Opinion: The fate of our great country is controlled by the youth that call it home because, one day, those same youth will control the country itself. An unfortunate truth to this matter is that through collective bargaining, the left has taken the public school system hostage and in doing so, lost the desire to keep the well being of students at heart. My experience within the system exemplifies just how corrupt the system has become and how the districts only care about their high school graduation rates, not college admission.
I would like to began by mentioning that prior to beginning the 2016-2017 school year, I attended Space camp in Huntsville, Alabama. This was a physically rigorous program that required a large amount of cardiovascular activity for a period of time lasting a week. Following my return from Alabama, my first year of high school started the next week and I went on to attend school. It wasn’t until a few days into school and after I nearly fell down the a flight of stairs when my leg collapsed under me that we realized that there was something wrong with the joints of my lower limbs.
After meeting with an orthopaedic doctor, it became evident that my bones weakened from extensive activity at camp as well as my mild Cerebral Palsy and my knee fractured as a result. Lacking the stability to use crutches effectively on a mountainous campus because of my CP, we were left with one option: to stay off of my knee for the month while it healed. When we notified the school district of my condition, we were told that I couldn’t receive home based-tutoring from the district as a result of my advanced classes and the only way for them to accommodate us was to drop my advanced classes that we had spent over an accumulative $1000 on tuition that we had saved over the years. Eliminating this as an option, I was abandoned to teach myself advanced Algebra II and a foreign language with which I had no prior experience. In an effort to increase my understanding, I reached out to my teachers personally, some of whom I hadn’t gotten a message returned from for three weeks. By the time I had returned to school, I had straight F’s.
At this point, it is worth mentioning that before this episode, I had maintained a 4.2 weighted GPA and received highest honors from my middle school. In addition to this award, I represented the student body in government for my entire time at the school and received Citizenship awards as well as top recognition for my grades in U.S History. With that in mind, having these kind of grades made it even harder to reintegrate back into the normal swing of things. To make matters worse, my ankle fractured in the same way less than five days after my initial return to school. I knew I couldn’t go through another month of this or else I would be forced to drop out of school in my freshman year due to failing grades. After a relentless debate with a reluctant counselor, we were told about options that were open to us in the event that school wouldn’t work for my needs. We were outraged to be told this after I had gone through the toughest semester of my school career and nearly ruined my perfect report cards that I had worked for years to achieve. All of this occurred because, “It only matters to the district that he graduates, not that he makes it college.”
When we thought that we were in the clear and ended the school year in a district-run independent study program, there were even more obstacles ahead. Come to find out, this academy was the same school with the veil of a charter school, only supporting me in my
advanced courses until the point where I reached the graduation requirement. We were told that our only possibility was to enroll in the nearby community college but that they would not accept a student my age. In other words, they were asking me to drop my courses next year that we had paid an arm and a leg for, simply because I had already exceeded their graduation requirement.
Because of these experiences, I can only hope that the right is able to work on education reform to ensure no other student has to endure the hardships that I had to this past year. Let alone, the countless others that have been victimized by our school districts and our counselors whom we are supposed to trust with our futures.
An example of a policy that could put the focus back on the well-being of students may be one that could start with the repeal of restrictive collective bargaining agreements, in doing so, weakening the teacher’s unions and allowing the districts to reward competition among employees. Teachers and administration alike would be incentivized to address the individual and unique needs of each of their students, not their own paychecks. An additional policy could then be used to reward districts that prepare their students for college admission, not just college graduation. In doing so, increasing the availability of charter education and awareness of the options that are available to families in the event that a similar occurrence happens to them. This is an issue that can only be fixed through time and hard work, both are things that I believe my generation will be able to fulfill.
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