What are some major problems facing public schools in the United States?What are the major problems facing public schools in U.S.?What are the priorities of education in the eyes of the American...

What are some major problems facing public schools in the United States?

What are the major problems facing public schools in U.S.?
What are the priorities of education in the eyes of the American public?

Expert Answers
e-martin eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One of the fundamental problems in the American public school system, as I see it, is a lack of ability to answer your second question. The priorities of the schools are often placed on the measures of success but there seems to be a lack of definition as to the point of education. 

Obviously, if a system wants to emphasize success it should have a firm grasp on what its goals are, otherwise the tests and test scores become largely meaningless. 

I think this is an issue that needs to be worked out and is being worked out, but as of today there is a definite lack of clarity of purpose as to what education is truly supposed to do. Saying that schools are there "to help students learn" and "prepare them for the future" is far too vague to be helpful.

That is, in part, how the education standards movement came into being, as a way to narrow the scope of appropriate studies and necessary skills. However, as the "preferred skill set" has become further refined and delineated, the rationale for choosing that skill set has been lost. Finding a Big Picture view of American education is rather more difficult than it should be, in my opinion. 

tinicraw eNotes educator| Certified Educator

What comes to mind for me as a secondary Language Arts teacher in the United States is the fact that there seems to be a shift from student/parent responsibility to complete teacher responsibility for the education of our nation. The teacher can't do it all, and shouldn't be threatened to lose his/her job because of one student's behavior problems. I believe that teachers should actively seek ways to improve their teaching skills for the growth and development of themselves and for their students. I think teachers should be up to date on technology and pedagogy as doctors should be up to date on the latest research and information. The difficulty comes when teachers are evaluated against an unfair system that doesn't take into account student/parent responsibility at home. If someone can come up with a fair evaluation of teachers that takes into account the behavioral and medical obstacles that also face the students, then that would be a great system. If we are moving towards paying teachers according to merit, then teachers should have a voice in that evaluative system as well as parents and government officials (if not more).

cfett eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I definitely agree with posts 2 and 4 in that there seems to be a lack of accountability and concern on the parts of parents and students, especially with an increased focus on teacher accountability.  Also, in this weak economy, the American government tends to focus on cutting funds in areas that are integral for high student performance, such as the arts.  While the government seems to continue decreasing teacher pay, the officials that be also are beginning to put more stock in merit pay, which typically only seems like a good idea to those who have never stepped foot in the classroom.  Much of the current focus seems to be on student achievement no matter what the losses in other areas, and the only increased funding seems to be in the overall area of technology. 

rrteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I agree that school environments, especially in the classroom, are completely out of phase with the worlds that our students are coming from. We still educate kids largely along a factory model, and curricula are very slow to change. We are far more concerned about assessing what we are teaching kids than figuring out if what we are teaching kids will be relevant to the worlds they come from, and especially the world they will enter when they leave school.

shake99 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I would add another voice to the idea that discipline has become a serious problem. I know that I am able to teach only a fraction of what I could because I just can't get students to be quiet enough or sit still enough to get the message.

I think school has just become too slow and too boring for today's kids.

We are also trying to make college students out of everybody, and that just isn't going to work.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In many schools in the US (public and private), the major problem is that the students are not prepared enough and their parents do not care enough.   Many students where I teach come from backgrounds where they simply aren't prepared in terms of knowledge or skills.  Their parents don't care enough to push them.  This makes it very hard to get them to where they need to be by the time they finish high school.

Kristen Lentz eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I would say the two greatest problems facing public schools in America is the funding crisis and accountability.  Teachers by the thousands are losing their jobs based on budget cuts, and the ones left behind must make up the difference with soaring class sizes.  In the meantime, states are pouring money into accountability tests that measure very little and take away from instructional time.

bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Reduced public funding is certainly a major concern, but I find the biggest problems lie with student discipline and motivation. As several of the previous posts note, many students are not prepared for the work they undertake, and many parents don't seem concerned enough to push them in the right direction.

johngabr | Student

I am pleased to see that many teachers are acquiring the spine to state the main problem with US public schools - discipline.

That's right Harry Wong, there is no discipline because administrations and parents do not support their teachers, not because there are no rules and procedures in the classroom.

caleber96 | Student

As a current high school student, I wonder what's wrong with most of society. It seems as if there are drop-outs (or those who barely scrap by), there are normal kids who go to normal universities, and there are those "overachievers" (or rich kids) who go to Harvard, Yale, MIT, etc. Should we "track" the kids early on and send them to different schools depending on their career goals/ability level instead of blending them all into one high school (Germany does this)? 

Also, the stigmatization of vocational careers, even the well-paid ones, is a problem. There is no shame in manual work. How else would university buildings be built? 

But, as previously mentioned, parents need to be more involved in education. Without the proper support at home, children obviously cannot perform well in the classroom. Placing more burdens on teachers is clearly unfair.




loraaa | Student

thanks to all for this information  (^_^)

sandyyy2012 | Student

Public schools in America are bad, in terms of teachers and curricula.  For me, private schools are the best option.