According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the national dropout rate for high school students is about 10 percent. Since 1990, the national dropout rate has only fallen a few percentage points. However, critics still point out that despite fewer students dropping out, the quality of the education system is still very poor. In fact, there are complex reasons why over one million high school students drop out every year.
The Misguided Educational System
According to private think tank, the American Policy Center, the American education system consistently fails because it isn’t technically an education. Everyone involved believes America’s education problems can be solved through increasing funding, reducing classroom sizes, and setting higher student expectations. The U.S. leads the world in having the smallest classrooms and the largest amount money spent on students, which is over $11,000 per student per year. However, the U.S. also ranks lower and lower on literacy, math, and science scores. As a result, local administrators end up championing unique programs and harder standardized testing, while ignoring the fact that the actual quality of education is very poor.
School System Problems
The Foundation for Economic Education believes there are fundamental problems with the structure of many school systems. First, strict personnel rules result in local administrators being powerless to take action against mediocre teachers, who are protected by unions. Second, uniform salary schedules mean that a new, mediocre teacher can earn the same as an experienced, skilled teacher. Therefore, talented teachers are not motivated to reach out to struggling students and help them. Third, the rigid, pyramid structure of schools is too disconnected and bureaucratic. As a result, local administrators are often out of touch with reality and fail to elicit honest feedback from students and teachers.
Local Administration Changes
Any major educational system changes need to start from the bottom up. Local administration is in an excellent position to help by responding to the needs of their students, teachers, and parents. Local administrators can continually educate themselves and expand their educational horizons. For example, they can join The American Association of School Administrators and participate in conferences, online training, and professional development programs. They can also increase their own education, such as pursuing a degree in organizational development, to further polish their skills.
In conclusion, local administration problems are one of the reasons that the American school system is failing. However, they can also bring about positive changes through collaboration and continuing education. There is much that can be done for educators and the local administrations leading them.