Politics & Education – Part III – The Impact on Education After the Election

During an election year, whether it be at the federal or state level, many decisions are made that impact education. This is particularly true of the opportunities and resources that are allocated to school districts for each school year.  Depending on who wins the election, the next few years can either be feast or famine for school districts.

Platforms are created, campaigns are designed, and rallies are held with the intention of getting votes.  Education is no different than any other issue politicians use to get people fired up.  Promises, promises, promises…many of them empty, are made with the sole intention of getting elected.  

Promises are made and promises are broken once the election is over. These empty promises on critical platforms like education get thrown to the side once candidates are elected.  These promises often get picked up the next election year.

Education is part of the agenda for both political parties. Both sides claim they want better educational opportunities for all children.  Both sides claim the opposing party doesn’t have what it takes to improve the education system.  Regardless of the party that wins education gets put on the backburner while they focus on what they say is more important issues.

The question that everyone should be asking is:  What could possibly be more important than our children’s education?  The future of our country is in the hands of our children, yet our federal, state and local politicians are too busy with more important issues? 

For the federal government, their focus may be around of national security and other critical international affairs.  But for state governments, why would issues like infrastructure and the local economy take precedence over quality education when local economies and other issues will depend on our youth as they mature.

Education spending often get slashed or the investment in education comes with strict chains that do not address the real issues like the No Child Left Behind Act.  So instead of focusing on getting each student to learn at the grade level needed to move them on to the next, we just move them on.  They can’t read at a 3rd grade level, yet we’ve moved them on, and they are now in the 6th grade still unable to read.  That’s not taking care of our children or our future. 

There’s a reason why certain groups of students continue to fall behind year after year.  There’s a reason why school buildings across the country are in utter disrepair and children are learning under conditions that are unsafe and unsuitable.  We put a band aid on educational issues instead of surgically removing the bad decisions and putting in a pacemaker that will improve the heartbeat of our school systems. 

Politicians who have never stepped foot in a school since they attended as children, make decisions that impact teachers, students, families and communities.   They tell teachers how to teach, what they can say, how they should handle disruptive students. They have stripped all the professional knowledge and decision making away from the individuals who are most invested in the kids…the teachers.   Teachers can no longer teach during class, so much of their day is baby sitting, handling social and mental challenges that their students have, calming down disruptions and testing testing testing.  There is a mass exodus from the teaching profession and the number of people entering the profession are significantly down. 

Who would want to do a job where the pay is poor, the students rule, the government tells them how to do their job, the same government doesn’t give them the money to properly manage their classrooms so they buy supplies out of their own pocket and who are then blamed when students do poorly on tests because testing is the focus vs teaching/learning?  Would you?

Companies are making millions by selling curricula and standardized tests directly to the government with no accountability or proof that the information is what is needed or that the tests are focused on what students should be learning.

Federal and state elections will continue to have a major impact on education by way of policies and funding. It’s important to understand just how much of a hand the government has in the educational sector, and how that influences the lives of administrators, teachers, students, families and communities.  It’s time for a change but who’s going to drive that change?