Descriptive Essay: General Overview of American Education System

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When looking at the American education system, the multitude of flaws in it can effortlessly be determined by examining the popular belief that “if you don’t go to college, you have no worth,” a concept brought to light by Joshua Katz in his Toxic Culture of Education TED talk. The American education system does not adequately provide students with the means for success. Students are bombarded with standardized tests by a system which runs on politics and business rather than one that seeks to maximize student support and achievement. The present school system assigns students a score – a number – labeling them as successes or failures; it also forces upon them maps and guidelines to further chain them to the rigid curriculum that stifles creativity. But why not give them opportunity rooted in individuality?

Virtually everyone wants children to prosper and excel. The problem comes from the avaricious few who don’t. No Child Left Behind is a policy that was passed when “[p]rivate companies realized they could utilize the education system . . . to create a nearly endless stream of taxpayer funds,” as described in the TED talk. Katz specifically reveals the enemy of the education system to be the “companies like Pearson and interest groups like ALEC, that write policies and laws to perpetuate their bottom lines on the heads of . . . students.” In most schools across the country, spotting Khan Academy, McGraw Hill, or Pearson incorporated into the system is not uncommon, proving the nation’s amalgamation in conformity. The so-called ‘enhancements’ being made in many school districts are not supportive of student triumph, for, as Katz discloses, “there is no money in student success.” Rankings decrease, new initiatives are born and sold, and profit is made by the enemy. Yet schools continue to work alongside the companies and their policies, and the companies in turn continue to feed off the failure like a parasite. The American education system has, therefore, become caught in a sempiternal cycle of defeat.

Given, there have been improvements over the years in the education department. Katz highlights how PISA results indicate that American students “rank in the ’20s. . . [and] are at or near the top in the comparisons” between district poverty level in the U.S. and poverty levels in other countries. The United States certainly is not failing to stand out when it comes to student success based off data, however, this success is too often measured by destructive standardized tests and based off the top performing students when, as Katz brings out, “our highest performing students are only a small percentage of our overall population.”

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Students aim for success the only way they know how: plodding through standardized tests, languishing under rigorous programs, and struggling to achieve top-level rankings. In the end, what does this all mean?

Lynda C. Lambert writes in The Chronicle of Higher Education, “[students] don’t want to be creative; they just want an A.” The compulsory framework of learning is progressively stripping student’s uniqueness, replacing creativity with the need to assimilate students into – according to Lambert – a “homogenized, packaged curricula.” By requiring students from a young age to take part in standardized test, the American education system is shortcoming student success. Katz explains how “third graders. . . are suffering from anxiety for standardized testing,” which resultantly suggest that “the future path of the student is set, the academic identity is established, and the message is delivered loud and clear: either you CAN make it, or you CANNOT make it.” Nevertheless, the majority of students who attend college are often left ignorant and helpless. The numbers and maps the students grow up with fail them in the end, and it is largely thanks to the curriculum implemented by the education system.

Success can be defined in millions of ways depending on how each individual views it. However, if each student continues to be drilled by schools with the present American education system’s idea of reform, there will exist only one definition in our society. It is our job as a nation to forget the numbers and rend the guidelines to give students the superlative education everyone deserves.

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Descriptive Essay: General Overview of American Education System. (2022, August 12). Edubirdie. Retrieved May 21, 2024, from
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