Struggle for education increased by separation

By Trent

Education in America is very political. The people with the power make the decisions that affect the education of all Americans. The structure of the educational system has blocked and obstructed my ability to receive a democratic education.
Since the beginning of my educational experience, I have been labeled and placed in groups that have been largely taught from a monocultural perspective.
The beginning of a student’s education forms who one is as a person and who one can become as a student. The method of labeling and grouping students is a convenient process which people can expect for many years to come. For example, the school system uses test scores (such as ACT scores) in areas such as reading and math to divide the so-called good students from the bad. Labeling and grouping students is wrong as a form of education. This practice of tracking students discriminates against students who are placed in the lower categories.
From the very beginning, this negative process places students who get assigned to lower tracks at a disadvantage, leaving them with the feeling of being inferior to others.
“I can’t do it,” is the common statement often made by students, including myself, who have been placed in groups and labeled. This method of teaching lowers students’ self-confidence and partially enslaves the minds of others.
I have been a victim of this basic style of teaching and separating students. The educational system must correct this process by mainstreaming students and continuing to provide assistance to the students that are in need of help, improvement and guidance.
Abolishing the function of tracking in classrooms would improve the achievement of students. To overcome this form of classification, I have worked hard to develop my self-confidence and my natural talents and abilities, and to break down barriers that have stood in my way of a democratic education.
At a young age, I was not up to the standard of math and reading. I wasn’t interested in these subjects. Soon, I realized that I was being labeled and placed into groups. They consisted of high, middle and low. During most of the beginning of my schooling, I was placed in the middle or low category. I remember accepting a worksheet, and I was asked to complete it. I knew it was required of me to complete it. This style of teaching did not motivate me or get me interested in learning about different subjects and ideas. I simply cheated and copied my friends’ answers, knowing that this was the wrong thing to do. At the time, I viewed this act as a way to get through another day of boring activities.
These worksheets have occurred again and again in my school career. I have stopped cheating, but I still force myself to complete worksheets, knowing that this is a style of learning but not the best form of learning for me. l believe that this method of learning does not benefit me or stimulate my mind to think critically as a student.
During my earlier years as a student, I was also encouraged to read and explore books. Most of the material that was presented to me at a young age did not attract my interest or motivate me as a reader. For this reason, I did not put forth an exceptional amount of energy toward this subject of reading, which was required of me as a student to be placed into a higher level. As a result of being placed into an average reading group, I was made to think less of my full potential. In the second grade, my teacher told my mother that if my reading ability did not make improvements, she was going to have me tested for a learning disability.
Reading is such a crucial requirement of every person in the United States, not only for a successful life, but for everyday survival. For this reason, the school system must reconsider how students are being made to think less of their underdeveloped ability to read.
This similar process of placing young students into a so-called “group” also occurred during the same early period of my educational development in a math class.
Ms. Roots, my third-grade math teacher, spent a majority of the class period trying to discipline students rather than focusing on the subject the students were in the classroom to learn. I remember having a strong dislike for this teacher because of the solid authority she tried to maintain over the classroom. She placed me in the lowest math group, and her decision made me feel that I was incapable of being successful in the math area. The truth is that I can succeed in math classes if I apply hard work and concentration. At this early period in my life, the subject of math did not intrigue me.
Besides the use of money, I did not entirely understand the overall picture of how this subject applied to my everyday life. Because of this teacher’s method of control and her structure of dividing students into different levels according to a person’s so-called ability, I did not apply myself consciously in her classroom. After my parents became involved, they tried to motivate me to learn math and accept her way of discipline. Soon afterward, I tested out of her math classroom and into the next math group. This slow process of testing in and out of math groups restricted my development as a math student.
Today, I have not completely turned my math phobia around. This form of separating the good students from the bad has contributed to my anxiety. Currently, I am hesitating to enroll myself in a math course this spring at the University.
The political educational system of America has stood in my way to receive an equal and democratic educational experience.
The process of labeling and grouping students provides a restriction that lowers a student’s self-esteem. Because of this system, some students have experienced a loss of vision and goals that decreases their full potential in life.
After I was labeled and placed into several categories, I looked at my family members for some kind of guidance. I realized that I had many intelligent and successful members in my family, such as a lawyer, accountants, bankers, and an engineer. I came to the conclusion that if I apply myself, I can develop myself and become just as successful as everyone else. In my family, there is a strong work ethic that is passed down through family values. This factor of hard work has contributed to my ability to overcome my struggle to receive a democratic education.

Trent Kerkow is a freshman in General College.