Politics in Education
Can education exist without politics? The answer is simply put no. While many would love to see the political scene leave education, it is inherent that the two remain together. The key is how they work together in the best interest of the students. Public schools are responsible for two precious entities- children and tax dollars (Farmer, 2012). This is one of the reasons that “today, education is perhaps the most important function of state and local governments” (Brown v. Board of education, 1954). While we are progressively seeing federal mandates in education more now than ever, it is mainly the state and local levels where politics are inseparable (Farmer, 2012). Since education is highly imperative to the future of our country, it is and will always be subject to political scrutiny. From the beginning, a well educated American was deemed necessary to protect independence and the general welfare of the citizens (League of Women Voters, 2011). It has been stated this type of citizen will “rule themselves through elected officials” (Brademas). Education, especially higher education, at one point was considered a luxury; however, in today’s world a “high-quality” education often including the collegiate level is believed to be both a “universal right and a necessity for individual welfare” (Farmer, 2012). For this reason education will remain important topic of political debates between politicians as well as local townspeople. Politics in education goes dates as far back as the Land Ordinance of 1785 and the Northwest Ordinance of 1787. Federal support was given at this time and later in 1841 with the Land Grand Act in the form of land designated for a system of public education to be established. During this time the federal government began to grant money. This money was often used to clean up from war expenses; however, some funds were used for education even though congress did not stipulate that such funds could be used for education (League of Women Voters, Oct. 2011). It is well aware this funding continues today although the state and local government share the majority of the responsibility. In 1791, the 10th Amendment guaranteed rights to all citizens by stating “the powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” This amendment entrusted authority over education to the states by having state constitutions assign specific responsibility and legal authority for public education (Usdan, M., McCloud, B., Podmostko, M., and Cuban, L., 2001). Today, state and local revenue fund approximately 87% of the money for elementary and secondary education. It is estimated that only 10% comes from federal funding (The Federal Role in Education). In 1867, the original Department of Education was established to collect data on schools and teaching in order to help create an effective school system (League of Women Voters, 2011). One major turning point for federal education was the GI bill of 1944. The government allotted for nearly eight million World War II veterans to have education assistance to attend college. Until this point, the federal government basically only did research and created policies for an effective system. Financing of education was not highly supported through the department. Then in 1958, Congress passed the National Defense Education Act (NDEA) in response to Russia’s Sputnik. This created money available to students willing to study in science, mathematics, and foreign languages (Dow, 1991). In 1965, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act was created which included Title 1 funding to the disadvantaged. In 1983, A Nation at Risk was released calling for a refocus on an education reform in order to compete with other countries as it appeared that America was falling behind (Farmer, 2012). Even though the Department of Education has grown...
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