Political Science Position Paper On Education Reform

2156 words - 9 pages

Policy Paper: Educational ReformBackground:"Our [educational] system is, more than anything, an artifact of our colonial past. For religious dissenters who came to the New World, literacy was essential to religious freedom, enabling them to teach their own beliefs. Religion and Schooling moved in tandem across the Colonies. Many people who didn't like what the local minister was preaching would move on and found their own church, and generally their own school (Miller)." This concept of local control fit in nicely, where education was concerned, when the Constitution was established. No provision was made in the Constitution or the Amendments for federal control of education. "However, the 10th Amendment to the Constitution states that powers not delegated to the federal government 'are reserved to the States, respectively, or to the people.' Thus, education becomes a function of the state rather than the federal government (Sass Ed.D.)."In 1843, a gentleman who became known as the "father of public education (Miller)," Horace Mann and his wife combined a "European honeymoon with educational fact-finding (Miller)." Just six years earlier, in 1837, Mann had "become[] Secretary of the newly formed Massachusetts State Board of Education. A visionary educator and proponent of public (or 'free') schools, Mann work[ed] tirelessly for increased funding of public schools and better training for teachers (Sass Ed.D)." This was as a result of how impressed he had become while in Europe, when he visited "Prussian Schools that were the talk of reformers on both sides of the Atlantic (Miller)." He found that "Prussia […] had a system designed from the center. School attendance was compulsory. Teachers were trained at national institutes with the same care that went into training military officers. Their enthusiasm for their subjects was contagious, and their devotion to students evoked reciprocal affection and respect (Miller)." As a result of Mann's experience there and his position as Board of Education Secretary, in 1852, Massachusetts enacted the first American "mandatory attendance law (Sass Ed.D.)," a precursor to all states initiating the same concept by 1918.Unions got in bed with education early, by establishing The National Teachers Association (what became the National Education Association) in 1857, and the American Federation of Teachers in 1916. In 1867, the "Department of Education [was] created in order to help states establish effective school systems (Sass Ed.D)." And, the Progressive Education Association, in 1919, only one year following full acceptance of the compulsory attendance concept, was established "with the goal of reforming American education (Sass Ed.D)." Of most concern, where unionization is involved, are the issues of teacher tenure, pay based on seniority rather than merit, and full pay while laid off under suspension or investigation for suspected wrongdoing. All of these issues are under a microscope under the...

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