I believe in the laughable hypocrisy of our educational system, and the wonders it works on the malleable minds of teenaged boys and girls. In a place where gleaming technology matters more than the sixty-four percent of the student body that cannot read at a fifth grade level, minds are apparently cultivated to the full potential of intelligent, American citizens. “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways…”
In the American system, education is always behind pace. While Germany, Japan, and France begin learning English as early as second grade, our students are hard-pressed to find many foreign languages in high-school. This is not always for lack of want – many schools have highly cultured students and faculty who ache for the chance to break through the boundaries of the English language – but generally for lack of budget. While most United States grants are sent to the ever-expanding joys of war and construction, what money the schools do get are sent to new computers, rather than the need for new textbooks.
I would pose the question, “Why is this so?” but the answer is blatantly obvious. Our students cannot read! Why, whatever would a student body do with textbooks, if they could not read them? Thus, the ingenious process to solve this madness is to fill their jolly faces with greater and greater numbers of shiny computers, to appease their need for simpler methods. This stunning technique is truly amazing, for as the students’ smiles grow larger with glee – “Oh frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!” – their ACT and SAT scores sink joylessly into the muck of despair.
Oh, my, and what of the teachers? The brilliant mentors, whom these despicable scores are pinned on at the end of each day with a governmental warning that should actually be stamped into the skulls of the glorious politicians who caused such a mess to begin with? The women and men who attempt to pick up the pieces of a lost capacity for intelligence? What of them?
Those men and women… they are just underpaid, in all of their glory. From the smiling ones who want nothing more than to pass down every drop of information their mind contains to the ones whose hope for the future has been burned away by this system we call ‘education,’ they are all equally underpaid and under-respected. In fact, they are underpaid by so great a number that the future that they have attempted to save would prefer to become greasy lawyers and those same, ruthless politicians than to struggle in the middle class for the rest of their life. These men and women are the only remaining beacon of this destructive system, and above all, I believe they are due a long, loud, and beautiful round of applause for remaining courageous and sane.
I have been told that America is a land of freedom and opportunity, and for the most part, I believe that I would agree. I have been lucky enough to go through schools where talent is found, displayed, and improved, and I am thankful to be given the chances that I have been given. However, while my talents were cultivated and blessed, I was given the freedom to question… and thus, I sit before this page, and I question. I believe in the hypocrisy of our system, and I challenge the system to change.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.