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This is probably not a popular position, but I believe the NEA (the national teachers' union) has gone too far. Unions serve a good purpose, and I'm all for teachers being represented in the legislative arena. Unfortunately, though, it seems to me the focus has been on issues which benefit neither teachers nor students at the local level, where it matters. This combination of a powerful national force of change being out of touch with the needs of its local constituents, in my opinion, has too often muddied the waters and prevented any real improvements in the educational system. There's plenty of blame to go around, to be sure; however, I expect more from a group which claims to represent the teachers, those who care the most about improving the educational system.
A glaring political factor that creates problems for us in education is the national, state and local use of the education issue as a springboard to gain office. Schools are consistently labeled as failing when in fact they enjoy great success year after year. Because it is not universal success, then, politicians - who know little or nothing about educating students - attempt to "reform" it by "holding schools and teachers accountable". Out came national standardized testing and No Child Left Behind, and the curriculum of most schools began to change, when very little change, in my opinion, was needed. Now schools chase test scores, knowing full well those scores are largely meaningless.
On an economic level related to the political one, states now can't afford to administer these same tests, since they are in a budget crisis, and so the "reform" is being scrapped in favor of something cheaper, more convenient and even less meaningful. Some schools receive high levels of funding while others do not, since most school funding systems are based on property taxes to some degree. Some schools are brand new, either from federal grants or wealthy district tax bases, while others (mine included) are literally crumbling. Economically, we have created an inherently unequal education system, then politicians try to score points by labeling that same system as "failing".
If presumed to be accurate, I think that the idea of education becomes a challenge to the capitalist economic system. The notion of capitalism is that the notion of “for profit” can be engendered in nearly every setting. Yet, when education becomes a realm where this concept is evident, I think it takes away from the basic premise of education and learning. I would examine the work from thinkers like Pauline Lipman, who argues that initiatives such as No Child Left Behind were enacted to benefit test production companies and test preparation corporations were vitally important in the passage of such legislation. This helps to bring the idea that the American economic system of capitalism along with its political propensity to be manipulated by powerful special interests can help to coopt education into being something that it was not intended to be.
Again, this is a matter of opinion.
You can argue that our educational system favors the better-off of society and disfavors the poor. Our system pours more resources into the schools that need them less and deny them to the schools that need them more.
So I would say that the economic factor involved in educational problems is inequality and poverty. Because there are poor and rich (and because they are geographically segregated) we end up having poor schools and rich schools. The poor ones end up with lower standards of education.
I would say the political factor is our aversion to "redistribution." We do not like our tax dollars to go to pay for things that will help other people's kids. This is especially true when the other people are poor. We tend to think their poverty is their own fault and that our hard-earned dollars should benefit our own kids.
It is our politicians who determine economic and educational legislation. The government in power decides on both the economic and educational policies of our country, so obviously all the three factors are intertwined.
A liberal political party will lay down liberal economic and educational policies. It will be in favor of free trade and permit market forces to determine the growth of economy of a country. Similarly, in keeping with this trend it will also favor universal education for the benefit of the masses.
A communist government will try to control and regulate all the different stages of the economic development of a nation. It will regulate the educational policies of its government to perpetuate its political ideology.
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