Miles: The state of our schools

It’s a common refrain on Facebook (for me, at least), from former classmates to disgruntled parents: “Our schools are failing us!” “We don’t learn anything important in school!” “Why didn’t they teach us how to write checks, or to pay taxes?” “I’ve never used algebra once!” “Brainwashing!” I think that about covers the spectrum of opinions I see regurgitated every other day, although sometimes they like to reword things. Maybe throw in an insult to the Common Core State Standards somewhere in there. At any rate, the general consensus seems to be that school is absolutely useless and that it needs to be fixed immediately.

My question to these people is this: Where did you learn enough to be critical of things, oh brainwashed member of the population?

The line of reasoning seems fairly straightforward to me. The vast majority of Americans went through public school. I went through public school. I don’t think I’m brainwashed. Therefore the vast majority of Americans probably aren’t brainwashed. This seems like a reasonable conclusion, since as far as I know I’m not a gifted genius who’s seen through the ploy that the evil government has been scheming for decades. Apparently, though, I’m dead wrong, at least according to the insightful folks on my Facebook feed. We took the same classes together, guys; did I miss the part where they had us write “I am a slave to the system” one hundred times on the board?

See, our schools do actually work. Whether people like it or not, they’re being educated. The problem is that it’s very difficult for a school to teach critical thinking to someone who doesn’t want to learn it. It’s very difficult for a school to teach anything of importance, actually, to those who don’t want to learn. A prime example is many of my former classmates who moan about “not learning how to do adult things” in high school, when I have distinct memories of them asleep the day we learned how to write checks. Maybe we did learn how to do taxes in high school, and you just slept through it. Wouldn’t that be something?

This notion extends to basically every gripe about our schools. I’m not saying that there aren’t problems that need to be fixed. Far from it. That doesn’t mean, though, that our schools are useless and failing. Maybe Common Core isn’t brainwashing your child to be a good little slave to the system, and that’s why you can’t understand his homework—maybe you’re just not quite as good at math as you always thought you were.

Danny Miles is a third-year student who has seen through the government’s evil machinations and has chosen to sleep instead of doing anything about them.