School systems: EU & NA


Mirza Karalic, Reporter

School systems in Europe and the U.S. differ in many varieties, and are constantly competing.  According to the New York Times’ editorial board, Europe’s countries teach better because of evenly spread out high-quality schools, standardized tests, and overall different approaches on school systems. PISA is a worldwide study by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development; their 2012 performance data, including 65 countries, shows that over 10% of students in Austria, Belgium, Finland, France, Liechtenstein, and Poland are top performers, while the U.S. is not statistically significant.

A large problem in the U.S. that both directly and indirectly affects schools is poverty.  Schools in poor areas are likely to be old, run down, and poor themselves. Socioeconomic background essentially determines whether or not a student will get a good education or not.  Because of this, students attending these schools don’t get the same chance to advance as students in wealthy areas.

Emrah Galešić, Bosnian sophomore, claims that schools significantly differ in education, “Going through schools in the U.S. is very easy, and more so in low income areas,” In countries like Germany or Finland, however, high-level education-knowledge, skills and core transferable competences- is provided in both poor and wealthy areas, leading to overall better environments and students. All students have the same chance to learn, despite their background, “If you’ve previously attended school in Europe, school here would be much easier because you’ve always had the same chance as everyone else to learn,” states Galešić.

The U.S. has programs such as No Child Left Behind to help students get through school (essentially pushing them through), and ends up making the list of requirements to finish even shorter, whereas in certain European countries, elementary school grades actually determine where one will attend high school; In countries like France, a test is taken at the end of high school, known as Baccalauréat, or le bac. This determines if you’ll be going to university, and eventually where you’ll work; both socially and educationally, failure leaves a stigma for life-a second-class citizenship.

There are many ways to improve the American school system to match or overthrow Europe’s.  While it may seem impossible passing one such as Europe’s, Marco Luque thinks that making the school system better in the U.S. is simple: “the school system could be improved by making school overall harder on students, and asking more from them, ending up with more responsible, determined, and elite students.”