Students, pay attention.

Angela Scioli, founder of Red4EdNC and Leesville social studies teacher, leads a press conference on August 24. During the conference, Scioli reinstated the organization’s goals for the future of education. (Photo courtesy of Ashley Tysiac)

Students — the education debacle that adults talk about should be a battle you are willing to wage. 

Lack of quality educational opportunities have typically been a fight for the adults in the world. We get upset when our favorite sports team loses a game. We anxiously check social media when celebrities have big news. We stare at our phones all day when drama breaks out in the group chat.

However, these things won’t matter in twenty years. The quality of your basic education will. Education carries you through life.

So why are we so apathetic towards the missed educational opportunities due to funding and political decisions?

Look at the textbooks you are using for class. When were they published? How old are they? Are they falling apart at the edges? Written in? Disintegrating at a single touch? My sophomore year, I was given a math textbook with no spine, the cover falling off, and–here’s the real kicker–it was published in 1999, meaning that my textbook was older than me. That same year, for my AP U.S. Government and Politics class, the only textbooks we were given were published in 2008. In a class in which we learn about the U.S. government and the ever-changing world of politics, we had to learn from a textbook that did not even include the Obama presidency–undoubtedly a monumental administration.

Yet, archaic textbooks are frustrating, but the cut in textbook funding is just the tip of the iceberg. As students, we often hear about North Carolina’s low ratings in education; however, we have become complacent. We are complacent with crowded schools. We are complacent with ever-growing class sizes. We are complacent with textbooks that are older than us. If you aren’t angry about the state of public education in North Carolina, you’re not paying attention.

Low quality education directly impacts you. You are the ones that have to push through ever-growing throngs of students each day in the hallway. You are the ones that have to squeeze past multitudes of desks that seem to multiply every semester as class sizes grow. You are the ones that have to vye for your teacher’s attention every day because they have 90 other students to help as well. This should anger you. You should not settle for anything but the best quality education the state can provide. Here are a couple issues you should be paying attention to:

  • As many students at Leesville know, classrooms are more crowded. It’s difficult to seek one-on-one attention because, if you’ve paid attention, your class sizes every semester have grown. According to the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction and Red4EdNC, in 2018, there were 3.5% fewer teachers per student than in 2008. This may not sound like a lot; however, this impacts you as students greatly; this means that your teachers have more and more students per class period. When teachers have more students, they must spend less time with each student and have less time to individually connect with each student and make sure they fully understand the subject.
  • Now, think about all the standardized tests you’ve taken as a public school student. Probably too many to count, right? Any student who has been in the public school system for long enough has sat through multitudes of standardized tests required by the government. If you’ve took enough of them, you can probably recite the opening statements from memory: use a number 2 pencil, make your mark full and dark in the circle provided, if you accidentally erase a circle do not draw a new circle–the redrawn circle may be counted as your answer. Sound familiar? It should. In the past few decades, the government has placed more and more focus on standardized tests and high performance. Kids as young as eight are learning how to bubble in answer sheets and stay quiet and still for four hours–all so government officials can determine the “effectiveness” of a teacher based on a few scores. But what about learning that isn’t tested by standardized tests? What about creativity, athleticism, common sense? Those can’t be tested by a standardized test. Teachers teach students more than just memorization skills for a test, teachers can teach students how to be creative, kind, and unique. However, these qualities aren’t considered when determining their “effectiveness”. You have so many skills, talents, and gifts that cannot even be touched by a test, but the government doesn’t care about your individuality–to them, you are just a number.

Why are we, as students, complacent with this? Why are we complacent with lack of attention, lack of resources, and being reduced to a number? We should want more for our own education, and for the education of the generation after us. Complacency breeds acceptance, and the standards will only continue to decline. So, be angry. Be upset. You are worthy of a quality education. So fight for it.

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