Dear Governor Jerry Brown,
My name is Guneet Gill and I am a third year student at the University of California, Davis majoring in Cell Biology. The purpose of this letter is to voice my concern about the education system we now have. I am attending a premier institution for my higher education, yet the education I have received from California’s public school system prior has been sub par. The education that high school students in California receive is shaped around the path of study that has been predetermined by our educational system. However, basic knowledge that every graduating student in California needs has been disregarded. Graduating from high school, I had no idea how taxes work, I knew very little about the banking system, and to be completely honest I had minimal knowledge on what current global and political issues are. This lack in knowledge does not just pertain to me; it pertains to most kids graduating high school and college. Our education system is churning out book-smart adults, who have little to no knowledge about the real world.
By academic standards I am going to be an “educated woman” in less than a year, yet there is so much that I do not even know about the real world. Fortunately, I will have a Bachelors in Science from one of the best public Universities in the nation, which is not easily attained. Unfortunately, none of the knowledge I have gained in my years of schooling can be applied to the real world. As I am nearing my graduating year, I feel that I am unfit for success in the real world. As hapless as it may be, I am not the only person that feels this way. School has made me excel in math, science, and history. My GPA shows that I am an excellent student, but my knowledge of the real world reflects that I am a subpar citizen. I have been required to learn facts like “the mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell,” “Washington was our first president,” and “Pi equals radius squared” repeatedly throughout the years, but not once have I been educated on how taxes are filed, how the banking system works, or what the current global or political issues are.
I would like to start by addressing the lack of education towards completing taxes. Every student that graduates high school and college is eventually going to be apart of the workforce and pay taxes. I know that when we get a job we are required to pay taxes on our income on a yearly basis, but how do they work, what is the process? These are questions that no class has ever taught nor answered. Students are supposed to go on into the real world with such minimal knowledge about the tax system and are expected to file them correctly? Taxes, if filled out wrong, do come with serious consequences from the IRS. There should be a mandatory class about taxes for people graduating high school so that everyone enters the adult world informed with this basic yet necessary knowledge.
Next, I would like to address how our education system fails to teach students about the banking system in America. I as a junior in college still do not know how to apply for a loan, how mortgages work, how interest works, or what else the banking system entails. A survey by investment bank Charles Schwab shows that according to 16 to 18 year olds 86% would rather take a class on money management rather than make financial mistakes in the real world later (Bortz). Every citizen has to deal with accounts, debit cards, credit cards, loans, and mortgages. According to a survey by nonprofit Council for Economic Education there are only 13 states that require high school students to take a personal finance class to graduate (Bortz). There needs to be a change; there should be mandatory education about this issue. Students shouldn’t have to go into the real world lacking such essential information about a central part of our economy.
The last thing I feel like the school system fails to educate students on are current global and political issues. Students are required to take multiple history classes in high school and in college. There is not a doubt that all these classes are very informative, but they also are repetitive. I have learned the same information about U.S. history and world history at least 3 to 4 times. I know exactly what happened in the around the world 100 years ago but I have no idea what is going on now. I understand the value of history, but being historically informed and uneducated with regards to current political and global issues seems unbalanced. Most students are eligible to vote in the elections by the time they graduate high school, but they have little exposure to political policies. I understand that as citizens it is our duty to be informed about the world, but schools should lay a foundation for this by educating students while they are growing up.
In the 2013-2014 school year 399,041 students graduated from High School in California (California Department of Education Data Reporting Office). This is a large amount of people going on to become either members of the work force or of further education. Most of these students did not become educated on any of the topics I discussed earlier. Students like myself who went on to college still have a few years before we take on the roles of full adults, but a lot of these students assume this role directly out of high school. Some mandatory classes should be introduced and emphasize taxes, banking system, and political and global issues. Classes such U.S. and World History that teach repetitive information should be cut down and be replaced with classes that place emphasis on information more relevant to the real world.
I did not write this letter to bash on the education system in California or to inform you about what an uninformed citizen I am. However, I did write this letter to voice my concern that students are graduating from schools with minimal knowledge of the real world. There needs to be a serious reform in education in our state so that our schools produce informed citizens fit to take on the roles and responsibilities of reality.
- Bortz, Daniel. “Why Most High Schoolers Don’t Know How to Manage Their Money.” S. News & World Report. N.p., 9 Oct. 2012. Web.
- “Cohort Outcome Data for the Class of 2013-14.” Cohort Data Outcomes. California Department of Education Data Reporting Office, 12 Mar. 2016. Web. 13 Mar. 2016.