Education in America: The Ultimate Injustice

Let’s face it I am a nerd. I have wound up here, in a class that I took completely voluntarily using my own time in addition to my classes at school to study Government. I love learning. Everyday I strive to know even a little more than I did the day before. I feel at home at my school and know that I always have a place in the classroom. From history to science I have a true passion for education and feel lucky each and everyday for the opportunities I have been given to pursue my love of learning. School and homework (however tedious) has undoubtedly kept me out of trouble over the years. I have a goal, a focus, and I am constantly resetting my sights on the end game. I don’t even want to think about where I might be in my life had I not been given the opportunity to get a great education by my parents or pushed to achieve at my highest level by my teachers. This bleak outlook is what many children caught in the corruption of the education system in America are faced with each and everyday.

In my own city of Philadelphia the school system is the epitome of corruption. Children each year are tossed into the system and end up falling though the cracks. Last year only 40% of children in the Philadelphia school system were rated proficient in reading while 99.5% of the teachers were rated satisfactory. This is the ultimate conundrum to me. If you are a teacher and your students cannot even read then how is it possible that you are considered satisfactory? Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett is now offering the city of Philadelphia a $45 million grant and a reoccurring grant of $120 million if the teachers simply take a salary and benefit cut. I know what you are thinking, these teachers are working hard why are they suffering a benefit cut? Lets review the statistics:

  • Teachers do not pay for healthcare
  • They will retire with a pension that is 80% of their salary after 30 years
  • Each member of the teachers union receives $4,353 per year for dental and vision benefits

Last year the district racked up a $300 million debt. Mr. Corbett’s bailout is a chance for the system to get back on track; however, teachers would be subject to a 5% to 10% salary cut, asked to contribute to their health benefits, and make teachers undergo more vigorous performance evaluations before pay increases. To me this sounds like a compromise. The teachers are still paid and offered the majority of their benefits and all they need to do is to ensure that they are effectively teaching their children. The teachers won’t hear any of this. Instead they will let 40% of children in Philadelphia continue on in their education without being able to read. No wonder the dropout rate is so high. When, as a student, you fall that much behind the level you are supposed to be at, many will question, “what’s the point?” If this continues the district will most likely go bankrupt and up to half of the current generation of Philadelphia kids will be illiterate. The teacher’s union’s inability to be held accountable for their own shortcomings is allowing thousands of Philadelphia kids to continue on in life without the education they so much deserve.

Works Cited:

Anonymous, ed. “Education Failure in Philadelphia.” The Wall Street Journal.
N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Oct. 2013. <




  1. Your comments are perceptive, but we also need to remember the performance of students is linked to variables beyond the control of a teacher. Socio-economic class is a big factor. Consider an investigation into the demographics and income levels of the population of Philly. Look into the percentage of students in the public schools who are immigrants or speak English as a second language. We cannot forget variables beyond the control of the school district that affect student performance. Often, though not always, there is a correlation between standardized test scores and one’s socio-economic class. One expert in the field of assessment research (Edward White) notes if you want to know how well a student will perform on a standardized test count the number of bathroom [and I would add lack of] in the child’s home. We need to stop blaming school systems and teachers for factors that are beyond their control. Would be interested in your reply. You have voluntarily elected to take this course. Your drive is dissimilar to many young people who live in poverty and must wonder each day where their sustenance will come from or if they will be killed by the local drug dealer or in a drive-by shooting. Or what about students who live in rural areas in abject poverty?


  2. No doubt socioeconomic issues are at play here- this ultimately leads to breakdown of the family unit, teenage pregnancy and lots of other issues. Ultimately, if people aren’t going to assign blame to teachers, they will find someone else to blame.


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