Students need new challenges in education

Freedom Newspapers

Backing up results of an earlier, less scientific “shotgun” survey of teens by the National Governors’ Association, a scientific new poll reports that nearly nine in 10 high school students surveyed say they would work harder if their school had higher expectations of them.

Let’s hope educators are listening.

The Associated Press reported recently about a nationwide survey conducted by the nonprofit Horatio Alger Association of 1,005 high schoolers in May. It found that less than one-third of respondents believe their school sets high academic expectations.

If young people appear listless in class, it may not be because of typical explanations such as teen angst and aversion to doing what’s good for them. It may be because they yearn to learn things that are challenging, relevant and meaningful rather than to simply fulfill a given set of school-district curriculum goals that may be miles away from the adult lives they are about to lead.

Among the suggestions made by at least 90 percent of respondents (superintendents, take note) include: internships out in the “real world,” getting counseling about preparation for college far earlier than they currently are, and being able to take free-of-charge college-level classes while in high school.

This remarkable viewpoint by our nation’s young people is yet another argument for staying the course on graduation standards and expanding school choice. Not every school can provide the kinds of environment and offerings different youngsters want and need — but parents and students should be given the chance to pick schools that can and do.

Either that, or once more as classes reconvene again this month, many teens will be found twirling their hair and snapping their gum, not necessarily because they are “lazy” or “undisciplined” — but possibly because much of what they’re getting is boring them to tears.