There is no denying that the U.S. education system is in deep trouble. According to the latest international rankings done by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OCED,) the United States ranked 14th out of 34 countries for reading, 17th for science and 25th for mathematics. Overall, this represents a ranking of “average” for the United States in regard to how students are doing compared to their peers in other countries. That is simply unacceptable. In order to combat this problem, the Obama Administration launched a new plan that they call the Digital Promise. Now, more than ever, the United States needs to out-educate the rest of the world if it desires to out-innovate the rest of the world.
Digital Promise is an initiative that will receive money from the Department of Education and other philanthropies to promote new educational software as well as help educators evaluate which products are best helping students learn. In fact, one of the first projects of the new initiative is to find “digital tutors” to help students learn math and other subjects.
This is definitely a step in the right direction and American classrooms will be better because of it. However, this initiative alone will not remedy the many problems facing the American education system. While it is important that today’s students become more interactive with technology and that technology plays a bigger role in classroom learning, this initiative is not a silver bullet. Many of the issues facing the education system today are social problems that go far beyond the reach of any government education initiative. The Digital Promise initiative will not ensure that students come from stable households with guardians who place a strong emphasis on schooling and education. It will not be able to fix broken communities or ones that have a long, difficult history of failure. It will not be able to provide food for hungry students so they can focus on learning. There is no doubt in my mind that the proposed initiative will help students learn more and is heavily focused on efficiency, which is a great thing, but it will not slay all the problems facing the American educational system.
Although Digital Promise holds great potential for American classrooms, it is just one step that must be taken on the long road to place the United States in the primary spot in the field of education. A more digital classroom will undoubtedly help American students become more acquainted with modern technology as well as allow them to have access to the best learning technologies out there but will be only one step in the right direction toward achieving primacy in education. There are far too many issues facing the American education system, and Digital Promise will only be able to remedy some of them. It is a good initiative, but it is not a cure-all for the woes of the American education system. We as a society and a nation would do well to note that.
Jordan Rubio is a sophomore broadcast journalism major from San Antonio.