The past two weeks in North Carolina have been filled with SNOW. I love the snow and think it is absolutely beautiful (and definitely nice to get some time off of class!!) but now that it’s been on the ground pretty consistently for the past two weeks, I’m getting very ready for spring! In one of my few classes that actually met, the professor took a poll asking who was excited for the next snow storm and who thought the snow was inconveniencing their routine. A surprising number of students chose the latter response, implying they were not excited about the snow and the cancelation of class and other activities that come along with a snow day. My professor then commented that this was a sign that we were getting old – we had too much stuff to do and couldn’t even enjoy a day off. Once upon a time, a snow day was THE MOST EXCITING occasion a young student could imagine.
I have a few initial reactions to this phenomenon.
- Time is flying.
- There are a lot of extra responsibilities corresponding to each additional year I live.
- This is a perfect example of why schools should not be regulated on a national level.
For this blog post I would like to focus on the third point. I know it seems like a substantial proposition, but I really think that school regulations should be implemented on a smaller level. The United States is a huge country, both physically and numerically, and it does not seem feasible or sensible to make very specific guidelines, like curriculum, courses, days in school, etc., on such a large scale.
Let’s start with the snow days – since that is what sparked the need for this post. Due to the recent storms, the local schools have been shut down almost entirely for the past two weeks. This means that students and teachers are falling behind, compared to other parts of the country, because they simply could not make it to school; however, since all schools are held to the same regulations on a national level, every school is expected to attend the same number of days and stay at the same pace (more or less). This becomes very difficult to accomplish when circumstances like the snow, hurricanes, or other weather/unpredictable events occur. Schools should be able to more easily accommodate to the situations that are pertinent to them and make adjustments to the curriculum or days at school without negative consequences on a national level.
Another reason that this does not make sense is that due to the large size of the US, there are also a wide variety of cultures. Most of these cultural differences are formed on geographical location, for example, the south, the Midwest, northeast, west coast, and so on. These cultural differences are extremely important and should not be diminished, but they create a necessity for smaller scale decisions. Take curriculum, for example. There are certain references and information that are pertinent to each region individually, usually centered around the culture. For example, the way that civil rights is taught in the south should probably be done differently than in the West Coast, since the southern culture is directly influenced by many of events occurring during the Civil Rights Movement. It would make more sense to let the curriculum be molded around the culture so that it can better relate to the students and have a stronger impact.
Another issue, particularly with globalization on the rise, is that of language. Each region has a different population of ELL students, and therefore these programs should be catered to the specific region. This way it can accommodate for the popular languages and need for ELL classes as it pertains to that area. Since immigrants are not evenly distributed throughout the country, there is no sense in assuming that ELL programs should be the same at every school.
I know this is just the tip of the iceberg, but we have to start somewhere. You might be thinking: “if schools aren’t held to some sort of national standards, then how can they be regulated and successful?” Maybe I am naïve, but I would like to think that every school wants to excel. I think that it would make it a lot easier to excel if schools were given a bit more freedom on the nitty gritty things to tailor the education experience directly to their students and the local environment. I’m sure there are many logistics that I am overlooking (particularly from the financial and managerial side), but the optimist in me likes to think there is a more effective way to structure our nation’s schools.