This week and next, the two major political parties are meeting in Denver and Minneapolis, respectively, to not only nominate their Presidental and VP candidate, but to agree upon a political platform outlining beliefs and actions they will take during the next segment of time. At the American Presidency Project, you can read the platforms of not only the two major parties, but other parties, such as the Libertarian Party (schools should be managed locally to achieve greater accountability and parental involvement, although not by the government—parents would have full control), as well. Data is availabe all the way back to 1840 for the Democrats, 1865 for the Republicans.
As of this writing I only have available the Democratic & the Libertarian Party platforms on education for 2008, and the Democratic Party statement on education is found quite a ways down the list of platform items and entitled there as A World Class Education for Every Child. This brief statement warns about being out-competed by other countries, and that “Americans made it clear that it is morally and economically unacceptable that our high-schoolers continue to score lower on math and science tests than most other students in the world and continue to drop-out at higher rates than their peers in other industrial nations.” This Party believes in a quality public school education for every learner. They suggest “we” must come together to form partnerships to help each child reach their full potential. They will do this by ensuring high quality teachers and an effective principal. Reward teaches and districts; fix the failures and broken promises of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) by providing a “world-class education,” raise standards, and ensure accountability.
There are more statements about K-12 education and higher education. But nothing is new here, nor will the Republicans offer anything new. They will stand firm with the NCLB act (see below), and make statments similar to the Democrats. Here is a bit about their 2004 views. I’ll update this when the 2008 Platform is published.
The Republican Party, based on its 2004 platform will base their ideas on No Child Left Behind. It is based on insuring accountability for student’s achievement by continuing to test students at most grade levels, and holding districts and schools accountable to single end-of-the-year test scores in key academic areas. Interestingly, they admit that education is the responsibility of the state, local governments, and the family, BUT the role of the Federal Government will remain in control via the NCLB Act.
In short, each party supports a centralized approach to education. A top down approach, and uses code words such as high quality, world class education, accountability, charter schools, and all the rest.
The Libertarian Party, on the other hand, believes that education should be locally controlled, with parents having control of and responsibility for all funds expended for their children’s education. This does not mean specifically private education, but it does mean that the Libertarian’s support the notion of vouchers for parents to educate their children. You can find more details on the Libertarian Party views on education.
In one of the EDWeek Updates that I received this week, there was a very interesting video clip in which Robert F. Kennedy was asked about the present administration’s education policy. Kennedy suggested that education needs to rest in the hands of the experts on student learning—teachers—and that in a democratic society, education has to be a bottom up process, not one that is controlled from the top. In short, education needs to be decentralized.
If we were truly to move away from Federal acts, such as the NCLB, or from state mandated High Risk Tests, what role would the Federal Department of Education play, or state departments of education? What role would teachers play in an educational system that was decentralized? Which Party would support a more decentralized form of education in the USA?
Here is Kennedy’s video clip. It’s only a minute long. What do you think about what he has to say about education, and teachers?
suTags: American Presidency Project, decentralizing education, political platforms