Working in the system of education it is truly tedious and draining at times with glimmers of positive sprinkled in there for good measure. Taking a step back & looking at the entire education system from head start to college there is a lot of good happening with a lot of negative things too. Living in US I’ve been in the system my entire life in Texas from grade school to even higher learning at a HBCU (historically black college & university) at Prairie View A & M University. I even worked in it several semesters paying it forward to the next generation. I could go on on a long rant about all the good & pitfalls I’ve faced as a student and even as an employee in the education space however I’m just gonna unpack my thoughts of everything up to this point. I hope you enjoy what I have to say & don’t just get down at the thought of everything.
Grade School (PK-12)
When everyone starts school it’s a different age for everyone depending on a families income & other factors because a adolescent in a large family with their parents or guardians making a certain amount are allowed to enter head start or pre-k while students and their families that don’t qualify have to wait to start Kindergarten and possibly go through daycare or if there lucky the kid can stay with a relative while they wait to start school. This is where certain biases start like certain kids get a jump start on things like social skills & even some skills far as learning unless parents work to help a student from falling behind. At the beginning to 12th grade qualification for certain things plays a role through the educational journey along with things like educators that just do it for a check or even taxes for a school district, however student populations have to push on to do the things so they can succeed. Throughout the journey of a student career there are many roadblocks that play into a career like a school district’s overall budget based off property taxes or constant standardized testing that leaves some students like deer in headlights from third grade on fearing something that’s more regular than the seconds on a clock. Families throughout K through 12th are forced to think outside the box to put a student in position to succeed after grade school because grade school is supposed to be a foundation to build upon that allows you to pursue certain careers in the future because some are STEAM Intensive and students that want to pursue that are on a learning curve if they want to do that based off their educational background. They get caught up in the before mentioned road blocks stuck in a perpetual cycle that we created. As a government we have tried to stop the bleeding with initiatives like no child left behind or common core but with these things it forces the entire educational system to be reactive which can’t happen, they looked good on paper but in practice it was a whole different story. In a perfect world the US system would prep a student for whatever they wanted to take on & wouldn’t have to look outside the system to better themselves. We aren’t there & we’re on a crawl far as progress (our record in the world shows that) & we have to get to a place where lessons are student centered meeting them where they are & it takes more than just a few good teachers & staff to make that happen.
College & University
When I was driving LYFT I picked up two passengers from France in Houston for holiday (vacation) and we spoke about the difference between the two places because we had time to kill because it was a long ride. One thing that came up was the education system. I told them that I went to Prairie View A&M University & how much I had to pay to go every semester leaving them in awe because there education system is free to students that want to continue their career in France. Looking back at the broader picture a student after they finish state grade school have to make a decision about what they want to do whether going to the military, a trade, or even furthering there education if they want to do that. What a student shouldn’t have to do is worry about the financial backing to make that a reality
when they are deciding what school they want to go to. When I back at my own journey I had several schools on my list I wanted to go to from Tennessee State University, Morehouse, Texas Southern University, University of Houston, & Prairie View A&M University. Financial funds played a factor in my decisions because if you go out of state there is out of state fees added and even some institutions have higher tuition because of their name along with other factors. Me and Jerrod had a conversation a while back about if you want to better yourself through college you have to start in the negative to make that happen & it’s still true because when you leave school in the US you leave with debt unless you happen to have a scholarship or your tuition covered somehow. Every college & university comes with their own pros & cons and the student has to make the right decision for their own path & hopefully not have to worry about money in the process of trying to better themselves, not worried about if they qualify for certain things. We live in a capitalist society when it comes to lots of things, education shouldn’t be in that conversation.
Teaching In The Educational System
In 2016 I was working in Baytown Popeye’s because I was sitting out of school for the semester because I was having anxiety attacks while I was at PVAMU not being able to focus , forcing me to go back home, so instead of sitting at home till I was eligible again I worked slinging chicken to customers. In August I met my principal Ms. Bahn-Hunt who saw me drenched in flour from my job that night to visit my mom who was preparing for the school year. After she found my background out after talking to me during that time long story short she offered a job to me as an instructional aide for pre-K that school year after consulting the board of LMISD. So I was instructional aide for that year (while LMISD was still open) then I subbed half a year in Texas City I.S.D. I say this to say working with students is a fragile thing no matter what position you work in. When I was working in Texas City & La Marque ISD there were plenty of ups like working under phenomenal teachers & after subbing having the principal finding me to let me know to come back to their school once I’m degreed. To lows like having teachers of record not showing up up to their pre K class forcing me to sub as the aid (which is technically illegal) even though I had the hours or subbing for a class having to take over for a teacher who didn’t have any classroom management. Even though I had to deal with this nonsense one thing has & still always sticks with me it was by the PE teacher Coach Caldwell & she said “Go get your degree.” Even though that year and a half we filled with lots to unpack I learned a lot especially that the population is not reflected in the teachers most times & all the work a previous education facilitator does can be undone easily at the next level. While I worked within a primarily minority population of students most of which we on free lunch most of the teachers in the schools were not a reflection of their students in most cases, I was was the only black male helping in instruction most times & even when I was putting in my best effort with some of the teachers around me it can all be undone by someone just doing this for a check that doesn’t truly care down the line. In the education field it is truly underrated in money and practice because a good teacher puts all this work into to get certified paying for tests they have to take just like any other college student & at best go into a field where they get paid less than they should make & deal with a kid isn’t there’s & some parents that don’t understand this just raise cane. Along with being underrated most
times the engineers or doctors that get paid for their knowledge & skills (just an example) had to learn from some teachers making their foundation solid in the process. One thing that my mom would say is “ you’re either crazy to go into the profession or a natural at it” and professors at university would ask “why do you want to teach?” , they would screen people that they are going into the field to see their mindset. Even with the process to find great educators their is a big turnover because a lot of factors come into play, things like pay being lower even though educators & staff truly care about their students & struggle to survive or alternative certifications basically taking someone from another major & gets them certified so there can be a teacher in the classroom & sparks debate over it. No matter what background a teacher or staff has they should care for their student population and not have to worry so much about what their taking home fiscally although it’s important & should reflect people’s skill sets.
Looking at the education system there is a lot that can be improved in the US however there is also a lot of positives too. When people think about education in the future hopefully they think of the students that are coming down the line in the future setting them up to be successful in life nurturing their talent with educators that care & lessons that are catered to the way they learn. People always say that the newer generations are the future of the country and hopefully people put their money where their mouth is and prove themselves through action. Again this is just a thought.
Here are some other materials that talk about education more from Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. It’s something that has to be talked about at some point. Excuse the language but play us off Johnny lol.