America’s Education System is Broke

by | Sep 8, 2022 |

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How do we create the next generation of leaders who will face and overcome the challenges of our always-changing and ever more dangerous world? How will we prepare them for the leadership role they will have to assume at some point in the future, and be able to do so when our current educational system is woefully inadequate for their needs?

I live in a small midwestern community, much like small communities anywhere. Each with its own unique set of problems and challenges, but also with many of the same ones that other small communities around the country face.

Nowadays, our schools face challenges that those of us from the previous generations did not have to deal with. The types of problems change with the times for sure, but one constant throughout has always been the quality of teachers in the classroom, as well as guidance counselors and school administrators. Most are dedicated professionals who oftentimes have to do a difficult job under difficult circumstances. But as in all professions, there certainly are bad apples. Bad teachers who just go through the motions, as well as bad administrators.

In the era I grew up in, one simply didn’t see a young teacher being led into a courtroom in shackles for engaging in a sexual relationship with a student several years their junior. Did it happen? Perhaps, but one rarely ever heard about it. I do believe that it truly was less prevalent back then because our society was not nearly as sexualized as it is today. There were boundaries that were recognized, and that, for the most part, were adhered to.

Today our young people are bombarded daily by sexual innuendo, even stronger sexual content on television and in the movies, in popular culture, and on social media. The Internet contributes even more with countless porno websites that young people can access.

It’s getting harder and harder for students to discern the difference between what is right and what is wrong when behaviors once deemed inappropriate and obscene are now commonplace. All of this can help lead to a very toxic learning environment when topics better left for discussion in the locker room become part of the curriculum in the classroom.

When teachers are more concerned with promoting their views on social issues and sexuality than with teaching the basics children need to know in order to succeed, that’s very toxic to the learning environment.

Administration and faculty may be well educated, but oftentimes have difficulty in relating to the students they teach or oversee, as well as their own support staff. A toxic atmosphere can spread through a school district, infecting the classroom, the teacher’s break room, and the front offices.

If a school is experiencing high turnover in the teaching and support staff, that’s a good indication that there are problems that need to be addressed. As administrators must act expeditiously to remove a toxic environment from the classroom, It is also incumbent upon school boards to act swiftly when a toxic environment is created by an administrator. They cannot turn a blind eye to this, no matter how difficult it might be to address.

This also happens often in the business world, the military, and in our government, so it’s certainly not unique to the educational environment.

Support staff everywhere are sometimes belittled, treated poorly, and in many cases, targeted for abuse simply at the whim of a manager. And usually by one who is very careful to cover their tracks, making it more difficult – though not impossible – to make a case against them. They often leave behind a trail of personal destruction in their wake as they move from job to job. And a staff who are just going through the motions trying to survive day to day since they are dependent on their jobs.

As the old saying goes, “a fish rots from the head.” A toxic environment in one place can spread, affecting the quality of the service or product in a factory, or the education our young people receive. And employees in the workplace and our young people in school deserve so much better.

So what is the answer for our schools? How do we get American youths back on track, and once again among the world’s leaders in test scores?

Getting back to basics would be the first step. “Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic” has been one of those constants our education system was founded on, and that over the years has produced students who eventually cured diseases, gave our world fine art to appreciate, and put men on the Moon.

We must also bring back an appreciation for our nation’s history, both the good and the not-so-good. Our children should not only be taught about the shortcomings of our Founding Fathers, but how they pointed this nation in the right direction of self-governance so many years ago. They should know about the struggles our nation has endured to build a better America for all of our people, learn of our great achievements, as well as the times when we fell short but picked ourselves up and tried again.

Americans must stand up and take a position no matter how hard it might be, no matter what the costs. In 1776 Sam Adams, George Washington, and Thomas Jefferson did no less, along with many others whose names are lost to history. They committed treason against England, and they prevailed. We need leaders in the classroom and in the community to do no less. Stand up and speak out when they see injustices.

So whether it’s in a small community, on a city council, a school district, or even all the way to the top of our government, tyrants will always fail if people stand up against them. They may have a Ph.D. or an MBA or wear a rank on their collar, but they are limited against the power of the people. And eventually, the power of the people will prevail.

“As the old saying goes, “Be careful who you step on during your rise up the ladder; they’re going to be there watching when you come crashing down.”

D.W. Wilber

Del is a former under cover employee of the Central Intelligence Agency serving overseas in Eastern and Western Europe, and the Middle East. He currently does consulting work in counterterrorism and writes columns, as well as appears as a guest on a number of programs.

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