Feels: Education In Texas Is A Joke
Education is meant to be fulfilling and help you grow as a person – unless you’re from Texas.
It’s always been a running joke, at least in my friend groups, to have attended high school in the Lone Star State. Whenever I’m ignorant about something seemingly important, my Connecticuter (yes, that is the proper way to refer to someone from Connecticut) friend blames it on my “East Texas education” before answering my question.
Is this something we should all be joking about? Or something that should terrify us?
As an adult working toward her first bachelor’s degree, I learned quickly outside of high school that I was ill-prepared. I had been horribly misled on simple historical and political facts, and I didn’t even really know much about my own female body, let alone about how it could possibly interact with other bodies. That’s just the start of how my education failed me.
I came to acknowledge my own ignorance when I arrived at junior college, where I met other Texan students and students from other states. That’s when I learned how different our educational backgrounds were. That’s when I became furious.
I want to make this clear: I put nearly no blame on the educators themselves. I fully understand the bureaucracy of the politicized education system. (Ironically, no thanks to that system itself.) Nevertheless, that doesn’t mean I can say most educators I’ve encountered have fought against the flawed system.
The blame goes on the government in Texas: A monetarily bought-out hoard of politicians that seemingly have no altruistic interests for the people they govern and, consequently, no knowledge in many of the departments they make critical decisions in. Education (obviously) is one of those departments.
How does Texas catch up?
That’s a really, really big question. It should be noted that, although Texas is behind the rest of the U.S. in a lot of ways, the U.S. educational system as a whole lags behind other developed nations globally, especially in math and science.
Here are five things I think should be considered for education reform:
This sounds like it would be obvious, but Texas especially really needs to realign priorities in the annual budget. Some of the cuts can be attributed to the entire budget being cut as a whole, which goes back to Texas’ strong conservative leaning. For the sake of the future of our state, I feel like we should be more willing to spend money on educating our children.
I’m not completely against standardized testing, as I do think there should be some form of benchmark to ensure schools are moving at relatively the same rate and covering the most important material. However, from both experience and supervision, testing in Texas has become king. Students are being taught how to pass tests instead of learning important material that just so happens to be covered on the test. The test is becoming more of a revenue stream (back to funding) than a teaching tool. TL;DR, Lessen the power of standardized testing on the system as a whole.
This goes back to funding. Good educators deserve to be paid as such. I had many great teachers growing up, as well as many, er, not great ones. It pains me to think they probably get paid about the same. An incentive system keeps good teachers teaching and prompts bad teachers to become better. It’s an expense that will only come back to benefit the system.
No, I’m not talking about athletic departments. I’m talking about band, art, theater, shop. I’m not against high school athletics by any means (I was a varsity athlete myself), but I do feel like too much funding goes to these departments in respect to other parts of a well-rounded education. Students learn many life skills through art-style classes that can’t be learned many other places.
- Pre-K Programs
Though evidence for the universal benefits of preschool can ride both sides of the argument, all evidence overwhelming shows that children from poor or uneducated backgrounds benefit the most from pre-k programs. By theory, these kids have less opportunity to “catch up” with their peers once grade school begins. This part goes back to – you guessed it – funding. If the state would provide free or inexpensive public preschool programs, more students would have opportunities for success.
I believe that getting your hands dirty is the best way to learn. Bring back band, shop, drama and other hands-on school programs!
— Adam Savage (@donttrythis) April 19, 2015
If you want to read more, The Texas Tribune has an entire stream dedicated to news and information about the Texas public education system here.