Educational Models – Part II

The educational model of the U.S. hasn’t changed much since state-sponsored public education became more prevalent in the 19th century. The origins of the Department of Education date back to 1867, but the official U.S. Department of Education as it looks today didn’t come into existence until 1979, under President Jimmy Carter.   

And while the one-room, multi-age schoolhouses of the past have seen their fair share of upgrades, the educational model of the US itself hasn’t evolved. 

Why hasn’t our educational model been modified to keep up with modern times?  That’s a tough question to answer. There are many reasons why updating the US educational model has proven to be difficult.

Our entire educational system is designed as a top-down model. This means that all of the important decisions are being made not by the administrators, teachers, students, and parents being directly impacted by them, but rather by government officials who are not in the educational sector. In other words, the ultimate choice of change lies with politicians who are far removed from the classroom.

Politicians are highly influenced by various businesses that have financial resources at stake. And these businesses make money, and lots of it, by keeping things status quo. They spend billions of dollars sending lobbyists to Washington, DC to encourage politicians to vote according to their business interests. They don’t want change because change means losing incredible amounts of money.  They’ll do anything to avoid that.

Because of this top-down model, and the influence of corporations, when a change trickles down to the school districts, the change is often not widely accepted. So, they’re not implemented the way they were intended. And the reason is cultural in nature.

Simply put, administrators and teachers don’t trust politicians and lobbyists to have their best interests at heart. They’re with students every day, so they know when policies and procedures won’t work with the population of students they serve. It can be quite difficult to make sweeping change happen when it’s met with such resistance.

So, why change the educational model at all? If politicians are happy to mandate change from up top, businesses have a vested interest in keeping things as they are, and teachers do the best they can for students no matter what policies and procedures are put in place, what is the point of changing the educational model at all?

The answer is that a forward-thinking educational model is beneficial for everyone involved. Countries that have more freedom built into their framework see greater success when it comes to students’ academic gains, their ability to think critically and solve problems.  This results in greater innovation.   Businesses enjoy a better-prepared workforce with more highly-qualified candidates.