Thursday, December 6, 2012

How Far We Have Come


            Throughout my 2 semesters as a student ambassador of the Annual Theme: Transforming Education, I have gained many different perspectives how people from different cultures and backgrounds see education. Many students that I have spoken with are not aware of just how much change is needed. Admittedly, I was unaware of how big the problem was myself, before I became a student ambassador. Even now, after 2 semesters of learning about education through class readings, speakers, and just listening to classmates talk about issues, I still feel like there is so much more I need to learn about the education system in America.
            I have attended schools where my class size was over 40 students in a first grade class, and I have also attended schools were the class size rarely goes over 8 students in a class. I felt coming into the annual theme program that I had an advanced perspective on problems with the education system in America because of my diverse background. It turns out that, though, I may have more experience in bad examples of schooling, I still have so much to learn before I can offer any kind of solution. Transforming a system that has been a way of life for generations is extremely complex.  It requires millions of people to get on the same page and work toward a goal to improve education in America. The education system is not something America can just throw money at and hope for a solution. It involves cooperation from the government, the schools, the teachers, the parents, the students, and that may be just the start.
            I am fortunate to have the ability to get a liberal arts education at a great school, many students at Allegheny, including myself may take for granted how much they do not have to worry about. For example, there are 12 year old kids in Chicago who have to walk miles to school, and are lucky to get more than one meal a day. They have much more to worry about than school books, and how accessible the internet is at their school. We are 18-22 year old students that complain when the internet goes down for an hour, when really it could be MUCH worse. We have the ability to study without the stress of the power going out, or not being able to eat. I believe that at the high school, middle school, and elementary school level, the problem is not necessarily with the schools, but instead it is with the inequality in general. If one wants to transform education in a positive way it requires that we first fix the overall equality gap in America. We watch as the rich continue to get richer and the poor get poorer and schools continue to become more and more segregated. The solution in the long run is improving education, but it is so difficult to fix, if we still have kids going home to no power, food, or even a bed to sleep in. The complexity of the situation can be discussed forever, but I have learned that, if we can win smaller battles within this big war with education, in time, it will begin to improve. Closing the gap between the rich and poor is one of those smaller battles. Getting schools newer desks, computers, and books is another small battle. The annual theme: Transforming Education at Allegheny College is raising awareness and though it may not be raising awareness nationwide, it is still part of the solution and is helping to fight this battle in a positive way.
            I hope that we can continue to raise awareness and discover more about the education system in America. It may not fix the problem today or tomorrow, but it is a small step in the big battle that America faces with its education system and I am honored to be a part of the movement. Though, I will not be a student ambassador next semester, I will do my best to stay involved with the group as much as possible, because I truly believe in what they are trying to accomplish. It has been a privilege to work with the annual theme and I look forward to going to many of the speakers next semester, in particular, Anya Kamenetz, who is the author of DIY U. Transforming Education has already done so much to raise awareness and I am sure they will continue to achieve their goals next semester. 

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