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Proposal: Improving Education in Western Maryland

 Today, whereas Maryland as a state is in the top 5% of the best state school systems, Western Maryland demographics change everything. 61.6% receive a high school diploma, which is higher than the Maryland’s average by about 17%. Those odds make us look better off, but the ugly truth is that only 27.5% of those students go on to get a higher education in Western Maryland. 9.5% get an associates, and the percentages keep decreasing (statisticalatlas.com.)

The Issue

Problem Defined

The education problem in Western Maryland isn’t only our lack of educators, but also the quality of those educators.  89.5% of the population graduates high school, but only 18.2% goes on to get a higher education. This isn’t only because students aren’t moving onto the college, they are moving out of town to go to better colleges and never coming back. Our population decreased 5.4 % in the last 8 years. (Towncharts.com). 

Background
Expand all bullets
1.
89.5% of the population graduates high school, but only 18.2% goes on to get a higher education.MORE

If we look at a senior class at a local high school of about 200 students, only 179 are graduating. of those 179 students, approximately 32 are going to college. 

2.
In Western Maryland, 61.6% receive a high school diploma. MORE

This is higher than the Maryland’s average by about 17%. Those odds make us look better off, but the ugly truth is that only 27.5% of those students go on to get a higher education. President Obama Passed the Every Child Succeeds Act, which contributed to the higher rated of graduation (ED.gov). This does nothing for going on to Higher Education. 

3.
Poverty also plays a role in the lack of education. 17% of the population lives in poverty.MORE

In Western Maryland, we have neighborhoods of the beyond wealthy, the beyond poor, and the in-between. The lines that separate these socioeconomic statuses determine what type of education you get in high school. Another thing that I’ve witnessed in particular is the students from popular and wealthy families in the community getting away with more situations, such as getting in trouble, or failing classes. Teachers and administrators clearly favor these students more in this small city. 

4.
I went to 6 public schools in the area, believe me, we need better teachers. MORE

I only had a handful of good, passionate teachers who cared about the students. The majority were clearly just in it for other extrinsic rewards. I could go on and on about the teachers who have been unethical and unlawful. Only some of these teachers were fired. Other than that, we have had many teachers moved around from location to location just to fill spots. 

5.
we're running low on teachers. MORE

In one example I have witnessed recently, the school was desperate for teachers. In particular, an educator who could teach a social studies class, and coach both football and track. Something that stuck out to me was the fact that this interview was held the day before class started. He had a short amount of time to decide, and once he made his decision, prepare for the classes. He had previous experiencing coaching at the school while he was in college. Basically, he was hired right away.

Sources
3.
Every Student Succeeds Act: A New Education Law.

U.S. Department of Education - (October 1, 2019)

https://www2.ed.gov/policy/elsec/leg/essa/index.html

This is a quick source to understanding the Every Student Succeeds Act and why we no longer have the No Child Left Behind Policy. 

Go deeper
Authors


Amy Oakes
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The Solution

Proposed Actions
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1.
Take the money out of EducationMORE

Obviously, public school is free, so it needs funding from the government. The wealthy can afford special resources for their children that other parents might not be able to. If we take the money and social status out of education, not only will all students receive a more equal education here, but they will also feel less of a need to get out and find higher education and work elsewhere.

2.
Encourage Teachers. MORE

 The number of educators in the system is decreasing. In my high school alone, we have fired and/or relocated of 4 that I knew of. That's not including the ones that I am unaware of. I could be wrong but being fired and moved around from school to school isn't really encouraging or fulfilling. I would have a hard time being the best educator for my students that I can be if I'm worried about where I'm going to be. 

3.
Teachers should be informed about the differences of students in this area. Provide Workshops. MORE

Before research, I just thought it was a problem; now, I know it’s a problem. To outsiders, the numbers can look small, almost insignificant. It’s a different story when you live here. You see the children all around you: the children of poverty; drug, physical, sexual, and mental abuse; the intellectually disabled; the children who think they don’t stand a chance in this world because of the ridiculous standards that we set; the children who need love, affection, and attention from their teachers because they might not be getting it at home. Educators are relevant, and Western Maryland needs them to be prepared for the changes in our society. 

Expected Results
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1.
Mend the CycleMORE

If we have better educators who care, students will be inspired to do what they want to do. A lot of the time, students have goals that can be reached by getting an education and going into their program of choice, but are discouraged by economic and social problems. We should be breaking old habits and mending the cycle.  

Budget

There are hundreds of FREE resources online to inform teachers about these social problems, including a website about workshops available under the Institute for Research on Poverty. Did I mention this was free? The only costs that I could possibly think of is maybe renting a space to get teachers together to discuss this, which if you already work at a school, there it is. Maybe $50-$75 on refreshments at the meeting, but this is such a cheap option for a solution. 

The Conversation

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