America’s Educational Disaster by Matt Zupon

Ah, what a fun article to write. Media darling and acclaimed socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez recently posted a very confusing video of her stumbling over the three branches of government. In it, she states the following gaffe:

“if we work our butts off to make sure that we take back all three chambers of Congress — uh, rather, all three chambers of government: the presidency, the Senate, and the House in 2020…”

While many chide the Congresswoman-elect from New York for not understanding basic civics, and others attack her supporters for openly latching onto someone with this lack of knowledge, one must look past the strange comments of Ms. Ocasio-Cortez and the fundamental problem truly facing our nation: lack of competitive education.

Our schooling system remains fundamentally flawed for many reasons. For one, we set many children up for failure by pushing them into failing schools, rather than providing parents with a path to choose which institution to send their child to. We spend mass amounts of time in the classroom prepping children for federally mandated tests, not work skills or college. Another problem arises from the millions of dollars we dump on educational bureaucracy that never floods into the classrooms, as we the taxpayers wish it would.

One extremely easy way to fix this: school choice. As to echo the national motto, “Your zip code should not define your education”. Many diverse cities and counties sport very different educational institutions. Some schools within mere miles of each other may show polar opposite results for student success rates. In my city, some schools sit mere blocks apart, while some students live even closer to our rival city’s high school. Why should the government, local or federal, dictate where a child must go to learn? As a country founded on freedom and opportunity, many should find this as the antithesis of our national creed. Parents, not government, should wield ultimate power over their child’s academic future.

Another huge problem we face comes in the form of federally mandated testing. As a recent graduate from my school district, I can attest to the failures of standardized testing. When I embarked on my academic journey, my elementary schools required one federally mandated test a year that did not benefit or hinder the student’s academic progress. While we still wasted valuable time learning how to take a test rather than advancing our comprehension of substantial information, we took the test for one or two days then moved on. Now, however, students must bend their entire schedules to appease the Secretaries of Education by dumping hours upon hours in the classroom and at home preparing for a standardized test that usually takes two days of class time. If they fail, they must retake the test, again and again, even investing their time in a scheduled period of their day during senior year if they do not complete the required testing.

Though they did update this extremely draconian policy, when I graduated, some of my classmates could not attend graduation due to missing their mandated tests by mere points. The results of these pointless exams make many students lag behind others when entering college. I can attest to a learning curve in certain college subjects due to the strenuous “training” for these tests. Many of my friends who entered the workforce straight out of college suffered, too, from their lack of understanding of how to pay bills, manage their money, etc.

The largest nail in the coffin of our teaching institutions will always remain Common Core. Common Core, a program that the federal government spends billions on annually and just damages students’ academic progress. Here’s an example: Can you solve this?

How does this teach kids to think outside the box? I remember my parents going to my little brother’s teacher conferences and the teachers admitting they couldn’t teach it. They said that the schools hosted special meetings on how to teach this hot mess of a program, wasting even more resources on a failing system.

Common Core must vanish. The lack of school choice, a huge amount of federal and state bureaucracy, and standardized testing only cripples America’s next generation. We see this flaw when legislators, celebrities, and other public figures fail to answer questions of basic civics, arithmetic, and history. However, hope exists. Many candidates on both sides of the political spectrum now campaign on undoing Common Core and standardized tests. President Trump, along with key cabinet officials and Representatives/Senators continually address the need for more efficient and fluent education to truly make America competitive in schooling.

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