A Tennessee high school student and his classmates were forced to skip their economics class running errands for the football team, he said in a viral clip.
“American education is a joke,” said TikTok user @fryguy124 in the caption of his video, which has reached 434,000 views since its publication on Friday. Walking past his school building, the anonymous student explained, “I’m supposed to be in economics right now, but I’m out commuting to the football team.”
The high schooler said in other videos that he lives in Tennessee. He continued, “Yeah, our teacher is one of the coaches, and they’re having a fundraiser – I think it’s this weekend, it’s a carnival – so I got a lot of shitty little prizes and I bring it to the stadium.”
The camera then pans to show large stacks of boxes stacked in a storage room. “It’s shit that we brought here the last class … and then it’s class before,” said the student. “I have this lesson three times a week and the three times we did chores for the football team.”
The video ended on a different day, with the student telling his audience that his economics class was now cleaning the football team bus. “Until schools start prioritizing education, this nation is just going to go down the toilet,” he said.
The high schooler’s concern that STEM learning has failed across the country, not just at his own school, has been backed up by education data. The United States ranked near the bottom in a survey of student math skills in 34 industrialized countries, ranking 27th, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development reported in 2012. Overall, U.S. test scores are below the global average, and scores are lowest in poorer states, according to Kimberly Amadeopresident of the economic site World Money Watch.
The pandemic has only further disadvantaged American students. A Brown University study in January found that the effect of COVID-19 on K-12 education has been “seismic,” resulting in significant declines in math and reading test scores. In addition to the spread of COVID-19, schools have faced severe staffing shortages and high levels of student absenteeism. Students and teachers also reported mental health issues and an increase in school violence, researchers mentioned.
The high school student’s video infuriated his viewers, many of whom spoke out against the state of education in the United States.
“As a parent of a high school student, I would like to know if this was happening at my child’s school,” one viewer said. “That’s ridiculous, I hope you told your parents.”
“It’s really amazing that people think we have the best country, especially in education,” added another.
Several viewers curtly commented that the student may be learning a lesson in American economics after all.
“Idk man, that’s a pretty good lesson in how the economy works in capitalism. Football coaches can get away with anything because they bring [money]“, said a viewer.
Newsweek contacted @fryguy124 for comment.