The Public Education System Failed Me

As I have developed a passion for reinventing education, I have looked at the educational background of those I aspire to be. What I found were many Ivy League undergraduate degrees, a path that was not open to me based on my grade school academic achievements. I am intelligent, I got good grades, I have supportive parents, I was never wanting for anything. So why am I only now finding my passion, and realizing how detrimental my educational background is on my future.

I can probably trace my problem back to Elementary School. I was taught the same way every single other student was taught, but my personal strengths and weaknesses were not addressed. One example involved second or third grade English. We were given reading assessments in the beginning of the year, and I was placed in the middle level group. My personal weakness was reading comprehension, but I was placed with students with a variety of weaknesses. I was never taught specific skills to help strengthen my weaknesses.

This practice continued throughout grade school, average classes, average grades, with no attention paid to the fact that I did well on homework but not on tests. I did not understand where my deficiency was.

In my semester of student teaching American History and my year as a second grade Teacher’s Assistant in a low income school, I know that some of my weaknesses would have been addressed now. Through these experiences I have learned elementary skills such as reading comprehension, as I learned how to teach it to different students. But we still have a long way to go to address the weaknesses and celebrate the strengths of every student.

I have traveled and spoken to well educated people in New York City and Washington DC. Without exception, they were surprised to learn I had not been a successful student. I take this to mean that I come across as an intelligent individual with ideas to contribute. Why am I just not considered intelligent? Is this not what public education should have done?

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