the same subjects at a slower pace. There is no other way of obtaining your high school diploma.


 In the US, you have the option of taking a GED exam. This is how children lose the connection with school, what it means to go to school every day and sit down and read or solve math problems. Thinking they can pass a GED test, in their minds, undervalues the school as an institution.


A high school dropout crisis in the US poses one of the biggest threats to the nation's competitiveness and economic growth. How do we address 7,000 students dropping out of high school every day and only about 70 percent graduating with a regular high school diploma? Clearly, it will not be easy, but one of the first steps must be implementing national programs. Those programs should define standards thatput American children on equal ground with students around the world, because today, most American high school students do not come out of school ready to compete on the world stage.


Children around the world take college level algebra, trigonometry, psychology, physics and other general education courses in high school, not in college. In Illinois, for example in Algebra, students graduating from high school are required to know how to solve quadratic equations with one variable. In Europe, you are required to know this in ninth or tenth grade and before you graduate, you have to know how to solve equations and systems in two variables. Someone here is trying to convince us that Americans cannot learn this at the age of 15, but can at 19 or 20 when they go to college? Instead of taking these general education classes in college, students could be taking higher-level courses and stop wasting money and time for something they could have learned in high school.     


National programs would bring more fairness and equal opportunities to all children around the country. Implementing these must be done with students' success in mind, thus, legislators need to clearly see that for American kids to be able to compete in a global society, they have to be prepared for college. Consequently, general education courses have to be a part of high school requirement. College is called higher education intentionally, because we take education to another level.  

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