The Education System: Part 2 – Politics

Our meeting topic this week is the education system. This is a topic that was brought up in several meetings last quarter, so we’ve dedicated an entire conversation to it. Education is a very broad topic, so there are a lot of different facets that can be covered and several directions this conversation can go. As such, I thought it might be a good idea to break up this topic into a few different posts.

The evolution debate is probably the most directly related to this club, but there are a lot of avenues for discussion when it comes to education, and several of them have become embroiled in political discussions about education reform.

Public Schools vs Charter Schools vs Other

I’ve often seen this debate referred to as “school choice,” but that seems to be the case for only one side. And I think it fundamentally comes down to whether or not one would prefer to have a strong public education system or more alternatives, such as charter schools, homeschooling or private schools. A charter school is typically free, and with no qualifications necessary for the student to enroll, but they are usually assigned via lottery since there are more students than available spaces. And a private school is one that charges students a tuition. They are often associated with religions, but they needn’t be. There are also magnet schools, which are specialized in certain subjects, but students typically have to test into them.

There are ardent arguments both for “school choice” and against.

Teachers Unions

Another fervent concern often debated is the amount of power unions have in the education process. At the heart of that is the issue of tenure for K-12 educators. This has been covered extensively in the documentary Waiting for “Superman” by director Davis Guggenheim, who also directed An Inconvenient Truth. I mention his other work because there is a rebuttal by a teacher-backed group called The Inconvenient Truth Behind Waiting for Superman.

In addition to those topics, there are also issues of whether or not standardized tests are useful tools, how to close the Achievement Gap, federal vs. local control of school curriculum, metrics on measuring student success, metrics on measuring teacher success, and identifying and analyzing the fundamental goals of education.

So once we’ve got all of that sorted out, we can move onto the Future of Education.


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