S⁠t⁠uden⁠t⁠s Na⁠t⁠⁠i⁠onw⁠i⁠de D⁠i⁠scon⁠t⁠en⁠t⁠ W⁠i⁠⁠t⁠h The⁠i⁠r Educa⁠t⁠⁠i⁠on

February 29, 2024

Kayla Maloney

CALN Project Manager

Students in the Classroom Writing

There is, and has been for some time, a clear decline in zeal for education. All while university enrollment steadily decreases and companies are in desperate need of capable employees, traditional K-12 schools are producing graduates who are not prepared for the working world. 

Forbes recently reported that only 13 percent of K-12 students nationwide give their school an “A” grade for “making them excited about learning” according to a Gallop survey from the 2022-2023 school year.  

We are witnessing the drastic consequences of bringing up generations of students who are not interested in or engaged with what they are learning. School attendance is reaching record lows and employers cannot find the talent they are seeking; not to mention, poor education brings countless other societal problems. 

Despite spending the past thirty years trying to improve standardized test scores, we have made little to no progress doing so. While we can (rightfully) blame factors such as school districts spending irresponsibly, common core, and the pandemic, it is time that we address what may well be a root cause of students’ poor performance: they are discontent with their curriculums. 

In other words, students don’t care. Algebra, biology, and ELA are vital for a well-rounded education, but they are difficult and boring for many students. It is up to us to show them why proficiency in these areas matter. For example, understanding algebra will help them shop smart when they’re living on their own (they can use those math skills to find the best deals and sales). Knowing references to classic books will really come in handy in the working world. Remembering aspects of biology will be enormously helpful for anyone who has pets, or wants to garden in their yard, or even plans to become a parent one day. The list goes on. It is no longer enough for teachers to spew “these subjects help develop your critical thinking skills.” Without context for how that is true, students will not be satisfied with that cliché. 

Moreover, classes that would obviously be relevant in the ‘real world’ are simply untouched by traditional K-12. 

How often do we hear our students and recent graduates cry out “if only I learned how to do my taxes” or “I don’t know the first thing about buying a car or a house;” “I don’t know how to cook,” “I wish I knew how to budget my money?” Of course students are not motivated to learn geometry or chemistry when they know that these subjects will not contribute to their future self-sufficiency. K-12 needs to become a training for real life. 

The fact of the matter is, we as a nation are not implementing the right solutions because we are not combatting the right problems. We tried to throw common core at a student body who didn’t want it, and it didn’t even help fix anything. Let’s instead offer them what they know they need, and show them why math, reading, and science proficiency really do matter for self-sufficiency and independence.