Public school systems steadily decline

Public schools in America have a problem. There are some really nice schools with great teachers and an awesome building for students to spend their day in. However, many schools are in bad shape, even though teachers are doing their best to teach students who don’t care or are discouraged by their poor surroundings. The national high school dropout rate is at its highest, and things don’t seem to be getting any better. About one million American students drop out of school every year, and about a third of all high school students drop out. Even in Iowa, where we pride ourselves in our quality education, the dropout rate is greater than 10% and in 2003, the graduation rate was only 85%. The job opportunities for dropouts are extremely limited, and their life salary is about a million dollars less than a high school graduate. In Iowa and most other states, a student is able to drop out of school when she turns 16, but a new movement starting in Indiana is pushing the government to forbid students to drop out of school until they are 18. The Indiana laws currently punish students under 18 who drop out by revoking their driver’s licenses and work permits. Senior Clayton Petty doesn’t think punishing students is the right thing to do. “In the end, it’s the student’s choice,” Petty said. But problems with public schools affect much more than individual states. According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, students in the United States are in twenty-forth place in math compared to other countries around the world. This shows that American students are growing up unprepared for the technological age in which they will live. Not only are students in bad shape education-wise, but school buildings are also in physically bad condition. This is usually caused by a lack of federal funding. The Ames High pool although not a direct example of this, is causing suffering. With the pool currently closed due to asbestos, students must find another place to go to get aquatic exercise. This also limits physical education options: with up to three physical education classes during the same period, the lack of a pool for a class to swim in causes crowding in the gym. However, younger students in the district seem to have escaped from the inconveniences of an older building. The building of the new middle school was an excellent improvement over the old building, and with its larger auditorium and cleaner building; it can provide more opportunities for students in the school district. Problems in public schools are more far-reaching than the local level, and influential people are raising awareness about the problems nationally. A recent episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show focused on the topic of the national school crisis and what can be done about low-quality buildings and steadily increasing drop-out rates. Winfrey interviewed Bill Gates and his wife Melinda who are trying to use their wealth and influence to change the American educational system. To find out more information or to see the campaign’s objectives for the national school crisis, visit Some hope the Ames Community School District can follow suit to make changes to make our schools a better place for students. U.S. government teacher Carolyn Bolinger said, “I think it’s knowing, as a school district, what needs to be done educationally.”