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U.S. Education Falls Behind World

Editorial
U.S. Education Falls Behind World

The Radionian
By Ashton Pittman, Opinions Editor
October 2009, Volume 86, No. 1

Mississippians are often reminded that our state ranks last in educational efficiency. What we are not often told, however, is that the rest of the United States is not far behind Mississippi.

A recent report by The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development found that U.S. placed 18th among 36 other developed nations included in the assessment. A more comprehensive study in 2005 by the United Nations in which 14 and 15-year-old students across the globe were tested on their knowledge also found the U.S. to be occupying territory near the bottom of the list alongside Germany. Not only is the U.S. falling behind the rest of the world, but the rest of the world is moving forward.

Some may wonder how the most powerful nation on earth, which has birthed more technological advancements and revolutionary inventions than any other nation, could possibly be so far behind the rest of the world in education. There are a number of factors contributing to our declining performance.

Social ideologies perpetrated in recent decades have had far-reaching effects across U.S. culture, eventually poisoning our educational system as well. These ideologies reward and eventually promote failure. For example, many educators of younger children are afraid to award one student for his or her achievement without also awarding all the others, even if they failed abysmally. So, in order to ensure that none are left out, the educator will engage in a sort of academic socialism in which he “spreads the reward evenly” to both those who achieve and those who fail.

On the surface, this sounds like a good idea; not only is the achiever rewarded, but those who failed are praised as well and leave with a sense of achievement. The problem, however, is that it is a false sense of achievement that never challenges or motivates those students to a higher realization of their abilities but instead sanctions continued subpar performance.

Numerous retakes, dropped grades, “nice” teachers, after-school programs and mindless curriculums that elevate theory above application give students a false sense of the real world, which is why so many get eaten up by Social Darwinism after graduating high school. In the real world, there are no shift retakes, dropped “grades”, after-work programs, or “nice” employers. Application is everything, while theory is just that–theory.

The offending mentality is fed by the federal government, which loves to control public education as much as possible, while consistently undernourishing it. This is a government that absolutely insists that our students should not taste the disappointment of failure. It has constantly attempted to veil disparities by trying to ensure that we are all equally uneducating. By doing this, it avoids the problem of addressing the real issues.

All of this combines to send studnets one clear message: “You don’t really have to achieve. No matter how little effort you put into it, we will tell you that you did your best. It is okay to perform below your potential. Just live off the success of others; the group is more important than the individual, anyway.”

Our failing educational standards are the end result of a groupthink mentality, which sacrifices the individual on the altar of the social good. Until our society and educational system begins to promote the value of the individual, our nation will continue to fall even further in all areas, and not just in education.

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