Sunday, March 28, 2010

My View on Public Education

With the topic of public education I think there are many things that could be said. Instead of focusing on the inequality between the inner-city schools and the more privileged areas such as the one we are in, I will talk about the archaic methods that the current system teaches. When thinking about the public school system I feel like I have a well rounded view. I have attended a smaller religious centered school, a prep type school, and a public school. Having experienced all these different types of schools has enabled me to compare and contrast the methods and direction of each system. One thing that I believe should be addressed when talking about public education is the following: What is the goal of educating our students?
In the inner city it may be in the hope that the students will graduate and make better choices in order that they may put themselves in a better situation than they were born into. But, for the other schools in and around this area the answer should be much different. It is assumed by the faculty that about 96% of all graduates will attend a four year institution after graduation. With so many students moving on to higher education, there is still a blanket of knowledge that is completely unnecessary.
High school tries to be a time where students can take control of their schedules but only in the electives. In "core" classes (core as in least useful in the professional world) the system has a standard hierarchy of classes that must be checked off the list. Teachers complain when students ask " When will I ever have to use this?", but it indeed is a relevant question that has been swept under the rug for far too long. In today's world we live in a world where information easily flows. Any questions can be found within the arm's reach of an iPhone. Some private prep schools have begun to embrace technology but the public system has yet to test such learning techniques as simple as putting all school necessities on a laptop. People are afraid of change but sometimes change is a good thing. If we can't retool the entire system yet then fine. But the one area that should gain more attention is the area of business and finance. Just try to name a job that does not involve business at some point or another! Although there are a few profession that do not require business skills but marketing, accounting, finance, and business administration will continue to dominate all other majors in sheer numbers. But if not everyone is involved in business everyone has money. The sad truth is that today the only person who is teaching kids how to manage money is their parents. Ask a bunch of high school students about the stock market and how to set up a diverse and safe retirement portfolio and they will give you blank stares. Because this crucial skill is not taught it is taking heavy tolls on our citizens and the economy. Out of college young people know very little about their money. They do not save it but start getting into debt. Finally in their thirties they might wake up, call to Clark Howard to save them, and start to save for retirement. But they have lost valuable time. There close to a million dollar difference from the person who starts to save when they are 20 and the person who starts at 30( Rich Dad and Poor Dad Kiyosaki).
If financial literacy was taught in schools the growth seen across the nation would be extraordinary! Why do you think that the rich stay rich? It's because they are learning from people that are financially literate and know what to do with their money. Although the current high school educational system is frankly mostly a waste of time, people are not ready for a total gutting of the system. But if can't reinvent the whole system then there must be a strong influence on finance. It's the one skill everyone needs but somehow gets neglected over "core" classes such as calculus. 'nough said.


  1. For the most part, I strongly agree with Davis' argument. The fact that he has attended three different schools with diverse backgrounds led me to trust his opinions and pay close attention to his following paragraphs. Though I feel that core classes in high school are necessary and embracing technology may not be the most budget friendly idea for public schools, I could not agree more with Davis' opinion on finance classes. It would benefit the students, parents, and general population if more application based classes were available to take in high school. These classes have unquestionable merit and practical use. Not everyone's parents are available to teach them appropriate ways to handle money or business so it should be the high school's job to do so.

  2. I pretty much agree with you entire argument, particularly when you stated that it is important for students to ask whether or not what they are learning is relevant to anything in the real world. I feel as if our current high school curriculum is far too repetitive and many of its components are growing obsolete in today's modern society. Another point i really like was the fact that you stressed the importance of teaching high schoolers how to manage their finance -- something which is almost entirely overlooked in today's curriculum. If high school students were educated on how best to manage thier money, then perhaps issues such as the housing crisis would have never grown to such great proportion.

  3. While I believe that a personal finances class would be extremely useful, I disagree with your call for a high school finance class for a multitude of reasons.
    The first is that the classes are already available. I would think that the economics class that is required is enough, but perhaps the finance class is not at Johns Creek High School. However, I would bet money that you could find an online course on it very easily. Also, a class on this will almost certainly be available at a college or near a college campus. This leaves only the people with career tech diplomas without a financial education.
    Second, I doubt that a high school finance class would be useful. Don’t get me wrong, I really think that learning about finance would be great. Yet, how many people would remember anything about this class? Little to none. How much do you remember about your 9th grade biology class? I’m sure that the recent GHSGT showed you that you remembered painfully little. In fact, the high school grads with the “blank stares” almost definitely took an economics class. While you may believe that an economics class is not sufficient, I guarantee you that it teaches you something about a retirement portfolio and the stock market.
    Third, you claimed that the schools are afraid of change. That’s probably a little true, and we are rapidly moving towards the future. Yet, this inertia is present for a reason. School budgets are getting cut, classes are getting bigger, and teachers are getting fired. Advocating another change in the midst of this chaos will probably not end up well.
    Fourth, you do not want other high school grads to have taken a finance class. I’m not saying that this is true with everyone, and I’m not saying that this is true with me. But, I believe that you would not like it if other high school grads knew more about finance. Economic status is a zero sum game, so if the students are doing financially well, then they’ll be taking away from your money. Also, the key to good finances is saving like you said. Yet, what would happen if people started saving now? Sure, it might be good for them. However, what would get this economy back on track would be to have them spending and spending right now.