At many higher education institutions across the country, students complain about how poorly their high schools prepared them for “the real world.” Students lament the lack of financial literacy they learn, the shortage of life skills they receive, and the utter lack of climate change education (more on that in the YOCA column soon).
In my high school, American history, physics and a health class with a teacher named Mr. Polio (no joke) were all mandatory. But, students weren’t mandated to take a financial literacy course. The only reason I know how to fill out a check is because I did have to take a FACS (Home Economics) course in middle school. Why are these skills being learned in middle school, when I couldn’t even pronounce the word abdomen, instead of in high school, when I was mature enough to understand the importance of them?
And even though I know that my high school wasn’t alone in this, why wasn’t a course on climate change mandatory? If the logic for requiring math, history, English and more is to make me a “well-rounded student” and a good candidate for college admissions, why is educating me on one of the world’s most pressing issues not also required?
But, every time that I complain about my school’s (numerous) shortcomings, I’m reminded that I could have had it worse. At least I’m not from Florida, where “the words ‘climate change’ do not appear in the state’s middle or elementary school education standards.” Or from Texas, where there are three bullet points about climate change in a 27-page educational standard document.
In states like Florida, where climate change education is not mandated by the state, the impetus falls on individual instructors to include it in their curriculum. But, given the fact that the vast majority of public school teachers need to pay for their own school supplies and the fact that they have limited access to support from their school’s administration for those lessons, they often aren’t taught.
There are more nefarious shortcomings in the public school system too. Florida’s governor, because he’s afraid of men who kiss other men, has put into effect the “Don’t Say Gay” bill. This law “bans lessons on sexual orientation and gender identity in kindergarten through third grade as well as material that is not deemed age-appropriate.” This… this is a disgrace. One Florida teacher said it best: this law “others” LGBTQ students. The law also doesn’t specify what is age-appropriate and “establishes an enforcement mechanism that invites parents to file lawsuits against districts.” This law is evil: it’s designed to sow discord, it’s designed to inflict pain upon
LGTBQ individuals and it’s horrifying that this will influence 2,791,687 young people in Florida’s public schools.
There’s also the banning of Critical Race Theory (CRT) in public schools. So many people are so intolerant that they’re unwilling to admit that their ancestors made mistakes. They’re unwilling to admit that minorities have been discriminated against and are at a disadvantage due to institutional racism. It’s sad how bigoted and close-minded some people in power are, but it’s even sadder that the fear that they have of people with a different skin color will prevent generations of kids from being properly educated.
To truly educate young people and allow them to develop strong moral compasses, the public school system needs to give them the right tools to dissect the world with. They need to understand how to read journal articles, how to iron their clothes and how to cook a few basic meals (this one is the most important, by far). To improve educational quality, and therefore quality of life, for literally every child that passes through a public school at some point in their life, what is considered mandatory learning needs to change.