The public and social agenda for education is how governments shape how institutions of learning respond to the dynamic demands of globalization and the need to be competitive within the world economy. The values of those in control of setting the agenda determine how it is framed. The reach of education runs deep through nearly every aspect of society. As such, local, national, and international policies influence how the public and social agenda for education is shaped. In all policy decisions, there are consequences and compromises; often, one entity stands to gain and another stands to lose. Thus the question that should be asked regarding public policy concern who will benefit and who will suffer. Assessing policy and public agenda in this manner allows for critical thinking about the full implications of the decisions we make and how they impact our global society.
An excellent example of the interplay between local, national, and international policy and consequent impacts to the educational agenda is the global response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Due to the international response—shutting down trade and travel as a means of reducing the spread of the virus—many businesses were forced to close or to lay off employees. International trade was drastically cut, and countries rushed to respond with policies aimed at both mitigating the damage to their respective economies and limiting the spread of the virus. States and municipalities instituted mandatory lockdowns, forcing many schools to shut their doors and migrate to online functionality. Businesses unable to adapt to these new policies will suffer, and those able to work remotely in a home-based setting will benefit. Parents who are unable to afford the technology necessary for their children to continue learning via online platforms will suffer, and those who can afford this technology will succeed. The public and social agenda for education is being influenced by the COVID-19 pandemic, and local, national, and international policies will continue to shape how it is framed. At the root of these policy decisions is the value system that prioritizes the health and wellness of people over the health and wellness of economies. Those entities who stand to benefit from the policies created around the COVID-19 pandemic will continue bearing influence over how the agenda is shaped.