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E. Bell- Lanier M.S.

Student-Led Townhall Meeting 1

Evelyn Bell

Lanier M.S. Student Town hall

February 21, 2018

It’s 2018: Time to Rethink Our Education System

Over 200,000 students across HISD are sitting in a classroom right now, uninterested

simply there to finish the day, because they believe the information they are learning will never

be applied to their future lives. Good Morning, I’m Evelyn Bell and I am an eighth grader at

Lanier Middle School and today I will be addressing the curriculum in HISD and its lack of

application to the real world.

America’s schools today are only a few computers away from schools a hundred years

ago. I notice in HISD we are getting school renovations as well as updated smart boards and

computers, although the information we are taught is, to be blunt, outdated. Subjects such as

math and history don’t generally need to be reworked that often, although curriculum for

subjects like science and English, definitely need to be renewed at least every ten years, as the

world of literature is always developing and there are very few science facts set in stone. So

often do I see old statistics on tests, or outdated articles in textbooks, and I believe that is the

point where students begin to dislike school. I am aware of the mindset, “Well I’m never going

to need to know this.” It feels as though we are only taught up to the year 2010, and issues that

will become extremely relevant when we are adults, such as developments in artificial

intelligence or clean energy, are being swept under the rug, although the sooner we learn it the

more we can improve and take part of society.


E. Bell- Lanier M.S. Student-Led Townhall Meeting 2

A survey conducted by YouthTruth, recorded that 45% of students graduate high school

feeling unprepared for the real world. Middle school is simply a step down from this, but I can

already see that we aren’t getting taught the little, tedious, but vital life skills such as how to

change a tire, or how to pay taxes. Not all of us will or want to grow up to be doctors or

engineers, but all of us will have to pay mortgages and speak in public. I appreciate HISD’s

emphasis on creative writing, but the way classrooms teach students to all have the same skills

sets is irrational. Now HISD isn’t all of America, but we are one of the largest districts. I often

think, and I’m certain I’m not the only one, are we just continuing with these ways because we

always have, because it’s easier? Is it fair to tell students to think outside of the box and create

things when we have been taught the same lessons that were taught a over a decade ago?

The curriculum we learn today, is interesting, but how much of it will we consistently use

throughout the rest of our lives? I recall in elementary school where we had a unit each year,

solely dedicated to issues we will come across in the real world. I vividly remember how

beneficial, and engaging these units were. One in particular that stood out to me was where we

were given a budget of 15,000 dollars to go and spend a week in a foreign country. We had to

plan the plane trip cost and time, the hotel, and all of our meals. If we implement these units into

middle and high schools in HISD I believe students will become far more confident and prepared

academically, but also futuristically. The American Psychological Association did a survey and

found that teens on average are experiencing as much stress as adults in America today. In

addition they said this amount is projected to increase. A definite factor of this stress is students

feeling unready for adulthood. That sense of unpreparedness starts right at this age. HISD needs

to have more activities and learning experiences like this, this town hall meeting. The process of
E. Bell- Lanier M.S. Student-Led Townhall Meeting 3

making this happen has been by far the most well-rounded, educational project I’ve done all

year. We all had to write a speech, we all have to say it in front of our class, and we all have to

use collaboration and organizing skills to make this whole thing come together.

Now, why don't we have more of these assignments? Everyone in this room has needed

these abilities to make it through everyday life. HISD school’s curriculum now revolves solely

around test prep and grades. Our education is now represented by data on a spreadsheet. Busy

work on top of textbook questions, manufactures disinterested students, it sets us up to fail. Not

to mention the happiest teachers I’ve seen, are the most creative ones, although most teachers

probably feel trapped between wanting to make class innovative and having to get those high test

grades, and check off those boxes in curriculum in order to maintain their jobs. That is quite

unfortunate that they way we are teaching over 216,000 students is all the exact same. We are

treated somewhat as machines, allowed to show minimal creativity. Whether or not we are

determined as valuable or good students is based off of the ability to memorize facts and ace the

STAAR test.

So, regardless of what happens today or what decisions are made I ask you all to really

consider our public schools in HISD, are we creating innovative, imaginative young adults or

rigid, one sided students? Imagine HISD being an innovator and leader in building curriculum

that amplify the creativity and critical thinking skills needed for the 21st century. I believe

strongly that improving and expanding our curriculum is the best first step, my personal

suggestion to accomplish this goal is to implement one life skills unit per year in all secondary

classrooms. Thank you for your time today and I hope you truly consider my proposal and hear

my concerns.