The mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell. If you went to high school, it’s likely that you have this piece of knowledge drilled into your brain. Unfortunately, what you might not have learned in high school may be far more important. Thousands of teenagers in the United States aren’t provided with accurate information, or, in some cases any information at all, about how to be a responsible adult. This is because not all states in the U.S. require a home economics course in high school, or any class on personal finance. Not all states require sex education to be taught in high schools either. Even in the states where some form of sex ed is required, there is no standard to follow, and each school district decides how to teach it.
Only 24 states and the District of Columbia require sex ed. Because there is no national standard for what should be taught in a sex-ed class, school districts decide how students will learn about sex. This means that the political, religious, and cultural views of a community can influence what is taught. The information being provided can range from decent to downright dreadful. The 2014 CDC School Health Profiles state that there should be 16 subjects covered in sex ed, but less than half of the schools that provide sex ed actually cover all 16. That amounts to a little less than 24% of schools in the U.S. that are actually teaching sex ed properly.
In fact, some teach abstinence as the most effective method of preventing pregnancy. Some schools neglect to educate students about safe and healthy intercourse should they choose to be sexually active. Advocates for Youth reports that an alarming 39% of high school students didn’t use a condom the last time they had intercourse. Unprotected sex can lead to anything from unplanned pregnancy to STDs.
Is it right to have unprotected sex? That’s not for us to decide. But if young people are not taught about the risks of unprotected sex, they may not know about the consequences. While some may think it may be the parents’ responsibility to educate their child about safe sex, this isn’t always the case. Therefore, the responsibility of sex ed should fall on the education system, and the U.S. government should be more involved.
Not only are America’s teens being deprived of proper sex ed, they’re also missing information about how to function in today’s economy. According to a 2018 survey conducted by the Council for Economic Education, only a third of states in the U.S. require high school students to take a course on personal finance. Much like the situation with sex ed in America, how schools teach economics and finance is up to the individual states, or even school districts. Many high schools require students to take an economics class before graduation, but these curricula cover economics as a broad subject rather than the detailed information about how to manage one’s finances. This is a typical meme-worthy situation that high school students engage in.
Some may argue that like sex ed, it is the parents’ job to teach their kids about personal financing. However, there’s a line between what parents should be expected to teach their children and what schools should be expected to teach their students. It’s unfortunate, but we can’t rely on all parents to provide proper sex ed for their children or how to build and maintain a credit score. In fact, relying on parents means the information kids receive is even more varied.
There needs to be a standard. Schools are the most efficient resources to ensure students are learning what they have the right to know. Regardless of what parents choose to teach and what not to teach, young people are entitled to learn about important, life-changing things outside of the mitochondria.
Because there is no federal requirement for sex ed or personal finance courses, many American teenagers are growing up without knowing basic life skills. What does this achieve?
Keeping the future of the nation uneducated and unaware makes it easier for them to be controlled. It means students are more likely to be convinced by a seemingly compelling argument instead of forming their own ideas. If those who are responsible for maintaining the education system are depriving American teenagers of their rights, perhaps they’re not the best candidate to have authority over education in the first place. The best way to ensure that all schools are teaching our children properly is to create a national requirement for schools to teach what must be taught to a standardized, basic level.
Fortunately, there is a way to save America’s youth, and it’s something anyone that is at least 18 years old can do: Vote. If you’re not registered, it takes less than ten minutes to do so. Memorizing the human cellular structure may be important, but the right to education beyond a textbook is what we need most.