The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Catch the curve, but don’t pass, yet

Viewpoint by Chris Webb/nw news editor

As our education system in this country continually shows us, money doesn’t always equate to intelligence, or results. We spend more money on education than most nations, but many citizens know more about Homer Simpson than Homer’s Odyssey.

The National Center on Education and the Economy just put together a commission, Tough Choices or Tough Times, addressing the skills of the American workforce and making suggestions on how to improve them.

The commission, comprised of former U.S. secretaries of education, retired governors and school superintendents, has some promising ideas. Among these are raising teacher pay, educating children earlier and using less standardized testing.

No arguments there, but what I find troubling is one idea that students as young as 10th grade could test out of high school and enter college directly without any remedial coursework. This idea isn’t just for some students either. According to the report, after changes to the education system have been made, 95 percent of students are expected to pass this test.

The influence for this idea comes from the competition. Some of the countries leading the board in education assume their students are ready for college as early as 16. But that is just the problem. Those are the countries ahead of the curve; those are the countries that are making us look bad. If our students already can’t keep up, how will two fewer years of high school education help?

This plan isn’t unrealistic; it could work if every other problem with American education were solved. If teachers were allowed to teach students rather than a state test or if apathy evaporated from the classroom, students graduating in 10th grade could work out.

Unfortunately, when compared with other countries, our students are outperformed in most subjects. For example, in the most recent International Mathematics and Science Study, the United States ranked 15th in eighth grade mathematics and 9th in science, with many of our closest economic competitors leaving our scores in the dust. 

With proper funding, many of these ideas could make a positive impact on the education system. The reform outlined for teacher salaries is among the most promising. Starting teachers out at $45,000 and introducing career ladders that reflect a teacher’s performance rather than experience gives teaching the respect and professionalism it deserves.

Our education system isn’t ready for some of these changes, and I am hard pressed to believe that situation will change anytime soon. Writing these ideas is one thing, but implementing them could prove troublesome. Many of these changes need to be made, but until we can catch up to the learning curve, we shouldn’t be making plans to pass it.

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