Education Policy In USA
Education is an instrument of the broader social order. When society changes, education, sooner or later, also changes. Few activities or agencies, however, change as slowly, or in such small increments, as formal education–both schools and colleges as well as both public and private institutions. Education's roots are deep and wide, penetrating almost every facet of society. Hence, education is subject to virtually every political force, including those that want change and those that want to protect the status quo.
Public K–12 education–which operates across fifty states, 14,000 local school districts, and 100,000 schools; involves 5 million employees and more than 48 million students; and costs more than $2 billion each day–is too large, too costly, and too enmeshed in political dynamics to change quickly. Postsecondary institutions–colleges and universities–have become equally ponderous. With the advent of post– World War II enrollment increases; the significance of university-based research for preserving the nation's economic, medical, and military preeminence; and the substantial assumption of student financial aid by government, higher education also has become a major feature of the political landscape and become engulfed by much of the inertia that immobilizes lower schools.
For most of American history, the nation's most prestigious elementary and secondary schools and elite colleges have been few in number, and their private charters and religious affiliations have rendered them generally independent of government. But for colleges and universities, nearly all of which, in the early twenty-first century, are accepting student financial-aid subsidies from government and engaging in government-sponsored research, this situation has changed. Government now is a major constituent for higher education, both public and private.
Even for private preparatory and religious elementary and secondary schools, the condition of independence from government could change. If the U.S. Supreme Court approves allocation of public funds for private and religious institutions, private schools could come under the full umbrella of public policy in the same way as their public institutional counterparts.
Still, even as subjects of increasing politicization, and even if only at a glacial pace, schools and colleges do change. Formal education at the onset of the twenty-first century exhibited many differences from that of even thirty years previous, and it certainly was different from what children and parents experienced in the early part of the twentieth century.
The Basics of Educational Policy
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