American Education System: Opinion Of Jonathan Rauch On Education Reform

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Jonathan Rauch starts aggressively by expressing his opinion on education reform in his essay “Now for Tonight’s Assignment.” Jonathan Rauch suggests that educational reform would cost next to nothing and that it could be implemented overnight by anybody in his journal “The Atlantic”. By mentioning statistics, Jonathan explains how the American education system is broken and why it needs massive reforms to fix it. He points out that American people had to start talking about the issue in routine life. He also shows a way to improve the education system simply by giving more homework to the students. According to Jonathan giving more homework to the students is the simple and easy way to fix the education system. However, he does not mention what are the adverse effects of forcefully given homework. 

I do agree with Jonathan’s declaration that American high school’s instructional day is only six hours long including non-academics. Even though teenagers need more time to learn maturity. Their instructional day will not finish with six hours, they also have homework to finish, prepare for tests, understand the material and finally apply that study to real life. As a cheap way adding more homework for students will not only increase students study time, it might give students a depression because of the ratio they learn in school and homework. For sure that older kids learn more as they study more but that doesn’t mean they can study all day and study to understand it better.

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Jonathan correctly points out the major problem in the education system which needs everyone’s attention. One issue is “The school year is fixed at or below 180 days.” I remember in my high school years, we have about 3 months of summer vacation. Also, spring break, Christmas vacation and two mid-term breaks in two semesters are on top of the Saturday-Sunday, and of course national holidays as well. It’s like we didn’t realize that actually when school starts and vacation comes up and it’s over. As academic days are just 180 days out of 365 days in a year, we get more days compared to the actual school days. And as I clearly remember out of those 180 days about 12-15 days we had exams so, it comes down to just 165 days. Too many days off are actually decreasing productivity and increases laziness among students as well as teachers. Not to mention that, currently we are living in a world where everyone wants more and more vacation time and that’s one of the major reasons for decline in productivity. Until students and teachers as well starts working more and just avoid leisure time we will see how dramatically the academic days will increase, I would say up to 225 days and will result in higher productivity and better achievements.

Another problem that Jonathan discusses is the issue of homework. He states: “You may also not be shocked to learn that, for the most part, American students don’t do much homework.” I simply do not agree with that. When I was in high school almost every student did their homework respectively. The real problem is the homework given to us itself. Everyone gets projects as a major part of the homework. In my view, those projects were simply useless. In general project work just utilizes time rather than actually giving knowledge about the subject. More homework might also cause depression among the students. Rather than giving more homework to students focusing on the quality of the homework given to students would be a good idea to fix the education system in America.

Even though Jonathan’s solution misses the mark by a mile, he does reveal the need for major changes in our education system. I believe that, most people know the challenge already but they just don’t know an effective way to solve it. Jonathan’s theory of giving more homework to the students might work, but only after fixing the core problems in the education system itself like focusing on the quality of the homework. Students, teachers, parents, and other people need to come together to fix the education system in America.

Works Cited

  1. Publication: The Atlantic (a magazine but in this case, the online version) Date: November 1, 2004 URL:


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