A few semesters ago, I had taken a class examining the sociological aspects of the educational system in American society. If you didn’t know just how the educational system is failing thousands of students a day in our country, this eye opening course exposed how the educational system works. Learning about the different theories such as functionalism, conflict and symbolic interaction, added a new perspective on education in my life. In the documentary “Waiting for Superman” by filmmaker Davis Guggenheim, children express their desire for a better education system, yet the audience is exposed to the dark side of social stratification in the United States.
My reaction after watching this documentary in class was that of shock and frustration. I couldn’t believe just how bad students of all social status classes are suffering inside and outside of their classrooms. The fact that teachers (regardless of performance) are forever promised a spot in the educational work force is appalling I wasn’t aware that the way principals and administrators deal with bad teachers is by relocating them to other school districts, also known as the “lemon dance”. The lottery system for children to attend an exceptionally acclaimed academic institution in the areas they are located is sad. Only a certain number of spots are available on the lottery roster, and many students flood the institutions with applications in hopes of one day attending.
What also strikes me to be disturbing is that the institutions that parents prefer their children to attend (such as charter schools), are no different academic wise as opposed to regular public schools. Ironically, charter schooled students are often behind when it comes to the learning progress and often have troubles when they reach college. Yet parents are so desperate to feed into the idea that these institutions will advance their children’s learning abilities. It’s a shame that the education system in the United States is crying out for help in terms of resources, staffing, and learning capabilities.
This sociology of education course has opened my eyes to the way our society functions. Problems with the transmissions of inequality, teacher performance, and academic achievement levels are evident. All we can hope for is that one day educational reforms will not benefit politicians and the upper class more so than it does the students.