Few would argue that the state of our education system has plenty of room for improvement, but developing a plan to take schools in the right direction is easier said than done. The first challenge lies in identifying the underlying problems that are keeping students from learning today. This challenge, in part, is due to the fact that the problems may change considerably depending on who is labeling them, whether it is students, parents, educators or lawmakers. Consider this list of 10 major challenges facing public schools currently, based on the perspective of many involved in the world of education today.
Many areas of the country are facing classrooms that are literally busting out at the seams. A report at NEA Today
two years ago discussed how schools in Georgia, in the midst of major funding cuts for schools, had no choice but to lift all class size limits
to accommodate students with the faculty the school system could still afford to keep. Most teachers agree that they cannot effectively teach every student in a classroom, if the class size exceeds about 30. Yet, there are many larger classrooms
across the country today that boast many more students than 30 every day.
reported last fall that 22 percent of the children in the U.S. live at or below poverty level. Students living at or below poverty level
tend to have the highest dropout rates. Studies show that students who do not get enough food or sleep are less likely to perform at their full academic potential. Schools know these truths firsthand, and despite efforts to provide students with basic essentials, there is not enough to go around, according to teachers, administrators and lawmakers.
Family factors also play a role in a school’s ability to teach students. Principals and teachers agree that what is going on at home will impact a student’s propensity to learn. Divorce
, single parents, poverty, violence and many other issues are all challenges a student brings to school every day. While some teachers and administrators try to work with children in less than ideal family environments, they can only do so much – especially when parents are often not willing to partner with the schools to provide for the children.
Kids Health Guide
reports that students are more technologically advanced than many teachers today, putting instructors at a decided disadvantage in the classroom. However, a student’s love of technology also tends to distract him from his schoolwork, according to NEA Today. When teachers don’t have the techno-savvy to compete with those devices, by bringing education and technology together
, it can be difficult to keep students’ interest and attention to properly teach new concepts.
is not a new problem, but it is one that has a profound impact on the learning aptitude of many students today. Technology has given bullies even more avenues to torment their victims – through social networking, texting and other virtual interactions. Cyberbullying
has become a major issue for schools, as evidenced by the number of suicides that can be directly traced to bullying events
. The fact that laws are still fuzzy regarding cyberbullying adds to the challenge – since parents, teachers and administrators are unsure of how to legally handle such issues.
Student Attitudes and Behaviors
Many public school teachers also cite student attitudes, such as apathy and disrespect for teachers, as a major problem facing schools today. A poll from the National Center for Education Statistics
cited a number of years ago that problems like apathy, tardiness, disrespect and absenteeism posed significant challenges for teachers. These issues were seen more frequently at the secondary school level, rather than the primary grades.
No Child Left Behind
Many students, parents and teachers see No Child Left Behind
as a detriment to the public education environment today. NEA Today quotes Kansas special educator Shelly Dunham as saying, “Testing, testing, testing, what is the point of testing? Do we use the data to remediate those who do not measure up? No!” Many teachers believe they are forced to teach to the annual standardized tests, and activities like recess and lunch have been cut way down to make more time for academics in light of the new testing procedures.
Many teachers believe there is no happy medium when it comes to parental involvement
, according to the Kids Health Guide. Some parents won’t be seen for the entire school year, no matter what sort of issues might arise. Others never seem to go away, hovering over the child and teacher and interfering with the education process. There are ways parents can become involved and support their child’s education at the same time, but teachers don’t always get that level from parents.
has reached epidemic proportions in the U.S., and the same poor eating habits that led to the obesity problem may also be contributing to lower student achievement. Obesity also increases a student’s risk for other conditions, like diabetes and high blood pressure, which could result in higher absenteeism and more academic issues.
have created huge problems for most public schools in recent years. Less funding means smaller staffs, fewer resources and a lower number of services for students. While some argue that throwing more money at the education problems won’t make them go away, others assert that lack of funding caused many of the problems in the first place.
There are many problems in public schools today, but identifying those issues is half the battle. With a laundry list of challenges to face, now is the time for educators, parents and lawmakers to come together and begin to find solutions – for the benefit of all students in public schools today.