Categorized | Opinion/Editorial

The great debate: How effective is our school system?

Mikaela Rabizadeh social media editor

Pro U.K.

Many students at Beverly find themselves in their senior year of high school thinking: what am I going to do with my life?  These students wait until college to “figure it out” and “find themselves” experimenting with different majors and seeing what comes of it.  While this is common, it’s not ideal. High school should be dedicated experimentation, so that by college, students are equipped with a diploma and a game plan. By being able to dedicate their courses to a career field, students do not have to wait until college to realize their “dream job” is not for them.

The general purpose of a school system is to provide students with a basis of knowledge necessary to be an active member of society, and, concurrently, to prepare students for their occupational careers. The American school system does one of these two things efficiently. While our school system is designed to enrich students with a well-rounded education, it lacks focus and expertise in areas of study.

In order to make technological advancements and progress, we need to be adept in our crafts.  Whether it’s computer science, chemistry, literature or political science, secondary education should be devoted to choosing an academic path, a path suited for each student’s interests.  Unlike here in the US,  the UK school system offers students with a customizable schedule, focused on a particular field.

At the age of 16, British students begin “sixth form,” a level constructed to provide deeper, more specific schooling.  Students are able to narrow down their courses, choosing three to four subjects that fit their desired occupation.  In doing so, students can focus their education entirely on, let’s say, psychology, and never have to step foot into a high school history class again. Sixth form is the ultimate bridge between high school and college. Since students are able hand-pick a list of classes that correspond with their major, in addition to core subjects mathematics, English and sciences, they are primed with more than just a superficial understanding of what they plan to pursue.

This gives UK students more room for failure.  For them, since high school is dedicated to get a taste of a career field, they do not have to waste valuable time in college, time worth thousands of dollars in tuition, figuring out if their major is right for them.

While there is no grade level designed to model postsecondary education in US schooling, Career Technical Education (CTE) was implemented to provide students with skills necessary for specific careers. As the longest-standing national non-profit, CTE programs have offered academic and technical curriculum since the 1920s.  CTE courses are celebrated for offering students beneficial, occupation-based knowledge relevant to the world outside high school. Recently, however, there has been a widespread loss of CTE in California. By the 1990s, 75% of the CTE programs in California schools had diminished.  

On a national scale, the majority of K-12 students in the US education system do not have available CTE courses at their school. This is chiefly due to the fact that the program is not a constituent in the public school system, but rather a separate organization. Since CTE is not considered as a part of the basic education requirements, it has become increasingly nonexistent in a number of US schools.  

At Beverly, CTE courses such as culinary and KBEV are offered, allowing students to become familiar with occupations in the arts, whether it be in the kitchen or behind a camera.  However, these CTE courses behave as an elective, in contrast to the UK school system, where a set of classes are dedicated to student interest.  

The lack of career focus in the US school system has less to do with putting CTE’s into effect and more to do with rewiring the model of education altogether.  By creating a structure where Beverly students can tailor their course list to suit a specific academic path, the district can season a graduating class better equipped for college and a successful career thereafter.

Catherine Gagulashvili staff writer

Pro U.S.

Some students hate Beverly. They do this wrongfully so, without fully understanding the advantages of our education system and the productive environment that our school provides. In girls restrooms on campus, sayings synonymous with “Beverly sucks” are scribbled on the walls. Students complain about how they wished that Beverly would have longer spring vacations or have the same schedule as a different district. It isn’t difficult to come to the realization that a lot of students aren’t the biggest fans of Beverly.  Students will complain about the school we go to, without realizing that as far as public schools go, we have it pretty good.  

According to the U.S. News Best High Schools ranking, Beverly is ranked the 130th best public high school in California and the 760th best public high school nationwide. We have a 94 percent graduation rate with proficiency in both mathematics and English. To say that “Beverly sucks” is simply untrue. True, the district has had setbacks in budget and construction has been a slight inconvenience in the lives of students and staff, but when compared to other public schools in the country, it is clear that Beverly is a great school.

However, Beverly as a school cannot take all the credit for setting its students up for success; the American school system plays a major part in the preparing of high school students for life after high school. The American school system allows students to take a broad spectrum of classes, experimenting with different subjects in order to determine what field of study they wish to pursue as they get older. For those who are still faced with uncertainty about their future vocations, universities allow for changes in one’s major throughout one’s college career. Simply put, the United States school system allows its students to make mistakes. School systems in places such as the U.K. do not allow for this trial and error. Upon beginning their upper secondary schooling, the equivalent of 11th and 12th grades in the U.S., British students are made to pick three or four subject areas that they wish to pursue in their field of study. They must then bear with their chosen field of study all the way through university. If they wish to change their major, they must restart their university schooling. Forms of education such as this one force 16-year-olds to determine their future with a practically nonexistent window of error.

Both the American school system and Beverly itself root for their students to succeed by allowing students to have some trial and error. As a student body we must stop whining that “Beverly sucks” and realize that we are lucky to be attending an amazing school.

 

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