The modern day high school student – every child left behind

This opinion column was submitted by Jacob Schilleci, a teacher in Las Vegas for more than 20 years.

The modern high school student is grossly underprepared for the world that awaits them upon graduation. Between being quarantined for about two years and an academic system that’s failing them, there’s honestly no chance of succeeding without failing miserably first. We are not preparing these students properly. We bow to the general dull environment that high schools have become. In discussions of attendance, education, and social interaction in general, we produce delinquent, ignorant, lacking in common sense adolescents and release them into the world of work.

I have been a high school teacher for over 20 years and I am confident to say that the class of 2022 will send shockwaves through all of our communities. Not the world-changing shockwaves that spin for the better, but the shockwaves that will force everyone before this promotion to take over 2020. The class of 2022 has next to no motivation to be better, do better or make the world a better place. Unless there is an event that disrupts their individual daily life, there is absolutely no movement or motivation.

The Class of 2022 doesn’t understand the importance of punctuality. The number of absentees and tardies is at an all time high and no one but the teachers seem to care. These students have no problem coming to class 30 minutes late and acting like they’ve done nothing wrong. When they are late, they walk right past a teacher, loudly collapse and interrupt a lesson by asking, “Sir, what did I miss?” There are absolutely no repercussions for this behavior. Technically, at the school where I teach, seven tardies equals one absence and seven absences equals no course credit. Yet, parents have no problem submitting excused notes for two-month absences, resulting in the absence being excused. It’s teaching the class of 2022 that there’s no punishment for neglecting someone else’s appreciation of time.

The class of 2022 doesn’t care about learning anything. These students are only worried if they have missing assignments. They don’t care what homework is, or what homework teaches. The class of 2022 is made up of all 17 and 18 year olds with the academic advancement of 14 year olds. Yes, we can blame that on the pandemic and school closures, although the working adult world doesn’t care. The adult world will expect these students to understand basic reading, writing and comprehension skills. The world will expect them to be able to solve simple problems. Yet the class of 2022 will fail miserably because the importance of their real education has been overlooked. The focus of their academic achievements was placed on standardized tests that resulted in nothing but dropped statistics and their ability to simply (and not even accurately) produce plagiarized work. We are sorely lacking in academic integrity.

The class of 2022 is the most socially awkward, rude and offensive class I have ever seen graduate – even more so than the class of 1999. These students don’t understand simple common courtesy – opening or holding doors, saying s’ please and thank you, make room for others to pass by sitting on the stairs, or just don’t answer their phones and start talking about it in the middle of the class. Yes, again, we can blame this on the pandemic and the fact that many of these students have missed a year of physical social interaction, but the adult working world will not respond to this class’s inability to act as polite adults. Again, the next generation of the workforce will be expected to have common decency and already know how to act in public. It is with great regret that I report that they absolutely will not have this.

There are and always have been countless fingers to blame, though the only common agreement among educators is that regardless of a student’s academic and social success or lack thereof, they are always simply pushed to the upper class. Frustratingly, No Child Left Behind had become Every Child Left Behind. We teach 17 and 18 year olds who have mental and social abilities comparable to those of a child three levels below them. We urgently need to return to keeping students in third grade if they still can’t read, suspending and expelling students if they hit another student, and not allowing students to graduate s ‘they don’t deliver their work.

We need academic administrative change – more businessmen making educational decisions. Due to the lack of importance in education that we have culturally accepted, we need teachers on the front line to help reset our educational structure. Until we have educators making the big decisions about education, we will continue to introduce illiterate, rude, and socially inept young adults into the workforce.

Jacob Schilleci has been a teacher in Las Vegas for over 20 years.

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Martha K. Merrill