Sunday, January 08, 2006

Surprise! Public schools suck.

I go to one of the best public high schools in the country. Newsweek ranked it #12 overall in its recent survey of American high schools. I am currently ranked #1 in the junior class of my high school, so one would think that I wouldn't have too much of a beef with it. Yet I'm leaving a year early to go to college. There are personal reasons behind this as well that aren't worth going into, but the main reason is that another year of public school won't help me accomplish anything.

Why is this? My major at Cornell will be environmental engineering. But I can only take two years of biology at Highland Park (the second of which I completed last year), and though an environmental science class is offered, it uses materials designed for elementary school classes (I'm not kidding) and is horribly taught. Technically, I could have done an independent study in biology, but because of the weighting system used for GPAs (5.0 for a 97+ in an AP class, 4.5 for that grade in a pre-AP or Honors class, 4.0 for a regular class, 2.0 for a "locally developed course") it would have absolutely destroyed my GPA, canceling out any benefits to my resume.

The school thus discourages students from learning things that will be useful for them, instead being forced by the State of Texas to follow the TEKS requirements for education so that students can pass the TAKS tests, which are required to graduate. The TAKS tests are insanely easy, but do I seriously need to be able to deconstruct bad writing in order to be an effective environmental engineer? No, and all preparation for TAKS will do is waste my time.

Unfortunately, most students who recognize how pointless most of their education is don't get out. They just stop paying attention, and start getting bad grades, then getting in to drugs and so forth. I hate to sound like a doomsayer, but I've seen it happen to so many very intelligent people that I can't be optimistic. Public education does more to get kids addicted to drugs in middle-class and well-to-do areas than any other factor. Then, the War on Drugs and minimum wage laws keep them down even if they want to get out, the first by putting them in prison, the second by making them impossible to hire.


Blogger Mizuko said...

marajuana or however you spell it should be legalized. and OMG! a spider! i don't know where it went. ;_; waaaaaaah. i'm gonna be poisoned by a cute little spider that'll wanna eat me. ;_;

11:31 AM  
Blogger Kate said...

You just suggested that most people drop out of high school. Really?

8:43 PM  

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