Education Reform

By David Roberts

In the “Harry Potter” series, the young witches and wizards attend school for seven years on their way to careers in the magic world.

Now, wouldn’t that be amazing if we could do the same in our muggle world?

Unfortunately, in the real world, we are tasked with the long path of education that takes us through roughly 16 years to get the coveted college degree. Although I’m well aware that the series is a piece of fiction, the education system that is in use at Hogwarts, the school of witchcraft and wizardry, is actually based on the real education system in use in England.

The education system in England is broken down into two levels of schooling. First is primary school, which students attend from ages 5 to 10. This is followed by secondary school, which students generally start at the age of 11 and carry on through until graduation.

The English government requires compulsory education for students from the ages of 5 to 16. But this requirement will be expanded to the age of 18.

Students in the English education system sort through 13 years of school; each is referred to as Year 1 and so on. Once they enter their eighth or ninth year at the age of 12 or 13, a majority of their subjects become optional. They then choose a series of classes to continue advanced studies in preparation for their General Certificate of Secondary Language, usually taken at the end of their 11th year.

Depending on their test scores, they are allowed to continue studying the subject for their final two years of school in preparation for admittance into university.

As a result of giving students the ability to choose their own course curriculum, English universities have fewer college applicants and smaller student populations, allowing their students to have more affordable education. The most a student at an English university is expected to pay is £3,290 per year, which equates to roughly $5,194, a ticket price that many an American student would no doubt be happy with.

Meanwhile, taking a look at the education system in the U.S., I think it’s a commendable effort with the No Child Left Behind Act and other measures to ensure kids stay in school and learn in an attempt to gain admission into a college and with that a brighter future.

However, I cannot help but notice as a product of public school education myself that I think it does more a disservice to far more students and teachers than it does to help. In an attempt to push these kids through all the college prep courses they need for college admission, teachers have to virtually dumb down their curriculum to allow all students to receive passing grades. It just does not make sense to continue to spend all the time, money and resources of our education system on students that care little about a college career.

Caitlin Day, a junior education major at YSU, shared the same sentiment when looking at the education system she is preparing to enter as a career.

“College isn’t for every kid. If a student does not enjoy school and does not wish to further their education, then, no, we shouldn’t force them to go to college because then we are setting them up for failure,” Day said. “We can’t force a student to want to further their education. We can encourage them to do so, but if they don’t want to, then that’s their own choice, and we have to accept that.”

Now, by no means does this mean we should leave these students in the dark.

I think more schools that operate curriculums built for teaching students trades could be established to give students more options than just the college route — something we desperately need in an attempt to rebound the economy.

So many problems have arisen out of our education system since it has started to break down, and for a nation that prides itself on the opportunities it presents for its youth, one would think that education would be a number one priority.

With all this in mind, the English education model becomes so much more attractive than our own at all levels of the education system and presents our nation with the opportunity to provide bright futures to all.