by Jacquelyn Rochell
Examining the field of education through a Political Framework was probably one of the most important exercises I experienced as a graduate student, and future educational leader and administrator. A political framework requires American parents and educational leaders to acknowledge the various differences in political values, perspectives, priorities, and even self-interests of key decision-makers and politicians. Moreover, it forces American parents to face seemingly harsh realities about resources for which to achieve educational standards and objectives in a meaningful and fair manner in America’s public schools. Inherent in politics are the two dominant issues: competition and scarce resources.
Although, the vast majority of Americans face these issues every day, examining education from a political framework may bring certain realities to a higher level of consciousness and help parents better understand the inherent economic, political and social challenges, and their role, in adequately accommodating their child’s educational attainment. I believe this article will impart “realism” in the sense that it will answer the proverbial question: “Why can’t WE…? As in…Why can’t WE build an athletic program? Why can’t WE have books? Why can’t WE have new computers? Why can’t WE have equal resources and preparation in OUR public schools? Why can’t TEACHERS be compensated commensurate to the role they play in educating OUR children?
THE ANSWERS: Values, perspectives, priorities, and self-interests of our elected officials. Oops, did I say that? My bad! As I studied public policy, it alarmed me to learn that “America’s resources are more than adequate to provide equal public education for all children, but politicians purposely prioritize and place limits on who gets an adequate or high-quality public education”. Some would argued, “Politicians shouldn’t play political games when it comes to educating our nation’s children”. Unfortunately, politics is the tool Americans employ to bargain, negotiate, and competitively decide how the limited resources “set aside or appropriated” to educate our nation’s children will be divided.
As America’s public school systems prepare to open its doors for the 2012-2013-academic year, I’d like to encourage parents, from this day forward, to become immersed into the knowledge and understanding of how politics continuously evolves into an art of “priorities”. Whose priorities? The Democrats and Republicans WE elected to run our government, create our public policies, and redistribute our money. Here’s a secret and an invaluable bit of information to keep at the forefront of your minds: unwrapped, Democrat and Republican leaders are nearly indistinguishable when it comes to policy decisions and the redistribution of money! The vast majority of members from both parties have more in common relative to their political priorities than they’d like you to know.
Applying a political framework enables parents to recognize the bipartisan (democrats and republicans) approach to “education reform” is to cut teacher pay, cut educational staff and programs, close public schools and open charter schools, reduce the per pupil spending and increase class sizes…and, the list goes on. Since 2010, more than 10.3 million state and local educational workers have lost their jobs and more than 1,000 public schools have closed in response to America’s public education reform efforts! How can politicians cut public school teachers, close public schools, and cut public spending for education and give nearly $1.4 trillion in bailouts to private businesses! It’s a political environment! Get the picture?
An adequate or high-quality public education has a direct correlation to adequate or high-quality preparation for self-sufficiency and social mobility. Advocates for public education have long argued that the expansion of equal access and opportunities in public schools would positively impact the growth of American capitalism. That’s what WE truly aspire to as a nation, right? Free and universal public education for all American children ultimately equates to competitive and vibrant economies for our nation. It saddens me to inform parents that this is not our political leaders’ priority. However, it is the case that historically and even today, justifications for equal access to adequate or high-quality public education continues to be muddled by political rhetoric shaped by decades of legal re-interpretations of “separate but equal doctrine” (1896), Brown v Board of Education of Topeka (1954), and school districts and residency requirements (1960 thru 2012).
The major advantage my friends is our nation’s end to legal residential segregation. Within a political framework, I found residential segregation to be the last and most powerful lynchpin that enables, justifies, and sustains “separate and unequal public educational opportunities” for American children, particularly minorities. Am I advocating and advising parents to research, choose, and move (if necessary) into high-performing public school districts as a counter-measure to the political framework for public education in America? Yes, if necessary! What greater priority do YOU have as a parent than to ensure that your children get the best possible opportunities for socio-economic mobility? While there is political shuffling of public resources from public education to the private market (charter schools and vouchers), parents must do their part to identify and select an effective education experience from kindergarten through a college or technical career program for their children.
Remember, the differences in experiences, values, and perspectives can make all the difference in the world when it comes to how political decision-makers prioritize policies and resources. Education impacts access to networks of people, real estate, and economies. An adequate or high-quality education is the fundamental tool for individual and group equity and justice in America. Applying a political framework to Education in America allows parents, students, teachers, and school leaders to recognize the fact that there are no sacred cows in any political environment.
Jacquelyn Rochell is a Neo Civil Rights Leader and Political Scientist. She is unapologetically Pro-God, Pro-Black, Pro-American, Pro-Life, Pro-Education, Pro-Work, Pro-Traditional Family, and Pro-Voting.
Jacquelyn Rochell is the renowned author of Move Beyond the Colored Line, Racial Discrimination is a Large Part of America’s Race & Equality Problem, The Other Part of the Problem is YOU!
Email Jacquelyn@jacquelynrochell.com Follow her on twitter at @jacquelynrochell