Florida’s public education system: Is it an equal playing field?

Education is the racetrack of life, and every student is running. Each race becomes harder the more hurdles are placed on the track, but the chance of crossing the finish line remains. In order to succeed, some guidance is essential, but what if the coach is preoccupied with other runners and other tasks? As a runner with little-to-no coaching, crossing that finish line has become more difficult. This ongoing struggle is what it is like for everyday students in Florida; while some are given guidance, others are not, and are forced to complete this educational journey alone.

According to the United States Census Bureau, minorities comprise 47.3 percent of Florida’s population compared to a national average of 40.9 percent. Minorities are more likely to come from families without a college education and lower income than their white counterparts. Due to this and various other factors, guidance is vital to high school students as they prepare for the next chapter of their lives. But more often than not, students feel exposed and alone during college preparation. There can be various resources at students’ disposal, except for enough guidance counselors to accommodate the masses. Schools are often only concerned with a particular group of students, the top 10 percent or the profitable jocks propelling the sports funding and countywide recognition. Not every student will excel academically or athletically, but they still have the potential to achieve great things. It becomes harder for these students to meet their potential if 100 students out of 1,000 receive proper guidance and the rest are relying on the internet and college admission officers.

As a student who is the product of public school system, I have seen the best and worst of both worlds. I understand the importance of having a relationship with your high school guidance counselor and also understand that many people do not receive a proper chance to meet him or her until its college application season. Some of my friends joked that they went to prom more than they met with the school’s guidance counselor. Due to a lack of time, many students feel their guidance counselor has not helped them enough, and in an area with a lot of diversity how are schools supposed to help potential first-generation college students or low-income students who aren’t as “extraordinary” as the top 10 percent or the athletic stars?

Guidance is critical, and with education always pushed but rarely explained, how are we supposed to even the playing field? More funding and college access programs are available, but how can one access if all the information is provided to “more intelligent” or “more athletic” classmates? Schools need to give every student information to make educated decisions about affordable schools, scholarships, college majors and alternative possibilities. Most importantly, there needs to be a better guidance team, because one to two people cannot help hundreds to thousands of students. Florida needs to invest more in the education system, and the best way to start is providing more guidance to the masses. With more educational gaps between family generations and less of a contribution, Florida must guide those who could succeed past college if only given a chance, as well as the “extraordinary” students. Those overlooked students can be our next mechanic, physicist or business owner; they need support from the Florida Department of Education and their home school.

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