When I was a kid, my parents moved every couple of years, which meant that I changed schools every couple of years. These were the days before the internet and online education, making it nearly impossible to learn from home without a strong amount of effort and a dedicated parent. My father was not in the military, but instead had just had a string of bad luck regarding employment, sending us all over the place to different states as he looked for something that was suitable to support my mom, me, and my three younger brothers. While I had to admit that I did not thoroughly enjoy moving so often, I did get to sample a huge variety of quality in schools and the different systems, giving me a different perspective than others.
My husband, for example, was born and raised in this same town of Beaverton, Oregon. Oregon is kind of like this odd mixture of people and the Portland area is definitely the worst. In my husband’s incredibly limited experience, he thinks that he knows what education is all about. And since we are both now educators, his views have not had the opportunity to shift much as he is now part of the very school system that he grew up in.
In my travels, I saw so many different types of schools. I think the most impressive one was that the elementary school that I went to in Butte, Montana was not in an affluent area, but the quality of education was high. The community was made up of ranchers, so there was not a lot of money really coming in. But the standards of teaching in that environment were high, challenging students to push harder and do better than ever before.
When we had moved to Oregon, I was in awe. The schools here looked so beautiful and had the most wonderful facilities. But at the same time, the quality of education was terrible. I do not mean the teachers were terrible. I mean the curriculum. When we came to Oregon, I was a full two years ahead academically, because I had been pushed harder in my previous school. Of course my viewpoint is biased, because I do not know what the kids had learned in the years that I was elsewhere, but I was still surprised. Though something that I apparently missed was that Oregon had a fourth grade sexual education class that was definitely not covered in my previous school.
I think that the American education system is deeply flawed. There are far too many students who are not successfully making it out of high school to move onto careers or higher education. There are too many discrepancies among the schools themselves, even within the same districts. Our government needs to apply more funding toward education and take the future more seriously than they are right now. Until the government gets its head screwed on tighter, we need to support education foundations that are trying to keep us all afloat.